Japanese Grammar


Japanese grammar can be quite different from the grammar of English and other Western languages, but it is a fundamental component of the language that must be mastered in order to communicate effectively.

Below are some key features of Japanese grammar that learners need to understand and be aware of:

Sentence Structure

In Japanese, the basic sentence structure is subject-object-verb (SOV). This means that the subject comes first, followed by the object, and then the verb.

For example, "I eat sushi" would be expressed as "Watashi wa sushi wo tabemasu" (literally "I sushi eat"). This is the opposite of English, which uses a subject-verb-object (SVO) structure.


Particles are small words that are added to the end of nouns and other words to indicate their grammatical function in the sentence. For example, the particle "wa" is used to indicate the subject of the sentence, while the particle "o" is used to indicate the direct object.

There are many other particles that are used to indicate things like location, time and other units of measurement.

Verb Conjugation

In the Japanese language, verbs are conjugated to indicate tense and other grammatical features. For example, the verb "taberu" (to eat) can be conjugated to indicate past tense ("tabeta"), negative tense ("tabenai"), and more.

There are also many different verb forms that are used for things like polite speech, casual speech, and more (see below).

Honorific Language

Japanese also has a complex system of honorific language that is used to indicate respect and politeness. This involves using different verb forms, pronouns, and other grammatical features when speaking to people of higher social status or in more formal situations.

Some Japanese Grammar Examples

To Give Advice

There are many ways to give advice in Japanese :

-Tara form + ii desu

A good way to ask or give  advice is to use this grammar :

Miru > Mitara ii desu

For ex : Dono eiga wo mitara ii desu ka. どの映画を見たらいいですか。Which movie should I watch ?

Q. Dou shitara ii desu ka. A. Matara ii to omoimasu. Q.どうしたらいいですか。A.待ったらいいと思います。Q. What should I do ? A. I think you should wait.

This way to give advice means you are not 100% sure of the advice you offer. Basically, you are just giving your thought.

Ask to Do Something

This grammar will allow you to ask to someone to do something or to not do something.

Te form + kudasai て形+下さい

To ask someone to do something, use the Te form of a verb (oshiemasu = oshiete) and add kudasai.

For example:

Sumimasen ga, denwa bangou wo oshiete kudasai. すみませんが、電話番号を教えて下さい。Excuse me, please tell me your phone number.

Hidari he magatte kudasai. 左へ曲がってください。Please turn on your left.

NAI Form + De kudasai ない形+で下さい

If you want to ask someone to not do something, you should use the following grammar :

For example :

Tabaco wo suwanai de kudasai. タバコを吸わないで下さい。Please don’t smoke.

Koko ni tabenai de kudasai. ここに食べないで下さい。Please don’t eat here.

Formal form

If you want to ask in a more formal way, less polite, just take off the Kudasai in both forms. You can use it with friends or family to ask them to do or not do something.

For example:

Tsumetaku naru kara hayaku tabeni kite ! 冷たくなるから早く食べに来て。It’s getting cold, so come eat quickly !

Mada hairanai de. まだ入らないで。Don’t come in yet.


If you want to ask for the permission to do something, you can use the following grammar.

Te form + mo ii desu ka.

For example :

Q- Tabete mo ii desu ka. 食べてもいいですか。Is it ok to eat ?

  • Ii desu yo. It’s ok !

This form of grammar i s used as soon as you want to ask  permission for something. You can also use it in the negative form : to ask if not doing something is ok. Use the verb as follows : take the NAI (tabenai) form, take the i away and add Kute mo ii desu (tabenakute mo ii desu).

For example:

Q- Ashita kaisha ni ikinakute mo ii desu ka.明日会社にいきなくてもいいですか。Tomorow is it ok if I don’t go to the office ?

  • Sore ha dame desu. それはだめです。This is not ok.

In the same way, if you want to grant the authorization to someone to do something, proceed with the same grammar.

For example:

Watashi no shashin wo totte mo ii desu yo. 私の写真を取ってもいいですよ。You can take my picture!


To imply one thing causes another, you can use the following grammar :

- Kara

You can translate this particle as « so », and you have to use it after the cause it’s referring to.

For example :

Ima samui kara dekakemasen. 今寒いから出かけません。It’s cold now , so I don’t go out.

