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SayJack Japanese Learning Materials

If you are an absolute beginner, please start your Japanese learning career by going over hiragana, the Japanese alphabet.

We have hundreds of Japanese vocabulary lists. You may quiz yourself on each vocabulary list and print flashcards for review. You may also compare your Japanese vocabulary power with other users.

For those who want to learn Japanese kanji, we have a tool for practicing writing it. It is also one of our many tools of our language exchange platform.

For JLPT (Japanese language proficiency test) test taker, check out this JLPT N5 verb list, flash cards and vocabulary quiz as an example how our mnemonic tools can assist your learning. I will provide the website with more JLPT study materials very soon.

If you don’t know how to type and input Japanese alphabets yet, be sure to check out our online Japanese IME (Input Method Editor). You don’t need to install anything, as long as your computer can display Japanese characters. Anyway, after becoming a member, you may create your own vocabulary list easily by using our online Japanese IME to input hiragana or katakana.

Feel free to write a comment if you have any questions or suggestions. Please help SayJack become a better language learning website by actively helping others. Thanks!

Japanese Sentence Pattern: “I heard that …” using ~そうだ

Very often you want to express something that you heard. You simply attach そうだ to the end of the plain form of the sentence that you heard. For example, if you want to say “I heard that the weather would become nice tomorrow.” – You would need to express “The weather would become nice tomorrow” in plain form, and then attach そうだ (casual) or そうです (polite) to it.

To construct the plain present tense form of a phrase, check if it ends with a noun, an adjective or a verb, and do the following:

  1. Noun/な-adjective: (drop な) and attach だ to it
  2. い-adjective: leave it unchanged
  3. Verb: change it to its dictionary form (ends with う or る)
明日はいい天気になるそうです。
I hear that the weather will be nice tomorrow.
明日はいい天気になる + そうだ
そとは暑いそうです。
I hear that it is hot outside.
そと = outside, 暑い = hot
彼は、学生だそうです。
I hear that he is a student.
学生 = student
だそうです。
That’s what I heard.
だ indicates the state of being.

You would change the sentence to plain past tense form if the sentence is in past tense. If you are not sure what it means, please look up a detailed description for plain forms of noun phrases, adjectives and verbs.

In English we have tense agreement. For example, it is technically incorrect if you say “I heard that he is a student.” In Japanese, however, そうだ already implies it is something that you heard, and you do not need to change the tense of the original sentence.

毎日学校に行ったそうです。
I heard that he went to school everyday.

Online Input Method Editor (Japanese, Chinese and Korean)

If you are interested in inputting Asian characters, for example, you want to create your own vocabulary lists, but you are not sure how to input the characters, or your computer does not have that capability, now you can use our online input method editor to do so.

I used to call this online IME a typewriter, but I guess not many of you associated a “typewriter” as something you can use to type Asian characters, and I hope by using the more technical term IME (Input Method Editor), you know what it is all about.

If you haven’t tried it out yet, please give it a try. Below I am setting the default to type Korean, but you can use it to type Japanese or Chinese by simply clicking on the corresponding radio button.

Once you click on the input area above, a little menu will show up on top of the area for you to choose either the input script (Japanese and Chinese) or the input method (Korean). Your choice will be remembered. It should be useful for those who need to type Chinese and Korean, as you don’t need to come back every time to choose traditional or simplified script for Chinese, or Revised Romanization or Dubeolsik input method for Korean.

The Korean IME should be as good as any desktop solutions (on your Windows or Mac machine). If you are not sure how to type, please refer to the legend on this Learn to Type Korean page. Basically if you are an absolute beginner and wanna input some easy Korean, e.g. annyeonghaseyo (how are you), you may do so by using the Revised Romanization input method, but make sure you are aware that, the romanization system does not attempt to represent the sound of the words, instead, it is an one-to-one correspondence of Latin letters to Hangul Jamo. You will have a lot of typos if you simply try to type according to how Korean words sound like. For more details about Revised Romanization, please visit this wikipedia page.

Dubeolsik (2-bul Layout) is the national standard for Korean keyboard layout. It worths your time to learn how to type using Dubeolsik, if learning Korean is more than just a casual hobby for you. Again, please refer to this Learn to Type Korean page for a quick legend and explanation of this input method.

The Chinese Pinyin IME is quite primitive, you can only input one character at a time. So far it supports about the most frequently used 2000 characters. Also you will probably need to wait a bit before the choices will show up (below the input area). For instance, if you type de, 4 words will appear under the input area, namely , if you hit spacebar, you are gonna choose the first choice from the list, or you can either click on the word to choose, or press the number associated with the choice to choose. If more users are using it, I will spend more time to make it faster, and to make it support multi-character vocabularies.

The Japanese IME does not yet support inputting Kanji. I know this is definitely a must-have if I want more advanced Japanese learners to use the IME… for now, if you only need to input hiragana and katakana, it should be as good as any desktop solutions, and no installation is required!

