One of the most important grammar points is asking and giving permission. The way to do that is by using the phrase “te mo ii” (てもいい).
If you ask me how often I use it, I’d say pretty often. If it’s not me using it, it’s me hearing it being used. In both statement and question form, this grammar language can save you a few minutes of language barrier and miscommunication. Sure, a “daijoubu” (大丈夫) can cover most situations, but aren’t we all here to up our nihongo game?
The information in this article can also be found on our Nihongo Master Podcast, Season 4 Episode 11. While you can get most of the information in this article, we have roleplaying scenarios on the podcast. Check that out!
If you read online, some pages would say that this grammar language is about granting permission or asking permission. That’s the formal way to put it. It’s kind of like saying “You may do this” or “May I do this?” Reminds me of when I was in elementary school and had to ask permission to go to the toilet.
But this is not that kind of permission. It’s more like asking casually “Can I do this” or “Is this act permitted to do”. The best example when you want to try something on when you’re in a clothes shop but are unsure if it’s okay to do that. So you ask, “can I try this on?”
Quick Recap of the Te-Form
The first part of the grammar point is to understand the te-form. We covered that in Season 4 Episode 13 of the podcast, but keep an eye out for the article on the blog!
Anyway, ru-verbs have the ending ru (る) changed to te (て), while u-verb ending with u (う) have a few different conjugations. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Those ending with ru (る), tsu (つ) or u (う) have their final syllable replaced with tte (って). For example, noru (乗る) becomes notte (乗って)
Those ending with ku (く) have their final syllable replaced with ite (いて). For example, kaku (書く) becomes kaite (書いて)
But if it ends with gu (ぐ), like oyogu (泳ぐ, which means to swim), then the gu (ぐ) is replaced with ide (いで) to make oyoide (泳いで).
Those ending with nu (ぬ), bu (ぶ) and mu (む) have their final syllable replaced with nde (んで). Shinu (死ぬ) becomes shinde (死んで)
Those ending with su (す) have their final syllable replaced with shite (して). For example, hanasu (話す) becomes hanashite (話して).
Asking for permission using てもいい
Now onto the format of this grammar point. After getting the te form, we add mo ii to the verb. The format is:
Verb (て form) + もいい
As for our example of “can we try this on?”, we first get the verb, which in this case is shichaku suru (試着する) to mean “to try something on”. We change it to its te-form, which means instead of ending in the u sound, it ends with te instead.
In our case, we have suru — this is an irregular verb which changes from suru (する) to shite (して). And you get shichaku shite (試着して). We then add the grammar point which is “mo ii”, to get: shichaku shitemo ii? (試着してもいい？) The polite form of the question is: shichaku shitemo ii desu ka? (試着してもいいですか？)
We usually add “ka” (か) to ask if something is okay or permitted to do: temo ii desu ka? (てもいいですか) You can also omit the “ka” if it’s in casual form, or even add “no” (の) to make “temo ii no” (てもいいの).
Giving perrmission using てもいい
If you remove the ka (か) at the end, you basically get the sentence version instead of a question.
Let’s have another example: let’s say you want to tell someone, “it’s okay to eat the cake.”
The verb to eat is taberu (食べる), but make sure to change it to its te-form which is tabete (食べて). Cake is kēki (ケーキ); now put them together with the grammar point and you get: kēki wo tabetemo ii (ケーキを食べてもいい).
You can also say that it’s okay to not do something as well, and the grammar point is “nakutemo ii” (なくてもいい). All you have to do is get the verb in its negative form and then change it to its te-form.
The format is:
Verb (negative て form) + もいい
Don’t panic just yet, it’s not that hard at all. We’ll use the cake example. If you want to say “it’s okay to not eat the cake”, we change taberu (食べる) to tabenai (食べない), then change it to tabenakute (食べなくて). Then just add the grammar language. All together you get: kēki wo tabenakutemo ii (ケーキを食べなくてもいい).
In the episode, we introduced a few new Japanese words. Here’s a list of them for your reference:
Shichaku suru (試着する) — to try something on
Taberu (食べる) — to eat
Kēki (ケーキ) — cake
Wanpisu (ワンピス) — dress
Meccha (めっちゃ) — very
Ao (青) — blue
Aka (赤) — red
Shichaku shitsu (書着室) — fitting room
Chigau (違う) — to differ or to vary
Ookisugiru (大きすぎる) — to be too big
Saizu (サイズ) — size
Esu (エス) — S (for size)
Iro (色) — colour
Reji (レジ) — cash register
Kādo (カード) — card, short for credit card
Genkin (現金) — cash
ijou (以上) — more than
Tsukau (使う) — to use
Kau (買う) — to buy
Hoshii (欲しい) — want
Suwaru (座る) — to seat
Mada (まだ) — not yet
Kimeru (決める) — to decide
Chikaku (近く) — nearby
Miru (見る) — to see
Oishii (美味しい) — delicious
Nanika (何か) — something
Isshoni (一緒に) — together
Fuku (服) — clothes
Takusan (たくさん) — a lot
Surippa (スリッパ) — slippers
Bīchī (ビーチー) — beach
Hayai (早い) — fast or early
Kutsu (靴) — shoes
Haku (吐く) — to wear (for items like pants, skirts, footwear), if it’s shirts you use “kiru” (着る) instead
Benri (便利) — convenient
Ask and Give Permission in Japanese!
Isn’t granting and asking permission a breeze? Whether it’s for shopping or just everyday situations, it’s without a doubt a useful grammar language you want to have up your sleeve. I mean, it can even be used in business situations — but that’s a whole other episode on its own!
Check out our other blog articles for similar basic Japanese grammar points, as well as our Nihongo Master Podcast’s Study Saturday language series!
One of the most important conjugations in the Japanese language is the te (て) form. You need it for a lot of other conjugations. So if you don’t master the te form, you can’t really get into a lot of other grammar points.
In our Season 4 Episode 13 of the Nihongo Master Podcast, we decided to break down the basics of the te-form. When I was studying Japanese on my own, I remember this being one of the most difficult points to wrap my head around. But hey, my past struggle is now for your benefit, because I’ll break it down nice and easy for you!
The way this recap article, as well as the original podcast episode, is structured is exactly like Nihongo Master’s online learning system – grammar point explanation and breakdown, a few example situations (only on the podcast), and ending it off with a very handy list of all the vocabulary words we used. So if you like our breakdowns on the blog and podcast, sign up for our program now!
Oh, the te-form, my old friend. This is without a doubt one of the most important conjugations in Japanese grammar. Without the te-form, you won’t be able to really grasp some of the other Japanese grammar. It’s kind of like a level up token. As soon as you master this, you go from speaking short simple sentences to flawlessly and fluidly expressing your thoughts in clauses.
Let’s first take a look at how to conjugate the te form.