Tabun osoku narimasu kara saiki ni tabete kudasai. たぶん襲うなるから先に食べてください。I might be late, so please eat first.

Q. Doushite kono jishou wo kaimashita ka. A. Benri desu kara. どうしてこの辞書を買いましたか。便利ですから。Q. Why did you buy this dictionnary ? A. Because it’s useful.

- No de

It has the same meaning than – Kara, and it’s used the exact same way, but it’s a more polite way of saying things.

The only change is that you can not use –masu or –masen form before -no de (while you can before) –kara.

Ex : Jikan ga nai no de ikemasen. 時間がないので行けません。I don’t have the time so I can’t go.

Yasumi no hi jan ai no de hatarakanakereba narimasen. 休みの日じゃないので働かなければなりません。It’s not a day off so I must work.

- naze nara

This grammar is only used to answer a question (often « doushite… ? or naze…. ? »). It’s pretty formal.  It means « because » and it’s used as follows:

Ex :

Q. Naze nihon ni sumi ni kimashita ka ? A. Naze nara, nihonjin no kanojo to issho ni sumitakatta desu. なぜ日本に住みに来ましたか。なぜなら、日本人の彼女と一緒に住みたかったです。 Why did you came live in Japan ? Because I wanted to live with my Japanese girlfriend.


There are many ways to express the conditional in Japanese. In this article, we will explore the easiest way to do so.

-Tara Form

This grammar is very helpful to express that something is conditional. This is the easiest way, which can be used almost all the time.

The meaning is that, if the first condition is achieved, maybe the second will be achieved.

Take the verb/adjective in its TA form, and add –Ra.

For ex : Miru > Mita > Mitara.

              Nomu > Nonda > Nondara.

              Yasui > Yasukatta > Yasukattara.

              Dame desu > Dame datta > Dame dattara.
For the negative tense, take the verb in its –nakatta form, and add –Ra. 

For ex : Miru > Minakatta > Minakattara.

              Nomu > Nomanakatta > Nomanakattara.

              Yasui > Yasukunkatta > Yasukunakattara.

              Dame desu > Dame ja nakatta > Dame ja nakattara.

Examples :

Ame ga futtara, ikimasen. 雨が降ったら、行きません。If it rains, I won’t go.

Jikan ga nakattara, eiga wo mimasen. 時間がなかったら、映画をみません。If I don’t have the time, I won’t watch the movie.

Hima dattara, asobini ikimasu. 暇だったら、遊びに行きます。If I have free time, I’m going to play.

Yasukattara, ano mise de kaimasu. 安かったら、あの店で買います。If it’s cheap, I’ll buy in this shop.


In the case you would like to stress even more the conditional form, use Moshi (If) as follows :

Moshi yasukattara, kaimasu. もし安かったら、買います。If (in the case that) it would be cheap, I’ll buy.


The Tara form can also mean you’ll do something when something will be finished.
For example:

Uchi he kaettara, sugu gohan wo tabemasu. 家へ帰ったら、すぐご飯を食べます。After I come back home, I will eat soon after.

Gohan wo tabetarra, eiga miyou. ご飯をたべったら、映画を見よう。After we eat, let’s watch the movie.

Describe a State: Intentional or Not

We have seen other uses of –TE Imasu and –TE arimasu. The following grammar seems similar, but is more subtile. If you want to describe something, like that the window is open or the schedule is pinned on the board, you can do it with this grammar :

-Te form + Imasu to describe a state resulting from an intentional action

This grammar can translate as the description of an action that was done.

For example :

Mado ga hakete imasu. 窓が開けています。The window is open (meaning you know someone opened it).

Air Con ga tsukete imasu. エーコンが付けています。The air conditioner is on (meaning you know someone powered it on).

-Te form + Arimasu to describe a state with no intenational action

This grammar is used to describe a fact you can see.

For example :

Mado ga shimate arimasu.窓が閉まってあります。The window is closed (you are just describing the fact, as you don’t know if it’s intentional).

Air con ga kiete arimasu. エーコンが消えてあります。The air conditioner is off (you are just describing the fact, as you don’t know if it’s intentional).

Different use of -Te imasu

-Te form + Imasu for the continuity.

If you want to express you are always doing something, on a regular basis or that an action is continuing in time (like the fact that you are living somewhere), you can use this grammatical form.

