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. 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
    5. 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
    6. 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
    7. 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
    8. 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
    9. Particle か

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

      Particle
    10. Particle から

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

      Particle
    11. 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
    12. Particle で

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

      Particle
    13. Particle と

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

      Particle
    14. 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
    15. 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
    16. Particle ね

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

      Particle
    17. Particle の (Nominalizer)

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

      Particle
    18. Particle の (Noun Modifier)

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

      Particle
    19. 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
    20. Particle へ

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

      Particle
    21. Particle よ

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

      Particle
    22. Particle よね

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

      Particle
    23. 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
    24. 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
    25. Second-Person Pronouns

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

      Pronoun
    26. 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
    27. Third-Person Pronouns

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

      Pronoun
    28. Verb Conjugation

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

      Verb Form
    29. 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
    30. 〜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
    31. 〜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
    32. 〜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
    33. 〜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
    34. 〜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
    35. 〜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
    36. 〜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
    37. 〜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
    38. 〜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
    39. 〜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
    40. 〜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
    41. 〜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
    42. 〜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
    43. 〜にくい

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

      Verb Form
    44. 〜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
    45. 〜やすい

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

      Verb Form
    46. 〜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
    47. 〜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 is on who…

      Verb Form
    48. 〜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
    49. 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
    50. 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
    51. 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
    52. 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
    53. 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
    54. 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
    55. 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
    56. い-Adjectiveく (Linking)

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

      Adjective Form
      Clause Link
    57. 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
    58. 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
    59. 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
    60. 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
    61. 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
    62. 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
    63. 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
    64. 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
    65. 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
    66. 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
    67. 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
    68. 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
    69. さすが

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

      Vocabulary
    70. 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
    71. だった

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

      だ/です
    72. 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.

      だ/です
    73. 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
    74. でした

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

      だ/です
    75. 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…

      だ/です
    76. です

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

      だ/です
    77. 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
    78. なら

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

      Clause Link
      Particle
    79. 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
    80. 自分

      自分 is a Japanese pronoun that means "self."

      Pronoun