Te Form Format
The te form has a different format for different types of words. We’ll take a look at verbs first.
For ru (る) verbs, they’re pretty simple. You first remove the ending ru (る) and then add te (て). The format is:
Ru verb (minus る) + て
Let’s use “taberu” (食べる) which is a ru verb. All you have to do is switch the ending ru with te:
食べる = 食べ = 食べて
How about u () verb conjugations then? U verbs can be a little confusing, so we’ll take it slow here. I’ll make the breakdown simple:
U-verb that ends with ru (る), tsu (つ) and u (う), you take the ending letter with the sound of u (う) and add tte (って). The format is:
U verb (minus ending う sound) + って
乗る (noru) = 乗 (no) = 乗って (notte)
待つ (matsu) = 待 (mat) = 待って (matte)
会う (au) = 会 (a) = 会って (atte)
U-verb that ends with nu (ぬ), bu (ぶ) and mu (む), you take the ending letter with the sound of u (う) and add tte (んで). The format is:
U verb (minus ending う sound) + んで
死ぬ (shinu) = 死 (shi) = 死んで (shinde)
遊ぶ (asobu) = 遊 (aso) = 遊んで (asonde)
飲む (nomu) = 飲 (no) = 飲んで (nonde)
U-verb that ends with ku (く), you take the ending letter with the sound of u (う) and add tte (いて). The format is:
U verb (minus ending う sound) + いて
書く (kaku) = 書 (ka) = 書いて (kaite)
U-verb that ends with gu (ぐ), you take the ending letter with the sound of u (う) and add tte (いで). The format is:
U verb (minus ending う sound) + いで
泳ぐ (oyogu) = 泳 (oyo) = 泳いで (oyoide)
U-verb that ends with su (す), you take the ending letter with the sound of u (う) and add tte (して). The format is:
U verb (minus ending う sound) + して
話す (hanasu) = 話 (hana) = 話して (hanashite)
There are exceptions known as irregular verbs:
To do: する(suru) =して (shite)
To come: くる(kuru) = きて (kite)
To go: 行く (iku) = 行って (itte)
Conjugating i-adjectives to its te-form is simple. You take the ending i (い) and add kute (くて). The format is:
I-adjective (minus い) + くて
美味しい (oishii) = 美味し (oishi) = 美味しくて (oishikute)
Nouns & な Adjectives
Getting the te form for nouns and na-adjectives are the same. You just add de () after the word. The format is:
Noun + で
Na-adjective (without な) + で
日本人 (nihonjin) = 日本人で (nihonjin de)
簡単な (kantanna) = 簡単 (kantan) = 簡単で (kantan de)
Ways of using the te form
So what exactly does the te-form do? There are five ways:
The first way is to ask and give permission with te mo ii (てもいい). It’s like saying “is it okay to…?” Check out our recap article or Season 4 Episode 11 of the podcast to learn more. In short, the format is:
Verb te form + もいい
The next way of using the te form is by using it as a simple conjunction. Instead of saying “I did A. I did B”, you’ll be able to say “I did A and B” with the te-form.
Let’s have an easy example: “I ate pizza and drank coffee.”
You can say it as “ピザを食べた。コーヒーを飲んだ。” (piza wo tabeta. Kōhī wo nonda.) But this translates to “I ate pizza. I drank coffee. To have the “and” in the middle, you use the te-form to get: ピザを食べてコーヒを飲んだ。(piza wo tabete kōhī wo nonda.)
The third way to use the te-form is by using it as a simple command. If you want to politely command someone to sit, like “hey, sit down”, just conjugate the word for “to sit” (座る) into its te-form: 座って (suwatte).
But a command to not do something gets tricky: you first have to change the word to its negation and then add a “de”. The format is:
Negative verb (without い) + で
To say “don’t sit down”, you say it as 座らないで (suwaranaide)
It’s different from the negative form of the te-form, which can’t be used as a command. For the negated te-form, whether it’s verbs or adjectives, all you have to do is negate the word first, then change the ending nai (ない) to nakute (なくて).
The fourth way to use the te form is to express a reason or a means. It’s like saying “so” or “because”. While you can use the particle kara (から) for “because”, this is another way to say it.
Let’s have this example: “I saw some really cheap shoes, so I bought them.”
You could use “kara”, like 靴が安いから買った。(kutsu ga yasui kara katta). But you could also conjugate the i-adjective: 靴が安くて買った。(kutsu ga yasukute katta).
Our final way of using te-form is by combining it with iru (いる) to make te iru(ている) , the present participle.
Verb (て form) + いる
To say “I’m watching TV”, you say it as “テレビを見ている。”(terebi wo miteiru)
In the podcast episode, we have roleplaying scenarios that exemplify this grammar point. Since we used a lot of new words, here’s a list for your reference:
Noru (乗る) – to ride
matsu (待つ) – to wait
au (会う) – to meet
kaku (書く) – to write
oyogu (泳ぐ) – to swim
hanasu (話す) – to speak
kutsu (靴) – shoes
yasui (安い) – cheap
yu-mei (有名) – famous
miru(見る) – to see
hima (暇) – free time
eigakan (映画館) – cinema. eiga (映画) is movie, kan (館) is building
kaimono (買い物) – shopping
mise (店) – shop
Nanji (何時) – what time
Ame ga furu (雨が降る) – to rain
Kasa (傘) – umbrella
Motsu (持つ) – to bring
tatsu (立つ) – to stand up
suwaru (座る) – to sit
sugu (すぐ) – immediately
shigoto (仕事) – work
taihen (大変) – difficult
hirugohan (昼ごはん) – lunch
isogashii (忙しい) – busy
nomisugiru (飲みすぎる) – to drink a lot
ochitsuku (落ち着く) – to calm down
yameru (止める) – to stop
hanasu (話す) – to speak
shuumatsu (週末) – weekend
Conjugate the Te Form Like A Pro!
Okay, that’s pretty loaded. So, can we all agree that the te-form is one of the most useful grammars in Japanese? Let’s have a short recap to conclude what was discussed in the article and podcast episode:
Te form is used in 5 ways:
to give and ask permission by adding もいい to make てもいいi
As a simple conjunction
As a simple command (for the positive te-form only)
To express a reason
To form present participle by adding いる to make ている
To conjugate verbs into te-form, figure out if its a ru or u verb.
With る-verbs, the ending る is replaced with て.
Those ending with る, つ or う have their final syllable replaced with って.
Those ending with ぬ, ぶ and む have their final syllable replaced with んで.
Those ending with く have their final syllable replaced with いて.
Those ending with ぐ have their final syllable replaced with いで.
Those ending with す have their final syllable replaced with して.
To conjugate adjectives, i-adjectives just have the い change to くて, and な-adjectives have the な changed to で.
To conjugate nouns, add で.
The negated te-form is achieved just by negating the word (both verb and adjective) and then having the ない changed to なくて.
Phew. What’s the toughest part of this conjugation for you? If you need a bit more practice, check out the full podcast episode on the Nihongo Master Podcast! Or even better, get a subscription with us and you can practice the te form as much as you want!
This article will cover a grammar point that is super easy, ridiculously quick to learn and basically the best for a laid-back study sesh. Can you guess by the hints I’m dropping?
In our Season 4 Episode 15 of the Nihongo Master Podcast, we take a look at expressing superlatives in Japanese as part of our Study Saturday language series. We cover all the ways to say “the best”, “very”, “super”, “extremely” and everything else in between. If you don’t already know, the Study Saturday language series is formatted just like the Nihongo Master online learning system. Give the podcast a listen, and if you love it, you’d love our program!
Anyway, even though this article is recapping what we covered in the podcast episode, it also has enough information to get you to grasp the basics of Japanese superlatives!
The superlative in English is made with ending most words in “-est” or start them with “the most”. Fast becomes fastest. Convenient becomes the most convenient. But we’re not here to learn English, we’re here to learn Japanese.
And in Japanese, the most common way to express superlative is by using the word “ichiban” (一番). This means “number one”. The format goes:
一番 + adjective
Let’s take a look at a few examples. “Fast” is hayai (早い) in Japanese. To say “fastest”, we just add that word after the word “ichiban”: 一番早い. It literally translates to “number one fast” but it’s basically saying “fastest”.
“Convenient” is “benri” (便利) in Japanese. To say “the most convenient”, using the format above, we get: 一番便利
The formal version of that is “mottomo” (もっとも). So instead of using “ichiban”, you switch it out for “mottomo”. The format is exactly the same:
Another common way to express superlatives is with the prefix “sai” (最), which can be translated to “most”. Words in this category are mostly Sino-Japanese, which means that it’s of Chinese origin or makes use of morphemes of Chinese origin. There are a few exceptions to this, but we won’t go into detail, of course.
Some common words that use the “sai” prefix that I hear often are: saitei 最低 or saiaku 最悪 (to mean the worst ) and saikou 最高 (to mean the best).
Expressing them in a scope
In any of the ways, you can express them within a scope. All you have to do is have the region after the subject, connect it with “no naka de” or just “de” to mean “in” or “among”, and then add whichever superlative form you want (ichiban, mottomo or sai prefix). The format is:
Subject + Scope (using の中で or で) + Superlative (一番 or もっとも or 最〜) + Adjective + Noun
For example, if you want to say, “Tokyo Sky Tree is the tallest building in Japan”, where the scope is “in Japan”, you can say it as: Toukyou sukaitsurii ha nihon no naka de ichiban takai tatemono. (東京スカイツリは日本の中で一番高い建物。)
Don’t be confused just yet. Let’s have another example. We all know Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. How do we say that in Japanese? Following the format, we get: eberesuto ha sekai de ichiban takai yama. (エベレストは世界で一番高い山。)
Asking a superlative question
Now how do we ask a superlative question? Easy. Simply add the question words (like dare, doko, itsu, Nani and dore), then the ga () particle, then the superlative form of the adjective and then the noun. The format is:
Question word (だれ or どこ or いつ or なに or どれ) +が + Superlative (一番 or もっとも or 最〜) + Adjective + Noun
So if you want to ask your classmate who they think is the coolest in class, you say it as:
kurasu no naka de, dare ga ichiban kakkoii to omou? (クラスの中で、誰が一番かっこいいと思う？)
In the podcast episode, we used a few new Japanese words. Here’s a list of them for your reference:
hayai (早い) – fast
Benri (便利) – convenient
Saitei (最低) or saiaku (最悪) – the worst
Saikou (最高) – the best
No naka de (の中で) – in or among
Sekai (世界) – world
Takai (高い) – tall, it can also be used to mean expensive
Yama (山) – mountain
Kakkoii (かっこいい) – cool
Onaka ga tsuku (お腹がつく) – to be hungry
Chou (超) – very
Iroirona (色々な) – various
Isshoni (一緒に) – together
Sugu (すぐ) – immediately
Douyatte (どうやって) – how
Meccha (めっちゃ) – the informal way of totemo (とても)
Saisoku (催促) – fastest
Houhou (方法) – way
Dekoreeshon (デコレーション) – decoration
Saishin (最新) – latest
Shokuji (食事) – food. Tabemono (食べ物) is also another way to say food
Tokubestu (特別) – special
Chuumon suru (注文する) – to order
Muzukashii (難しい) – difficult
Dame (だめ) – impossible
So, do you think this article is the best at explaining superlatives? I think it’s the simplest and easiest way of explaining superlatives in Japanese!
Now, I have a question for you: ニホンゴマスタポッドキャストの一番いいことは何ですか？
Speaking of the podcast, tune in to our latest seasons! We have an exclusive podcast promo code that is 50% off your entire subscription of the Nihongo Master program!
When I first started learning Japanese, I realised that this is one of the ways to level up my language skills fast and easy. So I thought it would be good to share it with all of you. This article is a recap of what we covered in the podcast episode. But don’t worry, you will get the full information you need here, too.
The only thing you’ll be missing is the roleplaying scenarios. You would have to tune in to the podcast for that!
The thing to note about this grammar point is that half of it has already been covered in Season 3 Episode 13. This covers the conditional form “if”. There are a lot of ways to express conditional. There are a total of four, and today, we’re going to use all four of them. Check the full episode out, or our recap article here. To summarise:
The first way is using とto express constant results and actual conditions:
Verb (plain) / i-adjective +と
Noun / na-adjective + だと
The second way is using ば to express a hypothetical condition, and is one of the more general forms:
Verb (with the last う sound changed toえ) + ば
i-adjective (the い sound changes toえ) + ば
noun / na-adjective + あれば
The Third way is たら. It is similar to “ba” as it’s also the other general conditional form, but it’s more for one-time results:
Past tense of any word + たら
Last but not least, the fourth way is なら, and it is for contextual conditions:
Plain form of any word + なら
Conditional + いい
Once you know how to conjugate to the conditional form, it becomes easy after that. To express hope using “i hope” or “it’ll be good if”, you add いい to the conditional form:
Conditional と + いい
Conditional ば + いい
Conditional たら + いい
Conditional なら + いい
From what I know, the differences between them are very slight, and very much based on the context. I’d say it’s similar to how you’d use the conditional forms. I always stick to tara ii and ba ii as I hear them being used the most.
Let’s have an example sentence: “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow.” The first step is getting the conditional sentence first, which gets you “ashita ha ame ga furanai to” (明日は雨が降らないと). This is using the first type of conditional. Then add the “ii” afterwards to make the sentence: “ashita ha ame ga furanai to ii” (明日は雨が降らないといい). This translates more better to “If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, it’ll be good”.
