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Q: Something here is wrong. Where do I tell you?
A: Post it here. A: Post it here: http://users3.smartgb.com/g/g.php?a=s&i=g36-29246-bc
Q: I found a typo, can you just fix it?
A: This was written in like two days with maybe a couple hours of editing several weeks later. Then converted to HTML. There are just going to be typos.
Q: Why does ‹thing› come before ‹other thing›?
A: It's just not possible to introduce everything in a clean order.
There are too many basic things that are best to leave until after a whole lot of other things have been introduced, and some things that are more advanced that can be introduced at any time. There's also just a very large amount of very basic grammar.
Yes, ALMOST EVERYTHING here is very basic grammar. Really! You need to know it all! "Advanced" here just means that it's less basic. It's still basic!
Q: This example sentence is mistranslated.
A: I don't know Japanese. Just kidding. My Japanese is okay.
But it's very likely that I translated something wrong because I was trying to avoid using certain words or phrases, or I was trying too hard to show the original Japanese grammatical structure, or I forgot the English term for something (bless you 数の大小).
Do not take any of the example translations here as objective. It's not possible to unambiguously translate the typical Japanese sentence into English out of context. For other reasons why, see the list below.
Q: update pls
A: I hate maintaining things, please don't bother me about it.
You learn languages by doing listening and reading practice. Grammar study and vocabulary memorization are just supplements that make it easier to read and listen!
Compound words in Japanese work the same way as English.
Japanese nouns do not have grammatical number or grammatical gender.
N - noun or noun-like object
V - verb
A - い-adjective
Na - na-adjective
X - Something arbitrary, like a phrase or word (one that fits)
... - An arbitrary phrase (one that fits)
This is called "state of being".
Na-adjectives are also allowed to be used in these patterns.
The neutral sentence structure in Japanese is
Adverbs can go almost anywhere, but the location affects what they modify. When they modify the verb directly, they go after the direct object.
If it doesn't add ambiguities, most parts of a sentence can be moved around without changing what it means.
The subject and object can both be dropped completely, unlike English. Dropping the subject or object is like using pronouns, even if they would be a pronoun if they were stated.
Japanese can mark the subject or object as a topic (は) instead of subject (が) or object (を) if it makes sense and isn't misleading.
Verbs do not change form for the gender (he/she), number (I/we), or perspective (I/you/he) of their subject.
Na-adjectives act like nouns if they don't have な attached to them. Sometimes, it's unnatural to use a specific na-adjective as a subject or object, especially if it's too abstract like "precious".
This is the です from Nです, but the phrase Aです is a bit different. です does not mean "is" here. It just adds politeness. Aです isn't a conjugation, it just replaces the nonexistent/impossible A-ます conjugation.
People also say Vです, which means ALMOST the same thing as V-ます. But it's not really a conjugation, it's just using です as a politeness word.
Japanese has two categories of regular verb conjugation.
In the first category, the final syllable is dropped from the verb, and the conjugation is appended to the new form.
In the second category, the last syllable changes depending on the conjugation.
The first category is called single-row (一段). The second category is called five-row (五段). The names come from traditional hiragana/katakana charts. With the last core syllable in a given single-row verb, it always stays on the same row. With the last core syllable in a given five-row verb, it can be a kana from any row, depending on the conjugation.
The rule/pattern for a given conjugation depends on which category the verb is from. It's not always as simple as deleting the る from single-row verbs or respelling the last syllable for five-row verbs.
The last core syllable of a verb in the dictionary form/present tense always ends in the vowel "u".
Irregular verbs: する "do", くる "come"
These are essentially the formal versions of だ, だった, じゃない, and じゃなかった. In this case, the formal versions are the older versions. That means that である (actually it was であり at the time) turned into today's だ, etc. Also, the ある in である is a verb, and conjugates like one.
The very common five-row verb ある, "to be", takes the negative form
In Japanese, い-adjectives conjugate too, not just verbs. Just not the same way as verbs. Surprised? い-adjective conjugations are based on the consonant "k", rather than the syllable い.
A little explanation for the past tense of five-row verbs is in order. The final core syllable switches to an "i" syllable, just like for the ます form. But when the た is attached, the conjugation gets slurred together. This isn't a slang thing. This conjugation slurs together absolutely everywhere except for archaic-sounding writing or speeches.
