Japanese Grammar

    Grammar Hubs

    These hubs connect grammar concepts to give you a deeper understanding of how Japanese works. Learn the ins and outs of Japanese word types, conjugations and forms, and how culture affects communication.

    Grammar Points

    These help you grasp how to use a particular grammar point, word, particle, or form.

    1. Adjective さ (Objective Nouns)

      Adding 〜さ to an adjective turns it into a noun, and gives it the nuance that the noun is objective and measurable.

      Adjective Form
    2. Adjective そう

      〜そう can be added to adjectives to mark them as speculative, such as おいしそう = "looks delicious".

      Adjective Form
    3. Adjective み (Subjective Nouns)

      Adding 〜み to an adjective turns it into a noun with a subjective quality, like the "warmth" of a person or the "weight" of a decision.

      Adjective Form
    4. Building Sentences and Clauses

      Understanding clauses will help you to break down and understand complicated sentences in Japanese.

      Clause
    5. Command Form

      Verbs in the command form express strong orders or demands. The form changes depending on the verb type, so learn more, 読め (read it)!

      Verb Form
    6. Conjunctive Particle ので

      Just like the English conjunction "so," ので is a conjunctive particle that explains a reason or cause. It also contains a polite feel, a…

      Particle
    7. Conjunctive Particle のに

      のに is a conjunctive particle that expresses a sense of surprise or frustration when something goes against the set expectation.

      Particle
    8. Conjunctive Particles が・けど

      Conjunctive particles が and けど are often used in a similar way to the English word "but." Additionally, they can be used to link contex…

      Particle
    9. First-Person Pronouns

      First-person pronouns are words that a speaker or a writer uses when they refer to themselves, like "I" or "we" in English.

      Pronoun
    10. Honorific Prefix: 御〜 (お〜・ご〜)

      御 (read as お, ご or おん) is an "honorific prefix" that is generally placed before nouns. It adds politeness and shows respect to the pers…

      Honorific
      Prefix
    11. Nouns

      Nouns are words that label the world around us and are used to identify things.

      Noun
    12. Particle か

      か indicates that something is unknown. It's used to form questions, indefinite pronouns, and lists of alternatives.

      Particle
    13. Particle から

      から is a particle that marks the "source," such as a starting point, an origin, or a reason.

      Particle
    14. Particle が (Subject)

      が marks the subject of a sentence. In other words, whatever comes before が is the person or thing that's doing whatever comes next.

      Particle
    15. Particle で

      で specifies where or how an activity or event takes place.

      Particle
    16. Particle と

      と is used to connect two or more words together as companions

      Particle
    17. Particle と (Conditional)

      と can be used to show a "strong causal relationship." In other words, it shows a condition and a result that always follows.

      Conditional
      Particle
    18. Particle に

      に is like a pin on a map. It shows where you are, where you are headed, or where you were before.

      Particle
    19. Particle ね

      ね is a sentence ending particle that marks information as shared by the speaker and listener.

      Particle
    20. Particle の (Nominalizer)

      の is a nominalizer. It turns non-nouns — things like verbs, adjectives, or clauses — into nouns.

      Particle
    21. Particle の (Noun Modifier)

      の is like a label maker. It turns a noun into a label that modifies another noun.

      Particle
    22. Particle は

      は marks the topic of a clause, sentence, or paragraph. It creates focus as well as a nuance of contrast with other potential topics.

      Particle
    23. Particle へ

      へ is like an arrow that points the way to a destination or a direction.

      Particle
    24. Particle まで

      まで is a particle that indicates the end point in space, time, and numbers.

      Particle
    25. Particle も

      The particle も is similar to the English words "too" and "also." It is placed after a word to show that the word is part of a set.

      Particle
    26. Particle や

      や is used to list multiple items (usually two or three) as examples. It implies that there are more items on the list that you haven't …

      Particle
    27. Particle よ

      よ is a sentence-ending particle that gives an informative feel.

      Particle
    28. Particle よね

      よね is a sentence-ending particle that is commonly used for confirmation.

      Particle
    29. Particle より For "Than…" In Comparison

      In a comparative sentence, より is equivalent to the English word "than..."

