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第7課: Nouns & Pronouns

Nouns are the easiest words to learn in a foreign language. Memorizing them all isn't easy, practical, or possible, but at least they're simple to use so long as you understand their meaning(s).


Most nouns represent people, places, events, or things. Japanese isn't related to English, but there are plenty of loanwords from English and loanwords from Japanese in English. 

 Word Spelling Rōmaji Word Spelling Rōmaji Word Spelling Rōmaji
 Karaoke カラオケ
 Karaoke Ramen ラーメン Ramen Karate 空手 Karate
 Alcohol (お)酒 (O)sake Sushi すし Sushi Tokyo 東京 Tōkyō
 Anime アニメ Anime Manga マンガ Manga Dog 犬
 Cat 猫 Neko Tea お茶 Ocha Water 水 Mizu

  Nouns have no number or gender, and there are no articles. Making things nominal is very important to Japanese. So, saying nouns are either people, places, or things is no good. The definition of a noun may be difficult, but you'll learn what things are nominal.

Pluralization Note: You can generally use ~たち to make things plural, but this suffix usually points out a group of things/people. Therefore, it is extremely limited. In this sense, it is not like the simple "-s" suffix for plurals in English. We will look more into this suffix later on in IMABI.

1. 女性じょせいたち
     (Group of ) women

2. 男性だんせいたち
    (Group of) men

3. 犬たち
    (A group of) dogs 

 Loan Words

  There are many loanwords from English in Japanese. The chart below has several, ignoring those that have drastically changed. They are Japanese words now, so don't use English pronunciations.

 Word Rōmaji Meaning Word Rōmaji Meaning
 Mētoru Meter
 ビデオゲーム Bideogēmu Video game
 パイ Pai Pie/pi コーラ Kōra Cola
 ソファー Sofā Sofa ポイント Pointo Point
 ペン Pen Pen バス Basu Bus


Japanese has many pronouns that differ in politeness, gender orientation, etc. All pronouns come from words that refer to people. Because you don't have the framework to make sentences yet, we will only look at the most important form of "I," "you," "he," and "she." Japanese has no true equivalent to "it," so that will be omitted.   

 Pronoun Polite Notes
 I Wata(ku)shi わた(く)し 1. わたくし is respectful and わたし is polite/neutral.
 2. Stick to わたし until you understand others.
 You Anata あなた 1. The most neutral word for "you" is あなた.
 2. It is direct, so use a name if possible instead.
 3. It can mean "dear" when used by women to their spouses. 
 4. ”You" is usually dropped. If you use anything, third person reference is preferred.
 He Kare 1. 彼 can mean "boyfriend" in casual contexts.
 She Kanojo 彼女 1. 彼女 can mean "girlfriend" in casual contexts. 
 2. 彼 and 彼女 often refer to friends/acquaintances.

Next Lesson → 第8課: だ & です

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