Be careful: there's a sentence-ender, んだ, that looks a lot like the past tense of ぬ/ぶ/む verbs, but is actually something completely different.
The past tense of い-adjectives is irregular for unintuitive etymological reasons. Just learn it.
Most verb conjugations from here on out will not have equivalents for い-adjectives.
ない is, itself, an い-adjective. You just can't conjugate it to itself (i.e. no 食べなくない).
These are the negative, past tense, and negative past tense forms of the V-ます conjugation, because the past tense doesn't conjugate and V-ない doesn't have a ます form.
These are alternative polite negatives. Like Vです, they're not considered conjugations, they're just using です as a politeness word.
The choice between に and へ for destination depends on the specific kind of movement or travel. に focuses on the destination or specific direction, へ focuses on the motion or travel.
The choice between に and で for location depends on the specific combination of situation and location. If it helps, で is more like "at" or "by", and に is more like "in" or "on".
Unlike most other い-adjective conjugations, this one drops the last core syllable (the い) entirely, instead of replacing it with a "k" syllable.
Conjugates exactly the same way as the past tense, but with て/で instead of た/だ.
Usage 3 can change the nature of the verb so much that the meaning of the subject and/or object change. It depends on what specific verb is added. 4 can't do this, it just strings statements together, like a comma or semicolon.
The form for five-row verbs replaces the "u" from the last core syllable with an "e".
These are basically ways of using a verb like a noun. Vaguely similar to English's "~ing". こと and もの act like nouns being modified by a relative clause consisting of V or V's statement. But の acts less like a noun being modified and more like some kind of indescribable conjugation-that-isn't-a-conjugation particle-that-isn't-a-particle thing.
Again, こと and もの are also normal nouns. This is just a specific pattern that uses them in a specific way.
This is some kind of extremely indirect instruction that something must be done (or if V is negative, not be done). Not always an instruction, can also just be a way of framing a statement as a description of itself.
と can also come at the end of certain adverbs like ちゃんと, ずっと, and きっと, and is also a listing marker, and a conjunction, so be careful about that.
These are ways of creating a relative clause from nothing, without it needing to modify a noun, not even weak nouns like こと or もの or a dummy noun like の. Sometimes the phrase on the left is a literal quote. Yes, と here can be pretty confusing.
Simply put, these use a quotative phrase as a topic. Often used to define words, or to use a word (rather than the thing described by that word) as the context of a statement.
These convey that a notion is described by a given phrase or that a given phrase is how something is viewed. They can also be used to modify nouns with phrases that would be very difficult to attach to nouns otherwise, like phrases ending in another noun.
These are ways of asking questions. Do not actually attempt to memorize the list, it's extremely redundant.
Questions made with か or tone of voice focus on learning new information, questions made with の or のか focus on exchanging ideas or notions. That said, they can both be used both ways.
の can be slurred into a ん sometimes.
The の here is the の that can turn verbs into nouns.
It's pretty common for の/のか questions to be answered with のだ/のです/んだ/んです statements. のだ statements carry the mood of conveying explanatory information or giving an answer or greater context to an idea/notion/curiosity, rather than just any kind of information or an answer to a desire for information.
These are ways of asking for confirmation about something. じゃない and じゃん are also used for expressing surprise by pretending to ask a question (like "Well well, isn't it the boss himself?")
Yes, じゃない really can mean both "it isn't" and "isn't it". You just have to get used to it.
Most of the time, the two meanings are basically indistinguishable without context, unless it's part of a construction where only a topic or only a condition makes sense.
Non-contrastive means that mentioning the topic isn't an act of excluding other topics. For example, saying "You did well tonight" is contrastive, and implies that other days they might not have done well. Saying "You did well tonight, too" is non-contrastive, and implies that they did well on other days too.
も includes one topic among a group of other implied valid possible topics. In other words, it usually means that the statement is true of other topics (like "other people are leaving"), and is additionally true of the given topic (like "I'm leaving too").
Saying that something is "included" among other options affects logical entailment*. Non-neutral logical entailment can trigger linguistic polarity* weirdness when part of questions, conditions, or negative statements.
It's 100% okay if you have no idea what the fuck you just read. Just take the following example for granted.
There are many other ways to say "because", this is just one of them. だから and ですから can also be start-of-sentence conjunctions, without a noun.