      Particle
    30. Particle より: A Formal Version of 〜から (From)

      より is a formal version of the particle から (from).

      Particle
    31. Particle を

      を tells us what the direct object of a sentence is. In other words, it marks the thing that gets affected by the verb.

      Particle
    32. Personal Pronouns

      Personal pronouns are used to refer to people from various perspectives: the first person (I, we), the second person (you), and the thi…

      Pronoun
    33. Plural Suffixes

      Plural suffixes attach to the end of nouns to indicate that they are plural.

      Plurality
    34. Plural and Quantity

      The ways we express plurality and quantity are different in Japanese and English. In Japanese, we use quantifiers, plural suffixes, and…

      Plurality
    35. Question Words

      Questions words are words like 何 (what), いつ (when), and なぜ (why). They are used for asking questions.

      Noun
    36. Second-Person Pronouns

      Second-person pronouns are words like "you" that a speaker uses to refer to their audience.

      Pronoun
    37. Stem Form

      The stem form is a type of Japanese verb form also known as V-stem form, and 〜ます form—this last name comes from the fact that it can be…

      Verb Form
    38. Third-Person Pronouns

      Third-person pronouns are words like "he" and "she." They are used for people who are neither "I" nor "you."

      Pronoun
    39. Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

      Transitive verbs describe actions that happen to something else. Intransitive verbs describe actions that happen by themselves.

      Transitivity
    40. Verb Conjugation

      Japanese verbs have different conjugation patterns depending on what type they are — godan, ichidan, or irregular. Learn all about verb…

      Verb Form
    41. Verb そう

      Adding 〜そう to a verb is the equivalent of "looks like (someone or something) is going to do something" in English.

      Verb Form
    42. 〜かもしれない

      〜かもしれない follows a sentence and expresses "uncertainty."

      Phrase
      Uncertainty
    43. 〜ことがある

      By adding 〜ことがある to a word in the plain, non-past form, you can talk about what you do on occasion.

      Phrase
    44. 〜させる (Causative)

      When a verb ends in 〜させる, it tells us that someone is forced to do the action, or allowed to do the action, depending on context. For t…

      Verb Form
    45. 〜し

      し is often used to add emphasis to a list of parallel or sequential fields, much as "and what's more" or "not only...but also..." in En…

      Particle
    46. 〜た (Past, Plain)

      The suffix 〜た puts a plain form verb into the past tense. It tells us that the verb is completed or happened before the present moment.…

      Verb Form
    47. 〜たい (Desire)

      〜たい is a verb suffix that adds a meaning of desire. Use it to say "I want to do [this verb]."

      Verb Form
    48. 〜たがる

      〜たがる is used to say that someone is "showing signs of wanting to do" something. Use it to say what other people want to do.

      Verb Form
    49. 〜たことがある

      When 〜たことがある follows the past tense, it expresses what you've experienced in the past.

      Phrase
    50. 〜たら

      〜たら is a conditional form. Depending on the context, it can express time sequence like "when/after" and conditions like "if."

      Clause Link
      Conditional
      Verb Form
    51. 〜たりする

      〜たりする is used to list actions and states. It indicates the list is incomplete, meaning that there are more things speakers could list.

      Verb Form
    52. 〜てある

      Used with a verb that expresses intentions, 〜てある describes a current state that's the result of a past action done by somebody, usually…

      Verb Form
    53. 〜ていく・〜てくる

      〜ていく and 〜てくる can express a gradual process that takes place over time. While 〜ていく focuses on the starting point of the process, 〜てくる f…

      Verb Form
    54. 〜ていた

      〜ていた is the past tense version of 〜ている. This form puts emphasis on the duration of a past action.

      Verb Form
    55. 〜ている

      Depending on the verb that 〜ている is used with, it can describe an ongoing action, or a current state that's the result of a past action.…

      Verb Form
    56. 〜ておく

      〜ておく follows a transitive verb and generally adds the nuance that you do the action in advance for future convenience.

      Verb Form
    57. 〜てほしい

      〜てほしい expresses that you want someone to do something or something to happen.

