6.0 Expanding Your Japanese Toolkit (1)

Houses Near Trees
Figure 1: Houses Near Trees

Congratulations on mastering the fundamental sentence pattern ‘XはYです’ using both hiragana and katakana! This achievement represents your initial step into Japanese communication.

With your understanding of the ‘XはYです’ pattern, you’re well-prepared to enhance your Japanese communication skills further. Learning how to conjugate and use verbs in the ます-form will allow you to describe everyday actions and activities with clarity and politeness, essential for effective conversation in Japanese. This step is crucial for progressing in your language journey and engaging more deeply with Japanese-speaking environments.

Keep up the excellent work, and continue to explore the rich language and culture of Japan!


Goal Icon Learning goals

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Understand the difference between です (desu) and ます (masu)
  • Comprehend the fundamental principles of Japanese verb conjugation.
  • Apply the Topic +Object +Verb sentence pattern using verbs conjugated in the ます-form.
  • Learn about the various first-person pronouns in Japanese, aside from 私 (わたし: watashi), and how to use them.


Japanese Romaji English Notes
読(よ)む yomu to read Dictionary form: (something を)読む, to read (something)
読みます yomi masu Polite form
会(あ)う au to meet Dictionary form: (someone に)会う, to meet (someone)
会います ai masu Polite form
来(く)る kuru to come Dictionary form
来(き)ます ki masu Polite form
見(み)る miru to watch/see/look Dictionary form: (something を)見る, to watch/see/look at (something) *When emphasising careful observation, such as watching a movie or studying a video closely, the kanji 観(み)る is used instead, maintaining the same pronunciation but with a focus on attentive viewing.
mi masu Polite form
taberu to eat Dictionary form: (something を)食べる, to eat (something)
tabe masu Polite form
tsukau to use Dictionary form: (something を)使う, to use (something)
tsukai masu Polite form
iku to go Dictionary form
iki masu Polite form
boku I/me This first-person pronoun is typically used in informal or casual settings by individuals who identify themselves as male. For more information on gender and first-pronouns, please refer to Module 6.7.
ryuu gakusei
international students
shakai gaku
sociology The suffix 学(がく: gaku) is used to denote a field of study, similar to ‘-ology’ in English.
mainichi everyday


Manga raiburarii
Manga library This is the official name of the facility. However, a library is usually referred to as 図書館 (としょかん: toshokan) in Japanese.
ashita tomorrow
eiga movie
okashi snack
isshoni together
of course
hontouni very/really Colloquial

(c.f. とても [totemo])

muzukashii difficult

Expressions and phrases  

Japanese Romaji English Notes
ところで tokorode
by the way

Key grammar points

Japanese Romaji English Notes
– よね yone
…, isn’t it? Sentence-ending particle. See Module 6.6 for more information.
to/towards Particle that are used to mark places or locations. See Module 6.5 for more information.
to/towards Particle Particle that are used to mark places or locations. See Module 6.5 for more information.


Exercise 1

Guess which hiragana letter needs to be filled in! To check the answer, click the ‘turn’ button. You can also listen to the sound of each word by clicking the audio icon.

Speech Bubble Icon Model dialogue

Kevin, eager to immerse himself further in Japanese language and culture, pays a visit to the Manga Library. His intention? To discover the latest additions to the library’s collection and to find a language exchange partner. After a busy day attending his Japanese class, Kevin has an exciting encounter with someone from Japan who also happens to be a member of the Japanese Club at the Manga Library.


Ren: あ、こんにちは。それ、『ブラック・ジャック(ぶらっく・じゃっく)』ですよね。 A, konnichiwa. Sore Burakku Jakku desu yone.
Kevin: あ、はい…。 A, hai …
Ren: 手塚治虫(てづかおさむ)のまんがが好(す)きですか。 Tezuka Osamu no manga o yomimasu ka.
Kevin: はい。でも、大友克洋(おおともかつひろ)のまんがも読(よ)みます。 Hai. Demo, Katsuhiro Ootomo no manga mo yomimasu.
Ren: ああ、『アキラ(あきら)』ですよね!僕(ぼく)も読みます!ところで、よく会(あ)いますよね。毎日(まいにち)まんがライブラリー(らいぶらりい)に来(き)ますよね。 Aa, ‘Akira’ desu yone! Boku mo yomimasu! Tokorode, yoku aimasu yone. Mainichi Manga Raiburarii ni kimasu yone.
Kevin: あ、はい…。 A, hai …
Ren: ええと、はじめまして。僕はれんです。 Eeto, hajime mashite. Boku wa Ren desu.
Kevin: あ、ケビン(けびん)です。よろしく。 A, Kebin desu. Yoroshiku.
Ren: よろしく。僕は留学生(りゅうがくせい)です。出身(しゅっしん)は日本(にほん)です。
Yoroshiku. Boku wa ryuu gakusei desu. Shusshin wa Nihon desu.
Kevin: ああ、そうですか!専攻(せんこう)は何(なん)ですか。
Aa, soudesu ka! Senkou wa nan desu ka.
Ren: 社会学(しゃかいがく)です。
Shakai gaku desu.
Kevin: 社会学…。すみません。社会学は英語(えいご)で何ですか。
Shakai gaku… Sumimasen. Shakai gaku wa Eigo de nan desu ka.
Ren: Sociologyです。ケビンさんは? Soshiorojii desu. Kebin-san wa?
Kevin: あ、ええと、専攻はIT(あいてぃい)です。
A, eeto, senkou wa ai-thii desu.
Ren: へえ。ところで、明日(あした)日本語(にほんご)クラブ(くらぶ)のイベント(いべんと)に来(き)ますか。
Hee. Torokode, ashita Nihongo Kurabu no ibento ni kimasu ka.
Kevin: 明日ですか。 Ashita desuka.
Ren: はい。みんなで日本語の映画(えいが)を観(み)ます。それから、一緒(いっしょ)に日本のお菓子(かし)も食(た)べますよ。もちろん、日本語も使(つか)います。ケビンさんも来ますか。 Hai. Minna de Nihongo no eiga o mimasu. Sorekara, isshoni Nihon no okashi mo tabemasu yo. Mochiron, Nihongo mo tsukaimasu. Kebin-san mo kimasu ka.
Kevin: ああ、はい。来ます!Oh, wait, 行(い)きます?
Aa, hai. Kimasu! … ikimasu?
Ren: ええと、「行きます」ですね。難(むずか)しいですよね。
Eeto, ‘ikimasu’ desu ne. Muzukashii desu yone.
Kevin: はい、日本語は本当(ほんとう)に難しいです…。
Hai, Nihongo wa hontou ni muzukashii desu …


