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Beginner Lesson #3: Adjectives and the 「の」 particle

Beginner Japanese Lesson #3: Adjectives and the 「の」 particle (length: 28:56) and original lesson details.

Here is the recording for the third beginner Skype lesson. You can subscribe to this podcast with iTunes from the following link:

Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes

This time, you can tell it’s spring because of the background noises from the birds. Sorry about that and the big delay but I’ve been too lazy for various reasons. Details of the next beginner lesson and lesson date will be posted afterwards in another post. (For those of you who asked, yes, I’m still planning on doing more lessons.)

Lesson Notes

To add to the previous lesson, the topic particle is not the subject like in English. There is no such thing as a subject in Japanese.

It is only the topic and doesn’t have to be directly related to the rest of the sentence.
For example, 「レイさんは、学校です。」 doesn’t have to mean that the Ray-san is a school.


So far, we have learned how to use 「元気」 to describe how you are doing. I managed to cleverly hide the fact that 「元気」 is an adjective. Actually, 「元気」 can also be a noun but so far we have been using as an adjective as a description of your well-being.

There are two types of adjectives: na-adjective and i-adjectives.

Na-adjectives arelmost the same as nouns as we have seen with 「元気」. The difference is that you can directly modify a noun by attaching it directly in front of the noun with a 「な」. (Hence the name)

1.有名な人 – famous person
2.便利なところ – convenient place

The other type of adjective are called i-adjectives. They are called that because they end in the hiragana 「い」. Unlike the na-adjectives, they do not need anything to directly modify nouns. Just attach them to the front of the noun.

1.広い部屋 – wide room
2.面白い人 – interesting person

You may have noticed, some na-adjectives end in 「い」 such as 「きれい」. You should pay careful attention to them. 「嫌い」 is another example of a na-adjective that ends in 「い」.

Negative Adjectives
As we have seen, the negative for na-adjectives is the same as nouns. Just add 「じゃない」.

The conjugation rules for i-adjectives are slightly different from na-adjectives and nouns.
For the negative tense, you first need to remove the last 「い」 and attach 「くない」.

For the polite form, add 「です」 at the end for both i-adjectives and na-adjectives.

※Important Exception: いい、かっこいい

The original version of いい was よい. As a result, all conjugations are based on よい and not いい.

The 「の」 particle

One of the main functions of the 「の」 particle (besides many others) is used to show ownership, same as the English word, “of”. However, the order is the possessor followed by 「の」 followed by the possession.

Xさんの部屋 = room of Xさん


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So many ways to say, “say”!

Just when you thought I was making empty promises, here is the third and final post devoted to the word 「言う」 and the wait was worth it because the third post is a podcast!

Podcast Link
Various Slang for 「言う」 (length: 14:19)

You can subscribe to this podcast with iTunes from the following link:

Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes

This podcast features Akina as we discuss various slang for 「言う」 such as pronouncing it as 「ゆう」 or replacing 「という」 with 「つ」. We also get an explanation of 「というか」 in Japanese as well as looking at variations such as 「ていうか」、「つうか」、and 「てか」.

We also discussed 「つ~の」 and the fact that you need to have the declarative 「だ」 for nouns (and na-adjectives).

I also learned some new words like 八方美人、むずい and some culture from 10 years ago.

This is the last of three posts discussing 「言う」 so make sure to check out the previous two posts if you haven’t read them yet.

The first post discussed “Defining things with 「いう」“.
The second post discussed “Using 「というか」 to rephrase things”.


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It’s a bird. It’s a plane! No, it’s yet another podcast!

Thanks to the new site update (Thanks Yves!), I have set up the Skype lessons as a podcast.

If you’re still stuck in the “early internet era” and is unfamiliar with terms like podcasts, web 2.0, tags, and [add your own meaningless buzzword here], you can get a very informative description of what a podcast is by asking a ninja. There is also a more illustrated version of the same video.

