Japanese Language - Speaking Rules (2023)

5 Speaking Rules you need to know!

1. Don't study grammar (I mean don't focus too much on this when you are at the beginning level, because eventually you'll get a hold on it as you progress further into higher levels. Please read the article about grammar at the bottom of this page.)

This rule might sound strange to many people, but it is one of the most important rules. If you want to pass examinations, then study grammar. However, if you want to become fluent in Japanese language, then you should try to learn Japanese without studying the grammar.

Studying grammar will only slow you down and confuse you. You will think about the rules when creating sentences instead of naturally saying a sentence like a native. Remember that only a small fraction of Japanese speakers know more than 20% of all the grammar rules. Many Japanese language students know more grammar than native speakers. I am a native Cantonese speaker. However, many of the Cantonese students know more details about Cantonese grammar than I do. I can easily look up the definition and apply it, but I don't know it off the top of my head.

I often ask my native Cantonese friends some grammar questions, and only a few of them know the correct answer. However, they are fluent in Cantonese and can read, speak, listen, and communicate effectively.

(Video) 80 Minutes of Japanese Conversation Practice - Improve Speaking Skills

Do you want to be able to recite the definition of a causative verb, or do you want to be able to speak Japanese fluently?

2. Learn and study phrases

Many students learn vocabulary and try to put many words together to create a proper sentence, but they cannot create a proper sentence. The reason is because they didn't study phrases. When children learn a language, they learn both words and phrases together. Likewise, you need to study and learn phrases.

If you know 1000 words, you might not be able to say one correct sentence. But if you know 1 phrase, you can make hundreds of correct sentences. If you know 100 phrases, you will be surprised at how many correct sentences you will be able to say. Finally, when you know only a 1000 phrases, you will be almost a fluent Japanese speaker.

So don't spend hours and hours learning many different words. Use that time to study phrases instead and you will be closer to Japanese fluency.

Don't translate

When you want to create an Japanese sentence, do not translate the words from your Mother tongue. The order of words is probably completely different and you will be both slow and incorrect by doing this. Instead, learn phrases and sentences so you don't have to think about the words you are saying. It should be automatic.

(Video) Learn a Language - Let's Learn Japanese Part 1 - Get Free Japanese Lessons Here

Another problem with translating is that you will be trying to incorporate grammar rules that you have learned. Translating and thinking about the grammar to create Japanese sentences is incorrect and should be avoided.

3. Reading and Listening is NOT enough.

Practice Speaking what you hear! Reading, listening, and speaking are the most important aspects of any language. The same is true for Japanese. However, speaking is the only requirement to be fluent. It is normal for babies and children to learn speaking first, become fluent, then start reading, then writing. So the natural order is listening, speaking, reading, then writing.

1s

t Problem
Isn't it strange that schools across the world teach reading first, then writing, then listening, and finally speaking? Although it is different, the main reason is because when you learn a second language, you need to read material to understand and learn it.

2nd Problem


The reason many people can read and listen is because that's all they practice. But in order to speak Japanese fluently, you need to practice speaking. Don't stop at the listening portion, and when you study, don't just listen. Speak out loud the material you are listening to and practice what you hear. Practice speaking out loud until your mouth and brain can do it without any effort. By doing so, you will become good at the language.

4. Submerge yourself

Being able to speak a language is not related to how smart you are. Anyone can learn how to speak any language. This is a proven fact by everyone in the world. Everyone can speak at least one language. Whether you are intelligent, or lacking some brain power, you are able to speak one language.

(Video) Masculine and Feminine ways of speaking in Japanese 【JPN&ENG sub】

This was achieved by being around that language at all times. In your country, you hear and speak your language constantly. You will notice that many people who are good Japanese speakers are the ones who studied in an Japanese speaking school. They can speak Japanese not because they went to a Japanese speaking school, but because they had an environment where they can be around Japanese speaking people constantly.

There are also some people who study abroad and learn very little. That is because they went to an Japanese speaking school, but found friends from their own country and didn't practice Japanese.

You don't have to go anywhere to become a fluent Japanese speaker. You only need to surround yourself with Japanese. You can do this by making rules with your existing friends that you will only speak Japanese. You can also carry around an iPod and constantly listen to Japanese sentences. As you can see, you can achieve results by changing what your surroundings are. Submerge yourself in Japanese and you will learn several times faster.

5. Study correct material

A common phrase that is incorrect is, "Practice makes perfect." This is far from the truth. Practice only makes what you are practicing permanent. If you practice the incorrect sentence, you will have perfected saying the sentence incorrectly. Therefore, it is important that you study material that is commonly used by most people.