Example : Tokyo ni sunde imasu. 東京に住んでいます。I live in Tokyo.

Apple ni hataraite imasu. Apple に働いています。 I work at Apple.

In the same way, if you do something everyday, or very regularly, and that you are continuing this activity, you can use the same grammar.

Example: Mainichi kodomo wo mukaeni ite imasu. 毎日子どもを迎えに行っています。Every day, I go pick up the kids.

Maishu umi ni oyoide imasu. 毎週海に泳いでいます。I swim in the sea every week.

-Te + imasu for Progressive present              

You’ll also see this grammar to express the progressive present.

Ex : Kanojo ha nani shite imasu ka. Ima tabete imasu. 彼女は何していますか。今食べています。What is she doing ? Now, she is eating.

Even if

If you want to express the idea that « even if » something happens, you will do or not do something else, you can use the following grammar.

For the verb : -Te and -Nakute mo

For the positive form (even if xyz happens) : Take a verb in its Te form and add mo (mite mo).

For the negative (even if yzx does not happen) : –Nai form (minai), take the –i away and add –nakute mo (minakute mo).

Ex : Tabenakute mo gakkou ni ikimasu. 食べなくても学校に行きます。Even if I don’t eat, I’m going to school.

Osake wo nomanakute mo tanoshinde imasu. お酒を飲まなくても楽しんでいます。Even if I don’t drink alcohol, I’m having fun.

Ikura kangaete mo, zenzen wakarimasen. いくら考えても、全然分かりません。However much I think about it, I still understand nothing. 

Tabete mo mada onaka ga sukimashita. 食べてもまだおなかがすきました。Even if ate, I’m still hungry.

For the i-adjective 

For the i-adjective, proceed as with the verb :

-Te form + mo : ureshii > ureshikute mo

-nakute form + mo : ureshii > ureshikunakute mo

Takakute mo kono uchi wo kaitai desu. 高くてもこの家を買いたいです。Even if it’s expensive, I want to buy this house.

Tanoshikunakute mo ano party ni ikanakereba narimasen. 楽しくなくてもあのパータイに行かなければなりません。Even if it’s not fun, I have to go to this party.

For the –Na adjective and the noun

Take the normal form and add –de mo.

For ex :

Benri demo tsukaimasen. 便利でも使いません。Even if this is easy to use, I don’t use it.

Nichiyoubi de mo hatarakimasu. 日曜日でも働きます。Even if it’s Sunday, I work.

Describe a Change

Using an adjective and the verb naru, you can express a change.

-Ku narimasu

This grammar is used with the i-adjective to notify a change in a state.  The last -i turns into –ku.

Kyou kara motto samuku narimasu. 今日からもっと寒くなります。From today, it becomes colder.

Kanojo ha atama ga yoku narimashita. 彼女は頭がよくなりました。 She became smarter.

Nedan ga yasuku narimashita. 値段が安くなりました。 The price became cheaper.

In the same way, you can use some verb ending by –i (negative form, -tai form).

Toukyou ni ikitaku narimashita.  東京に行きたくなりました。I now want to go to Tokyo.

Haha ga genki janaku narimashita.   母が元気じゃなくなりました。My mom is now not in good health.

Ni narimasu

With the Na-adjective, you can use the following grammar : change the na by ni and use the adjective.

For example :

Haha ga genki ni narimasu. 母が元気になります。 The health of my mother is getting better (literally : My mom is becoming in good health).

Kinou kara hima ni narimashita. 昨日から暇になりました。From yesterday, it’s free time.

Takusan renshu shitarra jouzu ni narimasu yo. たくさん練習したら上手になりますよ。If you exercise  a lot, you will become good.

Imasu and Arimasu

Imasu and Arimasu are both used to express the idea « There is ». They differ a little bit though.

-Ga Imasu

When you speak about human or living things, you have to use Imasu.

Ex : Ie ni nanin imasu ka. Futari ga imasu. 家に何人いますか。二人がいます。How many people are in the house. There are two people.

Niwa ni neko ga imasu. 庭に猫がいます。There is a cat in the garden.

-Ga Arimasu

When you speak about a non living thing or a place, you have to use Arimasu.