Ha ha ha, oh that ninja. He’s so droll. Ok ok, here’s a more serious description from Wikipedia. But I didn’t understand any of that technical nonsense so it’s really easiest to think of podcasts as a big pie factory with a bunch of whales lined up in front of it.

Anyway, you can subscribe to this podcast with iTunes by clicking the following link:

Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes

Or you can go to the “Advanced”->”Subscribe to Podcast” option on the iTunes menu and copy the following link:

I hope you enjoy the pies!


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Beginner Lesson #2: Negative State-of-Being and Referring to people

Beginner Japanese Lesson #2: Negative State-of-Being and Referring to people (length: 42:21) and original lesson details.

Here is the recording for the second beginner Skype lesson. You can subscribe to this podcast with iTunes from the following link:

Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes
The echo is gone only to be replaced by equally annoying static. It gets better later on but if anybody has any ideas on where the static is coming from or how to remove it, let me know. Those of you who are signed up for the third lesson, make sure you are familiar with the contents of the first two lessons.

On another note, please don’t sign up and then not show up. It’s not fair to the other people who couldn’t participate.

Details of the next beginner lesson and lesson date will be posted afterwards in another post.

Lesson Notes

In the previous lesson we talked about tones and how to practice them by mimicking Japanese speakers. Another way to practice tones by yourself is to get some sort of audio material, record yourself and compare the pronunciations.

However, be careful to find a good model because the degree of change in tones depends on the gender.

Females tend to have more drastic changes, and pronunciations are clearer, making listening comprehension easier. Males have much less variation and pronunciation tends to be more muffled making it more difficult to understand.

In the last lesson, we also learned how to say, “I’m doing good” using 元気 but not how to opposite, “I’m NOT doing good.”

Rules for negative conjugation
1. Add 「じゃない」 for casual
2. Add 「じゃないです」 for polite

Politer and former forms such as 「じゃありません」 or 「ではありません」 exist but for conversation, these two are fine

・Saying different degrees of 元気

1. まあまあ – so-so
2. とても
3. あまり – Can only be used with negative
4. 全然 – Mostly only used with negative

As before, the negative also works with nouns such as 「日本人じゃないです」.

・Getting somebody’s attention
In Japanese, we almost never use the word “you”. Instead, we usually refer to people by their name or title. And only when neccessary. A important principle in Japanese is that less is better.

Today, we will learn the polite name suffix which you probably heard of already: さん.

Now that I have your attention, how am I going to tell you what I’m going to talk about?

Answer: the topic particle

・What are particles?

One or two hiragana characters that define the role the sentence is playing in the sentence. It comes after the word that it applies to. There are many different types of particles but we’ll just cover the topic particle today.

When the other person has no way of knowing what you are going to talk about, the topic particle is like picking a topic from a bag of the topics of the universe. You can only hold one topic at a time, to change the topic, you have to put the first topic back in the bag and pick out another one. Once a topic is out of the bag, you can but you don’t have to repeat it (and often don’t).

The topic particle is a haragana 「は」 and attaches to the end of the topic. It is read as /wa/ and not /ha/.
It was also in the expression 「こんにちは」 and 「こんばんは」 from the last lesson.

元気です。(same topic) Yさんは? (changes topic)

This is why context is so important in Japanese because people don’t repeat things that were said previously and subject/objects aren’t required.

Now that we are learning more and more vocabulary, you’ll want to start learning Kanji to help your memorization.

16 小学校【しょうがっこう】 – elementary school
17 中学校【ちゅうがっこう】 – middle school
18 高校【こうこう】 – high school
19. 大学【だいがく】 – college

All use the kanji for school: 「校」. Also, if you know the kanji for small, medium, large, you can easily learn elementary, middle, and college by reusing 学校 and 学. Same goes for 高校 using the kanji for high and school.

Let’s use kanji to easily learn 4 new words (purposely not on the list). We learned 学生 in lesson 1. It uses 生, the kanji for life so with 学 (study, learning) it becomes student. How would we use the same 生 (life) kanji to say elementary school student, middle school student, high school student and college student?