To say “it’ll be good if it rains”, you can say it as: ame ga fureba ii (雨が降ればいい). I personally have no problem saying it as “ame ga futtara ii” (雨が降ったらいい) either. So to me, they all are more or less interchangeable.
Using it as a question
If you want to use it as a question, like “is it good if I…”, or in other words, “should I…”, I don’t think all conditional forms work. I would suggest sticking with tara ii and ba ii.
The best example is: “what should I do?” You can change “dou suru” (どうする) which means “what to do” to either of the two conditional forms and have the same meaning: “dou sureba ii?” (どうすればいい？) or “dou shitara ii?” (どうしたらいい？)
In the podcast episode, we use a lot of new vocabulary words. Here’s a list for you to refer back to:
Ame ga furu (雨が降る) — to rain
Jikan (時間) — time
Hontoni (本当に) — really
Hareru (晴れる) — to clear up
Warui (悪い) — bad
Asatte (明後日) — the day after tomorrow
Mirareru (見られる) — to be able to see
Kawari ni (代わりに) — instead
Ryouhou (両方) — both
Tonikaku (とにかく) — anyway
Konya (今夜) — tonight
Kaimono (買い物) — shopping
Komu (混む) — to be crowded
Nipponshoku (日本食品) — Japanese food
Takai () — expensive or high
Onaka tsuita (お腹ついた) — to be hungry
Shinpai (心肺) — worry
Tenki yohou (天気予報) — weather report
Tanoshimi ni (楽しみに) — looking forward to
What are you hoping for?
So, what are you hoping for? It can be as small as hoping for a sunny day to hoping for a holiday to Japan. I’ll let you figure that one out, now that you’re a pro at expressing hope in Japanese. Check out the full episode to have more examples of this grammar point in our roleplaying scenarios, as well as other everyday grammar points.
Better yet, sign up with us for unlimited access to our online learning materials to level up your Japanese game!
Pride month is here! To celebrate LGBT communities around the world, let’s learn some LGBT terms in Japanese.
First off, the term for sexual orientation is 性的指向 (せいてきしこう, seiteki shikō). The concept of different sexual orientations is somewhat new in Japan. Therefore, LGBT representation and acknowledgement have only recently come into the spotlight. Younger generations are more vocal about LGBT rights and representation, so these terms have only recently reached the general public. Since sexual orientation is only now making headway in mainstream Japan, many of its LGBT-related terms are loanwords.
For example, the term “coming out” in Japanese is カミングアウト (kamingu auto), a literal translation of the English phrase.
The scientific term for homosexuality in Japanese is 同性愛 (どうせいあい, douseiai). It literally translates to “same sex love” since 同 (どう) means same, 性 (せい) means sex or gender, and 愛 (あい), of course, means love! This pattern will be seen throughout the orientations we look at below.
To say “homosexual/gay person” you add 者 (しゃ), which means person, to create 同性愛者 (どうせいあいしゃ).
The English loanword ホモセクシュアル (homosekushuaru) is also used. This term is sometimes shortened to ホモ (homo), though this can be offensive to some.
The most common term used for “gay” is also a loanword: ゲイ (gei).
The same goes for lesbian: レズビアン (rezubian).
The shortened version, ビアン (bian), is the most used version. It can also be shortened to レズ (rezu).
The official term for bisexuality in Japanese is 両性愛 (りょうせいあい, ryousei ai). This is very similar to the term for homosexuality, however, in this case, 両 (りょう, ryo) is used, which means both or two.
The term バイセクシャル (baisekusharu) is also used. Like in English, it is often abbreviated and written as バイ (bai) to mean bi.
The concept of pansexuality is not well-known in Japanese society. Even so, it has an official title: 全性愛 (ぜんせいさい, zenseiai). 全 (ぜん, zen) means “all” so the term literally translates to “all sex love.”
The much more common term for pansexual, however, is the loanword パンセクシャル (pansekusharu). It is also shortened to just パン (pan) like in English!
Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction. In Japanese, the official term is 無性愛 (むせいあい, museiai), because 無 (む, mu) means no. Literally “No sex love.”
Like the other phrases, the more commonly used term is the English loanword: アセクシュアル (asekushuaru).
If a person has no sexual attraction but does feel romantic attraction, we typically use the term “aromantic” in English. In Japanese, this orientation is known as ノンセクシュアル (nonsekusharu), literally “non-sexual.” It can be shortened to ノンセク (nonseku). The official term is 非性愛 (ひせあい, hiseiai).
Let’s also look at the terms for heterosexuality.
The official term for heterosexuality is 異性愛 (いせいあい, iseiai). 異(い) means opposite or different, so this term translates to “opposite sex love.”
A common slang word for straight is ノンケ (nonke). This word comes from the English prefix “non” and the Japanese word 気 (き), which, in this instance, means “feeling.” The term originated in the LGBT community, so it is used mostly within the community, but is still common knowledge. It generally refers to straight men.
Loanwords are also used: ストレート (sutorēto) means straight and ヘテロ (hetero) is the same as in English.
The concept of gender identity is rather new in Japan, so it is not as well-known or as understood as it is in some countries. Due to this, the term for gender identity, 性自認 (せいじにん, seijinin), is not often used.
The most common term for transgender is トランスジェンダー (toransujenda). It can be shortened to トランス (toransu) or トラ (tora).
The terms FtM (Female to Male) and MtF (Male to Female) are also used the same as they are in English. They are not common knowledge in the general public, but are used within the trans community.
Unlike most of the other terms, nonbinary does not have an official term or loanword. This is because the concept is much newer in Japan and awareness is only just beginning.
The term closest to nonbinary or gender-queer in Japanese is X-ジェンダー (ekusu jenda) which can also be written as エクスジェンダー.
You may have heard of sexualities in Japanese being compared to cooking pots. The term おかま (okama) is believed to have originated during the Edo period (1604 and 1867). Its official definition is rice pot. The pot became a euphemism for a person’s–especially a male’s–backside. From that, it became a derogatory term used to describe gay men, drag queens, and trans women. This word can be offensive and so it should not be used to refer to a person or group. However, some in the LGBT community have reclaimed the term and use it to describe themselves. It is especially common among drag queens now.
The female counterpart to おかま is おなべ (onabe), which means cooking pan. This word is used to describe lesbians, trans men, and even tomboys. Like おかま, it is a derogatory term that has been reclaimed by some who want to use it to describe themselves.
The last cooking term is not an LGBT word, per se. It is おこげ (okoge), which literally means “burnt rice stuck to the pot.” This term refers to women, particularly straight women, who love gay men, prefer their company, and/or fetishize them. This term is mostly used by the LGBT community.
The loanword クィア (kuia) is the literal translation of the word “queer.” In English, queer has become a reclaimed word that many in the LGBT community use to describe themselves. In Japanese, the word is mostly used in an academic sense. It may be seen in research papers, news articles, and similar platforms.
