Japanese Sentence Structures

Learn the 22 Easy Japanese Sentence Structures

learn with japanesepod101 Welcome back, Junkies!

You know some Japanese words. Now you need some Japanese sentences. Don’t want to speak like Tarzan right? So, you’ll need to learn common Japanese Sentence Structures! Know these patterns and you can stick words in… and make your own sentences!

So take this lesson & learn some Japanese sentence structures!

  • Read and review and review and review: SUCCESS comes from repetition and practice!!
  • Print it out as physical review material (I do this a lot)
  • Create your own sentences by plugging in your own words into A and B
  • Leave a comment with your sentences

Japanese Sentence Structures Part 1

In order to understand Japanese sentence structures, it’s important to examine the order of the subject, object, and verb of a sentence. In English, sentences are in the order of subjectverbobject

A sample English sentence would be:

  • He (subject) eats (verb) food (object) 

The same sentence in Japanese, would follow the order of subject – object – verb. 

For example:

  • (subject)食べ物(object)食べます(verb)
  • Kare wa tabemono wo tabemasu.
  • He eats food.

As you can see, the Japanese sentence structure generally follows a subject – object – verb sentence structure. Because this is different from the English language, it can often be confusing for those studying Japanese.

Another important aspect of Japanese sentence structure are the particles. In the previous example of a Japanese sentence, you’ll notice that there are extra particles in between the main words for the subject, object, and verb.  The particles in the sample sentence were は(wa) and を (wo).

  • These particles indicate the relationship between each part of the sentence.

In this case, the は (wa) means that the sentence is about the subject and を (wo) links the object to the verb. In the Japanese language, it’s crucial to maneuver the different particles between the subject, object, and verb. It is almost always necessary to add some kind of particle in between these words.

Quick recap:

  • English sentence structure is: subject, verb, object (SVO)
  • Japanese sentence structure is: subject, object, verb (SOV)
    • So, the verb is always at the end.
    • To make it easier to remember, consider reframing things like this: “I apple eat,” “You store go,” “She at gym exercises,” and such. Put the verb at the end.
  • Particles show the relationship between the parts of the sentence.

 Japanese Sentence Structures Part 2

Now, while you read through this guide, feel free to listen to this free Japanese audio lesson.

Just press the play button below.

1. (subject) は (noun / pronoun) です。

  • Overview: How to say “X is Y.”
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (noun / pronoun) desu.
    • (subject) は (noun / pronoun) です。

This is one of the most common Japanese structures and the first one you should learn.

  • X wa B desu.

In this sentence structure, the particle は (wa) translates to something like “is” in English. You can put any subject and connect it with a noun or pronoun.

  • 犬 (subject) は動物 (noun)です。
  • Inu wa doubutsu desu.
  • Dogs are animals.

2. (subject) は (adjective) です。

  • Overview: How to say “X is Y.” (adjective)
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (adjective) desu
    • (subject) は (adjective) です。

This structure is similar to the previous example, but uses an adjective to describe the subject. Feel free to insert any adjective that relates to the subject. In terms of word order, this is close to the way that the English language works.

  • 犬 (subject) は可愛い (adjective) です。
  • Inu wa kawaii desu.
  • Dogs are cute.

3.  (sentence in any tense) か?

  • Overview: How to ask questions.
  • Rule:
    • (sentence in any tense) ka?
    • (sentence in any tense) か?

Another common Japanese sentence structure is…. sentences which are questions. This is useful and simple to use. Adding か (ka) to any sentence, can create question sentences.

  • 犬は可愛いです (main sentence) か?
  • Inu wa kawaii desu ka?
  • Are dogs cute?

4. (object) を (verb)。

  • Overview: How to express action.
  • Rule:
    • (object) wo (verb).
    • (object) を (verb)。

The unique aspect of the Japanese language is that the subject is often omitted. This is because the subject is inferred based on the context of the surrounding sentences or dialogue. If there is no need to reference the subject, this sentence structure is convenient.

  • お寿司 (object) を食べる (verb)。
  • Osushi wo taberu.
  • (inferred subject) eats sushi.

5. (subject) は (location) に (action verb)。

  • Overview: How to talk about going somewhere.
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (location) ni (action verb).
    • (subject) は (location) に (action verb)。

In this Japanese sentence form, it is possible to express sentences that would be similar to using “to” in English. However, this structure usually only works with verbs which are action verbs that demonstrate movement. It is about how the subject is going somewhere. 

  • 私は学校 (location) に行きます (action verb)。
  • Watashi wa gakkou ni ikimasu.
  • I go to school.

