Lesson 8
The Basics on Making Negative Japanese Sentences

In earlier lessons we studied "It's a pen." Today we'll look at how to make a negative Japanese sentences like "It's not a pen."
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As you may recall, simple noun patterns like "It's a chair" are constructed as...

Sore wa isu desu It is (a) chair.

Where chair is "isu" and it comes at the end of a Japanese sentence. It can be followed by "desu" to increase the politeness of the sentence. You can leave it off if you want without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Now compare this to the non-polite negative...

Sore wa isu ja nai It is not a chair.

A more polite form

If you can make a simple noun Japanese sentence (sore wa isu) more polite by adding "desu". Can you do the same for the negative version? Yes you can just add "desu". So to make the familiar form "sore wa isu ja nai" more polite add desu. It looks like this...

Sore wa isu ja nai desu It's not a chair.

Even more polite

The "ja nai desu" way of saying "it's not" is very common in spoken Japanese, but it's not the only way of saying "it's not". Another way of saying "ja nai" is to say "dewa arimasen" They both mean the same thing. "ja nai" is simply a contraction of "dewa arimasen" So really the only difference is stylistic. Just like "ja nai", "dewa arimasen" comes at the end of a Japanese sentence.
It looks like this...

Sore wa isu dewa arimasen It's not a chair.


Let's take another example...

Sore wa tsukue ja nai It's not a desk.
Sore wa tsukue ja nai desu
Sore wa tsukue dewa arimasen

The first form is common or familiar form, the second box is more polite. The second form would be used with those who outrank you or those you don't know. The third or last is most polite This form would never be used with friends or family etc.

In lesson 6, We talked about the power particle "yo".  Can we use that particle in a negative Japanese sentence?  You bet.  As you might expect, the sentence is formed this way.

Sore wa denwa ja nai desu yo It's not (a) telephone ( I assure you)!

And

 kaban dewa arimasen yo (It's) not (a) bag (I assure you)!


Caution: : You can't mix the patterns and say "kaban dewa arimasen desu". So for the same reason "desu" can't follow "tabemasu"  meaning to eat. As the verb form with - masu is already polite. (It can follow the dictionary form with the particle "no". This will be covered in later lessons on Japanese sentence structure.

Using "San", "Chan" and "Kun"

"San" is not only honorific but polite. So when you refer to someone politely attach "san" to their name. As in "Suzuki-san".

Caution: : Never refer to yourself using "san". So you should never introduce yourself saying: "Watashi Smith-san desu". You should introduce yourself by simply saying: "Watashi (wa) Smith desu".

"Kun" also gets attached to family names. Like "san" don't refer to yourself using "kun". Unlike "san" "kun" is used when you talk of men who are equal to you or lower in rank.  For example, little boys are often called "Taro-kun".

"Chan" is similar to "kun" but is used to address peers and subordinates who are female. Young girls are often called for example "keiko-chan". Again, don't refer to yourself using "chan".


Let's Answer the Questions and Translate the Following (Some of vocabulary is from prior lessons.)

Lesson 8
1. It’s not a desk. (common form
2. That (way over there) is not a chair. (most polite form)
3. She’s not a college student (common form)
4. I am not a teacher (polite form)
5. She isn’t Japanese (polite form)
6. It’s not a telephone (common form).
7. It’s not a cat. (common form).
8. ‘Sore wa kaban dewa arimasen desu’ Is this sentence correct?
9. ‘Nihongo wa muzukashi ja nai desu’ Is this sentence correct?
10. Is it ok to refer to yourself using ‘san’?

Lesson 7 Test Answers


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