Another term found in news articles in addition to common conversation is “sexual minority.” The official term used for this is 性的少数者 (せいたきしょうすうしゃ, seiteki shousuusha). It is also referred to by its loanword 性的マイノリティー (せいてきマイノリティー, seiteki mainoriti), which can be shortened to セクマイ (sekumai). “Sexual minority” is used both inside and outside the LGBT community. It is an umbrella term for anyone within the LGBT community, aka the sexual minority.
I remembered the times I went somewhere in Japan and needed to express something that’s too much or not enough — let alone having to request for something more or less because of it. My beginner Japanese textbooks did not teach me these.
So I thought, hey, I can take my past struggles and make it into something someone else can learn from.And here I am — guiding you through all the language you need to navigate through the excessive and insufficient!
The Study Saturday language series on the podcast is formatted just like the Nihongo Master online learning system, so for a sneak peek at what our program has to offer, tune in to our podcast!
Too Much using すぎる
Maybe you ate too much for dinner? Or over the weekend you were in bed practically the whole day because the night before you drank too much beer!
The phrase to use to say “too much” is “sugiru” (すぎる). So to say “too much”. We attach this to the end of adjectives and verbs
For adjectives, we take off the i (い) from i-adjectives and na (な) from na-adjectives, then attach the phrase at the end. The format is:
I-adjective (without い) + すぎる
Na adjective (without な) + すぎる
Let’s say you want to say “it’s too old” in Japanese. The world for “old” is “furui” (古い). First we take い out of furui to get furu (古), then add the phrase. You get: “furusugiru” (古すぎる).
That’s an example for i-adjective. Here’s an example for na-adjective: “It’s too easy.” The word for “easy” is na-adjective “kantanna” (簡単). First you take out the な from kantanna to make kantan (簡単) Then you add the phrase to get: kantansugiru (簡単すぎる).
For the verbs, it’s pretty similar to adjectives. Take out ru (る) from ru-verbs, and change u (う) from u-verbs to i (い). The format is:
U-verb (without う) + い + すぎる
Ru-verbs (without る) + すぎる
Here’s an example for u-verb in a sentence: “I drank too much beer”. “Beer” is easy: bīru (ビール). To drink is nomu (飲む), then and because it’s an u-verb, you change the ending う to い, and you get nomi (飲み) Using the format, you get: “bīru wo nomisugita.”(ビールを飲みすぎた。)
すぎる conjugates like a ru-verb, so its past tense is sugita.
Here’s an example for a ru-verb in a sentence: “I ate too much for dinner.” “Dinner” is yūshoku (夕食). “To eat” is taberu (食べる), which becomes tabe (食べ). The sentence you get using the format is: “yūshoku ni tabesugita. (夕食に食べすぎた。)
Now, to say something’s not enough, there are two ways — the first is using the word tarinai, the negation of tariru which means “to be enough”. So if you want to say “I don’t have enough money”, we say it as “okane ga tarinai”. Oh, aren’t we all short on cash… But anyway, this phrase is more often attached to nouns as it translates more closely to “there isn’t enough….”
Another way is using juubun (it literally translates to ten parts but in Japanese it refers to being 100%). If you want to say you haven’t eaten enough, you say it as “juubun ni tabetenai”. You have to negate the verb in the sentence when you use juubun.
Not Enough 足りない and 十分〜ない
What about… if you don’t have enough money! Or what if for dinner, instead of eating too much, you didn’t eat enough?
To say something’s not enough, there are two ways: the first is using the word tarinai足りない, the negation of tariru足りる which means “to be enough”. This phrase is more often attached to nouns as it translates more closely to “there isn’t enough….” You add ga after the noun. The format is:
Noun + が + 足りない
Here’s an example sentence: “I don’t have enough money”. “Money” is “okane” (お金). Then using the format we get this sentence: “okane ga tarinai.” (お金が足りない。)
Another way is using “juubun” (十分). It literally translates to ten parts but in Japanese it refers to being 100%. This phrase can be used with verbs. First, you add the phrase then add ni (に). Then, you have to negate the verb in the sentence. The format is:
十分 + に + Verb (ない form)
Noun + 十分 + じゃない
十分 + な + Noun + がない
Let’s translate this sentence using the verb format: “I haven’t eaten enough”. Following the format, you get: “juubun ni tabenai.” (十分に食べない。)
BONUS: Requesting using 多めで and 少なめ
When you get something too much or not enough, you might find yourself requesting to fix it. You might want to make requests to add more of something because it’s not enough or add less of something because it’s too much. This was something I had to figure out the hard way, but not for you guys!
If you want more of something, you use the phrase “omori de” (おもりで) or oome de” (多めで) after the noun. The format is:
Noun + おもりで / 多めで
Say you want a larger portion of rice or pasta at a restaurant. You’d want to say something like this: “a large portion of rice, please”. “Rice” is gohan (ご飯). Then add the phrase to get: “gohan omori de onegaishimasu”. (ご飯おもりでお願いします)
Let’s have an example with the other phrase. Say you want more pickles in your dish, for whatever reason, just say “pikurusu oome de onegaishimasu”. (ピクルス多めでお願いします。)
What about the opposite? What if you want less of something?
Something that’s extremely fresh in my memory is when I went to Starbucks and wanted to ask for less syrup in my coffee — I don’t know why, but Starbucks coffee is always extremely sweet! So I found out that all you have to do is say “sukuname” (少なめ) to mean less than usual.
Noun + 少なめ
So in my case, using the format we get: “shiroppu sukuname onegaishimasu!” (シロップ少なめお願いします。)
We used a lot of new words in the episode, so let’s have a list for reference:
Furui (古い) — old
Kantan (簡単) — easy
Tariru (足りる) — to be enough
Okane (お金) — money
Karai (辛い) — spicy
Chuumon (注文) — order. The verb is chuumon suru (注文する)
Kirai (嫌い) — hate
Sushi ya (寿司屋) — sushi shop. Ya (屋) can be attached to anything to mean shop, like ramen ya (ラメン屋) is Ramen shop
Itsumo (いつも) — always
Aji (味) — flavour or taste
Nemu (眠む) — to rest or sleep. Nemuru (眠る) is also another way to say to sleep
Enki (延期) — postponement
Tanoshimi suru (楽しみする) — to look forward to something
Tomodachi (友達) — friend
Shoukai suru (紹介する) — to introduce
Nomikai (飲み会) — drinking party
Too Much or Not Enough?
So you see, the grammar language introduced here is useful for both travel and everyday conversations. What is something that is too much or not enough for you recently?
If you’re interested in similar bite-sized grammar pointers, head over to the Nihongo Master Podcast for more. On the blog, we have recap posts of our podcast episodes — not only is there a brief summary of what we discussed in each episode but also the full vocab list for you to refer back to.
