Lesson 05 - Past Tense Verbs



In one of the previous lessons, you learned ten basic Japanese verbs and how to conjugate them into present tense. Now we will take those same ten verbs and learn how to conjugate them in the past affirmative and past negative forms.


Past tense verbs are actually fairly easy to conjugate, especially if you already know if the verb is a verb or a verb and what it means. Once you become familiar with a verb, you will be able to remember the conjugations without much effort.




You should already know what these verbs mean in English. If you don’t remember, go back a couple of lessons and practice some more!


Dictionary Form

Past Affirmative

Past Negative




































You must use particles in the same way that you would for present tense verbs. The grammatical structure does not change!


Sentence Structure


You will still use the same types of sentence structures that you used when you were learning present tense verbs. Remember that the particle will come before the noun.


In the chart above, there is no past tense example for X Y です. There is, however, a past tense and past tense negative form of です. The past tense of です is でした. In order to negate this verb, you must say じゃありません. This is the present tense form. If you wish to negate です (meaning, you wish to say something isn’t something else, or wasn’t something else), then you need to say じゃありませんでした。


For example, take the sentence わたしはがくせいです(I am a student). If you want to say “I am not a student,” you would say わたしはがくせいじゃありません. If you wanted to say you were a student, meaning you are no longer a student, you would say わたしはがくせいでした. If you wish to say you were not a student, you would say わたしはがくせいじゃありませんでした.


Verb Conjugations


As you can see from the chart above, conjugating for past tense verbs is similar across the board. For the past affirmative form, you must change the ます ending to ました. This is what makes the verb past tense. Anytime you see an ending on a verb that is ました, interpret that as something that happened in the past.


To get the past tense negative form, take the ません form of the verb and simply add on でした to the end of it. This should always let you know that the verb is being negated and in the past tense. 




Below are the same kanji from the previous verb lesson. This time, see if you can translate them into English without checking the previous lesson! Practice writing them a few times as well. The answers are in the answer key at the bottom of the lesson.






















1. Conjugate each verb you learned. Use kanji where appropriate. Conjugate into both the past affirmative and the past negative. Check your answers by looking back through the lesson!


2. Translate the following sentences into English. If you are not sure of a word, look it up in a Japanese dictionary.


1.       きのうえいがをみました。


2.       きょうがっこうにいきません。


3.       てがみをかきませんでした。


4.       にほんごのクラスでにほんごをべんきょうしました。


5.       ばんごはんをたべませんでした。


6.       わたしはせんせいじゃありません。


7.       にほんにいきました。


8.       うちでおんがくをききませんでした。


9.       としょかんでにほんごをべんきょうしました。


10.   いっしょにレストランでばんごはんをたべませんか。




Answer Key


1.       To buy


2.       To return


3.       To watch/look/see


4.       To sleep


5.       To eat


6.       To go


7.       To write


8.       To hear




1.       I watched a movie yesterday.


2.       I’m not going to school today.


3.       I didn’t write a letter.


4.       I studied Japanese in Japanese class.


5.       I didn’t eat dinner.


6.       I am not a teacher.


7.       I went to Japan.


8.       I didn’t listen to music at home.


9.       I studied Japanese at the library.


10.   Would you like to eat dinner at a restaurant with me?




Lesson 04 - Questions, Invitations, and Shou Form



Let’s take a short break from the verbs by learning about some additional ways to use verbs. This lesson will teach you how to manipulate verbs so that you can ask questions or invite someone to do something. Also in this lesson is the SHOU form of verbs.







It’s a little inconvenient for me.


Sounds great!






Japanese language


English language












To study (dictionary form)


To read (dictionary form, U verb)


How are you?


To drink (dictionary form, U verb)


Coffee shop














The question particle is needed in order for you to ask a question. The only other way to ask a question is when you are speaking—you can raise the tone of the ending of the sentence when you speak to someone in person. This makes it sound like you are asking a question instead of telling someone something. In writing, and for more formal conversations, you should use the particle .


will always go at the end of the sentence. Look at the example below.




This sentence is a statement. The subject is implied. For this sentence, we will assume the subject is “I.” So the sentence means “I watch TV” or “I am watching TV.” It can also mean “I will watch TV” since there are no future tenses in Japanese.


Now, you can make this sentence a question just by sticking on the end. (If we do this, we will have to assume the subject is someone else, since you can’t say “I am watching TV?”) If we assume the subject is a person to whom you are speaking, you can say テレビをみますか. Now you are asking the person if he or she is watching TV.


Verb Conjugations


ませんか form


This verb form is what you should use if you are trying to invite someone to do something. For example, say you want to invite your friend to go to a restaurant with you. You would say this: いっしょにレストランにいきませんか。This means something like “Will you go to a restaurant with me?” Even though this form uses the negative form ません, because it has the question particle , it is understood that this is an invitation.