English translation

Ren: Ah, hi. That’s Black Jack, right?
Kevin: Yes…
Ren: Do you read Osamu Tezuka’s comics?
Kevin: Yes. But, I read Katsuhiro Otomo’s comics, too.
Ren: Akira, right? So do I! By the say, we see each other often. You come to the Manga Library every day, don’t you?
Kevin: Ah, yes…
Ren: Well, nice to meet you. I’m Ren.
Kevin: I’m Kevin. Nice to meet you, too.
Ren: Yoroshiku. I’m an international student. I’m from Japan.
Kevin: Ah, right! What is your major?
Ren: It’s shakai gaku.
Kevin: … Sorry, what is ‘shakai gaku‘ in English?
Ren: Sociology. What about you, Kevin?
Kevin: Oh, um, my major is IT.
Ren: I see. By the way, are you coming to the Japanese Club event tomorrow?
Kevin: Tomorrow?
Ren:Yeah. We will watch a Japanese movie together. And then we will have Japanese snacks. Of course, we will use Japanese, too. Are you coming, Kevin?
Kevin: Ahhh, well, yes, I will come! Oh, wait, (should I say) ‘I will go’?
Ren: Umm, ‘I will go’. It’s difficult, isn’t it?
Kevin: Yes, Japanese is really difficult.

Exercise 2

Listen to the following audio files and repeat each Japanese phrase after the recording. Each phrase is read twice, first at a slow pace and then at a natural pace.


Ren: あ、こんにちは。それ、『ブラック・ジャック(ぶらっく・じゃっく)』ですよね。

Kevin: あ、はい…。

Ren: 手塚治虫(てづかおさむ)のまんがが好(す)きですか。

Kevin: はい。でも、大友克洋(おおともかつひろ)のまんがも読(よ)みます。

Ren: ああ、『アキラ(あきら)』ですよね!僕(ぼく)も読みます!ところで、よく会(あ)いますよね。毎日(まいにち)まんがライブラリー(らいぶらりい)に来(き)ますよね。

Kevin: あ、はい…。

Ren: ええと、はじめまして。僕はれんです。

Kevin: あ、ケビン(けびん)です。よろしく。

Ren: よろしく。僕は留学生(りゅうがくせい)です。出身(しゅっしん)は日本(にほん)です。

Kevin: ああ、そうですか!専攻(せんこう)は何(なん)ですか。

Ren: 社会学(しゃかいがく)です。ケビンさんは?

Kevin: 社会学…。すみません。社会学は英語(えいご)で何ですか。

Ren: Sociologyです。ケビンさんは?

Kevin: あ、ええと、専攻はITです。

Ren: へえ。ところで、明日(あした)日本語(にほんご)クラブ(くらぶ)のイベント(いべんと)に来(き)ますか。

Kevin: 明日ですか。

Ren: はい。みんなで日本語の映画(えいが)を観(み)ます。それから、一緒(いっしょ)に日本のお菓子(かし)も食(た)べますよ。もちろん、日本語も使(つか)います。ケビンさんも来(き)ますか。

Kevin: ああ、はい。来ます!Oh, wait, 行(い)きます?

Ren: ええと、「行きます」ですね。難(むずか)しいですよね。

Kevin: はい、日本語は本当(ほんとう)に難しいです…。

Lightbulb Icon Discussion points

Let’s reflect on the following points and share your observations and thoughts!

  1. When you come across unfamiliar words in Japanese conversations, how do you react? It is a situation many language learners find themselves in, and the response can vary widely. Do you feel a bit hesitant to ask for clarification? If so, why? If not, why not? When engaging with someone who is learning your native language, how do you feel when they pause to ask you for clarification on something you have said?


Further resources

Asking questions for clarification is a common part of the language-learning process! In the dialogue, Kevin demonstrates one such method with the following pattern:

XはYで 何(なん)ですか。

X wa Y de nan desu ka.

How do you say X in Y?


Here, you can insert the word you are asking about in place of X, and add the language into which you want the word translated at the position marked by Y.

But that is just one way to seek clarification in Japanese. There are various other techniques, each suitable for different contexts and levels of formality. To explore another method, you might want to check out a video created by Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com.


1  “Houses Near Trees” by WW. Pexels. Licensed under Pexels licence.

2 Goal IconGoal Icon” by faisalovers. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC by 3.0.

3 Speech Bubble IconSpeech Bubble Icon” by Geremy Good. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC 0.

4 Lightbulb IconLightbulb Icon” by Maxim Kulikov. Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC by 3.0.



Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com. “Learn How to Ask for a Word in Japanese | Can Do #14.” YouTube video, 19:33. November 29, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er7uYhADMtA.



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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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