Now that we’re through with the background info and prepping its time to dive right in and learn some Japanese.
As explained in the last two lessons sentences have a specific structure, with subjects, verbs and objects, and in Japanese the order goes: Subject, Object and Verb.
Let’s take a look at a simple sentence which only has a Subject and a Verb.
English: I am John.
Japanese: Watashi wa John desu.
Watashi = I
Wa = ‘sentence subject marker’
John = John
Desu = am (am, or is, verb ‘to be’)
The first thing we notice is this strange ‘wa’. This in Japanese grammar is called a particle. We do not have an equivalent to this in the English language at all, so this is brand new stuff.
The meaning is terribly simple so don’t be frightened. All ‘wa’ means is an ‘indication’ which goes directly after the subject of the sentence. In this sentence ‘Watashi (I)’ is the subject, so therefore ‘wa’ should go right after ‘Watashi’, making: “Watashi wa”, all this means is “I”, ‘wa’ in itself has no meaning, it is only an indicator.
To complete the sentence we add the verb ‘to be’ which in Japanese is ‘desu’, and remember the verb goes at the end of the sentence.
Watashi wa John desu.
I John am
Another simple example:
Kono ringo wa oishii desu
This apple delicious is
Note the subject is: “This apple”. “Oishii” is an adjective and helps describe our subject. “Desu” is the verb ‘to be’.
Now let’s get a full on example of subject object verb in Japanese. And notice there is not only the ‘wa’ particle there is also a new one called ‘wo’. And just like ‘wa’ the ‘wo’ particle comes right after a word, in this case the ‘object’. There for whatever word is just before ‘wo’ is the Object of that sentence. The object is ‘receiving’ the action from the verb.
I eat apples.
Watashi wa ringo wo taberu
I apples eat
Notice the two particles ‘wa’ and ‘wo’. ‘Wa’ coming right after the subject “watashi”, and ‘wo’ coming right after the object ‘ringo’. ‘Taberu’ is the verb ‘to eat’.
You may be bewildered or fascinated to learn that there are over five different choices to use when saying ‘I’ in Japanese. Watashi is the standard ‘formal’ way of saying ‘I’ and so safest, but there are many options: