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. 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
    6. Particle か

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

      Particle
    7. 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
    8. Particle で

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

      Particle
    9. Particle と

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

      Particle
    10. 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
    11. 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
    12. Particle ね

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

      Particle
    13. Particle の (Nominalizer)

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

      Particle
    14. Particle の (Noun Modifier)

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

      Particle
    15. 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
    16. Particle へ

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

      Particle
    17. Particle よ

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

      Particle
    18. 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
    19. 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
    20. Plural Suffixes

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

      Vocabulary
    21. Second-Person Pronouns

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

      Pronoun
    22. 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
    23. Third-Person Pronouns

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

      Pronoun
    24. Verb Conjugation

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

      Verb Form
    25. 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
    26. 〜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
    27. 〜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
    28. 〜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
    29. 〜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
    30. 〜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
    31. 〜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
    32. 〜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
    33. 〜ている

      〜ている shows that a verb is currently happening, like English "ing," or that something happened and there is a lasting result.

      Verb Form
    34. 〜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
    35. 〜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
    36. 〜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
    37. 〜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
    38. 〜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
    39. 〜にくい

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

      Verb Form
    40. 〜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
    41. 〜やすい

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

      Verb Form
    42. 〜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
    43. 〜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
    44. 〜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
    45. 〜んです

      んです adds an explanatory feel to a sentence. It indicates that something is said based on background information or shared knowledge.

      だ/です
    46. 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
    47. 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
    48. 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
    49. 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
    50. 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
    51. 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
    52. 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
    53. い-Adjectiveく (Linking)

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

      Adjective Form
      Clause Link
    54. 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
    55. さすが

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

      Vocabulary
    56. 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
    57. だった

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

      だ/です
    58. 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
    59. 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
    60. でした

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

      だ/です
    61. 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
    62. です

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

      だ/です
    63. 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
    64. なら

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

      Clause Link
      Particle