Ex : Eigakan ha doko ni arimasu ka. Chikaku ni arimasu yo.  映画館はどこにありますか。近くにありますよ。Where is the theater? It’s not far!

Tsukue no ue ha nani arimasu ka. Hon to kasa ga arimasu. 机の上何ありますか。本と傘があります。What is there on the office ? There is a book and an umbrella.

Intention to Do Something and Schedule

We have seen other uses of –TE Imasu and –TE arimasu. The following grammar seems similar, but is more subtile. If you want to describe something, like that the window is open or the schedule is pinned on the board, you can do it with this grammar :

-Te form + Imasu to describe a state resulting from an intentional action

This grammar can translate as the description of an action that was done.

For example :

Mado ga hakete imasu. 窓が開けています。The window is open (meaning you know someone opened it).

Air Con ga tsukete imasu. エーコンが付けています。The air conditioner is on (meaning you know someone powered it on).

-Te form + Arimasu to describe a state with no intenational action

This grammar is used to describe a fact you can see.

For example :

Mado ga shimate arimasu.窓が閉まってあります。The window is closed (you are just describing the fact, as you don’t know if it’s intentional).

Air con ga kiete arimasu. エーコンが消えてあります。The air conditioner is off (you are just describing the fact, as you don’t know if it’s intentional).

Koto Arimasu

This grammar allows you to state that you already did something in your life before. Instead of just using the past form of the verb, you have to use the verb in the TA form, and add Koto arimasu ことあります。You can write koto in kanji (事) or just in hiragana.

For example :

Q- Anata ha nihon ni itta koto ga arimasu ka. A- Hai, arimasu yo. Q-あなたは日本行ったことがありますか。A- はい、ありますよ。You already went to Japan ? Yes, I did !

Watashi ha Sushi wo tabeta koto ga arimasu. 私はすしを食べたことがあります。I already  ate some sushi.

Kanojo ha sumo wo mita koto ga arimasen. Boku ha mita koto ga arimasu yo kedo. 彼女はすもを見たことがありません。僕は見たことがありますけど。 She has never seen a game of sumo. But I already have.

You can also express the fact you never did even once, or you did a lot already, using the same grammar.

For example :

Ichi do ramen wo tabeta koto ga arimasen. 一度ラーメンを食べたことがありません。I never ate ramen even once.

Q- Nihon ha hajimete desu ka. A- iie, 3nen mae ni ichi do kita koto ga arimasu. Q- 日本は初めてですか。A- いいえ、3年前に一度来たことがあります。Q- Is it the first time you come to Japan ? A- No, I already came once three years ago.

-Ni Ikikmasu

To express that you are going, or went, to do something.

The rule is simple, take the verb in MASU form (for ex : Asobimasu), take the masu away and replace it with ni ikimasu :  Asobini ikimasu. 遊びに行きます。

This grammar is very useful.

For example :

Shigoto ato de issho ni tabeni ikimasen ka. 仕事あと一緒にで食べに行きませんか。Do you want to go to eat together after work ?

Ima pan wo kani ikimasu. 今パンを買いに行ます。I’m going to buy some bread now.

Kinou omoshiroi eiga wo mini ikimashita. 昨日面白い映を見に行きました。Yesterday I went to see a funny movie.

When you use this grammer with the verb Shimasu (します), you can both apply the rule or get rid of the verb and only use Ni.
For example :

Kaimono shini ikimasu. 買い物しに行きます。 I ‘m going to do some shopping.

Kaimono ni ikimasu. 買い物に行きます。I’m going to do some shopping.

Sanpo shini ikimashita. 散歩しに行きました。I went for a walk.

Sanpo ni ikimashita.  散歩に行きました。I went for a walk.

As you can see, you can use this grammar both for questioning and answering, and with all diffrent forms of a verb :

Issho ni ryouko shini ittara, tanoshi to omoimasu. 一緒に旅行しに行ったら楽しいと思います。If you go travelling together, I think it will be fun.

Eiga mini ikou ka. 英が見に行こうか。Let’s go to see a movie.

Kare to tabeni ikitai desu. 彼と食べに行きたいです。I want to go to eat with him.

You will hear it, and useit, alot, so practice.

Obligation and Rule

There are many ways to state an obligation, a rule, or to forbid in Japanese.

