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Japanese Verbs

Japanese Verbs

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This one is used for "although" or "but," so, as you can imagine, it's used a lot. Like "but"
in English, it comes between the contrasting phrases. Let's try some examples:

Kare wa nihongo o hanasu keredomo, heta desu. (He speaks Japanese, but he's
not good at it.)
Keiko wa piano o yoku renshuu suru keredomo, jouzu ni narimasen. (Keiko
practices the piano a lot, but she doesn't get any better.)
Jack wa kenkou ni ki o tsukeru keredomo, yoku byouki shimasu. (Although Jack is
careful about his health, he gets sick a lot.)

Keredomo is easy to master because you'll hear it used often, as well as its shorter forms,
keredo and kedo.

Word Check

nihongo: the Japanese language
hanasu: to speak
heta: be poor at, not good at something; unskilled
yoku: (used before a verb) often, a lot, frequently
renshuu suru: to practice
jouzu: be good at something; skilled (direct opposite of heta)
...ni naru: to become (something)
kenkou: health
ki o tsukeru: to take care
byouki suru: to get sick, be sick

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

Base 3 + koto ga dekimasu

Koto ga dekimasu is a long one, and is added to the plain (Base 3) form of a verb to
simply show ability to do that verb. But first, in order to make this lesson as
uncomplicated as possible, let's look at each part.

First is koto. No, this isn't the well-known instrument of Japanese classical music. This is
the mundane koto that gets lots of daily wear and tear changing Japanese verbs to nouns.
Well, it really doesn't change the verb, it is added after the verb so that it can be used like
a noun. In English, we add ing to make a noun out of a verb, like reading in the sentence
I like reading. (Remember studying "gerunds" in school?) Anyway, in Japanese we do
the same thing by adding koto after a plain verb form. Like our ing, koto has no practical
use by itself. If you have to have a translation, "the thing of" is probably the closest you
can get. Better than all this talk would be an example. Watch carefully:

yomu (to read) + koto (the thing of) = yomu koto (the thing of reading; reading as a noun
[gerund])

Watashi wa yomu koto ga suki. (I like reading.)

The literal translation of the above example would be "I like the thing of reading; I like
reading as a thing to do." Does this help? If not, no problem. It'll come. Let's move on.

Next, the verb dekiru means "can" or "be able to." In this lesson it is shown in its polite
form dekimasu, but dekiru is also fine when you don't need to be polite. (If you need to
review ichidan verbs with masu go back to Lesson 3.)

Finally, the particle ga is what you use to join koto and dekimasu. Just think of koto ga
dekimasu
as a set phrase. Here are some examples:

Watashi wa nihongo o yomu koto ga dekimasu. (I can read Japanese.)
Keiko wa piano o hiku koto ga dekimasu. (Keiko can play the piano.)
Ashita Jack wa Tokushima ni iku koto ga dekimasu. (Jack can go to Tokushima
tomorrow.)

Now, for kicks -- no, actually for review -- let's try some other endings on dekiru, and see
what happens:

Watashi wa furansugo o yomu koto ga dekimasen. (I can't read French.)
Bob wa Junko ni denwa suru koto ga dekimashita. (Bob was able to call Junko.)
Richard wa ika o taberu koto ga dekimasen deshita. (Richard couldn't eat the

squid.)

And let's throw in one with a plain ending:

•(one boy to another) Boku wa jitensha ni noru koto ga dekiru! (I can ride a
bicycle!)

Yes, it's a long ending for just "can," but there are a few shortcuts and alternatives. With
"suru verbs," like denwa suru used in one of the above examples, you can drop the suru
and just add dekiru. For example,
"Bob wa Junko ni denwa suru koto ga dekimashita."

can be shortened to:

"Bob wa Junko ni denwa dekimashita."
Denwa
is a noun, and adding the suru makes it a verb, so instead of adding koto to make
it a noun again (and long one), you can just omit suru. Here are a couple more:

Furansugo o nihongo ni honyaku dekimasu. (I can translate French into Japanese.
Kinou, John wa benkyou dekimasen deshita. (John wasn't able to study
yesterday.)

Either way, long or short, they're both used, but the shorter version is more common in
daily conversation.

Again, dekiru or one of its forms can directly follow a noun as long as it's one that uses
suru to change it to a verb ; in that case the suru is omitted. After verbs you add koto ga
before dekiru.

There is a short alternative for other verbs, but that'll have to wait until we get into the
Base 4 endings.

One last thing: I described the meaning of koto as "the thing of," but please don't think
that koto can mean any "thing." It generally means intangible "things": ideas, essences,
meanings, expressions, actions, etc. It means "thing" as used in the sentence saving
money is a good thing
. It is generally not used for physical things or objects. It does not

mean "thing" in money is a good thing to have. There is another word in Japanese which
is used for physical things: mono; but we'll have to save that one for a future lesson.

Matsu koto ga dekimasu ka. (Can you wait?)

Word Check

koto: the "thing" or idea of something done
yomu: to read
suki: to like something
dekiru: can; to be able to do something
nihongo: the Japanese language
hiku: to play (a stringed instrument)
ashita: tomorrow
iku: to go
furansugo: the French language
denwa: a telephone
denwa suru: to call someone using a telephone
ika: squid
taberu: to eat
boku: I (masculine familiar)
jitensha: bicycle
noru: to ride
honyaku suru: to translate
kinou: yesterday
benkyou suru: to study
matsu: to wait

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

Base 3 + koto ni shimasu

The ending koto ni shimasu has essentially the same meaning as the verb kimeru, which
was introduced long ago in Lesson 1. It shows that you have made a decision, and it
shows that the decision was yours.

As I'm sure you know by now, koto ni shimasu is the polite form; koto ni suru is the
plain.

Here are some polite present and past tense examples:

Watashi wa ashita kaimono ni iku koto ni shimasu. (I'll go shopping tomorrow.)

Jones sensei wa ashita no suugaku no jugyou o junbi suru koto ni shimashita.

(Mr. Jones decided to prepare for tomorrow's math class.)
Watashi wa mainichi nihongo o benkyou suru koto ni shimashita. (I've decided to
study Japanese every day.)

Word Check

kimeru: to decide
kaimono ni iku: to go shopping
sensei: teacher (used as a title to replace san, etc.)
suugaku: mathematics
jugyou: a class or lesson in a particular subject
junbi suru: to prepare
mainichi: every day
benkyou suru: to study

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

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