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Japanese Lessons

Lesson 3 - Verbs

1. Tense

Like in English, Japanese has present, future, and past tense. But, there is the exception. The exception is there is only past and present tense in Japanese. The present thense can also be used as the future tense, when used right.

The present has:

1a. Existence
Hon ga arimasu. - There is a book.

1b. Natural every day jobs/Common sense
Mainichi sanpo shimasu. - I take a walk every day. Ushi wa kusa o tabemasu. - Cows eat grass.

1c. Something that is happening at that moment
Ima sanpo shiteimasu. - I am taking a walk now.

* Something that is happening at the moment, uses the te form (the progressive form,or -ing ) to show the difference of now and the future.

1d. Future Event

Ashita sanpo shimasu.. - I will take a walk tomorrow. The past tense has:

2a. Past Event
Tanaka san ni denwa shimashita. - I phoned Mr/Ms. Tanaka.

2b. Something that has already happened
Tanaka san ni denwa shimashita. - I have phoned Mr/Ms. Tanaka.

2a and 2b are different. The only time they are different is when there is a negative answer to a question.

Tanaka san ni denwa shimashita ka? - Did you phone Mr/Ms. Tanaka?
--Iie, shimasen deshita.

- No, I didn't. Tanaka san ni denwa shimashita ka? - Have you phoned Mr/Ms. Tanaka?
--Iie, shite imasen. - No, I haven't.

The other concept such as past perfect is expressed using the past tense of the te form of the verb.

2. Participles

This is a small word of speech that shows the relationship of a sentence.

tabete - eating
itte - going

To make a participle, the past tense of a word with -a, needs to be changed to -e.
The participle is used in

katte-imasu - be buying (progressive tense)
katte-kudasai - please buy (polite command)

This kind of speech also can connect two clauses.

Shibuya ni itte gohan o taberu. - I go to Shibuya and eat.

The Japanese language also has a different negative conjugation. kaimasen - not buy

3. "To Be" verbs

The three words in Japanese that express, "to be" is: desu, arimasu, and imasu.

desu - equal, be

Anata no tokei ga okurete iru no desu. - Your watch is slow.

Present - desu
Past - deshita
Probable - desh"
arimasu - be, exist

Shinguru rumu wa arimasu ka. - Do you have a single room?

Present - arimasu
Past - arimashita
Probable - arudesh"
imasu - equal, be (used for living things)

Watashi wa hoteru ni imasu. - I am at a hotel.

Present - imasu
Past - imashita
Probable - irudesh"

4. Formality

The past lesson of adjectives, the i and na adjectives, have informal and formal styles, like with the male speech and female speech, in the past lessons. I tend to use the formal style, rather than informal. That doesn't mean you should do as I do, just do what you are comfortable with. You should still learn informal styles, because you don't want to look as if you don't know what you are doing. If you look up that word in the dictionary, it will always be presented in the informal form. The informal style, ironically, is sometimes called the dictionary form. The formal style is called the "-masu" form or "-desu" form. It is called that because the present tense of the verb is ending with "-masu" and the adjective ending will be "-desu".

The "-masu" form can be conjugated three ways, but, it depends on the verb. If the verb stem you have ends with the sound of, "-e" (tabE-ru) or "-i" (mI-ru), you should drop the "-ru" and add the "-masu" (tabemasu, mimasu). If the verb happens to end with another sound, like, kaku(to write) or yamu(to read), ect., then, drop the "-u" and "-imasu" (kakimasu, yomimasu, ect.). Some irregular verbs, such as kuru(to come) and suru(to do) conjugate to "kimasu," "shimasu," and so forth.

Now, with the "-desu" form, you just add "-desu" on the end of the adjective, whether it be a "i" or "na" adjective.

If you find yourself in a business or a school project, or even, when a speaker does not know much about the listener and cannot be sure whether it is appropriate to use the informal style, "-masu" and "-desu" should be said. When saying these words, "-masu" should be pronounced as "-mas" and "-desu" should be pronounced as "-des."

The informal style can be used, but, in the way of saying that the place you are at is only speaker to self, and, doesn't have to have listeners. Children often learn this form first, because, they do not know about the social hierarchy of life. Monologue uses this form, for obvious reasons.


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