Banning TE form + ha ikemasen

To express a ban, or to forbid something, you can use the following grammar :

Take the verb in its TE form, and then add ha ikemasen.

Example : (Miru) Mite ha ikemasen (You can’t look.)

Gakkou de tabete ha ikemasen. 学校で食べてはいけません。You can’t eat in the school.

Koko ni tomate ha ikemasen. ここに止まってはいけません。You can’t park here.

Rule  -nakereba narimasen

To express an obligation, which comes from a ruling or an external obligation, you can use the following :

Take the –Nai form of a verb (Miru -> Minai), take the -i away and add –nakereba narimasen (minakereba narimasen).

Shukudai wo shinakereba narimasen. 宿題をしなければなりません。You must do your homework.

Gakkou ni ikanakereba narimasen. 学校に行かなければなりません。You have to go to school.

If you speak to a kid, you can use the following grammar, which means the same thing : take the NAI form (miru -> minai) take the –i away and add –sai (minasai).

Shukudai wo shinasai. 宿題をしなさい。You must do your homework.

Jibun no heya wo katazukenasai. 自分の部屋をかたずけなさい。You have to clean your own room.

Personnal obligation

This grammar allows you to express something that seems an obligation for you. This is not to express a general rule, just your situation (practical or mindset).

Take the NAI form (miru -> minai), put the –i away and add –kya (minakya).

For example :

Harry potter no eiga wo minakya. ハリポッタの映画を見なきゃ。I have to watch the movie Harry Potter.

Kaigi ni ikanakya. 会議に行かなきゃ。I have to go to the meeting.

To Give an Order

The way to give an order in Japanese is considered a rude way of talking. There are many ways to ask something, and usually if you want someone to do something, you will just advise him to do it.

But in certain cases, this grammar is very useful, because it’s quick to use and gives no misunderstanding on its meaning.

Ordering to do something

You can form this grammar with a verb as follows :

For the first group : take the MASU form, and transfert the –i to the –e corresponding.

Yarimasu    Yare

Asobimasu  Asobe

Yomimasu    Yome

Ikimasu         Ike

Shinimasu     Shine

Kakimasu      Kake

Suwarimasu  Suware

Machimasu    Mate

For the second group : take the MASU form away and add –ro.

Sagemasu  Sagero

Demasu      Dero

Mimasu      Miro  

Orimasu      Oriro 

For the third group :

Kimasu           Koi

Shimasu         Shiro 

Ordering to not do something

This form is different than the one to forbid to do something. Here, you give a negative order, like don’t move, don’t speak, don’t eat…

For all the verbs for all the groups, this grammar is the same : Take the normal form and add –na.

Yaru             Yaru na

Asobu          Asobu na

Yomu           Yomu na

Iku                Iku na

Shinu            Shinu na

Kaku              Kaku na

Suwaru        Suwaru na

Matsu           Matsu na

Deru              Deru na

Oriru             Oriru na

Taberu          Taberu na

Kuru               Kuru na

Suru               Suru na

The « TE » form (て形)

The TE form is one the most used verbal forms in Japanese. It’s crucial to have a good understanding on how you can make this form with a verb, so you’ll be able to use it in all the other verbal forms which use it.

Basically, verbs are made of three groups :

First group, which have an « i » in the « MASU » form (ます形).

Second group, which have a « e » in the « MASU » form. (some verbs with a « i » are part of this group though).

The third group, which is composed of Suru and Kuru.

First group
This is the most complicated group, as always.

Kakimasu               Kaite

Ikimasu                  Itte

Izogimasu              Isoide

Nomimasu            Nonde 

Yobimasu              Yonde 

Kaerimasu             Kaette

Kaimasu                 Katte

Machimasu           Matte

Kashimasu             Kashite  

As you can see, there is a pattern : Ki becomes -ite, except when the letter before is already a vowel, it becomes -tte. Gi becomes -ide. Mi, Bi, Ri, and Chi becomes –tte. Shi become –shite.

Second group

This group is easier to deal with. Just take the Masu form, take Masu away and add Te.

Tabemasu     Tabete

Nemasu         Nete

Kimemasu     Kimete

Okimasu        Okite

Karimasu       Karite

Mimasu         Mite

Imasu             Ite

You can see in this list the exception to the rules, which have a « I » in the masu form, but are part of the second group.