6. (subject) は (location) で (verb)。

  • Overview: How to talk about where an action taking place.
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (location) de (verb).
    • (subject) は (location) で (verb)。

This sentence structure is used for explaining what the subject is doing at a certain location. The verbs should reflect types of activities that you could do at that location. These verbs could include eating, walking, studying, sleeping, etc…

  • 彼 (subject) は学校 (location) で勉強します (verb)。
  • Kare wa gakkou de benkyou shimasu.
  • He studies at school.

7. (subject) は (tool / object) で (verb)。

  • Overview: How to talk about using an object with a verb.
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (tool / object) de (verb)
    • (subject) は (tool / object) で (verb)。

If you want to explain what tool or object you use to accomplish the verb, this is the perfect sentence structure. For example, you can insert items like a pencil, eraser, train, bus, or anything else that is used to make the verb possible. In this case, the verbs could be something like “to write”,  “to erase”, or “to go”.

  • 早苗さん (subject) はバス (too l/ object) で行きます (verb)。
  • Sanae san wa basu de ikimasu.
  • Sanae will go with a bus.

8. (subject) は  (person / animal) と (verb)。

  • Overview: How to say “with.”
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (person / animal) to (verb)
    • (subject) は  (person / animal) と (verb)

In this sentence structure, the と (to) acts as something similar to the word “with” in English. You can only add a person or animal to this sentence. The sentence will be able to express who the subject is accomplishing the verb with. 

  • 彼女 (subject) は友達 (person) と行きます (verb)。
  • Kanojo wa tomodachi to ikimasu.
  • She will go with her friend.

9. (subject) は (location) から (verb).

  • Overview: How to express the location where the verb starts.
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (location) kara (verb)
    • (subject) は (location) から (verb).

To express a sentence with the word “from” in English, it’s possible to use this sentence structure. You can indicate the location where the verb starts. For example, you can start running from the school, the library, or the restaurant.

  • さきさん (subject) は図書館 (location) から走る (verb)。
  • Saki san wa toshokan kara hashiru.
  • Saki starts running from the library.

10.  (subject) は (location) から(location) まで (verb)

  • Overview: How to express the start and end point.
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (location) kara (location) made (verb)
    • (subject) は (location) から(location) まで (verb)

This is similar to the previous sentence but you can define the starting and end points of the verb. The first location indicates the start point, and the second would be the end point. If you are going or doing something from one location to another, this sentence form would work perfectly.

  • 私 (subject) は学校 (location) から図書館 (library) まで走ります (verb)。
  • Watashi wa gakkou kara toshokan made hashirimasu.
  • I run from the school to the library.

11. (verb) てください。

  • Overview: How to make a polite request.
  • Rule:
    • (verb) te kudasai
    • (verb) てください。

A useful sentence structure for making requests is to add てください (te kudasai) after the verb. Keep in mind that you’ll need to know how to conjugate verbs into te – form to use this sentence. This can be a bit tricky so it’s recommended to study these conjugations before using verbs to make requests.

  • 走っ (verb) てください。
  • Hashitte kudasai.
  • Please run.

12. (subject) は (time) に (verb)。

  • Overview: How to express action at certain times.
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (time) ni (verb).
    • (subject) は (time) に (verb)。

It’s also possible to use に (ni)  when you want to express what time the verb happened. You can insert any kind of time period such as 1pm, spring, October, etc… Keep in mind that if you put a time that happened in the past, the verb also needs to be conjugated into past tense.

  • 私 (subject) は朝八時 (time) に起きます (verb)。
  • Watashi wa asa hachiji ni okimasu.
  • I wake up at 8am.

13. (subject) は (time) に (location) に(verb)。

  • Overview: How to express action at certain times and places.
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (time) ni (location) ni (verb).
    • (subject) は (time) に (location) に(verb)。

In the Japanese language, sentence structures are often combined. It’s possible to combine the two types of sentence structures with に (ni) so that you can describe the location and the time. However, it’s most common to have the time come before the location.

  • 彼 (subject) は春 (time) にアメリカ (location) に行きます (verb)。
  • Kare wa haru ni amerika ni ikimasu.
  • He will go to the U.S. in the spring.

14.  (sentence in any tense) かもしれないです。

  • Overview: How to express that something might happen.
  • Rule:
    • (sentence in any tense) kamoshirenai desu.
    • (sentence in any tense) かもしれないです。

If you want to express a sentence with the word “might”, use this sentence structure. You can put any tense of sentence to this structure to make it something that could have happened. Make sure to put the verbs of the sentence in the dictionary form, as the ending of this sentence structure takes care of the formality of the sentence.