As part of our Study Saturday language series on the Nihongo Master Podcast, we cover bite-sized language pointers in a fun and easy way. It’s formatted just like our online learning system: : we’ll go through the grammar point, then have a few role playing scenarios for you to get yourself accustomed to the new grammar language, and end it off with a recap of all the new vocab words we used.
In our Season 3 Episode 11, we learn how to make comparisons with “more than” and “less than”. Have you ever needed to make a comparison before? I do it on a daily basis — whether it’s to say that taking the train is faster than the bus or if coffee’s better than tea.
Regardless of what type of comparison you’re making, we can all agree that it’s a pretty common daily occurrence and we must definitely learn how to say it in Japanese, right? And the best part of it all is that it’s not difficult in the least to do that!
This article is a recap of what was discussed in the episode, so check the full episode out on our podcast (where we have some scenarios for you to practice with). But don’t worry, you’ll be able to get the sufficient amount of information to use the grammar in this article, too!
If you’ve checked out our previous Study Saturday episodes, we covered how to give advice using “hou ga ii” in Season 3 Episode 9. Check out our recap article here, too. You’ll find that a part of this week’s grammar language is pretty similar. In summary, there are three ways to state comparison: “no hou ga…yori”, “yori” and “hodo”.
No hou ga…yori (の方が〜より)
The first way of comparison is by using “no hou ga…yori” (の方が〜より). It’s pretty similar to “hou ga ii” which is a way of saying “you should” in Japanese. “No hou ga” is like saying “more”, and “yori” is like saying “than”. The format is:
A の方が B より(adjective)
(Adjective) A more than B.
Let’s have an example sentence: “I like vanilla ice cream more than chocolate ice cream.“
The adjective in this sentence is “I like” which is suki (好き). Subject A, which is the one that is more than the other, is vanilla ice cream (バニラアイス). Subject B is then chocolate ice cream (チョコアイス). You get this structure:
Here’s another example sentence: “I think horror movies are more interesting than action movies.”
Subject A in this sentence is ”horror movies” (hora- eiga, ホラー映画). Subject B is “action movies” (akushon eiga, アクション映画). The adjective is “interesting” (omoshiroi, 面白い). To say “I think”, it’s “to omou” (と思う). Check out Season 2 Episode 8 of the podcast, or the recap article here.
You get the sentence:
Hora- eiga no houga akushon eiga yori omoshiroi to omou.
The second way of stating comparisons is similar to the first way. You can switch out no hou ga with the particle ha (は), and just use yori to make comparisons. The format is:
A は B より(adjective)
(Adjective) A more than B.
So the above sentence can also be said as:
ホラー映画 (A) + は + アクション映画 + より + 面白いと思う。
hora eiga ha akushon eiga yori omoshiroi to omou.
One thing to note is that you can only use “ha~yori” when the thing that’s being compared is the topic of the sentence. For the previous example, “horror movies” is the subject of the sentence. If the topic of the sentence is just “movies”, then the sentence becomes:
Eiga ha hora- no hou ga akushon yori omoshiroi to omou.
As for the first sentence on ice cream, the topic of the sentence is “vanilla ice cream”. If the topic of that sentence is just “ice cream”, the sentence than becomes:
aisu ha banira no hou ga choco yori suki desu.
See the difference?
Last but not least, the third way of comparing. We use ~hodo (〜ほど) to talk about the opposite construction: X is not as something as Y. “Hodo” can translate to mean “to the extent of”. The format is:
X は Y ほど (adjective in the negative form)
X is not as (adjective) as Y.
Let’s translate this sentence: “I think running is not as fun as swimming.”
X in this sentence is “running”, which is hashiru (走る). Y in this sentence is “swimming”, which is oyogu (泳ぐ). The adjective in this sentence is “fun”, and the negative form “not fun” is tanoshikunai (楽しくない). You will get this full sentenceL:
Hashiru ha ogogu hodo tanoshikunai.
We can also have this sentence using the previous grammar point (using ha…yori), and it becomes:
Oyogu hou ga hashiru yori tanoshii.
Swimming is more fun than running.
If you’re comparing verbs, you don’t say “no hou ga”, but rather just “hou ga”.
It might be a bit overwhelming but let’s have a quick recap:
We use no hou ga…yori (の方が〜より) to make comparisons.
We can also use ha…yori (は〜より), only when the subject of comparison is also the topic.
We use ~hodo (〜ほど) when comparing in the opposite construction of “not as something as”.
In the podcast episode, we used a few Japanese words. Here’s a list of them for your reference:
banira (バニラ) — vanilla
Choco (チョコ) — chocolate
Aisu (アイス) — ice cream
Sukina (好きな) — like
Hora- (ホラー) — horror
Akushon (アクション) — action
Eiga (映画) — movie
Omoshiroi (面白い) — interesting
Hashiru (走る) — to run
Oyogu (泳ぐ) — to swim
Tanoshii (楽しい) — fun
Amai (甘い) — sweet
Shiokarai (塩辛い) — salty
Takai (高い) — expensive
Yasui (安い) — cheap
Chuumon suru (注文する) — to order
Kau (買う) — to buy
Kaban (カバン) — bag
Kutsu (靴) — shoes
Kaimono (買い物) — shopping
Gogo (午後) — afternoon
Iro (色) — colour
Tenki (天気) — weather
Aka (赤) — red
Aoi (青) — blue
Kuro (黒) — black
Shiro (白) — white
Adding comparisons to your everyday sentences quickly levels up your skills in the language. And it makes for great conversations with your friends. Why don’t you give this a try the next time you’re practicing your Japanese? For more ideas and examples of these grammar points, check out the full episode on the Nihongo Master Podcast!
There are four ways to express “if” in japanese. Now don’t get put off by the idea just yet! That’s where the Nihongo Master’s learning system comes in and saves the day: we structure this podcast series very similarly to our online learning system, where we break down the grammar points for you step-by-step in the simplest way possible, and assist you even more with a few roleplaying scenarios filled with the key grammar.
This article is a recap of what we discussed in the episode. Most of the important points can be found in this article, but if you want to listen to the roleplaying scenarios, you’ve got to tune in to the full episode!
There are many ifs in life: If I turn off the light, it gets dark. If I get sick, I’ll eat medicine. I’ll go to the museum if I have time. Or…if someone wants to learn Japanese, I’ll introduce them to Nihongo Master!
It’s no doubt that the conditional form is crucial to learn for any language. After you get over this hurdle of the four ways to express it in Japanese, you can consider it as a level up in your Nihongo journey.
The first way of expressing conditional is to use the particle “to” (と). This particle also means “and”, and it’s also used as a way to connect nouns. But it is also the first conditional grammar we’re looking at.
The format is:
Condition (end with verb or i-adjective) と Constant Result
Condition (ends with noun or na-adjective) だと Constant Result
If (condition), (constant result).