You can answer an invitation with phrases such as いいですね (Sounds great!) or ちょっと… (It’s kind of inconvenient for me).


ましょう and ましょうか form


These forms are used to suggest an activity. Instead of ending your verbs with ます, end with ましょう. If you rather ask it as a question, add ましょうか. For example, you can say ゲームをしましょう. This means “Let’s play a game.” You could also say ゲームをしましょうか. This means “Should we play a game?” Each conjugation is a form of suggestion.




Below are some kanji that are relevant to this lesson. Practice writing them!


*Tip: Flashcards are great for helping you learn new kanji symbols or Japanese vocabulary! You can make them by hand or online!


映画                     えいが


英語                     えいご


日本語                                にほんご




音楽                     おんがく


勉強する           べんきょうする


読む                     よむ


飲む                     のむ


喫茶店                                きっさてん








Try to translate the following conversations into English. Use the vocabulary you have learned from all of the lessons!


Conversation 1:


A: こんばんは。おげんきですか。


B: こんばんは。はい、げんきです。げんきですか。


A: はい。レストランにいきませんか。


B: はい、いきましょう。


Conversation 2:


A: なにをしますか。


B: おんがくをききます。なんで。


A: いっしょにばんごはんをたべませんか。


B: はい、たべましょう。


Conversation 3:


A: なにをしましょうか。


B: テニスをしましょうか。


A: はい、しましょう。




Make five sentences by using the vocabulary and verbs you have learned so far. Make at least one of the sentences a ませんかform and at least one of them a ましょう form. The others should be normal questions and statements.




Answer Key:


Conversation 1:
A: Good evening. How are you?


B: Good evening. I am fine. How are you?


A: I am well. Would you like to go to a restaurant with me?


B: Yes, let’s go.


Conversation 2:
A: What are you doing?


B: Listing to music. Why?


A: Would you like to eat dinner with me?


B: Yes, let’s eat together.


Conversation 3:
A: What should we do?


B: Should we play tennis?


A: Yes, let’s play. 


Lesson 03 - Present Tense Verbs



In the previous lesson, you were taught the basics of Japanese. Now it is important that you learn how to conjugate Japanese verbs. Verbs are a very important part of Japanese, especially since some sentences can be made up entirely of verbs! This can happen in many languages, but in Japanese, it is very common (more common than in English). 


First we will learn how to conjugate verbs in the present tense (both affirmative and negative conjugations).




In the chart below, you will find ten basic, common verbs that you will need to learn. Study the chart before moving on.





To watch/see/look


To eat


To sleep


To do


To come


To return


To go


To buy


To write


To listen/hear






In order to use some verbs correctly, you must use particles. Particles will mark the object of the sentence. For now, we will focus on the particles , , and . You should use when you use the verbsみる, たべる, する, かう, かく, and きく. is used when the verbs いく, かえる, and くるare used. can be used with multiple verbs, but it is for when you want to say you did something at a specific location. You will see this particle used more later. Some verbs, such as ねる, don’t need particles.


Sentence Structure


Let’s look at the basic sentence structure again: X Y です. Now that you are learning verbs, you can replace the です in this basic sentence with whichever verb is relevant. You must conjugate the verb, but then you can plug it into this sentence and add the necessary particles in order to make a coherent sentence. Whichever particle corresponds to the verb you are using should appear before the verb in the sentence. In most cases, it should go after the object and before the verb.


Verb Conjugations


When conjugating verbs, it is important to know that there are three types of verbs: verbs, verbs, and irregular verbs. The explanations below will describe how to conjugate each type of verb into the present affirmative and present negative types.


To conjugate a verb, you must first remove the from the dictionary form of the verb. After this, you add ます for the present affirmative. If you want to make the verb negative, you would add ません after removing the instead of adding ます.


The verbs in the chart above are: みる, たべる, and ねる. Each is conjugated in the table below.


Dictionary Form

Present Affirmative

Present Negative













To conjugate a verb, you must look at the last syllable. Change that last syllable to the syllable with the same consonant but “i” as the vowel. If there is no consonant, change it to “i” like this:  changes to and changes to . Some verbs can actually end in , so they can look like verbs. You must be careful with this! Each time you learn a new verb, learn whether or not it is a verb or a verb. You should also look at a conjugation table, just so you can get used to thinking of how to conjugate that verb.


After you change the syllable, add ます or ません appropriately.


The verbs in the chart above are: かえる, いく, かう, かく, and きく. Each in conjugated in the table below.


Dictionary Form

Present Affirmative

Present Negative



















Next are the irregular verbs. These two verbs are called irregular because they don’t follow either pattern for conjugation. The two verbs are する and くる. Any verb that ends in する will conjugate as if it were just する (there are longer verbs that end in する, such as べんきょうする). Look at the table below and memorize their forms.


Dictionary Form

Present Affirmative

Present Negative










Study the above charts and you will be well on your way to using Japanese verbs!




Below are the kanji for the verbs you learned above. Each verb has been Romanized so that you can tell which symbols were replaced by the kanji. Practice these by writing them over and over again until you have mastered them!










食べる                taberu










Practice—Conjugate each verb you learned. Use kanji where appropriate. Conjugate into both the present affirmative and the present negative. Check your answers by looking back through the lesson!


*Tip: It may be easiest to practice writing kanji on grid paper. As you get more comfortable with it, you can make the symbols smaller. Sometimes writing the kanji much bigger than you would normally write is easier. Some kanji have many strokes, so it helps to learn like this.

Lesson 02 - Basics



The last lesson introduced you to learning Japanese as well as taught you how to write hiragana and katakana. From now on, you will need to be able to read hiragana and katakana. There may be some occasions where words and sentences are Romanized for you, especially in these first few lessons. However, you will have a much easier time learning Japanese if you learn the alphabets now! If you still do not feel comfortable with hiragana and katakana, go back to lesson 1 and keep practicing. You can also find additional practice online by looking for hiragana and katakana worksheets. You can also find these in workbook form in bookstores. When you are ready, move on to this lesson where you will learn the basics of Japanese!


Each lesson will have five sections (sometimes less if a certain section is not relevant to that particular lesson). This will ensure you are getting a well-rounded lesson. The five sections will usually be vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, verb conjugations, and kanji. Some lessons may have homework and answer key sections attached to the end.


Let’s get started!




In the table below, you will find some of the most basic Japanese words. Study the table before you move on to the rest of the lesson!





I (gender neutral, most common form)


I (males only)


I (males only)

Subject particle marker


“to be”






Good afternoon/hello


Good evening


Good morning


Good night

じゃあまた  じゃね

See you later/See you


Goodbye (said if parting for a longer period of time)


I’m sorry.


Excuse me/I’m sorry.


How do you do?


Let’s be friends/treat each other well. (Said after introducing yourself).




Thank you.


You’re welcome.




Sentence Structure


The first sentence structure you will usually learn in Japanese is the X Y です form. This is the most basic of sentences and can be used to say many things. As you learn more and more sentence forms, you will see how they all build off of this basic one.


X Y です means “X is Y.” X is always the subject of the sentence in this form.


Using the vocabulary above, we can form an X Y です sentence. The easiest one to form is this one: わたしは_です. This means “I am __.” Where the blank is, you could fill in any number of things, but for now you should just fill in your name. You can even choose a Japanese name to go by for when you are practicing Japanese if you want!




The first type of grammar we will focus on is particles. The very first of those particles is . This particle is used to mark the subject of the sentence. This means that the particle will come after whatever the subject is in the sentence. There are other uses for , but for now just remember this one.


It is important to note that , when it is used as a subject particle and used to write the words こんばんは and こんにちは, is actually pronounced as “wa” and not “ha.” Also, the verb です looks like it would be pronounced “desu,” but it is in fact pronounced “dess.” These are two rules that don’t really have reasons, so you just have to memorize them!


One additional grammar point to remember is that Japanese is “backwards” from English. In regards to how sentences are grammatically structured, English is in SVO order (subject, verb, object) and Japanese is in SOV form (subject, object, verb). In English, one would say “I am 20 years old.” In Japanese, you would have to literally say “I 20 years old am.” This form is correct in Japanese, so don’t feel like you’re saying something wrong! It is weird to begin with for native English speakers, but it just takes some getting used to.


Verb Conjugations


Since there has not been a lesson on verbs yet, the only verb we will learn in this section is です. The conjugations for です do not follow the same patterns as most verbs do.


The dictionary form of the verb です is. This form can be used, but it is usually only used when speaking very informally to someone. You can add to the end of and make it more polite, but with the majority of people you speak to, you should say です. です is the present form of the verb. The past tense form is でした.




It is best to start learning kanji sooner rather than later! You should start now—there are not many kanji relevant to this lesson, but you should still study the ones below. Get used to writing them. It helps to practice on grid paper! You can also find and print worksheets from different websites online.


The left side of this chart shows the kanji symbols in context. Kanji symbols don’t have to stand for an entire word, so in some of the phrases below, only a few symbols are replaced by kanji. The right column shows the hiragana version of the word so you can see what has been replaced by kanji.














Example of how to introduce yourself:




For the middle sentence, you would replace the name みうらちなつwith your own name.


Remember to go over this lesson a couple of times until you feel comfortable with the information. Don’t move on until you’re comfortable!



Lesson 01 - Introduction to Japanese


Introduction & Learning Tips

So you have decided to learn Japanese. Congratulations on your decision and upcoming commitment to the language!