Another problem I see is that many students study the news. However, the language they speak is more formal and the content they use is more political and not used in regular life. It is important to understand what they are saying, but this is more of an advanced lesson that should be studied after learning the fundamental basics of Japanese.

Studying Japanese with a friend who is not a native Japanese speaker is both good and bad. You should be aware of the pro's and con's of speaking with a non native speaking friend. Practicing with a non native person will give you practice. You can also motivate each other and point out basic mistakes. But you might pick up bad habits from one another if you are not sure about what are correct and incorrect sentences. So use these practice times as a time period to practice the correct material you studied. Not to learn how to say a sentence.

(Video) Learn Japanese Speaking with Learn Real Japanese

In short, study Japanese material that you can trust, that is commonly used, and that is correct.

Summary

These are the rules that will help you achieve your goal of speaking Japanese fluently. All the teachings and lessons on this website follow this method so you have the tools you need to achieve your goal right here on spokenjapanese101.weebly.com.

P.S.

What is Grammar?

Grammar is the system or structure of a language. For example, English has 8 parts of speech (verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, and pronouns ). It is sometimes described as the "rules" of a language. But the fact is that no language has rules*. If it is "rules", it will mean that somebody created the rules first and then spoke the language, like a new game. But languages did not begin like that. Instead languages started by people making sounds which evolved into words, phrases and then sentences. Commonly-spoken language is dynamic, which means all languages change over time. What we call "grammar" is simply a reflection of a language at a particular time.

So do we need to study grammar in order to learn a new language? The short answer is "no". Why? Due to the fact that many people in the world speak their own, native language without even having studied its grammar first. Children start to speak before they even know what is "grammar".

But if you are serious about learning a foreign language, the long answer is "yes. Since grammar can help you to learn a new language more quickly and more efficiently", this is especially true for an adult. It's important to think of grammar as something that can help you, like a friend. When you understand the grammar (or system) of a language, you can understand many things yourself, without having to ask a teacher or look in a book.

In conclusion, try to think of grammar as something good, something positive, something that you can use to find your way, like a signpost or a map.

* Except invented languages like Esperanto. And if Esperanto were widely spoken, its rules would soon be very different.


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FAQs

What are the grammar rules for Japanese? ›

In English, sentence order is subject-verb-object (I eat oranges). In Japanese, the sentence order is subject-object-verb (I oranges eat).

How can I speak fluent Japanese? ›

7 tips for learning to speak Japanese fluently
  1. Don't rush the basics. For some learners, the three Japanese writing systems can be intimidating. ...
  2. Find media you love. ...
  3. Practise with native speakers. ...
  4. Record yourself speaking. ...
  5. Set goals. ...
  6. Use mnemonics. ...
  7. Stay positive.

How does the Japanese spoken language work? ›

Japanese consists of two scripts (referred to as kana) called Hiragana and Katakana, which are two versions of the same set of sounds in the language. Hiragana and Katakana consist of a little less than 50 “letters”, which are actually simplified Chinese characters adopted to form a phonetic script.

Do Japanese say R or L? ›

Japanese has one liquid phoneme /r/, realized usually as an apico-alveolar tap [ɾ] and sometimes as an alveolar lateral approximant [l].

How do Japanese talk so fast? ›

Because the consonants above are pronounced in the same place, this is what allows native Japanese speakers to speak so fast. The front part of the tongue barely has to move between these consonants compared to English words which have far more consonants and places of pronunciation (AKA places of articulation).

Can I learn Japanese in 3 months? ›

How Long Does it Take to Learn Japanese on Average? With consistent studying and speaking, for about 30 minutes to an hour a day, you could speak at a conversational level in Japanese in about 3 months.

Is speaking Japanese easy? ›

The Japanese language is considered one of the most difficult to learn by many English speakers. With three separate writing systems, an opposite sentence structure to English, and a complicated hierarchy of politeness, it's decidedly complex.

What are the 100 most common Japanese words? ›

Common Japanese Phrases for Beginners
  • はい (hai) – Yes.
  • いいえ (iie) - No.
  • わかりません (wakarimasen) – I don't understand.
  • わすれました (wasuremashita) – I forgot.
  • しりません (shirimasen) – I don't know.
  • たぶん (tabun) – Maybe.
  • だいじょうぶ (daijoubu) – Alright.
  • よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegai shimasu) – Nice to meet you.
7 Aug 2020

Can I teach myself Japanese? ›

As an independent learner, you will be the captain of your own ship in the vast sea of language learning. But with motivation, commitment and some good resources, you will not only find it's totally possible to learn Japanese by yourself, it's also one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences!