(Constant result) if (condition).
This is used to express constant results. In other words, you’re talking about matter-of-facts — things that are unchanging, like one plus one is two. Usually, you use this for habitual actions, natural phenomenons or the like.
For example, “if I turn off the light, it gets dark.” This is obvious, isn’t it. When you do something, it leads to a result everyone expects. In Japanese, this kind of “if” uses the particle “to”.
The condition in this sentence is “turn off the light”. In Japanese, that’s “denki wo kesu” (電気を消す). The constant result of this sentence is “to get dark”, which is “kuraku naru” (暗くなる) in Japanese. The sentence you get is:
denki wo kesu to kuraku naru.
The next way of expressing the conditional is “ba” (ば). This form is used when you’re expressing hypothetical conditions. I use this the most. The format of this sentence is…
Conditional ば Action
If (condition), (action).
(Action) if (condition).
Here’s an example for this type of conditional sentence: “If I get sick, I’ll eat medicine.”
The conditional part of the sentence is “to get sick”, which is “byouki ni naru” (病気になる). This has to be conjugated accordingly (read below). The action part of this sentence is “to eat medicine”, which is “kusuri wo taberu” 病気になる. The full sentence is:
byouki ni nareba kusuri wo taberu.
Unlike the first one where there are no changes to the word before, this one’s a bit different. Here’s a general breakdown:
For verbs, to put it simply, you change the last う to えば. There’s a slight difference between ru-verbs and u-verbs. For ru-verbs, it’s simple: replace the ending る with れ, then add ば. The format is:
Ru-verb (minus る) + れば
Eg. 見る = 見 = 見れば
As for u-verbs, you replace the last う sound with the え sound, then add ば. The format is:
U-verb (minus last う sound) + えば
Eg. 話す = 話せ = 話せば
I-adjectives are similar to u-verbs: remove the last “i” sound and add “kereba”. The format is:
I-adjectives (minus い) + ければ
Eg. 寒い = 寒 = 寒ければ
Nouns and na-adjectives
The latest category is nouns and na-adjectives. They are so simple: no changes, just add de areba. The format is:
Noun/na-adjective + であれば
Eg. 靴 = 靴であれば
Moving on to the third way of expressing conditional, and that’s “tara” (たら). We use this to express a one-time result, but it’s similar to “ba” as it expresses a general conditional.
Most of the time, tara and ba are interchangeable — ba is used more generally and tara is usually talking about a one-time result. Grammatically, you can’t use ba when the conditional clause doesn’t talk about a potential, or if the subject for both clauses are the same. You use tara instead.
Some call it the past conditional as you use the past tense of any word:
[ Verb (たform) ] + ら + Action
[ Noun + だった ] + ら + Action
[ な-adjective (minus な) + だった ] + ら + Action
[ い-adjective (minus い) + かった ] + ら + Action
If […], (Action).
(Action) if […].
Let’s have an example sentence: “I’ll go to the museum if I have time.”
The action of this sentence is “to go to the museum”, and in Japanese it is “hatsubutsukan ni iku” (初物館に行く). The other part of the sentence is “to have time” which is “hima ga aru” (暇がある). This is the part where you have to conjugate using the format above, so you get “hima ga attara” (暇があったら). The full sentence you get is:
Jikan ga attara hakubutsukan ni iku.
The last way of expressing the conditional is nara (なら). We use this when talking about contextual conditions. This is used in response to a given context — compared to the other ones where the context is set by oneself, this one has to be set by someone else. With this form, we just add it to the plain form of any word.
So you can use it for this sentence: “if someone wants to learn Japanese, I’ll
introduce them to Nihongo Master.”
The conditional part of this sentence is “wants to learn Japanese”, and that’s “nihongo wo naraitai” (日本語を習いたい). The action part of this sentence is “to introduce them to Nihongo Master”, and that’s “nihongo masuta wo shoukai suru (日本語マスタを紹介する). Following the format, you will get this sentence:
Nihongo wo naraitai nara nihongo master wo shoukai suru.
We’ll briefly recap them:
“to” is used to express constant results and actual conditions
“ba” is used to express a hypothetical condition, and is one of the more general forms
“tara” is similar to “ba” as it’s also the other general conditional form, but it’s more for one-time results
“nara” is for contextual conditions
In the podcast episode, we used a few Japanese words. Here’s a list of them for your reference:
Denki (電気) — light
Kesu (消す) — To turn off
Kuraku naru (暗くなる) — to get dark
Byouki ni naru (病気になる) — to fall sick
Kusuri (薬) — medicine
Jikan ga aru (時間がある) — to have time. Jikan means time
Hakubutsukan (初物館) — museum
Narau (習う) — to learn or take lessons in
Shoukai suru (紹介する) — to introduce
Gakkou (学校) — school
Kaimono (買い物) — shopping
Ame ga furu (雨が降る) — to rain
Suzuki (鈴木) — cold
Kasa (傘) — umbrella
Uwagi (上着) — jacket
Kau (買う) — to buy
Wanpisu (ワンピス) — one piece, usually means casual dress
Doresu (ドレス) — dress
Ni atteiru (似合っている) — to suit someone
Betsu (別) — different
Onaji (同じ) — same
Igai (以外) — other than
Hoshii (欲しい) — want
If you like it, share it!
Now you know all the four ways to express the conditional in Japanese! If you learned a thing or two from this article, do check out the full podcast episode over at the Nihongo Master Podcast!
Expressing wants and needs are one of the most important things to know how to say in any language. After all, we need to know the difference between what we desire and what we require. We covered how to say “I want” in Japanese in Season 2 Episode 10 of the Nihongo Master Podcast (a recap article can be read here). In Season 4 Episode 2, we covered how to say “I need”.
This is part of our Study Saturday language series on the podcast, where we cover useful, everyday Japanese grammar in a fun and easy way. It is formatted just like the Nihongo Master online learning system, so if you’re thinking about signing up for our program, have a taste of what we have to offer by giving our episodes a listen!
This article is a recap of what we covered in the episode, but there’s enough information here for you to grasp the grammar. For more examples, listen to the full episode!
To say “I need” in Japanese, there are two ways. Both are easy and simple. Depending on the context of the situation and the sentence structure, you have to pick which one to use.
Hitsuyou ga aru (必要がある)
The first way to say “I need” in Japanese is using the phrase “hitsuyou ga aru”. You attach it to the plain form of a verb. The format goes:
Verb (dictionary form) + 必要がある
Here’s an example sentence: “I need to study more.”
The verb in this sentence is “to study” which is benkyou suru (勉強する). “More” in Japanese is motto (もっと). Use the format from above and you get this sentence: “motto benkyou suru hitsuyou ga aru.” (もっと勉強する必要がある。)
Let’s translate another sentence: “I need to pack.”