Many people will probably tell you that Japanese is a very difficult language to learn, especially if your first language is not an East Asian language. Although learning Japanese, or any language, may seem like a daunting task at first, rest assured that you can succeed! All you need to do is put in some time and effort, and you too can learn to speak Japanese!

Before you begin learning Japanese, you should ask yourself a couple of questions. First, why are you learning the language? Are you learning for business? For your degree or career? Just for fun? Determining your reasons for learning Japanese is important—this will help you determine how serious of a student you must become! You need to decide how much time you wish to devote to studying Japanese. While learning Japanese gets easier with practice, it will always take a lot of time! Learning a language can be a difficult routine to maintain. So make sure you are sure of why you want to learn and how important it is to you.

Next, you should decide how much time you wish to spend learning Japanese. It is a good idea to make a schedule for learning. For example, if you are learning in order to reach fluency, you should probably study Japanese almost every day, for at least half an hour or an hour. Doing this will keep what you have learned fresh in your mind. If you do not have a lot of time or are learning just for fun, you could set aside a specific day of the week for studying.

After you are clear on your reasons, goals, and time management, you can start learning Japanese! Keep in mind that there are several components to learning to speak Japanese:

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Grammar
  3. Sentence structure
  4. Verb conjugations
  5. Hiragana and katakana
  6. Kanji

You will need to study each of these components alongside one another in order to get the most out of your learning Japanese experience. Not every lesson will have each of these components; however, the components that are relevant will be discussed. Even if you study outside of the lessons on this website, you should still try to balance your learning by incorporating all of the components above.

You are probably excited about learning Japanese! Even though you are ready to dive right in, you really should learn the alphabets first! This will ease you into the language and help you with your future studies. Struggling through lessons when you do not properly know both alphabets will just make things unnecessarily hard on you.

First off, you should understand that Japanese has three writing systems. They are the kana alphabets and kanji. Kana alphabets are divided into hiragana and katakana. Hiragana symbols each stand for a syllable in Japanese. By putting these syllables together, you can form words. All Japanese words can be written in hiragana. Katakana, on the other hand, is used mostly to write “loan words.” Loan words are words that have been borrowed from other languages and absorbed into Japanese. Most of these loan words actually come from English.

Hiragana and katana are normally transcribed into Roman characters so that English speakers have an easier time learning Japanese. This type of writing is called romaji. Japanese people do not use romaji, it is only a tool for helping beginners get used to Japanese. You should use the romaji transliteration of the hiragana and katakana symbols while you are memorizing these symbols.

For now, just focus on memorizing hiragana and katakana. Save the kanji for later!

Look at the charts below. The first set deals with hiragana, and the second set deals with katakana. After you have memorized the charts, you can move on to the next lesson!










*Note: If you see a small っ character (or ッin katakana), that means that you double the consonant that appears after the っ. Example: in がっこう, you would Romanize the symbols as “gakkou.”

You should practice writing each symbol until you have it memorized. Remember to practice by using the correct stroke orders!

Use the exercises below to practice as well!

Practice #1

Romanize the following Japanese words. Some of these are in hiragana and some are in katakana!

  1. おげんき
  2. こんにちは
  3. デパート
  4. くも
  5. アルバイト
  6. そら
  7. ゲーム
  8. テニス
  9. うち
  10. うどん
  11. いっしょに
  12. がっこう

Practice #2

Transliterate this romaji into hiragana!

  1. Watashi
  2. Konbanwa
  3. Hai
  4. Iie
  5. Arigatou
  6. Domo
  7. Gakkou
  8. Daigaku
  9. Inu
  10. Katana

Practice #3

Transliterate this romaji into katakana!

  1. Tesuto
  2. Supo-tsu
  3. Ko-hi-
  4. Ko-ra
  5. Amerika
  6. Igirisu
  7. Resutoran
  8. Pen
  9. Takushi-
  10. Konpyu-ta


Answer Key

Practice #1

  1. Ogenki
  2. Konnichiwa (*Note: the last syllable here doesn’t really Romanize as “wa,” but when はis used as a particle or in the words “konnichiwa” and “konbanwa,” it is pronounced as “wa” even though it is written as “ha” in Japanese).
  3. Depa-to (*Note: the line means you draw out the vowel sound!)
  4. Kumo
  5. Arubaito
  6. Sora
  7. Ge-mu
  8. Tenisu
  9. Uchi
  10. Udon
  11. Isshoni
  12. Gakkou

Practice #2

  1. わたし
  2. こんばんは
  3. はい
  4. いいえ
  5. ありがとう
  6. ども
  7. がっこう
  8. だいがく
  9. いぬ
  10. かたな

Practice #3

  1. テスト
  2. スポーツ
  3. コーヒー
  4. コーラ
  5. アメリカ
  6. イギリス
  7. レストラン
  8. ペン
  9. タクシー
  10. コンピュータ


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