Learning these characters will help you learn other words like 予備校, 校庭、大事, the list goes on and on.

・How to learn Kanji
When learning a kanji for the first time, practice the correct stroke order and count. You can look online for most characters by using the Kanji dictionary at WWWJDIC by clicking the sod link. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the stroke direction but it is top to down for more vertical strokes and left to right for more horizontal strokes.

You’ll notice that there are readings in both katakana and hiragana. The katakana reading is called 音読み and is written in katakana because it’s a chinese-derived pronuncation. (Though the actual Chinese pronunciation is probably very different) Words such as 学生 that are a combination of characters usually use this reading.

The other hiragana readings are called 訓読み. Originally Japanese words that was latched onto the Chinese character when they imported them into their writing system. Verbs, adjectives, and single character words usually use this character.

Some characters can have only one, both, or multiple such readings. Don’t worry about them until you actually learn words that use those reading. Learning just the readings doesn’t help as much as learning actual words with the readings along the way.

Again, because, there are so few sounds in Japanese, so many words look alike and you really need the visual aspect as a memory aid to keep tham all seperate.


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Beginner Lesson #1: Greetings and Proper Pronunciation

Beginner Japanese Lesson #1: Greetings and Proper Pronunciation (length: 31:22) and original lesson details.

Here is a heavily edited recording for the first lesson (mostly to get rid of the annoying echo as much as possible) and my notes. You can subscribe to this podcast with iTunes from the following link:

Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes
There is a very annoying echo throughout the whole thing, I’m very sorry about that. I will look into having that fixed by the next lesson.

Details of the next beginner lesson will be posted afterwards in another post.

And, Rossine, I’m so sorry I never correctly learned your name! I finally got time to relax and have it down now but my mind was just too full with other things at the time.

Lesson Notes

In Japanese, we don’t say “hello”.
Instead, there are three greetings for morning, afternoon, night. Let’s first look at the greeting for afternoon and night.


The last 「は」 is pronounced as /wa/ in this expression because it is the topic particles (covered later).

The tone is very important for proper pronunciation.
Theoretically, there are two tones: high and low, and the movement between them whether it’s up or down. The changes are important and not the actual pitch.
The key is to use your ears and mimic the tones. (Try humming the sounds first)

If you don’t get most of your tones right, native speakers won’t correct you because there’s too much to correct. So you need to pay attention from the start.

Be careful especially of English words because we tend to be used to the English way of saying them.

・Long vowel sound
The long vowel sound is two distinct sounds blurred together.

1. /a/ →  あ
2. /i/ → い
3. /e/ → え
4. /u/o/ → う

There are several exceptions such as 「おお」 being the long vowel sound. (大きい、通る、and 遠い)

To split hairs, /ei/ is regarded as a long vowel but it’s really not. It’s actually pronounced “ay”. Just slur the /e/ and /i/ sound.


For the small や、ゆ、よ, the long vowel sound goes with the last vowel sound.


Long vowel sound is important because if you don’t pronounce it right, you may say another completely different word.

おばあさん vs おばさん
ここ vs 高校(こうこう)
家(いえ) vs いいえ

In Japanese, there are roughly three levels of politeness: casual, polite, honorific/humble.
Which one to use mostly depends on age, social ranking, the type of relationship, length of acquantice, etc. In normal conversational Japanese, you only need to worry about casual and polite.

Of the three greetings, only “Good Morning” has a casual/polite distinction.


「です」 is polite ending for state-of-being. When said quickly, it sounds like “des”

Add 「か」, the question marker to make a polite question. That’s it! You don’t have to worry about subject agreement. In fact, you don’t need anything else.

To say, “How are you?” we use the adjective 「元気」(げんき) which means cheerful, happy, in a good condition.

Casual Version


Polite Version


We can use nouns too with 「です」.


We’ll learn more about state-of-being such as the negative and referring to others in the next lesson. We’ll also learn more about politeness levels as we go along.

Try using these greeting with your family and friends. It’s good for daily practice.


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