ある is for subjects that are unlike life, いる is for subjects that are like life. This ある is the same ある from である.
てある turns transitive verbs into intransitive verbs expressing that something has had an action done do it. Expresses the state resulting from the action, not the event of the action being done to it.
Less likely to mean "... and V". More likely to have to do with how the verb progresses over time. The て or と can be voiced like で or ど for verbs like 死ぬ that conjugate to 死んで for the て form.
Less likely to mean "finish doing V". The ち starts where the て used to be. Can also be じゃう or じまう for verbs like 死ぬ that conjugate to 死んで for the て form.
これ means "this thing". それ and あれ mean "that thing", with the difference being that それ is for things the other person would say "this" for but not the speaker, and あれ being for things that both people would say "that" for. どれ means "which one".
There are more words of this kind, like こちら/こっち/etc, but once you know how they work they're very easy to figure out.
In actual speech, うん/ううん are pronounced completely differently.
The conjugation for five-row verbs turns the vowel of the last core syllable into an "a", then adds れる.
The passive form of single-row verbs doubles as a potential form. There's a short potential for single-row verbs too, if you see it, you can be 99% sure that it's a potential (can X), not a passive (was/got Xed) or a potential-passive (Xable / can be Xed).
The conjugation for five-row verbs turns the vowel of the last core syllable into an "e", then adds る.
Sometimes both the direct object of the original verb and the direct object of the causative verb (so, the person being made to do something) are included. In this case, the original direct object is probably going to use を or go unmarked, and the causative direct object is probably going to be marked with に or something.
Prescriptivists consider it wrong for five-row verbs ending in す, and for single-row verbs, but those kinds of verbs still use it once in a blue moon.
Some verbs have fixed special versions that are used way, way more than their causative conjugation, like 見せる (so in 見せる's case, it's almost always used instead of 見る's 見させる).
Expresses that if one thing happens, another thing is or will be true. Usually focuses on the condition, not the result.
Means that if one thing is true, so is the other. Doesn't describe cause and effect. Focuses on the result. Not anywhere near as much of a condition as ～ば is. Sometimes it's basically used as though it's a topic marker that's even more contrastive than は.
Doesn't describe cause and effect. Can be used for things like "If you're free tomorrow, come see me", which ～ば can't.
Attaches to statements, not nouns or whatever. Usually has a comma after it, but not always. Describes cause and effect. Used for things that are generally true, not coincidences or unique situations. Attaches like 行くと for verbs, Nだと for nouns, etc.
Try not to confuse this with たから.
けど can also be けれど, けども, or けれども, which all have different levels of formality and politeness.
You've already seen でも as a conjunction before. ても is でも but for verbs (and adjectives), and doesn't have the same oddities/caveats that でも as a conjunction has with nouns.
しかし is only used as a start-of-sentence conjunction.
The が here is not the subject marker, and it doesn't attach directly to nouns.
They're endless. There are also such adverbs ending in っさり, っぱり, っとり, etc. Many of them can take と to emphasize their adverbialness, or する to turn them into actions about behaving that way.
Many of these can also take と to emphasize their adverbialness or する to make them actions, just like the っきり/っかり ones.
Normal Japanese nouns are uncountable. You can't say "five stores" or "four stores" with the normal word for "store". This is just like how in English you can't say "five rices" when you're referring to pieces of food or grains of rice. You say "five pieces of food" or "five grains of rice" instead. But in Japanese, almost all nouns aren't countable, so almost every way of counting things is something like "pieces of food" or "grains of rice".
There are other counting words than つ, which are almost all nouns, but they're restricted to counting specific kinds of things.
These are sentence-ending particles that convey the speaker's attitude towards what they're saying or how the person they're saying it to is going to take it. They can express things like assertion, agreement, free-willed-ness, caution, etc. か is technically one of these but serves more of a grammatical function.
Compound sentence ending particles don't follow the same rules their parts would follow on their own, so you can say things like いいだぜ just fine and it doesn't seem weird at all, even though "いいだ" is objectionable at best on its own.
This is not the same な from the list of sentence-ending particles above, even though it is identical.
Yes, Vな as in prohibition and な the sentence-ending particle are ambiguous. You just have to get used to how they're used so you can tell which is which.
These mean "someone", "some time", "something", etc. as in "Is someone there?", "I know someone who can deal with this", "something fell out of my bag", etc.