      Verb Form
    58. 〜ない (Negative, Plain)

      When 〜ない appears on the end of a verb, it means it is in the negative plain form. In other words, it has a similar function to "not".

      Verb Form
    59. 〜なかった (Negative, Past)

      〜なかった is the past tense negative plain form of verbs. It adds the meaning of "did not do [verb]" to a sentence.

      Verb Form
    60. 〜ながら (Contrast)

      ながら for contrasting clauses is used to describe two contradictory situations, and is often translated as "although."

      Clause Link
    61. 〜ながら (Simultaneous Actions)

      ながら is used to indicate that two actions take place simultaneously. It is similar to "while" in English.

      Verb Form
    62. 〜なさい (Polite, Command)

      〜なさい is a suffix that is used to make polite commands or directions. While polite, it still implies a sense of authority.

      Verb Form
    63. 〜にくい

      〜にくい is a verb suffix that means "difficult to do (the verb)."

      Verb Form
    64. 〜ば (Conditional)

      The suffix 〜ば puts verbs into the conditional form. In other words, it adds an "if" meaning to a sentence.

      Conditional
      Verb Form
    65. 〜ます

      When a verb ends in 〜ます, it shows that you are speaking politely.

      Verb Form
    66. 〜やすい

      〜やすい is a verb suffix that means "easy to do (the verb)."

      Verb Form
    67. 〜よう (Volitional)

      〜よう is a verb suffix that expresses volition, proposition, or invitation, akin to "let's" or "shall we?" in English.

      Verb Form
    68. 〜られる (Passive)

      The passive suffix 〜られる tells us that a verb is done to someone. It takes the emphasis off of who does the action, and places it on who…

      Verb Form
    69. 〜れる (Potential)

      〜れる appears on the end of a verb show ability or possibility, similarly to "can" or "be able to" in English.

      Verb Form
    70. い-Adjective かった (Past Tense Form)

      〜かった allows you to make い-adjectives past tense, in a similar way to "was" in English.

      Adjective Form
    71. い-Adjective がる

      い-adjectives can take the suffix 〜がる to describe how other people seem to feel, based on how they look or behave. This lets you state w…

      Adjective Form
    72. い-Adjective く Form

      This page teaches you how to put an adjective into the くform and provides basics of its three usages.

      Adjective Form
    73. い-Adjective くない (Negative Form)

      Adding 〜くない to the end of an い-adjective makes it negative, kind of like how "not" functions in English.

      Adjective Form
    74. い-Adjective ければ

      Adding 〜ければ to the end of an い-adjective makes it conditional, similar to using "if" or "when" in English.

      Adjective Form
      Clause Link
      Conditional
    75. い-Adjectives

      い-adjectives are one type of adjective in Japanese. Their main function is to describe nouns, and they can take different ending to cha…

      Adjective Form
    76. い-Adjectiveく (Adverb Form)

      The く form can be used to turn い-adjectives into adverbs, in a similar way to "-ly" in English.

      Adjective Form
    77. い-Adjectiveく (Linking)

      The く form of い-adjectives allows you to combine words and clauses together.

      Adjective Form
      Clause Link
    78. い-Adjectiveく (Noun)

      A few い-adjectives that relate to time or location can be used like nouns in their く form.

      Adjective Form
    79. いる・ある

      The Japanese verbs いる and ある mean things like “to be” or “to exist” and can often be used in a similar way to “there is” and “there are…

      Verb
      Vocabulary
    80. うち

      うち is a word that means “inside,” as opposed to “outside.” When it’s used with other grammar elements, like 〜のうち or 〜のうちに, it indicates…

      Vocabulary
    81. くらい

      くらい (or ぐらい) signifies approximation. It follows another word or phrase and indicates that something is around a certain amount or leve…

      Particle
    82. くれる・あげる・もらう

      あげる and くれる are Japanese words for "to give," and もらう means "to receive/get." When speaking from the giver's perspective, you use あげる. …

      Verb
      Vocabulary
    83. こいつ・そいつ・あいつ・どいつ

      こいつ, そいつ, あいつ, and どいつ are a set of こそあど言葉 (ko-so-a-do words). These words are used to refer to people, but they're very informal, and …