I put the IME on the front page so that when you come back to the site, you don’t need to navigate through the site to find the IME and use it. Also, this IME will show up on input areas (supposed to have Chinese, Japanese or Korean vocabularies) when you are creating your vocabulary list. I hope it will make you easier to create your own vocabulary lists.

Let me know what you like and dislike, and if you want to see any additional features, or any bug you may have found, just leave me a comment below. Thank you!

Modifying Japanese Adjectives to Adverbs

Recall that an adverb is usually used to modify a verb, just as an adjective is usually used to modify a noun. In English, in general, you add “ly” to change adjectives to adverbs. For example, aggressive is an adjective and aggressively is an adverb. In Japanese, there is also a regular way to change adjectives to adverbs, as follows:

い-adjective: change い to く

な-adjective: change な to に

Exception: change いい (good) to よく (well).

Examples

早いはやい)is an い-adjective which means early. When it is used as an adverb, change い to く and it becomes 早く.

早く起きてください。
Please get up early.
早い to 早く.

Unlike English, which you may put adverb either before or after the main verb in a sentence, you usually put the Japanese adverb before the main verb.

静かしずか)is a な-adjective which means quiet. When it is an adverb, it becomes 静かに.

としょかんでは静かに歩いて下さい。
Please walk quietly at the library.
静か is a na-adjective.

Japanese て-form and Action Verbs

In order to make more complex sentences, you need to use verbs or adjectives other than their simplest dictionary form. In English, in general, you add “ly” to change adjectives to adverbs. However, for example, when you change “happy” to “happily,” you need to modify “happy” to “happi” before adding “ly” at the end of the word. Technically this kind of modification is called morphological changes.

In Japanese, a widely used morphological changes is the て-form (te-form). By making a verb or an adjective in its て-form, you are ready to “glue” the word with more unit of meanings.

て-form of Japanese Verbs

If you know how to conjugate Japanese verbs to their plain past form (た-form), you shouldn’t have any problems to conjugate verbs to their て-form, as the conjugation rules are identical.

る-verbs Ending with Replace with Example
→ て 食べる → 食べて
う-verbs Ending with Replace with Example
→ して 出す→ 出して
→ いて 書く→ 書いて
→ いで 泳ぐ→ 泳いで
る, う or つ → って 作る→ 作って
む, ぶ or ぬ → んで 飲む→ 飲んで
Irregular verbs Replace with Example
する → して 勉強する → 勉強して
くる → きて 持ってくる → 持ってきて

Verb+ている and Ongoing Actions

One of the easiest applications of て-form is to represent ongoing actions. You attach いる to the verb in て-form. It is equivalent to gerund (-ing) form in English.


Verb+ている and Resultant State

However, when the verb in use are in motions, such as 行く, 来る, 帰る or 出かける, its ている form does not imply an ongoing action. Instead, it represents a resultant state, meaning that the action is already completed. You may simply consider the て-form as a connector between the motion verb and the verb いる.

田中さんは日本に行っています。
Tanaka-san has gone to Japan.
and he is there now.

In many other cases, the context or the nature of the verb implies that its ている form represents a resultant state.

けっこんしています。
I am married.
Tシャツを着ています。
I am wearing a T-shirt.
Note that the action “wearing” has been completed.
知っていますか?
Do you know?

Verb+ている and Habitual Actions

You may also use ている form to express repeated habitual actions.


Casual Speech in Japanese

It is never too much to emphasize that being polite is very important in Japanese culture, and before you really understand the difference and implication of casual speech, you will almost always want to use polite speech in your conversation. This is the disclaimer before I talk about casual speech in Japanese.

There are 2 basic rules. First, use plain forms (or so-called dictionary forms) for verbs and adjectives. Second, particles such as は(wa), を(o), に(ni), が(ga) are omitted when there is no confusion caused.

The following examples show the contrast between polite speech and casual speech. Note that ですか(desu ka) is omitted in the first question and a rising tone is used instead.


学生 is a noun, but the same idea applies to verbs and adjectives. You just need to use the plain form in each case for casual speech.

The use of particle よ(yo) at the end of the 2nd and 3rd examples is to make the sentences smoother and express a certain kind of emotion. Particle ね(ne) is also often used.

Particle は(wa) is dropped in the examples. Do not drop the particle (or any other particles) when it carries additional functions other than a “marker.” For instance, when は is used to contrast or compare two things, do not drop the particle in casual speech. A similar example is to drop を(o) when it is a purely object marker.

You may notice that “Yes” and “No” in the examples above have different forms for casual speech. In fact, there are a few special forms for casual speech, as listed in the following table:

Polite SpeechCasual SpeechEnglish Definition
はいうんyes
いいえううんno
…て下さい…てplease …
…ている…てる(continuous form)
…んですか…の?(question ending)
…んです…んだ (man)(end of a statement)
…の (woman)

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