From last time, I shared my first hand experiences of self-studying the Japanese Language last month. Another month passed by and I have learned quite a lot, most namely one of the intimidating aspects of the language, verb and adjective conjugations.
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Verb & Adjective Conjugations
Conjugations are always a crucial part of any language as it determines the tense of the verb such as present, past, future, etc. Although verb conjugations look easy in English, there are many irregular verbs such as “buy” and “bought” that it can become confusing to someone learning the language for the first time. In Japanese, verb conjugations are more straight forward as you cut the る (いちだん, ichidan) off or change the う (ごだん, godan) syllabary to one that ends with an い (e.g. いく(to go) > いき) and add ~ますor 〜ません (negative). On the other hand, you may come across some irregular verbs. Conjugating them is done like it’s a る and う verb combined (e.g. する(to do) > し). For me, it took some practice until I could conjugate these verbs without looking back at the textbook.
In the four chapters I have covered, I have learned several conjugations, which are the present, past and て-forms. Here are some examples of how they look like:
見る (to see, ichidan verb)
- Dictionary – 見る
- Present, affirmative – 見ます
- Present negative – 見ません
- Past, affirmative – 見ました
- Past, negative – 見ませんでした
- て-form – 見て
聞く (to talk, to ask, godan verb)
- Dictionary – 聞く
- Present, affirmative – 聞きます
- Present negative – 聞きません
- Past, affirmative – 聞きました
- Past, negative – 聞きませんでした
- て-form – 見て
The same also applies to い and な adjectives, but done slightly differently:
寒い（cold, い adjective)
- Dictionary – 寒い
- Present, affirmative – 寒いです
- Present negative – 寒くありません
- Past, affirmative – 寒かったです
- Past, negative –寒くありませんでした
- Te form – 寒くて
元気(energetic, な adjective)
- Dictionary – 元気な
- Present, affirmative –元気です
- Present negative –元気じゃありません
- Past, affirmative –元気でした
- Past, negative –元気じゃありませんでした
- Te form – 元気で
In some verbs, they are followed by participles such as:
- で – Describes where the event happened by the verb
- に – Describes people, time, or a goal towards things that moves
- へ – Does the same thing as に, dedicated only for goal of movement (pronounced as e)
- を – Direct object, which the verb is taking action on (pronounced as o)
- も – Referencing a common attribute with the first sentence (essentially functioning as “too”. Replaces は,が and を. For others, it goes after the participle.
In addition, there are other considerations: 〜ましょう that functions as “let’s …” that allows one to suggest a plan or action. Also, adding a か to a negative verb asks an invitation to someone.
Other participles to consider:
- と – Connects two nouns or describes with whom you doing something
As I have mentioned last time, the Japanese language uses a SOV (subject-object-verb) In the last post. Lesson 3 pretty much expands this further by adding time references, frequency and such depending on the verb. For instance…
Miki ate a parfait at a café today.
From experience, sentences in Japanese are very flexible depending on arrangement of the words and the verb used. Keep in mind that the time always goes before the place/object/goal and the frequency preceding that.
In Japanese Language, the て form is the most important part of the grammar. This form has several uses such as making requests, giving/asking permission, forbidding something, describing an action in progress/past event or joins two sentences together. Like the verb conjugations mentioned earlier, you only add て for る verbs. However, there are several rules depending on the hiragana used for う verbs and it can get a bit tedious if you don’t practice.
Examples of how the て form is used…
Please watch the movie.
May I take your picture?
Yes, you may. or
No, you may not take a picture of me.
Joining two sentences:
Nagisa ate breakfast and went to school.
That cat is white, small and cute.
Action in Progress/past event
Haruka is eating Ice Cream.
Activities that will last some time:
James studies Japanese.
My younger sister knows English
Conclusion and Challenges Ahead
After two months of reading through the lessons, it seems that I’m starting to understand a bit more compared to before. Some of the words I learned started to become recognizable while I watch a show or listening to Japanese music. Still, the toughest part of the language is the Kanji or rather the Chinese Characters. Although I can understand some of them from repetition, I felt that learning it through a hands on approach is a bit more effective than memorizing the character, On’yomi and Kun’yomi readings straight up. I’ll focus more on that next time when I experience more while learning the short forms and other grammar rules.
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