Third group

Shimasu   Shite

Kimasu     Kite

Note that all the verbs like « Sanpo shimasu » become « Sanpo shite » and so on.

But don’t be fooled by this Te form, as some verbs like Nakushimasu will become Nakushite, but are actually for the First group (the normal form being nakusu).


In Japanese, there are different ways to express that things are happening before, after, or at the same time. Some might seem similar, but they are all expressing a different nuance.

Te Form + kara て形+から

This grammar allows you to express a direct continuity between two actions. One action is done right after the other. This grammar is often used.

For example

Tabete kara nemashita. 食べてから寝ました。I slept after eating.

Shigoto owatte kara kaerimasu.  仕事終わってから帰ります。Once I finish wor, I go home.

-Ta + Ato de た+あとで

This grammar allows you to do the same as the Te form + kara, but with the idea that the second action is done sometime after the first, not right after. You can use it with verb by using the Ta form and with a noun using No + ato de.

For example

Tabeta ato de nemashita. 食べたあとで寝ました。I slept after I ate (not immediately after eating).

Shigoto owaru ato de kaerimasu. 仕事終わったあとで帰ります。When work is finished, I’ll go home (but not right after). 

Shokuji no ato de ocha wo nomimasu. 食事のあとでお茶を飲みます。After a meal, I drink some tea.

Toki とき

You can use this grammar to specify something that happens at the same time (a little after or before, depending on the form of the verb). You just add Toki after a verb or an adjective, or No toki after a noun.

For example :

Michi wo wataru toki kuruma ni ki wo tsukemasu. 道を渡るとき車に気を付けます。When crossing the street, watch out for cars.

Uchi he kaeru toki kasa wo kaimasu.  家へ帰るとき傘を買います。When I’ll go back home, I’ll buy a umbrella.

Atama gai tai toki kusuri wo nomimasu.  頭が痛いとき薬を飲みます。When my head hurts, I drink some medicine.

Hima na toki ongaku wo kikimasu. 暇なとき音楽を聞きます。During my free time, I listen music.

Tanjoubi no toki okane wo moraimashita. 誕生日のときお金を貰いました。During my birthday, I received money.

 When this grammar is used with the TA form, the meaning changes a little bit : when the verb is in TA form, it describes the first action. So the other action came after the TA form verb.

For example :

Uchi he kaetta toki « tadaima » to iimasu. 家へ帰ったとき「ただいま」と言います。When you get back home (understand : after you get home) you say « tadaima ».

Kaisha he kita toki denki wo tsukemashita. 会社へ来たとき電気を付けました。When I arrived in the office, I turned on the lights.

As you see, the action in TA form is the first to be realized. When the verb is used in normal form, it is the last to be realized.

Mae ni  前に

You can use mae to state that you do something before something.

For example :

Nihon he kita mae ni nihongo wo benkyou shimashita.  日本へ来た前に日本語を勉強しました。

Before I came to Japan, I studied Japanese.

Shokuji no mae ni te wo araimasu. 食事の前に手を洗います。Before the meal, I wash my hands.

Neru mae ni hon wo yomimasu. 寝る前に本を読みます。Before sleeping, I read a book.

To Be Able To (Can)

There are different ways of expressing the idea that you can or able of doing something.

- koto ga dekiru  (-ことができる)

This form allows you to say that you are able to do something or that something is doable.

Watashi ha oyogu koto ga dekiru.   私は泳ぐことができる。   I can swim.

Koko de densha no kippu wo kau koto ga dekimasu. `ここで電車の切符を買うことができます。 Here, you can buy train tickets.

This is an easy way to express that idea.

The « kanou » form可能形

可能 means doable. So the verbs in this form express that someone or something can be done.

Here again, the verbs of the 3rd groups are different.

1st group

The rule to get to the form of the first group is easy :

You take the hiragana table, and you translate from the –i column to the –e column. You apply the change on the verb, and you have it. 

i – ki – shi – chi – ni – hi – mi – i – ri – i

e – ke – se – te – ne – he – me – e – re – e

Hikimasu                         Hikemasu

Oyogimasu                     Oyogemasu

Yomimasu                      Yomemasu

Asobimasu                      Asobemasu

Hashirimasu                   Hashiremasu     

Utaimasu                        Utaemasu  

Mochimasu                     Motemasu

Naoshimasu                    Naosemasu

2nd group

The rule for these verbs is even easier to apply, but often very complex to pronunciate correctly.

