Week Five

005: A Wrong Turn

Things go south…


Let’s continue talking about this formality and hierarchy stuff.



Out of these four levels it is important to be able to identify/distinguish oneself in Japanese. What this means is, the word “I” and “you” change depending on who you are addressing, and how you would address them.


Let’s start with the word “I” 


  1. Honorific / Humble わたくし
  2. Formal わたし
  3. Informal ぼく あたし
  4. Familiar おれ あっし


Each one of these words gives off a particular image of the person speaking. Watakushi is extremely polite. While women and girls tend to use Watashi just like a boy or man would use Boku, even in informal situations. In fact men tend to use Boku much more than women as it is seen as more masculine; that goes for Ore as well. Overall women tend to use Watashi all the time, and Men use Watashi when being polite and Boku the rest of the time.


Moreover, There are informal and other ways for one to refer to themselves. Words like Sessha 拙者 and Wagahai 我輩 were used by the old samurai. Women and some men also use the word Uchi 内 to refer to themselves but it is seen as slightly old fashioned or and even slightly odd for men. Another way to refer to yourself is simply speaking in the 3rd person, this is how most children speak. There are many different ways to refer to yourself. I recommend staying away from the lower levels (3 & 4 for women, and 4 for men) when speaking to anyone who might be higher on the food-chain than yourself. 



The next step is to make sure you are referring to the person to whom you are speaking correctly. When addressing another person you would normally use their name plus a suffix. We have covered suffixes briefly in a previous chapter so we won’t go too much into depth aside from showing you where they might fit on this hierarchy.


  1. Honorific / Humble Name+さま (If a teacher: Name+せんせい)
  2. Formal Name+さん
  3. Informal Name+くん・ちゃん
  4. Familiar Name Name+たん


Now there are a couple of words that simply mean “you.” However, these are generally seen as somewhat rude. In fact, Most Japanese people will use familiar terms like little brother/older sister/grandpa etc. to address another person if they must call upon them and don’t know their name (and sometimes even if they do.) I will list them here from most ‘formal’ to least just so you hear them. Also if you must use any of them, stick with Anata. Just in case.


  1. あなた 
  2. きみ 
  3. あんた
  4. おまえ

ここ – Here

で – Location of Action Marker

何 (なに) – What

してる – Doing

か – ?

って – Tell me

あんた – You

こそ – 

何 (なに)

してる – Doing

のよ -?!






俺 おれ – I

行かない (いかない)

と – Quotative Particle

 え – EEh

待って (まって) (Comes From まつ ) – Wait!

一体 (いったい) – “…in the world”

どこ- Where

に- Direction Marker

行く (いく) – To Go

んだろう – I Wonder

の – Connective Particle

ばか – Idiot



Check out our new Kanji Series on Youtube. Where every Single day John Sensei teaches you a new Kanji.


Week Four

004: Following

What is Masa Doing?


Let’s take a quick pause from all of our intense grammar study and talk a little about greeting and levels of formality. 

Japanese is a hierarchical language. This means that there are a number of levels of diction and respect. These levels are important to all parties because they allow people to show respect or disrespect through the way they speak. here are four main level that we use in Japanese, and each of these levels are dependent who is speaking and to whom. Before we get into that however, let’s talk about these four levels. 


  1. Honorific / Humble
  2. Formal
  3. Informal
  4. Familiar 


At first glance these four levels may seem fairly restrictive, because English seems like such a free language when in fact the opposite is true. Think about how you would speak to your best friend as opposed to your boss. Naturally you give your boss or a teacher more respect, and even speak differently depending on who you are speaking with. For example the word “you”, I would call my boss ‘Ma’am’ or ‘Sir’, ‘you’ to an unknown person I meet at the bus stop, and ‘dude’ or ‘man’ to my friends. I address people differently depending where they are on the invisible social spectrum. This is the exact same thing in Japanese. 


You speak with a certain level of politeness depending on the hearer’s position, age, role, or experience. Just like we learned before we use certain words depending on how formal we are being. だ is the informal version of です. There are also certain greetings that can be used depending on who you are speaking with. If you are speaking to someone who is your same age, grade, position or a close friend/family member you would use the Informal greetings below and for anyone above your level, the Formal greetings.


Good Morning – おはようございます(Formal)  おはよう(Informal)

How are you? おげんきですか?(Formal)  げんき?(Informal) 


However not every expression has a Formal/Informal version see below:


Good Afternoon/Hello – こんにちは

Good Evening – こんばんは


We will continue to talk more about these important levels are we move along. 

 Ding Dong! or RING- RING

起立 (きりつ)

礼 (れい)


Japanese Students stand and bow in unison at the beginning and end of each class. 


