2.4 X is Y: Xは (wa) Yです (desu)

In this module, you will learn the fundamental sentence pattern of ‘X は (wa) Y です (desu)’.

The Japanese sentence pattern ‘X は (wa) Y です (desu)’ is often used to introduce someone or something, where X is the topic of a sentence and Y is the predicate.

A simple example is:


Watashi wa gakusei desu.

I am a university student.

The particle は (wa)

In this sentence pattern, は (wa) serves as the topic marker, telling us what or who we’re talking about. It’s like saying, ‘As for this person or thing, …’ before sharing more details.

Even though it’s written as は, when used as a topic marker, you’ll pronounce it ‘wa’. The particle は comes after the noun or noun phrase it’s about. This little particle sets up the context for everything else you’re going to say in the sentence.


Particles are an integral component of the Japanese language as they indicate the grammatical relationships between words in a sentence. They are short sentence elements that are used after a noun or verb. You will learn more about particles throughout this textbook.

です (desu)

です functions as a polite and formal form of a copula verb or linking verb. It can be translated as ‘is’, ‘am’ or ‘are’ in English. In short, です is used to establish an equivalence between the subject of a sentence and a predicate.

Just to clarify, a predicate is a grammatical term used to define the part of the sentence that provides knowledge about the subject. Taking the sentence 私(わたし)は学生(がくせい)です。 (Watashi wa gakusei desu) as an example, 学生 (student) forms the predicate.

In the Japanese language, the predicate of a sentence must be either a noun or an adjective, with the subject typically preceding the predicate and です following it.

This chapter will focus on using nouns as predicates. We will explore the use of the ‘X は Y です’ pattern and extend our discussion to include adjectives as predicates in Module 11.2.

Exercise 1


Introduce yourself by filling in your name in the blank in the following sample sentences and record your voice. Afterward, listen to your recording to ensure that your pronunciation is clear and easy to understand.





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Japanese Introductory 1 Copyright © 2024 by Iori Hamada is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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