Course: 1 Lesson: 1 – Creating simple sentences

Course 1 Lesson 1
Creating Simple Sentences
 About This Lesson このレッスンについてSubmit a Question
Natsumi Sensei



Learn how to ask and answer simple questions.
Learn the question particle ka.


Remember the phrase Nan desu ka. (What is it?) and pay attention to how desu is used.
 New Vocabulary 新しい単語Submit a Question
By clicking on the button, you can hear how each word is pronounced. You can add any word, sentence or phrase to your "Notebook" by clicking on the word and then the save icon.
Japanese English Word Type
hai yes noun
nani what? question
nan what (short version) question
iie no noun
inu dog noun
neko cat noun
~san Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss. noun
tanaka last name (in the rice field) person name
kobayashi last name (small woods) person name
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 Culture Clip カルチャー・クリップSubmit a Question
Culture plays an important role in learning Japanese. Knowledge of modern and traditional culture will help you retain more information and learn faster!

Using ~san for Mr., Mrs., etc.

It is a custom in Japan to add ~san to the end of someone’s name. ~san means “Mr.,” “Ms.,” “Mrs.,” and “Miss,” and can be used on first or last names. It is considered rude not to use ~san, especially when talking to or about someone you are not close to, or someone who is older or above you in status. NOTE: You should never use ~san when referring to yourself or someone in your own family.

 New Phrases 新しいフレーズSubmit a Question
Here in the NEW PHRASES section you don't have to think about the grammar of each phrase. Simply memorize these phrases to increase your conversation skills.
1. Wakarimasu ka.
Do you understand?
2. Hai, wakarimasu.
Yes, I understand.
3. iie, wakarimasen.
No, I don't understand.
4. Wakarimasen.
I don't understand. / I don't know.
5. Mo to yukkuri itte kudasai.
Please speak more slowly.
6. Mou ichido itte kudasai.
Please say it one more time.
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 Grammar 文法Submit a Question
The Grammar sections of each lesson give you the building blocks necessary to speak Japanese properly. Make sure that you read and understand each section.

1-1. Plurals in Japanese

The Japanese language does not have plurals. For example, mimi means “ear” or “ears,” depending on the context of the sentence. Later you will learn that some words have plural forms, but for now remember that most words can be either plural or singular without any modification.

1-2. Using desu to make a simple statement

Depending on the context, desu (usually pronounced “des”) can mean: “it is,” “this is,” “they are,” “these are,” “I am,” “you are,” “he is,” “she is,” and “we are.” It is always placed at the end of a sentence. Look at these examples to see how desu is used.

[word] + desu
1. Makura desu .
It's a pillow.
2. Tana ka desu .
I am Tanaka.
3. Kobayashisan desu .
She is Kobayashi.
4. Sekken desu .
It's soap.

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Mini Quiz
Click the to reveal the English.
1. Neko desu.
2. Haburashi desu.
3. Futon desu.
4. Beddo desu.
5. Ha desu.

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1-3. Making a question using ka

ka is like the English question mark. Japanese sentences never change the word order when a question is formed. Instead, you add ka at the end.

[word] + Desu ka.
1. Makura desu ka .
Is it a pillow?
2. Tanaka san desu ka .
Are you Tanaka?
3. Kobayashi san desu ka .
Is she Mrs. Kobayashi?
4. Sekken desu ka .
Is it soap?

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Mini Quiz
Click the to reveal the English.
1. Mado desu ka.
2. Kagami desu ka.
3. inu desu ka.
4. Ha na desu ka.
5. Atama desu ka.

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1-4. The question word nani

The question word nani and its short version nan both mean “what.” The two versions are used differently. nani can stand alone to simply mean “What?” The short version nan cannot be used alone like nani. It is always used with other words such as desu, as in the sentence, Nan desu ka. (“What is it?”). If someone says something to you that you don’t understand or that you didn’t hear so well you could reply with JUST nani or if you wanted to be a bit more polite you would respond with Nan desu ka.

 Question and Answer 質問と答えSubmit a Question
Each question is presented with several potential answers. To test your pronunciation, try each question and answer out loud before you click the sound button.

