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Part 7: Other Important Aspects of Japanese

I'm going to use this page as an "odds and ends" section where I'll cover random, miscellaneous aspects of the Japanese language that don't fit into the other pages. I plan to keep adding more to this page as I think of things to add and as my Japanese skills improve ^.^ So keep checking back!

Other common words

Here are examples of other common and fairly simple words in Japanese that can help you start building up your grammar abilities.

dake: only, just

Example: Neko dake desu.
It's just a cat.

deshou/darou: probably ("darou" is the informal form of "deshou")

Example: Kyou ame ga furu darou.
It'll probably rain today.

Example: Ano hon ga suki deshou.
He probably likes that book.

Though "deshou" and "darou" usually mean "probably," they don't always translate as that. They're basically used instead of "desu" or "da" at the end of a sentence in order to show the speaker's conjecture or supposition about something, without making a flat-out statement.

hou ga ii (desu/da): had better, should, better to

Example: Ashita yasunda hou ga ii desu.
You should take off tomorrow.

Example: Heya wa shizuka na hou ga ii to omoimasu.
I think it would be better if the room was quiet.

no ni: although, despite, even though

Example: Yoku benkyou shita no ni, tesuto wa dame ni narimashita.
Although he studied a lot, the test turned out bad.

mitai: looks like

Example: Kare wa tsukareta mitai desu.
He looks tired.

sou (desu/da): I hear/heard that, looks like

Example: Taro-san wa raishuu amerika ni iku sou desu.
I heard Taro is going to America next week.

Example: Kono asagohan wa oishisou!.
This breakfast looks delicous.

The plain form of a verb plus "sou desu/da" means "I hear/heard that". It's usually used to report hearsay. The stem of an adjective plus "sou desu/da" means something "looks" a certain way, indicating the speaker isn't sure about it.

toki: when, time when

Example: Kanashii toki, ongaku o kikimasu.
When I'm sad, I listen to music.

Example: Tomodachi no ie ni kuru toki, itsumo biiru o mottekimasu.
When I go to my friend's house, I always bring beer.


Unlike English, where we count all things the same way (three books, three people, three birds, three houses...), Japanese uses different counters depending on the subject being counted. Usually the general numbers (ichi, ni, san, etc.,) are used, but they're combined with different endings. There are a ton of different counters, but here are concise examples of some of the most common ones.

People (-nin)
hitori: one
futari: two
sannin: three
shichinin: seven
juunin: ten

Books (-satsu)
issatsu: one
nisatsu: two
sansatsu: three
nanasatsu: seven
juussatsu: ten

Flat objects (-mai)
ex: cards, shirts, paper
ichimai: one
nimai: two
sanmai: three
nanamai: seven
juumai: ten

Long, slender objects (-hon, bon, pon)
ex. bottles, pens, trees
ippon: one
nihon: two
sanbon: three
nanahon: seven
juppon: ten

Small animals (-hiki, piki, biki)
ex. cats, dogs, mice
ippiki: one
nihiki: two
sanbiki: three
nanahiki: seven
juuppiki: ten

Seconds (-fun, pun)
ippun: one
nifun: two
sanpun: three
nanafun: seven
juuppun: ten

General counter
This one can be used for a variety of objects that don't fit into other categories and it's usually acceptable to use for most small to normal sized objects. It's irregular compared to most of the others though. After ten, counting is reverted back to using just the regular numbers.
hitotsu: one
futatsu: two
mittsu: three
yottsu: four
itsutsu: five
muttsu: six
nanatsu: seven
yattsu: eight
kokonotsu: nine
tou: ten

Demonstrative forms

In Japanese, words to describe relative distance such as "this" and "that" can take on three different forms. These forms that indicate position are as follows:

Ko-: This one refers to something near or in the immediate area of the speaker.

Example: Kore wa watashi no hon desu.
This is my book.

Example: Kono hon wa watashi no desu.
This book is mine.

Example: Kinou koko ni kimashita.
I came here yesterday.

Example: Kochira e kite kudasai.
Please come this way.

So-: This one refers to something near or in the immediate area of the person being spoken to. It could also refer to something not near the speaker, but not very far away either.

Example: Sore wa watashi no kuruma desu.
That (near you) is my car.

Example: Sono kuruma wa watashi no desu.
That car is mine.

Example: Soko ni ite mo ii desu ka.
Is it okay for you to be there.

Example: Sochira wa watashi no haha desu.
That person (near you) is my mother.

A-: This one refers to something farther away, that's neither near the speaker nor the person being spoken to.

Example: Are wa nan desu ka.
What's that (way over there)?

Example: Ano hikouki wa totemo hayakatta desu.
That plane was very fast.

Example: Asoko de asobimashou.
Let's play over there.

Example: Achira no hito wa yasashii desu.
That person over there is really nice.

Well, this is going to be the last page of the Learn Some Japanese Guide. I think I've covered pretty much all the introductory aspects of the language. I'm only covering the most basic and easy stuff in this guide, so if you feel like you've been left hanging, pick up a Japanese language text book and study away! As I said, if I think of any other parts of the language that I feel should be put into the guide, I'll be sure and add them when I have the time. I plan to major in Japanese when I go to a university, so maybe once I graduate I'll start making a more advanced level guide. Who knows. And also, since I first started the guide, I've gotten a much better computer that's able to type Japanese characters, so I really should go back one day and input kana and kanji in addition to roumaji. But for now, if you still want to learn everything else about Japanese that I haven't talked about, you'll have to use one of the many other sources out there! =)

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