You have to take away the MASU and add RAREMASU.

Tatemasu                          Tateraremasu

Tabemasu                         Taberaremasu

Oboemasu                        Oboeraremasu

Orimasu                             Oriraremasu

3rd group

Shimasu                              Dekimasu

Kimasu                                Koraremasu

Examples of sentences

The Kanou form is always used with the particle GAが

Watashi ha hashi ga tsukaemasu.   私は箸がつかえます。I can use chopsticks.

Nihongo ga sukoshi wakarimasu.   日本語が少し分かります。I understand Japanese a little.

Kanji ga mada yomemasen.   漢字がまだ読めません。I can not yet read the kanji.

Mimasu 見ます and Kikimasu聞きます

These two verbs have two different forms that each has a different meaning.

Mimasu (I see) becomes Miraremasu (I can see) when you are expressing that someone has the possibiliy to see something. The subject is the person seeing, not the object.

Ex : Kare ha kowai eiga ga miraremasu. かれは怖い映画が見られます。  He can watch scary movies.

But Mimasu (I see) becomes Miemasu (It can be seen) when you want to express that someting is visible. The subject is the thing (or person) visible. It doesn’t depend on you if the thing is visible or not. The action is made towards you, not by you.

Ex : Uchi kara fujisan ga miemasu.  家から富士山が見えます。From the house you can see the mount Fuji (litterally « the mount Fuji is visible »).

       Watashi ha chiisai ji ga mienai.  私は小さい字が見えません。I can’t see the small letters.

The same goes for Kikimasu.

Ex :  Watashi ha rock ga kikemasu.  私はロクが聞けます。I can listen rock music.

        Neko no koe ga kikoemasen deshita. 猫の声が聞こえませんでした。I couldn’t hear the cat’s voice.

How to Compare

Making a comparison in Japanese is somewhat easy. We will look at three different ways to express a comparison.

A ha B yori

You can use this grammar to compare two things directly.
For example :

America ha nihon yori ookii desu. アメリカは日本より大きいです。The United States is  bigger than Japan.

Kanojo ha kare yori takai desu.  彼女は彼より高いです。She is taller than him.

Nihon kara Tai ha Furansu yori chikai desu. 日本からタイはフランスより近いです。 From Japan, Thailand is closer than France.

No hou ga

You can use this grammar to state that one thing is more xyz than the other.

For example :

Hon to eiga to dochira ga tanoshii desu ka. Eiga no hou ga tanoshii desu.  本と映画とどちらが楽しいですか。映画のほうが楽しいです。Between books and movies, which are more funny ? Movies are funnier.

Kare to kanojo to dochira ga takai desu ka. Kanojo no hou ga takai desu.  彼と彼女とどちらが高いですか。彼女のほうが高いです。Between him and her, who is taller ? She is taller.


To express a preference, you can use the following grammar : ga ichiban xyz desu. 

For example :

Sports de nani ga ichiban omoshiroi desu ka. Basket ball ga ichiban omoshiroi desu.  スポーツで何が一番面白いですか。バスケとバルが一番面白いです。Among the sports, what is the most entertaining ? Basketball is the most entertaining (sports).

To Give and to Receive

The way to express you are giving or receiving something in Japanese is a bit more complex than in English.

To give - Agemasu

Agemasu is used to describe the action of giving. The subject is always the person giving.

This verb can be used very simply :

Example: Watashi ha haha ni omiyage wo agemashita. 私は母にお土産をあげました。I gave a souvenir to my mom.

To receive - Moraimasu

Moraimasu is used to describe the action of receiving.

The subject is always the person receiving, and the person giving is used with the –ni particle.

Ex : Watashi ha sensei ni ringo wo moraimashita. 私は先生にりんごを貰いました。I received an apple from the teacher.

To give  - Kuremasu

Kuremasu is used to express the idea that someone give you something, from your point of view.

It differ from Agemasu, as the subject will never be « I » or « Me », but always someone else. Instead, watashi will be used with the –ni particle.