      Demonstrative
    84. こう・そう・ああ・どう

      こう, そう, ああ, and どう are a set of こそあど言葉 (ko-so-a-do words). They come before an adjective or a verb to specify the way the adjective or …

      Demonstrative
    85. ここ・そこ・あそこ・どこ

      ここ, そこ, あそこ, and どこ are a set of こそあど言葉 (ko-so-a-do words). They are equivalent to "here," "there," and "over there" in English. どこ is …

      Demonstrative
    86. こそあど言葉 (Ko-So-A-Do Words)

      こそあど言葉 (ko-so-a-do words) are a series of Japanese words that can be used to refer to things, people and locations. The word you choose…

      Demonstrative
    87. こちら・そちら・あちら・どちら

      こちら, そちら, あちら, and どちら, along with their contractions こっち, そっち, あっち, and どっち, are a set of こそあど言葉 (ko-so-a-do words). They refer primar…

      Demonstrative
    88. こと (事)

      こと basically means "thing." It's a versatile word for intangible, abstract things — ideas, events, experiences, and many others. こと can…

      Noun
    89. こなた・そなた・あなた・どなた

      こなた, そなた, あなた and どなた are a set of こそあど言葉 (ko-so-a-do words). The first three all mean "you," though only あなた is still in use today, an…

      Demonstrative
    90. この・その・あの・どの

      この, その, あの, and どの are a set of こそあど言葉 (ko-so-a-do words). They are placed before nouns to give information about their location in rel…

      Demonstrative
    91. これ・それ・あれ・どれ

      これ, それ, あれ, and どれ are a set of こそあど言葉 (ko-so-a-do words). They are equivalent to "this one," "that one," and "that one over there" in …

      Demonstrative
    92. こんな・そんな・あんな・どんな

      こんな, そんな, あんな, and どんな are a set of こそあど言葉 (ko-so-a-do words). They all get placed before a noun to indicate what that noun is like.

      Demonstrative
    93. さすが

      Used for both compliments and contradictions, さすが always adds the nuance that something is inevitable.

      Vocabulary
    94. すぎる

      すぎる follows other verbs and adjectives and signifies that there's too much of something.

      Verb
    95. する

      する basically means "to do," but it is incredibly versatile and goes beyond its English equivalent.

      Verb
    96. だ marks nouns and な-adjectives as present tense and positive, but it can also add an emphatic nuance in some contexts.

      だ/です
    97. だけ

      だけ means "only" and indicates the limitation or extent of something.

      Particle
    98. だった

      だった is a plain form past tense marker, typically used with nouns and な-adjectives.

      だ/です
    99. だろう

      Often translated as "probably," "I assume," or "I believe," だろう is used to speculate based on your interpretation of something.

      Uncertainty
      だ/です
    100. つもり

      つもり expresses the speaker's predetermined intention.

      Noun
    101. て Form

      The て form links actions, events, and states. The relationship between linked words can be different depending on the context.

      Adjective Form
      Clause Link
      Verb Form
    102. でした

      でした is a polite past tense marker, typically used with nouns and な-adjectives.

      だ/です
    103. でしょう

      でしょう is used to speculate based on your interpretation of something, though you lack proof. It's often translated as "perhaps," "I assu…

      Uncertainty
      だ/です
    104. です

      です is used to mark words as polite if they cannot conjugate to show politeness themselves.

      だ/です
    105. な-Adjectives

      な-adjectives are one type of adjective in Japanese. Their main function is to describe nouns, but many can function as nouns themselves…

      Adjective Form
    106. なら

      なら is a conditional particle. It means something like "if" in English.

      Clause Link
      Conditional
      Particle
    107. んだ・んです

      んだ and its variants such as んです add an explanatory feel to a sentence. It’s often used to provide information in order to fill the gap …

      だ/です
    108. 自分

      自分 is a Japanese pronoun that means "self."

      Pronoun
    109. 行く・来る

      行く and 来る are Japanese words for "to go" and "to come." 行く indicates that the speaker's on the departure side of the movement, while 来る…

      Verb
      Vocabulary