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
    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
    3. Adjective み (Subjective Nouns)

      Adding 〜み to the end on an adjective turns it into a noun with a subjective or personally felt quality, such as the "warmth" of a perso…

      Adjective
    4. Building Sentences and Clauses

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

      Clause
    5. Conjugating Verbs to Causative Form (〜させる)

      The causative form is a type of Japanese verb form that often ends in 〜させる. It gives the verb the meaning of "to cause someone or somet…

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    6. Conjugating Verbs to Command Form

      The command form, also known as "plain imperative form," is used to express a command or order. This is a more direct and assertive ver…

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    7. Conjugating Verbs to Conditional Form (〜ば)

      The conditional form of Japanese verbs is also often called the ば form because all verbs end in 〜ば in this form. This form is used when…

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    8. Conjugating Verbs to Negative Form (〜ない)

      The negative form of Japanese verbs means verbs ending in 〜ない, like 食べない (not eat), 飲まない (not drink), and 来ない (not come).

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    9. Conjugating Verbs to Passive Form (〜られる)

      The passive form is a type of Japanese verb form that often ends in 〜られる. This form can be used for to create passive sentences, and al…

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    10. Conjugating Verbs to Past Form (〜た)

      The plain past form refers to the た form of verbs. Verbs in this form end in 〜た or 〜だ, like 食べた (ate), 飲んだ (drank), and 来た (came).

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    11. Conjugating Verbs to Potential Form

      The potential form is a type of Japanese verb form that often ends in 〜られる. As the name suggests, it is used to express possibility or …

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    12. Conjugating Verbs to 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…

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    13. Conjugating Verbs to Volitional Form (〜よう)

      The volitional form is a type of Japanese verb form, often called the よう form, which is used to make propositions and invitations.

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    14. Conjugating Verbs to て Form

      The て form is a type of Japanese verb conjugation form used for many different purposes, including linking actions and making requests.…

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    15. 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.

      Personal Pronouns
    16. Particle か

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

      Particle
    17. Particle が

      が tells us what the subject of a sentence is. In other words, the noun before が is the person or thing that's doing whatever comes next…

      Particle
    18. Particle は

      は picks out the topic of a clause, sentence, or paragraph. It shows us what we are focussing on, and creates a nuance of contrast with …

      Particle
    19. 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
    20. 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…

      Personal Pronouns
    21. Second-Person Pronouns

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

      Personal Pronouns
    22. Third-Person Pronouns

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

      Personal Pronouns
    23. Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

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

      Verb
    24. Using 〜そう with Verbs for "Looks Like..."

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

      Verb
    25. Using Verb Causative Form (〜させる) for "Make Someone Do..."

      The verb ending 〜させる is used to add the meaning of causing someone or something to do something. For this reason, verbs ending in 〜させる …

      Verb
    26. Using Verb Causative Passive Form (〜させられる ) for "To Be Made To Do..."

      When verbs are given the ending 〜させられる, they are in the causative passive form. This gives them a meaning of "to be made to do somethin…

      Verb
    27. Using Verb Conditional Form (〜ば) for "If..."

      The suffix 〜ば puts verbs into the conditional form. It is also called the ば form, because all verbs end in this form end in 〜ば. This fo…

      Verb
    28. Using Verb Continuous Form (〜ている )

      Verbs ending in 〜ている are often described as being the Japanese equivalent of the English "present continuous" or "-ing" form. Although …

      Verb
    29. Using Verb Negative Form (〜ない) for "Not..."

      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
    30. Using Verb Negative Past Form (〜なかった) for "Was Not..."

      The past form 〜なかった is the past negative plain form of verbs. Verbs in this form always end in 〜なかった, like 食べなかった (did not eat), 飲まなかった…

      Verb
    31. Using Verb Passive Form (〜られる )

      The passive form 〜られる is used to give the broad meaning of something "being done" in English, so 食べる (to eat) becomes 食べられる (to be eate…

      Verb
    32. Using Verb Past Continuous Form (〜ていた)

      Verbs that end in 〜ていた or 〜でいた, like 食べていた (was eating), 飲んでいた (was drinking) and 来ていた (was coming) are in the past continuous form. Th…

      Verb
    33. Using Verb Plain Past Form (〜た)

      The た form refers to verbs ending in 〜た or 〜だ, like 食べた (ate), 飲んだ (drank) and 来た (came). Verbs ending in 〜た and 〜だ describe things tha…

      Verb
    34. Using Verb Plain Volitional Form (〜よう) for "Let's..."