Ex : Kanojo ga watashi ni tokei wo kuremashita. 彼女が私に時計をくれました。She gave me a watch.

To Quote in Japanese

To quote in Japanese, you use the following grammar: (what was said) to iimashita. と言いました

The one rule to respect is to use the verb in the (what was said) sentence in the normal form.

For example :

Kare ga ima uchi he kaeritai to iimashita. 彼が今家へ帰りたいと言いました。He said he wants to go back home now.

Kanojo ha keki ga suki to iimasu. 彼女はケーキーが好きと言います。She says she likes cake.

Tomodachi ha kaisha ha taihen da to iimashita. 友達は会社は大変だと言いました。A friend said that he’s having a hard time at his company.

Haha ha kyou kuru to iimashita. 母は今日来ると言いました。My mom said she is coming today.

Chichi ha ashita umi he ikanai to iimasu. 父は明日海へ行かないと言います。My father says he won’t go to the beach tomorow.

Itte imashita 言っていました。

 This form of grammar as a slightly diffrente meaning. In fact, it’s use to make a direct quotation, implying you were told a message that you repeat to someone else.

Kachou ha ashita kaisha ha yasumi ni natta to itte imashita. 課長は明日は休みになったと言っていました。The boss said that tomorow will be off.

Ani ha senshu nimotsu wo okutta to itte imashita. 兄は先週荷物を送ったと言っていました。My big brother said that he sent the packages last week.

To Think

In Japanese, to give your point of view or your thought, there is an easy grammar very similar to the one for quoting.

To omoimasuと思います。

You use the verb in its normal form (non polite) and add –to omoimasu. For the i-adjective and na-adjetive, use them also in their normal form. 

For example :

Ashita ame ga furu to omoimasu. 明日雨が降ると思います。I think it will rain tomorow.

Kanojo mou kaetta to omoimasu. 彼女もう帰ったと思います。I think she already went back home.

Nihon ha bukka ga takaii to omoimasu. 日本は物価が高いと思います。I think the prices are expensive in Japan.

Kare ha shinsetsu da to omoimasu. 彼は親切だと思います。I think he is kind.

It’s as simple as it is, and you will need this grammar a lot to give your opinion, so practice it.

What You Want

In Japanese, there are different ways to say you want something or to do something.

Ga hoshii がほしい

This form allows you to express that you want something. It has to be an object or material, with the only exceptions that time and holidays can be used as well.

Hoshii can be used in past tense and negative form like a i-adjective : Hoshikatta , Hoshikunai, Hoshikunakatta.

For example :

Watashi ha atarashii kuruma ga hoshii. 私は新しい車がほしいです。I want a new car.

Watashi ha jikan ga hoshikatta desu. 私は時間がほしいです。I wanted time.

Watashi ha tomodachi ga hoshikunai desu. 私は友達がほしいです。I don’t want friends.

Watashi ha jitensha ga hoshikunakatta desu. 私は自転車がほしくなかったです。I didn’t want a bike.


Ga hoshii is a grammar that can only be used to describe YOUR feeling. You can not use this grammar to speak about someone else’s feeling.  

For example, you can not say : Anata ga hoshii or Kare ga hoshii.

Tai form

This form allows you to change a verb so you can express that it’s what you want, or not, to do.

Take the verb in the MASU form (ikimasu), take the MASU away and add TAI desu (Ikitai desu).
For the opposite, take the TAI form (ikitai), and modify it like you would with an i-adjective, by removing the i and add KUNAI desu (ikitakunai desu). The same goes for past tense.

For example:

 Ryokou ni ikitai desu. 旅行にいきたいです。I want to go travelling.

Sushi ga tabetakatta desu. すしが食べたいです。I wanted to eat sushi.

Hatarakitakunai desu. 働きたくないです。I don’t want to work.

Nanimo shitakunakatta desu. なにもしたくないです。I didn’t want to do anything.

I hope the content of this page was useful to you, and that it helped you with your Japanese grammar.

Overall, mastering Japanese grammar takes time and practice, but it is essential for anyone who wants to communicate effectively in the language. With a solid understanding of sentence structure, particles, verb conjugation, and honorific language, learners can start to express themselves with confidence and clarity in Japanese.

Make sure to check our Learn Japanese page, which contains several lessons that might help you in your learning process.