What is the hardest language to learn? ›

Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

What is the ABC's in Japanese? ›

The Japanese alphabet is really three writing systems that work together. These three systems are called hiragana, katakana and kanji.

What are the 3 Japanese language? ›

This is because each of the three types of script, Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana, has its own specific role.

What is N in Japanese? ›

ん (romaji n) The hiragana syllable ん (n). Its equivalent in katakana is ン (n). It is the forty-eighth syllable in the gojūon order.

What is the letter V in Japanese? ›

There is the Katakana character ヴ (vu), which is ウ with 2 dots on its upper right, but we have no Hiragana equivalent for that. That is because there are no words of Japanese origin that use this sound. This V sound has been written in Katakana using the letter ヴ for a long time.

Can Japanese pronounce V? ›

tl;dr: It varies, but it is usually a weak "b". It varies from person to person, so some may pronounce it like the English "v", but others may use a strong "b" sound. Originally, Japanese had no ヴ character so they used variations of ビ (bi).

What is disrespectful behavior in Japan? ›

Pointing at people or things is considered rude in Japan. Instead of using a finger to point at something, the Japanese use a hand to gently wave at what they would like to indicate. When referring to themselves, people will use their forefinger to touch their nose instead of pointing at themselves.

Is it rude to talk with your mouth full in Japan? ›

Others are manner rules universal: don't speak with your mouth full, and close your mouth while you are chewing. What's special for Japanese food is perhaps the use of chopsticks. Please avoid holding food with two pairs of chopsticks.

What are some weird rules in Japan? ›

Weird Japanese laws that are real
  • It's illegal to make clones. ...
  • You can be jailed for putting ice cream in mailboxes. ...
  • Drivers will be fined for splashing pedestrians with rainwater. ...
  • You cannot take out the trash too early. ...
  • It's illegal to hand your neighbour's misaddressed mail to them.
12 Aug 2020

Is Japanese faster than English? ›

So, basically we can see that even though the Japanese language is faster than everyone else, it still doesn't get as much information across in the same amount of time.
...
The Speedy Speech Of Japanese.
LanguageEnglish
Information Density0.91
Syllabic Rate6.19
Information Rate1.08
7 more columns
1 May 2012

Why do Japanese speak softly? ›

In Japan, politeness is key, so you must always be soft-spoken and deferential when in a social situation, especially when dealing with elders or business superiors. Avoid excessive eye contact, which is seen as confrontational and aggressive.

Is it harder to learn Korean or Japanese? ›

Unlike other East-Asian languages, Korean isn't a tonal language. This means, that the meaning of the word doesn't change, regardless of what your accent is like. This makes learning Korean much easier than Japanese.

What's the easiest language to learn? ›

15 of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers - ranked
  • Frisian. Frisian is thought to be one of the languages most closely related to English, and therefore also the easiest for English-speakers to pick up. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • French. ...
  • Swedish.
24 Oct 2021

How is R pronounced in Japanese? ›

The Japanese "r" is different from the English "r". The sound is sort of between the English "r" and "l". To make "r" sound, start to say "l", but make your tongue stop short of the roof of your mouth, almost in the English "d" position. It is more like the Spanish "r".

How many years does it take to speak Japanese fluently? ›

Learning Japanese isn't easy and it will take time. It's probably fair to say that you can expect a commitment of at least three years in order to achieve something resembling fluency. The average learner gets to the advanced level in three or four years.

Is Japanese easier than Chinese? ›

Japanese is slightly easier to learn. But, Chinese is much more widely spoken. Both languages have their pros and cons.

What are the basic Japanese words? ›

Basic Phrases
  • Hai. Yes. はい。
  • Iie. No. いいえ。
  • O-negai shimasu. Please. おねがいします。
  • Arigatō. Thank you. ありがとう。
  • Dōitashimashite. You're welcome. どういたしまして。
  • Sumimasen. Excuse me. すみません。
  • Gomennasai. I am sorry. ごめんなさい。
  • Ohayō gozaimasu. Good morning. おはようございます。

Is Japanese similar to Korean? ›

Conclusion. As we can see from the topics discussed above, Japanese and Korean share strong similarities in sentence structure and the use of particles. There is also some similar sounding vocabulary with the same meaning in both languages due to the historical influence of China on Japan and Korea.