      The volitional form 〜よう is used for propositions and invitations, similarly to "shall we?" and "let's" in English. There are other uses…

      Verb
    35. Using Verb Potential Form for "To Be Able To..."

      Verbs in the potential form show ability or possibility, similarly to "can" or "be able to" in English. However, there are cases where …

      Verb
    36. Using Verb て Form for Connecting Actions

      The て form is used to connect two (or sometimes more) actions or events in a sequence, similarly to how we use "and" in English. Depend…

      Verb
    37. Using Verb て Form for Making Requests

      Verbs in the て form can be used to make requests. It's often accompanied by other sentence endings, which give it different nuances. Us…

      Verb
    38. Using Verbs in Command Form

      There are multiple ways to form an imperative in Japanese. This page will focus on how to use the stronger of the two, which we call th…

      Verb
    39. Using 〜がる with い-Adjectives for "Want..."

      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
    40. Using 〜たい for "Want to..."

      〜たい is a grammar formation that changes a verb so you can use it to say, "I want to do [this verb]." It’s a quick and easy way to expre…

      Verb
    41. Using 〜たがる for What Other People Want

      The たがる form can be used when you want to say someone else wants to do something. Adding 〜がる to an adjective gives the meaning of "show…

      Verb
    42. Using 〜たら for "If..." and "When/After..."

      〜たら is used to provide a condition of events or situations. Depending on the context, 〜たら expresses different meanings such as time seq…

      Adjective
      Noun
      Verb
    43. Using 〜たりする for Listing Things

      〜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.

      Adjective
      Noun
      Verb
    44. Using 〜ながら for Contrasting Clauses

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

      Adjective
      Noun
      Verb
    45. Using 〜ながら for Simultaneous Actions

      ながら is used to indicate that two actions take place simultaneously. In many ways, it is similar to "while" in English grammar.

      Verb
    46. Using 〜なさい for Commanding Someone Politely

      〜なさい is a suffix that creates the polite imperative form. While it is a polite way to make a command, 〜なさい still implies that the speak…

      Verb
    47. Using 〜にくい for "Difficult to..."

      〜にくい is derived from an obsolete adjective 難い (difficult). It is used to describe the difficulty or hardship of doing something or achi…

      Verb
    48. Using 〜やすい for "Easy to..."

      Rooted in the adjective 易い (easy), 〜やすい is used to describe the ease of an action or achievement, in much the same way as we might say …

      Verb
    49. Using だろう for Guessing

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

      Adjective
      Noun
      Verb
    50. Using でしょう for Guessing (Polite)

      でしょう is used to speculate based on your interpretation of something, though you lack proof. Often translated as "perhaps," "I assume," …

      Adjective
      Noun
      Verb
    51. Using と with Verbs for "When..."

      When と is used to show a "strong causal relationship," it shows either a condition and a result that always follows, or successive acti…

      Verb
    52. Using なら for Conditions

      なら is often translated as "if" and used to state the condition needed for a certain to take place. When using なら, speakers state their …

      Adjective
      Noun
      Verb
    53. Using んです for Explaining Things

      んです indicates that something is said based on background information or knowledge shared between the speaker and the listener. For this…

      Adjective
      Noun
      Verb
    54. Verb Conjugation Groups

      Japanese verbs can be separated into three conjugation groups: godan verbs (五段動詞), ichidan verbs (一段動詞), and irregular verbs (変格動詞). Th…

      Conjugation Form
      Verb
    55. 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
    56. 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
      Conjugation Form
    57. 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
    58. 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
    59. い-Adjective て Form

      Using the て form of い-adjectives, you can combine words and clauses to express meanings such as "and" or "so".

      Adjective
    60. 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
    61. く Form as Adverb

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

      Adjective
      Adverb
    62. く Form as Noun of Time or Location

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

      Adjective
    63. く Form as a Linking Device

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

      Adjective
    64. さすが

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

      Adjective
      Adverb
    65. The primary function of だ is to mark nouns and な-adjectives as present tense and positive, but it can also add an emphatic nuance in so…

      Adjective
      Noun
    66. だった

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

      Adjective
      Noun
    67. でした

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

      Adjective
      Noun
    68. です

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

      Adjective
      Noun
    69. 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