さようなら – Goodbye 



は Topic Marker

どんな – Which/What Type

音楽 (おんがく) – Music

聞いてる (きいている) Listen

の – ?

好きな (すきな) To Like

バンド – Band

とか – Or Something like

いる – To exist


一体 (いったい) – “…in the world”

どこ- Where

に- Direction Marker

行く (いく) – To Go

んだろう – I Wonder

先輩 (せんぱい) – Upperclassman Suffix

は – Topic Marker

好きな (すきな) – To Like

人 (ひと) – Person

とか – Or Something like that

いる – To Exist

ん – Indicates an Explination

です – Predicate

か – ?

えーっと – Ummm

実は (じつは) – The Truth it

ね – Uh

え – Eeh?

ここ- Here

で – Location of action

何 (なに) – What

している – Doing

の – ?

 Check out our new Kanji Series on Youtube. Where every Single day John Sensei teaches you a new Kanji.


Week Three

003: What is a Tengu?

This is where the story starts picking up.


This week we are going to learn about another particle. This particle is in the top three of how commonly it is used. That is the possessive/Connective Particle の. No or のis often attributed to something like the ” ‘s ” in English, but it is important to make sure you do not directly translate particles. Doing so will get you in trouble faster than it will help you.


Below are a number of examples of how No can be used. 


A possesses B. 

ジョーダン の じてんしゃ

Jordan’s Bike  


A is a specific type of B. 

ホンダ の くるま

Honda Car


 A made B. 

サラ の サンドウィッチ

Sara’s Sandwich


A is made of B. 

もくざい の ふね

Wooden Ship  


B of A 

にほん の たいし

Ambassador of Japan  


In each case you can see that that there is a connection between what is mentioned first and what の connects it too. In lay man’s terms の is used to indicate a connection or relationship between the two things. An important thing to also remember is that の also has another meaning that we will talk about another day. However , for simplicity’s sake, keep in mind that if the particle の is at the end of a sentence it typically means something different which we will talk about again later. 

学校 がっこう School

どう – How

だった – Past Tense 

楽しかった (たのしかった) Fun (past tense)

ああ – ahh

よかった – Good (past)

よ – !

でも – but

担任 (たんにん) Homeroom

の – ‘s

吉野先生 (よしのせんせい) Yoshino Sensei

が – Subject Marker

ちょっと – a little

変 (へん) – Strange

なん – What

だ – Predicate

よ – !

ね – huh

天狗 (てんぐ) – Tengu

を – Object Marker

絶対に (ぜったいに) Without Exception

信頼して (しんらいして) Trust

は – Topic Marker

だめ – Bad

よ – !

ええ – EEe

どういう – What 

こと – Intangible thing

“What the heck was that?!” 

*Masa and Yukiko (Mom) can see Yokai but Shunnosuke (Dad) a Natsuki cannot.


Just so you know… 

What do you know about Tengu and Yokai? Learn More about them on our blog. 

一体 (いったい) “in the world”

何者 (なにもの) What person

なん – what

だ – predicate

A fun note: Japanese People refer to each-other with different suffixes. While there are many the most common is the word “-san” which is often compared to Mr. or Ms. However, there are also suffixes like:


Chan – Used for Women and young people

Kun – Used with handsome younger people, usually boys

Sama – Highest form of respect. USed after important people

Sensei – Teacher

Kohai – Under-classman

Senpai – Upper- classman 

これから – From Now

サッカー部 (ぶ) – Soccer Club

マネージャー – Manager

頑張って (がんばって) – Do your Best

ね – sharing information

分からない (わからない) – To understand ( neg

事 (こと) – thing

が – subject Marker

あったら – If you have

何 なに – What

でも – but

俺 (おれ) – I (male informal)

に – Directional Marker

聞いて (きいて) Hear/Ask

頑張ります (がんばります) – I’ll do my best

たけぞう先輩 (せんぱい) – Upperclassman

が – Subject Marker

いてくれて – To have asked

よかった – Good (past Tense)

です – Predicate

明日 (あした) Tomorrow

の – ‘s

夜 (よる) Night/Evening

ちょっと – a little bit

時間 (じかん) Time

ある – To have

一緒に (いっしょに) – Together

散歩 (さんぽ) – a walk

でも – But

行かない – To Go (neg)

部の事 (ぶ) の (こと) – Soccer club thing

とか – Things like

色々 (いろいろ) – Various

話したい (はなしたい) To Talk (to want to talk)

し – And

もちろん – Of Course

です – Predicate

時間 (じかん) – Time

あります – To have