February 14, 2008

Knowing the way verbs can be fashioned to derive more meanings is crucial to your fluency. Don’t begin your conquest of the Japanese language without learning basic strategy. Basic strategy says always speak in the most polite level of language that can be afforded. . Verbs manipulation is a good course of action for the SL2 learner who is in high gear on short on time.. The boxes are the most basic way verbs are formed. Become familiar with them by using the plug and play grammar boxes below.

This morning I was per chance perusing an old French school book that claims that I can “learn by yourself”. Inside I saw the never ending struggle with verb conjugations. But, unlike French, English, Spanish, or Italian, Japanese doesn’t have a multitude of conjugations that must be memorized for any given verb. In Japanese learn the four basic ordinal points in language learning. .l To help you start speaking Japanese quicker, learn how to put verbs into the most common polite level and plain form structures. Always practice saying out loud all sentences in both standard politeness levels and plain forms.

In Japanese it is easy to fall in a plain form rut because usually that is what is being spoken around us. People are of course going to be shitashii. But we must be careful not to get into a habit which may degrade our high and lofty goals to speak an eloquent Japanese. One that is pure, natural, free from vulgarity and as honorable sounding as we can make it. If we are to be dining with greatness we should speak the part.. This lesson shows the boxes of verb of all we need to be able to say and politely I might add is; 1. a verb in the affirmative present or future 2. a verb in the negative future or present. 3. a verb in the affirmative past, and 4. a verb in its negative past.

Here is a quick example of how this works: Using the verb hanasu to speak, the 4 basic tenses would put the verb into the following English:

1. I will speak – hanashimasu,
2. I won’t speak – hanashimasen,
3. I spoke – Hanashimashita,
4. I didn’t speak – Hanashimasen deshita.

Plain form may be used in embedded questions but always practice putting verbs into the polite ending of -masu, because when you speak politely to others, others treat you with more respect and even speak it back to you but usually even more humbly and you feel so good when spoken to in this way.

For those interested in learning to speak Japanese it is somewhat of a bonus feature and even a motivational factor that instead of a plethora of different conjugations that we must study and memorize, in Japanese all we have to do is be able to manipulate 4 conjugations. I like the fact that Japanese can be understood with only 4 tenses of a verb because in that old French school book which I perchance was perusing I saw these scary looking words. In that French book there was 5 pages of conjugations for one verb. If you can’t get my drift in this part of the lesson, what I am saying is that Japanese is easier to speak perhaps than anyone has ever thought or cared to discuss. So spread the word don’t let Japanese intimidate anyone and look at all the benefits of Japanese over our traditional romance grammar translation guru pound cake.

DESU (polite; state of being.)
+ -
Present DESU(is , am) DEWA ARIMASEN(isn’t , am not)

MASU (Polite form verb endings.)
+ -

Present MASU (Will, do, shall) MASEN(will not, do not, shall not)

Past MASHITA(did, would) MASEN DESHITA(did not, would not)

The above is a model for polite verb endings in Japanese speech. When in doubt, use this model when conjugating your Japanese verbs. It is adequate to almost all formal situations, where everyone except the Emperor will be in attendance.

Plain Form
(Use with those close to your social circle, never to a boss or an Emperor!)
+ -
Present Base III (will verb, do verb) Base I + nai (won’t verb, don’t verb)

Past Base TA (did verb) Base I + nakatta (didn’t verb)
Degrading from the polite form

Plain form - to be
+ -
Present de aru, da(is, am) dewa nai (isn’t, am not)

Past de atta, datta (was) dewa nakatta (wasn’t)

D.V. Plain Form
+ -
Present stem + i (is) stem + kunai(is not)

Past stem + katta (was) stem + kunakatta (was not)

Just as sushi connotes a certain image for many Americans so does the thought of studying Japanese. and came upon these lovely terms about verbs: indicative mood, present, imperfect, past definite, perfect, pluperfect, past anterior, future anterior, conditional present, conditional past, imperative mood, subjunctive mood, Infinitive mood present, and on, and on. Our culture almost automatically assumes if it isn’t one of the traditional romance languages then it must be hard to master, or would serve no good or useful purpose.. But they are wrong!. Let there be no doubt about it, Japanese is a just as hard as any language to master. You must learn Japanese in small steps, just let the accumulating of vocabulary be a good part of your goals for Japanese acquisition method. Of course we must have our milk before meat. But we do eventually we do want to get to the meat… eventually. Ganbatte ne! Makurasuki Sensei.