What does Ara Ara mean? ›

Ara ara (あら あら) is a Japanese expression that is mainly used by older females and means “My my”, “Oh dear”, or “Oh me, oh my”.

What is the cutest Japanese word? ›

We can't think of Japan without associating it with the word kawaii! Not only is kawaii (かわいい) an adjective to describe something that is 'cute', 'lovely', or 'adorable', but it is also part of a bigger culture in Japan.

What is the hardest Japanese word? ›

Top 10 Hardest Words to Pronounce in Japanese
  • Click here to listen to the audio pronunciation!
  • ツイッター。 – Twitter.
  • 伝えられなかった。 – Could not tell.
  • 侵略。 – invasion.
  • 便利。 – Convenient.
  • 出力。 – Output power.
  • 店員。 – Clerk.
  • 旅行。 – Traveling.
14 Apr 2016

What are Japanese numbers called? ›

Basic numbering in Japanese
NumberCharacterOn reading
1ichi / いち
2ni / に
3san / さん
4shi / し
23 more rows

Can I learn Japanese while sleeping? ›

yes you can. Listening to a language while asleep can help supercharge your vocabulary. With the Learn Japanese While Sleeping Audiobook, you'll absorb over 430 Japanese words and phrases effortlessly. And of course — learn words passively — in your sleep.

Can I learn Japanese in 10 days? ›

While it may not be possible to become fluent in Japanese in just ten days, it IS possible to learn the basics of speaking in a short period of time and move on to becoming fluent. Don't be discouraged. You can and will learn Japanese much faster than you expect.

What should I learn first in Japan? ›

Learn to Read Hiragana

The other two are katakana and kanji, but hiragana is where everything starts. The ability to read hiragana is going to be a prerequisite for most beginner Japanese textbooks and resources. It's the first thing you learn in a traditional classroom.

Can I learn Japanese language in 1 month? ›

Let's get one thing clear: You won't become fluent in a month. (Unless you're some foreign language genius.) But you can absolutely learn what you need to get by with a month of studying. It's all about finding what resources are best for you.

What are the 4 hardest languages? ›

Let's explore the 10 hardest languages for English speakers to learn, and the challenges they deliver:
  1. Mandarin. Mandarin is spoken by 70% of the Chinese population, and is the most spoken language in the world. ...
  2. Arabic. ...
  3. 3. Japanese. ...
  4. Hungarian. ...
  5. Korean. ...
  6. Finnish. ...
  7. Basque. ...
  8. Navajo.
16 Sept 2022

What is oldest language in the world? ›

1. Egyptian – 2690 BC (circa. 4700 years old) The first known language ever was a proto-language on the African continent, and the first known proto-writing system was created in Nigeria. So, it is perhaps no surprise that the oldest language on this list is also from and used in Africa – Egyptian.

What is the 3rd hardest language to learn? ›

3. Japanese Comes In The List Of Top 10 Hardest Languages To Learn. Belonging to the top 10 hardest languages to learn, Japanese is more comfortable speaking compared to Mandarin, but what makes it exist in this list? Japanese has a wide range of alphabets that need to be learned before writing in this language.

What is my name is Japanese? ›

お名前は何ですか? Onamae wa nan desu ka? What is your name?

How do I write my name in Japanese? ›

To write your name in Japanese, the easiest way is to find a Katakana letter that corresponds to the pronunciation of your Japanese name. For example, if your name is “Maria,” look for the Katakana character for Ma, which is マ, then the character for Ri, which is リ, and then character for A, which is ア.

How do you write K in Japanese? ›

け, in hiragana or ケ in katakana, is one of the Japanese kana, each of which represents one mora. Both represent [ke]. The shape of these kana come from the kanji 計 and 介, respectively.
...
Ke (kana)
ke
hiragana katakana
transliterationke
translit. with dakutenge
translit. with handakuten(nge)
6 more rows

WHAT IS A to Z in Japanese? ›

Japanese Alphabet by Cookiecat123456 on DeviantArt

Letters: A = chi B = tsu C = te D = to E = na F = ni G = nu H = ne I = no J = ha K = hi L = fu M = he N = ho O = ma P = mi Q = mu R = me S = mo T = ya U... Japanese Alphabet. Less.

What is letter A in Japanese? ›

(romaji a) The hiragana syllable あ (a). Its equivalent in katakana is ア (a).

