Module 1, Task 5 Grammar Notes
1. Honorific o/go and food wordsThe kanji character 御 can be added to the front of certain words to not only show honor to the person you are talking to, but also to the words themselves. The character is usually pronounced "o" but in some cases, like goshujin ([your] husband) and gohan, it is pronounced "go." Because food is very important in Japanese culture (and most other cultures too!) food is shown respect. One must not throw food around, waste it, poke at it, etc. Many food-related words use honorific o/go too:
go-han (cooked rice)
o-kome (raw rice)
o-kawari (second, third, etc. helping)
Don't try to put honorific o/go on every noun you know! You will sound silly. Honorific o/go will appear in the vocabulary lists if the word is commonly paired with it. If the o/go is in parentheses, this means the word is listed in Japanese-English dictionaries without it.
2. Verbs ending in masen - polite formThe verb conjugation "masen" is a representation of the English "do not" or "will not do" [something]. Compare the following, and notice that the verb comes last in a Japanese sentence!
スプーンは いりません。 (Do not need a spoon.)
にく は たべません。 ([I] do not eat meat.)
田中さん は ビール を のみません。 (Mr. Tanaka doesn't drink beer.)
あした いきません。 (Will not go tomorrow.)
わかりません。 ([I] don't understand.)
If you would like to make an invitation using a negative question ("Won't you...?"), use ~masen ka. Remember that ka represents a question mark.
ちゃわんむし たべませんか。 (Won't you eat chawanmushi?)
あした きません か。 (Won't you come tomorrow?)
えいが を みません か。 (Won't you see a movie?)
きょう テニス を しません か。(Won't you play tennis today?)
3. Using particle "nee"
To emphasize and confirm something you say, use nee on the end of your sentence. The particle nee can follow any word class (noun, adjective, verb) or even be used alone. Of all the words in the Japanese language, you may hear this one the most!
たかい です ねえ。 (It's expensive, isn't it!)
そう です ねえ。 (That's for sure!)
かわいい です ねえ。 (How cute!)
かわいい ねえ。 (How cute! /casual/)
だめ ねえ。 (It's useless! /casual/)