Introduction to basic, Beginning Conversational Japanese (Lesson 1)

by Norio Hayakawa:


Practical conversational Japanese is relatively not that difficult to learn, mainly because of its simple phonetic pronunciation of words and its surprisingly logical sentence structure.  The main characteristic of the Japanese sentence structure is that the verb comes at the end of the sentence.   The secondary characteristic of the Japanese language is that any simple declarative sentence can be easily converted into a question simply by placing the question particle, ka, at the end of the sentence.

Now let’s begin.

There are only 5 vowels in Japanese:   a, i, u, e, o.      These 5 vowels’ pronunciation is exactly the same as in Spanish or Italian and also Hawaiian.   As simple as that.   All phonetically pronounced.

Let’s begin with the pronouns.

watashi =    I                    watashitachi =   we

anata =     you                  anatatachi =   you  (plural)

(extreme polite form = anatagata = you, plural)

kare  =   he                       karetachi =   they   (masculine)

(alternate form =  karera, they, masculine)

kanojo =  she                  kanojotachi =  they  (feminine)

(alternate form =  kanojora, they, feminine)

For the moment, please just use watashitachi, anatatachi, karetachi, kanojotachi 


(By the way, there are so many ways to say “I” in Japanese.  However, the most common one for practical reasons is watashi, as mentioned.)

(For example, in the olden days, a samurai would say “ore“, instead of watashi, for “I”.

For example:    Ore wa samurai da!    (I am a samurai!)     (da means “is, am, are” in colloquial, emphatic form)

Ore wa ninja da!    (I am a Ninja!)

Or, sometimes, a samurai would say “sessha” for “I”.   Females usually say “atashi” for “watashi“.  But actually, “watashi” is just as popular, even for females.)


In order to change these pronouns to possessive forms, such as my, mine, our, ours, your, yours, his, her, hers, their, theirs), all you have to do it add the possessive particle no after the pronouns.      watashi no =   my, mine       anata no =  your, yours      watashitachi no = our, ours, etc.


A simple declarative sentence can be made by placing the subject and adding the particle wa and at the end of the sentence placing the verb desu, which means “is, are, am”.

(In colloquial Japanese, the final u in desu is not pronounced.   In other words, desu is pronounced like des)


Watashi wa sensei desu. =     I am a teacher.

Kare wa Supeingo no sensei desu. =   He is a Spanish teacher.   (literally, “He is a Spanish language’s teacher).

Kanojo wa watashi no Eigo no sensei desu.  =   She is my English (language’s) teacher.

Kanojo wa watashitachi no tomodachi desu. =   She is our friend.

Anata wa enjinia desu ka? =    Are you an engineer?

Hai, watashi wa enjinia desu. =    Yes, I am an engineer.


Next, let’s look at some demonstrative pronouns.   There are actually three of them.

kore     (this)             sore  (that, or it)           are   (that, that one yonder)


Kore wa jisho desu.   =   This is a dictionary.

Are wa gakkou desu ka?  =   Is that a school?

Are wa ninja no gakkou desu ka?  =   Is that a school for Ninjas?


Lastly, let’s talk about interrogative words.

Doko?   =   where?

Donata?  =   who?         (or, Dare?, more informal)


Other words to learn.

koko =   here

soko =  there

asoko =  over there (yonder)


Koko wa basu no eki desu.  =   Here is the bus station.

Koko wa doko desu ka?   =  Where is here?


That’s enough for LESSON ONE.

Here is the review of LESSON ONE on YouTube:



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