History: Basics

Revision made 2 years ago by Francisco Presencia. Go to the last revision.

Here we learn the basics of Japanese sentences and structures. rYou are assumed to be fluent in Hiragana and Katakana, otherwise please review them thoroughly.

A sentence in Japanese has the subject first, then the object(s) and finally the verb (or omitted for to be). For this English sentence:

I am Francisco.

In Japanese it'd be translated as:


This is the decomposition of that sentence:

  • わたし: the pronoun I
  • は: particle that indicates the preceding is the subject
  • フランシスコ: "Francisco" in katakana
  • です: formal particle in the end; no need for "to be", it is implied.

Pronouns in Japanese are a difficult topic, so we will just be using 私(わたし), "I", and for "you" and "he/she" we will use the name or last name of the person instead.

The general structure for "I am __" is:


When we want to say the opposite, "I am not __", then we use:


Exercise: say 3 different things that you are and 3 things that you are not in Japanese. Use a Google translate to search for the adjectives and/or nouns.

Asking questions

To ask a question first you should add "か" to the end of the sentence. This is the equivalent of "?" in Japanese. You can build simple sentences with this, for instance asking if my name is Francisco:


However, soon we want to start to ask more elaborate, open-ended questions. Let's ask "what is your name?":


  • なまえ(名前): "the name"
  • は: indicates the previous is the subject
  • なん(何): "what"
  • ですか: polite question termination