The verb in this sentence is “to pack”, and in Japanese that is nidzukuri suru (荷造りする). So all you have to do is add the grammar point to the end of the plain form of the verb following our format: “nidzukuri suru hitsuyou ga aru”. (荷造りする必要がある。)
There’s another way to express needs, and that is with “iru” (要る). The pronunciation is the same as the phrase for “there is” — like “neko ga iru” (猫がいる) means “there is a cat”. But this “iru” is written differently in kanji.
Usually, we use “hitsuyou ga aru” when the thing that we need is a verb. If the thing that you need is a noun, we use “iru”. When attaching it with the noun, you have to use the particle “ga” (が). The format is:
Noun + が + 要る
Let’s translate this sentence: “we need to plan.”
While this sentence uses a verb “to plan”, which is junbi suru (準備する), it actually comes from the noun junbi (準備) to mean “preparation” or “arrangement”. The sentence following the format above is: “watashitachi ha junbi ga iru” (わたしたちは準備が要る。)
Let’s have another example: “we need money.”
The noun in the sentence is “money”, and in Japanese that is okane (お金). So we can say it as: “watashitachi ha okane ga iru.” (私達はお金が要る。)
In the episode, we have roleplaying scenarios exemplifying the two grammar above. We used so many new Japanese words. For those who tuned in, here’s a list of words for your reference:
Nidzukuri suru (荷造りする) — to pack
Keikaku (計画) — a plan
Junbi (準備) — preparation
Watashitachi (私達) — we
Okane (お金) — money
Motte iku (持って行く) — to bring
Haburashi (歯ブラシ) — toothbrush
Zenbu (全部) — all
Fuku (服) – clothes
Juubun (十分) — enough
Ryokō (旅行) — travel or trip
Genkin (厳禁) —cash
Yoyaku suru (予約する) — to book or make a reservation
Mada (まだ) — not yet
Hikōki (飛行機) — plane
Benri (便利) — convenient
Hayai (早い) — fast
Yasui (安い) — cheap
Okiru (起きる) — to wake up
Mitai (見たい) — want to see
Yaritai (やりたい) — want to do
Noritai (乗りたい) — want to ride
Bento (ベント) — packed lunch
What do you need?
Now you know how to say “I need” in two different ways in Japanese, what do you need? Maybe you need to buy some toiletries for your next trip, or you need to get some lunch. Whatever it is, you can now express them in Japanese! If you need more listening practice, go and listen to the full episode here!
A simple and extremely useful Japanese grammar that you should definitely know is how to say “you should”. It’s a simple grammar point that you use quite often in daily conversations, believe it or not.
In our Season 3 Episode 9 of the Nihongo Master Podcast, as part of the Study Saturday language series, we practiced asking and giving advice like a pro! The Study Saturday language series has a new episode every Saturday, where we break down a useful grammar point, exemplify them with a few roleplaying scenarios and end it off with a list of new vocabulary words we just learned. They’re formatted just like Nihongo Master’s online learning system, so give those episodes a listen for a sneak peek at what our program has to offer!
We’re going to look at how to say “you should” in Japanese. This phrase can be used to give advice as well as your opinion on a matter. We can use this one simple, easy and ever-useful grammar point: hou ga ii (方がいい). This translates to “you should” or “it’s better to”…We attach this phrase to the end of a verb in its plain past tense. The format goes:
Verb (plain past tense) + 方がいい (formal: add です at the end)
For example, let’s translate this sentence into Japanese: “I think my boyfriend should sleep earlier.” It’s a simple sentence — so simple that, if you’ve listened to our past Study Saturday’s, you would have gathered all the vocabulary words by now. So let’s revise: boyfriend is kareshi (彼氏), to sleep is ru-verb neru (寝る) and the past tense will be neta (寝た), and early is hayai (早い). Season 2 Episode 8 introduced the phrase for “I think”, which is to omou (と思う), that goes at the end of everything.
[My + boyfriend + (subject particle) + sleep early] + should (+ I think) =
[私の + 彼氏 + は + 早く寝た] + 方がいい (+ と思う)
So if we put them all together, you get: 私の彼氏は早く寝た方がいいと思う。(watashi no kareshi ha hayaku neta hou ga ii to omou)
Let’s have another example: “I’d better eat more healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.” First we get the pieces of the sentence:
[Fruits + (connecting particle) + vebetables + like + (object particle) + more + eat] + I should =
So now we just have to put them together: 果物や野菜のような健康食品をもっと食べた方がいい。 (kudamono ya yasai no youna kenkō shokuhin wo motto tabeta hou ga ii)
For the negation, to say “you shouldn’t”, you can’t say “hou ga yokunai”. Instead, we take the verb and change that into its plain negative form. The format is:
Verb (plain negative tense) + 方がいい (formal: add です at the end)
Take this sentence as an example: “Maybe it’s better if we don’t go outside because of COVID-19.” Let’s have the pieces:
[COVID-19 + because of + outside + (location particle) + to not go out] + should (+ maybe)
[コロナ + のせいで + 外 + に + 出ない] + 方がいい (+ かもしれない)
The sentence you get is: コロナのせいで外に出ない方がいいかもしれない。(corona no sei de soto ni denai hou ga ii kamoshirenai.)
Asking a question
If you’re asking for someone’s advice between two options, you don’t really have to use “hou” in the phrase and instead just use “ga ii”. So a common question would be, “docchi ga ii?” (どっちっがいい？) . This translates to: “which is better?”
So if you want to ask” which is better, the red or the black dress?”, the question would be: “sono aka wanpisu to kuro wanpisu, docchi ga ii?” (その赤いワンピスと黒ワンピス、どっちがいい？)
We introduced some new words during the example situations during the episode. Here’s a list of the vocabulary words we used:
Kareshi (彼氏) — boyfriend
Neru (寝る) — to sleep
Hayai (早い) — early, or fast
Kenkō shokuhin (健康食品) — healthy food, kenkō is healthy and shokuhin is food
Kudamono (果物) — fruits
Yasai (野菜) — vegetables
Mottoもっと — more
Soto (外) — outside
Deru (出る) — to go out
Docchi (どっち) — which
Kaigi (会議) — meeting
Junbi (準備) — preparation
Issho ni (一緒に) — together
Tsukau (使う) — to use
Printo suru (プリントする) — to print
Nanji (何時) — what time
Mochiron (もちろん) — of course, sure
Konya (今夜) — tonight
Yūshoku (夕食) — dinner
Tsukuru (作る) — to make
Shintai ni yoku nai tabemono (身体に良くない食べ物) — junk food, or food that’s bad for your body
Undou (運動) — exercise
Osoi (遅い) — late
With this grammar point, you can go around seeking and giving advice as you please. For a more in-depth discussion on this grammar point and its usage, check out Season 3 Episode 9 of the Nihongo Master Podcast!