たぶん 二年前 日本語を勉強を始めました でも 仕事がとても忙しいです。
I plan to start a blog on getting back to study and I also plan to post a japanese study resource each time I make a post. The resources will be my own creations from my study in the past years, but I should acknowledge my main web tool for study which was this site YesJapan. George Trombley ‘interpreter of Japanese Culture to the west’, Created the site. His videos are hilarious, but fun and educational. Comments on mistakes in my kana text are very welcome.
My Travels in Japan with the Family
So here’s my first contribution from my own archive of Japanese Language notes
一 ichi one
二 ni two
三 san three
四 shi/yon four
五 go five
六 roku six
七 shichi/nana seven
八 hachi eight
九 kyuu nine
十 jyuu ten
二課 Second Lesson
I learnt Japanese for a few years. It’s hard to re-start, but I’ve decided to go back to basics and take some time, (perhaps a month) to review all the verbs, vocabulary, and grammar I learnt over time. There are so many online resources for learning Japanese, there are no excuses for not finding out things. Here are some things I found were helpful.
Kotoba (japanese dictionary app. Very cheap, and perfect for iPhone Android or laptop)
Lets Learn Hiragana (A great book to start with basics. You have fun actually writing the new characters too!)
Don’t go too fast!
There are over 2000, kanji 漢字 (japanese character/pictograms). Luckily only a few hundred are used regularly. A friend of mine in Japan, says that Japanese people say to her they can see that Japanese is not her first language because she uses so many kanji in her writing. Japanese people tend to pick and choose which kanji they use. Most hand writing by adults and all writing by younger children is performed using the two kana (phonetic alphabets), ひらがな (hiragana) and カタカナ(katakana). These two alphabets contain over fifty characters each. As children get more fluent in reading, the text they read will start to have the kanji symbol for the phonetically spelt word, written above. By the age of 16, Japanese children are expected to know the method of writing and the meaning of over 1500 Kanji. Nekohakaase a great YouTube Blogger advises you to learn ONE kanji a day. This method worked really well for me.
じてんしゃ 自転車 Bycycle
くるま 車 Car
でんしゃ 電車 Train
しんかんせん 新幹線 Bullet Train
There is no kanji for truck. It is a modern western word that has been ‘Nipponised’ When this is done the katakana alphabet is used.
きゅうきゅうしゃ 救急車 Ambulance
しょうぼうしゃ 消防車 Fire Engine
ふね 船 Boat
ひこうき 飛行機 Airoplane
The Hiragana and katakana developed as simplifications of Chinese characters.
三課 （Third Lesson)
Probably a bit comical calling these posts “lessons”, but perhaps someone may find them useful!
There are many levels of formality/informality in Japanese. You will find thousands of web sites and books all delving into great depth about these subtle hierarchies in Japanese culture. No doubt they are there, but I’d advise not to worry too much about them at the beginning. Firstly I am going to look at the function of the ‘Particles’, wa（は）, ga（が）, no（の）,ka（か） and o（を）。
Although spoken, particles are not strictly words. They are like spoken markers, indicating the ‘function’ of the word before or after them. For example, one of the most common is wa(は). Most of the time it marks the subject of a sentence.
この 車 は 好きです。
kono kuruma wa suki desu.
this car like is. (I like this car)
The function of the ‘wa’ is to indicate that all that went before it is the subject of the sentence. People sometimes get confused with the ‘wa’ and ‘ga'(が). At first ‘ga’ seems to be used in the same way as wa(は）and so the natural question is, “How do I know which one to use?” The answer is that they are not used interchangeably. ’Wa’ is used when speaking about an explicit/specific item, or to emphasize a subject or concept. ’Ga’ is used when speaking in general terms, about broad categories.
このりんごは美味しそう (kono ringo wa oishisou) .
This (specific) apple looks delicious.
私はりんごが好きじゃない (watashi wa ringo ga suki jyanai) .
I (specifically me) don’t like apples.
In the second sentence I am the subject of the sentence specifically, and I am talking about apples in general, (the other subject of the sentence), so ’Ga’ is used to mark them.
Ka (か）sometimes causes trouble too. It is often heard in two completely different contexts. The context of the sentence should tell you the meaning implied.
新軸駅はどこですか。(shinjiku eki wa doko desu ka ). Where is Shinjiku Station?
‘Ka’ acts like a spoken question mark. In fact most declaimative statements in Japanese can be turned into a question by simply saying Ka at the end of them.
田中さんの車は小さいですか.(Tanakasan no kuruma wa chiisai desu ka) Is Mr Tanaka’s car small?
たなかさんの車は小さいです.(Tanakasan no kuruma wa chiisai desu) Mr Tanaka’s car is small.
I marked the ‘no‘ particle in those last two sentences. It is being used to mark possession or ownership here.
‘Ka’ can also be heard when used to mean ‘or’
ビ-ルか水を欲しいですか (biru ka mizu ‘o’ hoshii desu ka) Do you ‘desire’ beer or water?
The First KA has the meaning ‘or’, “beer or water”, the second Ka is the question marker.
四課 （Verb Lists）
You will need to learn the hiragana and katakana for these lists to be useful
From my experience verbs are the best place to start learning a language. How they are conjugated effects the structure of the grammar. This is especially so in Japanese because of the different levels of formality and informality. Also, in English （英語）the tense of the verb is changed by words added around it ( I did run, I could run, I will run, I should run etc..) or by adding “ing” to the end to discribe the ongoing activity in its tense. In Japanese the verb itself is changed depending on the formality of the conversation as well as the tense. Also, there is no difference in Japanese between the present and future tense form of a verb. Its all about context.
Refering to the Regular Verbs table above, as an example we take the first verb listed, HAJIMERU （始める）”To Begin” (active)*
The dictionary form of the verb is 始める, but to use it we change the ”ru” （る） to “ri”（ り）. As we can see from the table, this is now はじめります (Ha ji me ri masu) . A sentence , “I will begin” would be “私は始めります” (watashi wa hajimeri masu). “I did begin” becomes “初めりました” (watashi wa hajimerimashita). However, what I’ve just quickly explained is only true for formal speech. An informal way to say the same thing would be to just state the dictionary form of the verb (Hajimeru). This would be a common, one word answer or statement in the context of a larger conversation. Its meaning would be I will, or I intend to begin. 始めていません、（ha ji me tei ma sen), is the verb form for an ongoing act. In this example the ‘ma sen’ at the end is a negative form so in translation it would mean “I haven’t started yet’ or ‘I’m not starting at the present time’.
you can look at the Informal verb conjugations in the chart below to examine the differences between the tenses listed. Remember there are many more verb forms than these two lists but its a good place to start.