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Japanese Journey 十 — Meeting People


Speaking to the native speakers helps in learning a language. That’s why going to Japan is in my bucket list. I know Japanese people are shy and I am a shy person too. But, if I have a chance to go to Japan, I must be brave enough to break the ice. I have learnt several simple phrases.

Some questions that can be used to break the ice:

1. 今何時ですか?— What is the time now?

2. いい天気ですね。— The weather is nice, isn’t it?

ね(ne) is used to get an agreement from the listener. Even though the listener may not agree, at least he / she will reply. It means you have broken the ice.

3. これは何ですか?— What is this? (while pointing to something near you.)

This is a simple way to start a conversation and to improve your vocabulary too.

それじゃ。See you.

Lessons learnt

1. Japanese language has a lot of common phrases that are used daily; you can learn from books or watch Japanese drama series. Memorizing and practicing the phrases will help you to get yourself comfortable with a Japanese-speaking environment.

2. 始めまして is spoken when you are meeting the person for the first time. Thus, if you have been seeing the person a few times before but have never had a conversation, 始めまして may be omitted.

3. If your schedule has been delayed, do not give up. Do the necessary to reschedule. Better late than never.

Next lesson here

Japanese Journey 九 — Greetings


I have been learning greetings in Japanese and I am going to use it in this post. こんにちわ is a phrase to say hello or good afternoon.

I know I am behind the schedule, thank you for the patience. ありがとう ございます。Thank you.

I have to go now, but I will be back in Japanese Journey 十.

いってきます。See you.

Lessons learnt

1. いってきます is spoken when you are leaving the house and will be coming back. Since I will be back, いってきます is a better phrase to use compared to さようなら.

2. さようなら is a common phrase you hear from Japanese drama series. But it is used for occasions when you part from someone for a longer period of time.

3. When you learn a second language (or a third and so forth), try to understand how and when the local people use certain phrases in their daily lives and try to use the phrases in your daily life.

Next lesson here

Japanese Journey 八 — Numbers, Counters

If you have learnt numbers in Chinese language, you will master numbers in Japanese language faster. The reason is that both languages use the same concepts: counting units change every four digits and the use of counters (quantifiers in Chinese language). The difference is the pronunciation. There is irregular pronunciation in Japanese language.

Let’s go to numbers starting from one hundred.

百 (ひゃく) — 100

千 (せん) — 1000

万 (まん) — 10000

Counting units change every four digits

10,000 is ten thousand in Western countries, but Japanese language has a name for the unit: 万. Thus, 100,000 is one hundred thousand in Western countries, but it is 十万 (ten 万) in Japanese language.

The use of counters

English language: two books

Chinese language: 两

Japanese language: 二本, where 二 = 2, 冊 = the counter for book and 本 = book

Just like Chinese language, you need to keep learning so that you can get yourself familiar with the use of counters.

Lesson learnt

1. Do revision.

2. Keep learning.

Next lesson here

Japanese Journey 七 — Adjectives, Asking Questions

As mentioned in Japanese Journey 六, there are two types of adjectives in Japanese language: い-adjective and な-adjective. The example in adjective conjugation, 高い, is an い-adjective.

All い-adjectives end with い. Some of the “famous” い-adjectives that you may hear from Japanese drama series are 可愛い (cute)、優しい (gentle)、美味しい (delicious) and 素晴らしい (fabulous).

To describe a noun, you just need to add the noun after the い-adjective, for examples, 可愛い子供、優しい人、美味しい寿司。

Although some な-adjectives end with い, you add な in between the adjective and the noun to describe the noun. Are な-adjectives confusing? No. From the examples below, although the pronunciation ends with い, they are kanji that does not end with い alone like  い-adjectives. It takes a lot of learning to differentiate な-adjectives from い-adjectives, but it is not confusing.

Examples of な-adjective and its usage:

(a) 綺麗 (きれい) — 綺麗な女の子

(b) 有名 (ゆうめい) — 有名な人

Asking questions

Asking questions in Japanese is easy. Once you have learnt sufficient grammar and vocabulary to form sentences, you just need to add か (ka) at the end of the sentence to make it a question sentence. Let’s look at two examples:

(a) 高いですか?— Is it expensive?

(b) あなたは行きますか?— Are you going?

Lesson learnt

1. Start a diary to write in the language that you are learning. The more you use the language in your daily life, the more your brain can retain what you have learnt.

Next lesson here

Japanese Journey 六 — Conjugation

English language learners are familiar with conjugation. For example, eat, eats, ate and eating are used differently depending on the person and the tense.

Japanese language has three types of conjugation: noun conjugation, adjective predicate and verb predicate conjugation. There are some notes on my book which I have written down. Thus, I have looked up some extra information on conjugation and added more information into the book.

Below is the summary of what I have learnt. The conjugation is highlighted in bold.

Noun conjugation

先生 (せんせい) = teacher

1. 私は先生です。— I am a teacher.

2. 私は先生じゃないです。— I am not a teacher.

3. 私は先生でした。— I was a teacher.

4. 私は先生じゃなかったです。— I was not a teacher.

Adjective conjugation

There are two types of adjectives in Japanese language: イ-adjective and ナ-adjective.

高い (たかい) = expensive

1. 高いです。— It is expensive

2. 高くないです。— It is not expensive.

3. 高かったです。— It was expensive.

4. 高くなかったです。— It was not expensive.

Verb conjugation

行き (いき) = go

1. あなたは行きます。— You go.

2. あなたは行きません。— You do not go.

3. あなたは行きました。— You went.

4. あなたは行きませんでした。— You did not go.

Lessons learnt

1. Find more information on a topic and write down the information. It helps to reinforce the learning.

2. If possible, read in the language that you are learning.

3. New Japanese words: Teacher — 先生

Expensive — 高い

Go — 行き

Next lesson here