These aren't really used for "anyone" in positive statements. 誰も and いつも can be used for "everyone" or "all the time" in positive statements, but that's irregular behavior.
It's not always possible to translate them into English as "anyone" etc, so some dictionaries define these words as "nobody", "never", "nothing", etc. But it's important to realize that the "no" is not part of the Nも phrase, it's part of the statement as a whole.
These can be used with positive phrases. In negative phrases they're like an emphatic version of the Xも phrases.
This is like how "and", "or", "and/or", and commas are used in English. They do not, however, literally translate into just "and", "or", or "and/or". They also all mean slightly different things.
The listing particle is often omitted from the last entry in a list. Some kinds of lists can work even if there's only one item.
Also remember that でも can be used as a listing particle, especially when the list is part of a bigger negative structure.
たり is formed the same way as the past tense. Sometimes there's only one past event.
There are a very large number of ways of listing actions or statements, just like listing nouns. ～たり～たり is only a single way of doing it.
These have different nuances and are used in different situations.
だけ and のみ mean that the statement only applies to what they're attached to.
ばかり expresses that there's so much of something, or so little of anything else, that you can't think of it any other way.
ばかり can work on the "time" something happened, like with さっき "recently/a short while ago", even if it's not directly attached.
This doesn't operate on question words like the other stuff here, but it's affected by polarity like they are.
Can have a wide range of implications, everything from "someone is ...ish" to "I think I'm gonna ...".
Comes from meaning 1 from above, like "もういい" "enough already".
There are many "or" phrases like または. They're used in different situations and mean slightly different things.
Forms the same way as the negative, except する's ず form is せず/せずに, not しず/しずに.
Any phrase that goes "‹negative condition› ‹expression of wrongness›" means "must", but they all have different nuances.
Normally comes after the full dictionary form of the verb, but for single-row verbs, the る can be dropped as well (i.e. V1-まい).
Not normally used as a way to say "let's not X". Almost always presents negative conjecture.
Most of these contractions apply in general, not just with the given word/phrase.
These exist. They mean exactly what they look like they mean. When you get to Nではありませんでした and Nじゃありませんでした they start to look like unintelligible hiragana stew, but you get used to it.
Q: Why didn't you include X?
A: I only included very basic grammar. There might be a couple things that don't look basic here, but I assure you, really, if I didn't include it then I probably didn't consider it to be basic enough.
Q: Why didn't you include ‹N3 grammar point› / Why did you include ‹N1 grammar point›?
A: Because JLPT grammar classifications are like 50%~80% bullshit.
There's a lot of fundamental grammar that people call N1 grammar, like とは, and there's a lot of things that literally mean the sum of their parts that people call N3 grammar, like とは限らない. Yes! とは is considered N1, but とは限らない, which literally includes とは, is considered N3! N1 is the more advanced level!
Also, some "grammar points" in the JLPT are actually just, literally, particular uses of common words, like 向け.
This does not mean that N1 grammar as a whole is not more advanced than N3 grammar, just that the individual items aren't all in the right places.
Q: Why are the example sentences individually sourced?
A: All language resources should only use examples found "in the wild". And they should source every single one of their examples, so you know they're not made-up.
Not a single example sentence should be written from scratch by the author, even if they are a native speaker of Japanese.
Made-up examples always have quirks that real examples don't, or lack quirks that real examples have.
This isn't philosophical. There are many English textbooks (for non-natives) with made-up example sentences that are extremely unnatural or downright wrong.
Including made-up examples and not sourcing real examples are signs of the inexperience or carelessness of the creator/creators of a resource.
Examples consisting of two or three words, that don't make up a full sentence, don't need to be sourced, as long as they're common phrases.
Q: This grammar explanation is wrong.
A: It probably isn't. I mean it might be, just probably not. Everything here is so basic that even someone with bad Japanese could teach it somewhat reliably. It's just incomplete.
It's not possible to give a complete explanation about ANY grammar. In any grammar guide, there are always going to be patterns that look just like other patterns (ones it doesn't teach), or ways of using them that it doesn't teach.
This grammar guide will not teach you how to produce fluent, correct Japanese. In fact, no grammar guide can. Only lots of reading and listening can do that.
Grammar guides are for making it easier to understand things, not to learn how to say them.