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7 Days to Learn 20 Japanese Kanji Characters

2010/12/17 Lapinski Japanese

It is always a nightmare for Japanese beginning learners to pick up kanji. It is hard, but I am trying to be more encouraging here… Yes, you can memorize 20 kanji in 7 days! And if you are persistent to do so over a period of, say, a year, then you can pick up 1000 kanji in a year!

But before being too ambitious, let’s be realistic and try to make a commitment in the next 7 days first. 7 days to memorize the pronunciations and meanings of 20 pictorial characters with random lines shouldn’t be too hard, right? There are quite a few free resource online that you may find useful, but the most important thing is still… get started now.

I compiled a list of 20 Japanese kanji. It is chosen from the first 80 kanji of level 5 JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) learning materials, pronunciations and meanings not crucial for the beginners are removed. You may print flashcards for your review, and quiz yourself when you are ready to do so.

If you would like to practice writing or pronouncing one of the kanji characters in the list, simply click on the links below:

Remember to sign up for an account before you take a quiz. We will have detailed statistics to keep track of what you have learned. Of course you may also create your own vocabulary list if you are a member.

Please let me know if you have any questions and/or suggestions. Thanks!

SayJack New Site Design

Dear members,

I have just deployed the latest website design. From now on I can keep you posted about the development of the site and my learning language experience with this blogging feature on the site.  I am only writing in English for now, but if there are more important things I would try to translate them to all JACK languages.

Please feel free to write me comments for any questions or suggestions you have. Thanks!

Lapinski

Conjugation of Japanese Verbs and Adjectives

Japanese is a language whose modified forms of verbs and adjectives are created by joining additional unit of meanings (called morphemes) as suffix of words. It makes Japanese easier to learn, as there are much less irregular forms, or exceptions, such as what demonstrates in a language like English.

It is called conjugation for modifying a word from its basic form.

To get the modified forms of a word, you need to learn how to identify the stem of the word. From there, morphemes with different meanings can be attached to the stem.

For example, if you want to say do not eat in Japanese, you need the stem of the verb eat (食べ) and then attach not (ない) at it as a suffix to make it 食べない. This applies to many other modified forms such as ate, did not eat, must eat, must not eat, want to eat, do not want to eat, etc.

Japanese Verb Classification

To study this grammar point, please make sure you understand the following:

A Japanese verb, with its stem mostly written in kanji, always has kana suffixes (called okurigana).

When the verb is in dictionary form (the form you can look up from a dictionary), its last kana is always in the う-column of the hiragana table.

Japanese verbs are generally classified into 2 main categories, namely う-verbs (u-verbs) and る-verbs (ru-verbs).

There are irregular verbs that do not belong to these categories, when the verbs are associated with する (meaning to do) and くる (meaning to come).

Like English, for example, goes is a modified form of go, Japanese verbs can be modified from their dictionary form.

It is very important to be able to distinguish between う-verbs and る-verbs, because they have different rules for their modified forms.

Learn this classification rule:

Japanese Verb Classification Rule

  1. Is the verb related to する or くる? (e.g. する, べんきょうする, 来る, もってくる)
  2. If yes, it is an irregular verb.
  3. Otherwise, look up the dictionary form of the verb, including its kanji stem.
  4. Is its last kana suffix る?
  5. If yes, its last suffix is る. Does it have a second-to-last kana suffix, and is it under い-column or え-column of the hiragana table?
  6. If yes, it is a る-verb, with some exceptions (which beginners can ignore).
  7. Otherwise, it is an う-verb, with some exceptions (and a few of them beginners should memorize. See Exceptions below).

If the rule seems long, here is an easy shortcut to identify most of the Japanese verbs:

If a verb in dictionary form does not end with る, then it must be an う-verb.

If it ends with る and has a second-to-last kana suffix under い or え-column, then it is most probably a る-verb.

Examples of る-verb

Writing Hiragana Pronunciations Definitions
食べる たべる /taberu/ to eat
起きる おきる /okiru/ to get up
教える おしえる /oshieru/ to teach

Examples of う-verb

Writing Hiragana Pronunciations Definitions
飲む のむ /nomu/ to drink
ある ある /aru/ to exist
書く かく /kaku/ to write

Exceptions to the Categorization Rule

The following are る-verbs, even they do not have second-to-last kana suffix.

For beginners:

  • 居る (いる) /iru/ to be, to exist
  • 見る (みる) /miru/ to see
  • 着る (きる) /kiru/ to wear
  • 寝る (ねる) /neru/ to sleep
  • 出る (でる) /deru/ to get out
  • 出来る (できる) /dekiru/ to be able to

For advanced learners:

  • 似る (にる) to be similar
  • 煮る (にる) to cook
  • 得る 獲る (える) to gain
  • 射る (いる) to shoot
  • 鋳る (いる) to mint
  • 経る (へる) to pass
  • 干る (ひる) to dry
  • 診る (みる) to examine
  • 時化る (しける) to be moist
  • 魂消る (たまげる) to be scared
  • 惚気る (のろける) to chat with trivia
  • 洒落る (しゃれる) to make jokes
  • 下卑る (げびる) to become vulgar
  • 不貞る (ふてる) to get mad

The followings are う-verbs, even they have their second-to-last kana suffixes under い-column or え-column of the hiragana table. You don’t have to worry about them unless you are an advanced learner.

  • 交じる 混じる 雑じる (まじる) to mix
  • 誉めちぎる (ほめちぎる) to praise
  • 脂ぎる (あぶらぎる) to look oily
  • しくじる (しくじる) to fail
  • つんのめる (つんのめる) to fall forward
  • 寝そべる (ねそべる) to sprawl
  • せびる (せびる) to nag
  • いびる (いびる) to tease
  • くねる (くねる) to be curvy
  • とちる (とちる) to make mistakes due to being nervous

Common Japanese Verbs

2010/05/27 Lapinski Japanese

To study this grammar point, please make sure you understand the following:

Vocabulary Lists

Here is a list of Japanese verbs for beginning learners:

Hiragana Pronunciation Definitions Common Writing Polite Form Category
いる /iru/ to be いる います る-verb
ある /aru/ to have; to exist ある あります う-verb
いく /iku/ to go 行く 行きます う-verb
あう /au/ to meet 会う 会います う-verb
かく /kaku/ to write 書く 書きます う-verb
きく /kiku/ to listen; to ask 聞く 聞きます う-verb
よむ /yomu/ to read 読む 読みます う-verb
たべる /taberu/ to eat 食べる 食べます る-verb
のむ /nomu/ to drink 飲む 飲みます う-verb
みる /miru/ to see 見る 見ます る-verb
しる /shiru/ to know 知る 知ります う-verb
すむ /sumu/ to live 住む 住みます う-verb
よぶ /yobu/ to call 呼ぶ 呼びます う-verb
でる /deru/ to leave 出る 出ます る-verb
かう /kau/ to buy 買う 買います う-verb
する /suru/ to do する します irregular
くる /kuru/ to come 来る 来ます(きます) irregular
かける /kakeru/ to make a phone call; to wear 掛ける 掛けます る-verb
つくる /tsukuru/ to make 作る 作ります う-verb
おくる /okuru/ to send 送る 送ります う-verb
はたらく /hataraku/ to work 働く 働きます う-verb
べんきょうする /benkyousuru/ to study 勉強する 勉強します irregular
もってくる /mottekuru/ to bring 持ってくる 持ってきます irregular
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