1. Nan desu ka.
Makura desu.
Sekken desu.
What is it?
It's a pillow.
It's soap.
I don't know.
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2. Kagami desu ka.
Hai, kagami desu.
iie, mado desu.
Is it (this) a mirror?
Yes, it is a mirror.
No, it is a window.
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3. Beddo desu ka.
iie, futon desu.
Hai, beddo desu.
Is it (this) a bed?
No it is a futon.
Yes, it is a bed.
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4. Tanaka san desu ka.
iie, kobayashi san desu.
Hai, tana ka desu.
Is he Mr. Tanaka?
No, it is Mr. Kobayashi.
Yes, it is Tanaka.(said by co-worker, therefore san is not added to the name)
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5. inu desu ka.
iie, neko desu.
Hai, inu desu.
Is it a dog?
No, it is a cat.
Yes, it is a dog.
I don't know.
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6. Nan desu ka.
Te desu.
Ashi desu.
Yubi desu.
Haburashi desu.
What is it (this)?
It is a hand.
It is a foot.
It is a finger.
It is a toothbrush.
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7. Wakarimasu ka.
Hai, wakarimasu.
Do you understand?
Yes, I understand.
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8. Kobayashi san desu ka.
iie, tanaka san desu.
Hai, kobayashi san desu.
Is she Kobayashi?
I don't know.
No, she is Tanaka.
Yes, she is Kobayashi.
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Course 1 Lesson 1
Hiragana あいうえお
 New Characters 新しい字Submit a Question
Learning the correct stroke order of the new characters is important, especially as your writing speed increases. The strokes are marked with arrows and numbers.
a i u e o
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 Writing Styles 書くスタイルSubmit a Question
This section shows you the various acceptable styles for writing in Japanese. The red character is a great example hand written Hiragana.
a i u e o
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 Writing Points 書くポイントSubmit a Question
The Writing Points in each lesson give you important information about how the symbols are used. Make sure that you read and understand each section.

W1-1. Strokes

A stroke begins when the pen (or any other writing device) comes in contact with the paper. The stroke ends when the pen separates from the paper.

Traditionally, Japanese was written with brushes. YesJapan’s lessons use the brush-written style for the Japanese characters. The reason is the brush-written style best represents how the characters should be written..

There are three types of strokes. For ease of understanding we have named them fade out, dead stop and bounce fade. Whether writing with a brush, pen, or pencil, make sure that you pay attention to the stroke type. This will ensure that your writing is neat and proper.

Fade Out – This stroke ends by pulling up the brush, pen etc. so that the stroke ends in a faded point. Dead Stop – This type of stroke ends abruptly with no fading at all. Bounce Fade – This stroke is a mix of a dead stop and a fade out. The stroke stops and then fades out into the direction of the beginning of the next stroke.

W1-2. Things to consider

Be careful not be mix up a and o. The second stroke of a is curved while the second stroke for o is straight until the loop.

It is important to always study the different styles of each character in the Writing Styles section of the lessons to see what is allowed when writing. Remember that there are small differences between how the characters will look when writing with a brush and writing with a pen or pencil.

 The Basics 基本Submit a Question
The Basics sections of the lessons are used to introduce simple but powerful concepts in Japanese. Understanding the basics is important as you progress in your Japanese studies.

W1-3. Welcome to Japanese Writing

This is where the writing begins. There are three Japanese writing systems: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. kanji are Chinese characters, and each one has a meaning. hiragana and katakana, derived from the more complicated kanji, are phonetic characters. In other words, they each represent a sound and do not have meaning by themselves. The three writing systems are used together to write Japanese. katakana is only used to represent words of foreign origin or any word that was not originally Japanese. hiragana and kanji are used together to form all Japanese words. Everyone has a different style of handwriting. This is the same in Japanese; certain rules must be followed, however, when writing in Japanese. When writing Japanese, the correct stroke order must be used.

W1-4. Some History

hiragana was created by the Buddhist priest Kuukai (AD 774-835). At that time it was believed that women were not capable of learning the sometimes very intricate kanji. After hiragana was introduced to women, they were able to express themselves in the written form. It is due to hiragana that women authored many of the first published works in Japan. katakana was created by using portions of kanji, while the more rounded hiragana was created by simplifying kanji. Children in Japan learn hiragana first, then katakana, and finally kanji. hiragana, with just over 100 characters, can represent the entire Japanese language. On the other hand, kanji consists of over 10,000 characters. In 1981 the Japanese Ministry of Education announced 1,945 commonly used kanji called the Joyou kanji. By the 6th grade the average Japanese student knows half of the Joyou kanji.

 Hiragana Words You Can Write 書ける言葉Submit a Question
You should practice writing these words at least 5 times each. Be sure to pay attention to stroke order. By clicking on the button, you can hear how each word is pronounced.

drawing, painting
あい love
うえ up
いえ house
おい nephew
えい ray fish
いいえ no
いい good, nice
おおい many, much, a lot
あう to meet
いう to say
おう to chase
あお blue
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 Lesson Quizzes クイズSubmit a Question
The quizzes will test your understanding of the material taught in each lesson. You can take each quiz as many times as you want to. The correct answers will be show at the end of the quiz.
 Download Area ダウンロードSubmit a Question
Natsumi Sensei

Hiragana A I U E O Writing Practice Sheet

Hiragana 8.5x11 Complete Chart

 Related Videos 関連ビデオSubmit a Question
The video(s) below help explain what is taught in this lesson. It is recommended that you first complete the lesson and then watch the video(s).

 Hiragana Match Submit a Question
 New Phrases Submit a Question
 New Words Submit a Question
 Chizu Challenge Submit a Question
 YesJapan Kana Attack! Submit a Question
 YesJapan Strike! Submit a Question

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