Why does Japan have 2 alphabets? ›

Like hiragana, Japan's third writing system, katakana, is a native alphabet based on sounds. But why did Japan have need for yet another writing system? The reason goes back, again, to the fact that reading kanji is difficult – and not just for non-Japanese people and women.

How different is Japanese grammar from English? ›

English follows the Subject + Verb + Object sentence structure, while Japanese is structured Subject + Object + Verb. For example, the sentence: “I eat breakfast everyday at 7 o'clock” would be: 私は毎日7時に朝ごはんを食べます。 Watashi wa mainichi shichiji ni asagohan o tabemasu.

How many grammar points are in Japanese? ›

In total, 450 grammar points are assigned a JLPT level, based largely on two lists: Tanos ⇗

Where do I start with Japanese grammar? ›

13 Must-visit Websites to Learn Japanese Grammar Online
  • Maruguto Plus – まるごと+ (まるごと ぷらす) (Beginners)
  • Visualizing Japanese Grammar (Beginners)
  • Genki Vol. ...
  • Genki-Online Verb/Adjective Conjugation Practice (Intermediate)
  • Tama Tamako's Nihongo Learning Animations – Let's Learn Japanese! ( ...
  • Teach Yourself Japanese (Beginners)
13 Jun 2022

Is the grammar of Japanese easy? ›

Japanese grammar, as a whole, is one of the most difficult things for English speakers to get their heads around. In Japanese, the verb goes at the end of the sentence, something that feels instinctually wrong for English speakers. English uses a Subject-Verb-Object word order.

How many tenses are in Japanese? ›

How Many Tenses are There in Japanese? Japanese has only two verb tenses, which are the present tense and the past tense. The present tense is also used to express things about the future in Japanese, so there's no clear distinction between the present tense and the future tense.

Is English a problem in Japan? ›

For anyone concerned about Japan's place in a globalized world, recent surveys on its English-language skills are depressing. Japan polls 78th in English proficiency out of 112 countries, according to EF, Education First, a Swiss education company. In Asia, Japan falls below Taiwan, China, Vietnam and South Korea.

How do you say sentences in Japanese? ›

"sentence" in Japanese
  1. 罪する
  2. 言渡す

What is 1st 2nd 3rd in Japanese? ›

The days of the month in Japanese are: 1st – ついたち (tsuitachi) 2nd – ふつか (futsuka) 3rd – みっか (mikka) 4th – よっか (yokka) 5th – いつか (itsuka) 6th – むいか (muika) 7th – なのか (nanoka) 8th – ようか (youka) 9th – ここのか (kokonoka) 10th – とおか (tooka) 14th – じゅうよっか (juuyokka) 20th – はつか (hatsuka) 24th – にじゅうよっか (nijuuyokka)

Why do Japanese say san? ›

The Japanese suffix -san is polite, but not excessively formal. It can be broadly used to: Refer to anyone you don't know, regardless of status or age. Address equals of the same age.

Why does 7 in Japanese have two words? ›

So why does Japanese have multiple words for the same number? It's partly to do with superstition - “shi” sounds like the Japanese word for death and “ku” can mean suffering; “shichi” can also mean “place of death”.

Does Japanese have me or I? ›

The first-person pronouns (e.g., watashi, 私) and second-person pronouns (e.g., anata, 貴方) are used in formal contexts (however the latter can be considered rude). In many sentences, pronouns that mean "I" and "you" are omitted in Japanese when the meaning is still clear.

Do you say wo or O in Japanese? ›

Pronunciation. The particle を wo is usually pronounced “o” in everyday conversation, but you will sometimes hear it pronounced “wo” for stylistic reasons (for example, the “wo” pronunciation is used quite often in songs).

Why do Japanese put W? ›

The use of wwww to represent laughing comes from the Japanese wara (笑), “to laugh.” With the rise of text-messaging and the internet in the 1990s–2000s, Japanese users adapted the kanji 笑 to denote laughter, similar to LOL. People eventually found it easier, though, to use the letter w, from the romaji of 笑, wara.

What's the hardest language? ›

Mandarin

As mentioned before, Mandarin is unanimously considered the most difficult language to master in the world! Spoken by over a billion people in the world, the language can be extremely difficult for people whose native languages use the Latin writing system.

Can you learn Japanese in 3 months? ›

How Long Does it Take to Learn Japanese on Average? With consistent studying and speaking, for about 30 minutes to an hour a day, you could speak at a conversational level in Japanese in about 3 months.

Is Chinese or Japanese easier? ›

Japanese is slightly easier to learn. But, Chinese is much more widely spoken. Both languages have their pros and cons.

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