  • 明日学校に行く (main sentence) かもしれないです。
  • Ashita gakkou ni iku kamoshirenai desu.
  • I might go to school tomorrow

15. (reason) から (sentence in any tense)

  • Overview: How to say “because (reason” in Japanese.
  • Rule:
    • (reason) kara (sentence in any tense)
    • (reason) から (sentence in any tense)

This phrase works similarly to “because”. In English, we usually put the reasoning after the main sentence. In Japanese, the reason always goes before the main sentence.

  • 喉が渇いた (reason) から水を飲む (main sentence) 。
  • Nodo ga kawaita kara mizu wo nomu.
  • I drink water because I’m thirsty.

16.  (noun) より (noun) の方が (adjective)。

  • Overview: How to compare things in Japanese.
  • Rule:
    • (noun / pronoun) yori (noun / pronoun) no houga (adjective) – (noun) より (noun) の方が (adjective)。

To make a comparison sentence, this structure can help to describe a situation when one noun fits the adjective better than the other. The noun that comes first is the weaker one compared to the second noun. 

  • 私 (pronoun)より君 (pronoun) の方が強い (adjective)。
  • Watashi yori kimi no houga tsuyoi.
  • You are stronger than me.

17.  (noun / pronoun) が一番 (adjective) です。

  • Overview: How to say something is the most or least
  • Rule:
    • (noun / pronoun) ga ichiban (adjective) desu
    • (noun / pronoun) が一番 (adjective) です.

This sentence structure can be used when trying to talk about something that is the most. The adjective that is used describes the noun or pronoun. For example, you can talk about something being the healthiest, strongest, cleanest, etc…

  • 紀子 (noun) が一番弱いです (adjective)。
  • Noriko ga ichiban yowai desu.
  • Noriko is the weakest.

18. (subject) は (verb) てから(verb)。

  • Overview: How to show a sequence of action, or “and then.”
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (verb) te kara (verb)
    • (subject) は (verb) てから(verb)。

If you’re trying to show a sequence of action using てから can indicate “and then”. The first verb occurs before the second verb in this sentence structure. It’s important to note that to use this structure you should conjugate the first verb into te-form.

  • 私 (subject) は走っ (verb) てから寝る (verb)。
  • Watashi wa hashitte kara neru.
  • I will run and then sleep.

19. (month) 月 (day) です。

  • Overview: How to indicate month and day.
  • Rule:
    • (month) gatsu (day) desu.
    • (month) 月 (day) です。

This sentence can indicate the month and day. It’s also possible to combine other sentence structures to form a more complex sentence. In Japanese, the numbers for days are different from the counting numbers so it’s necessary to learn them before using this sentence structure.

  • 八 (month)月一 (day) 日です。
  • Hachi gatsu tsuitachi desu.
  • It’s August 1st.

20. (noun / pronoun) が (adjective) です。

  • Overview: How to emphasize that some object or thing is <insert-adjective>.

Similarly to は (wa) , it’s also possible to use が (ga) as a link to an adjective. This sentence structure means that the particular noun or pronoun relates to that adjective. This structure is more specific than using は (wa) with an adjective.

  • 家 (noun / pronoun) が古い (adjective) です。
  • Ie ga furui desu.
  • The house is old.

21. (noun / pronoun) の (noun / pronoun) です。

  • Overview: How to show possession.
  • Rule:
    • (noun / pronoun) no (noun / pronoun) desu.
    • (noun / pronoun) の (noun / pronoun) です。

の (no) indicates that the first noun or pronoun possesses the other. In English, we generally use an apostrophe to signify this possession. In Japanese it can be done by adding a の (no) in between.

  • かなえさん (pronoun) の犬 (noun) です。
  • Kanae san no inu desu.
  • It is Kanae’s dog.

22. (subject) は (noun / pronoun) の (location preposition) です。

  • Overview: How to show location of object.
  • Rule:
    • (subject) wa (noun / pronoun) no (location preposition) desu.
    • (subject) は (noun / pronoun) の (location preposition) です。

It’s also possible to use の (no) to indicate where the subject is located in relation to a noun or pronoun. The preposition that’s used must be one that describes the location. These could include words like below, above, on, or inside.

  • 鉛筆 (subject) は机 (noun) の上 (preposition) です。
  • Enpitsu wa tsukue no ue desu.
  • The pencil is on top of the desk. 

By now, you know the top 22 most common Japanese sentence structures and patterns.

This lesson is, of course, for beginners.

Let me know what you think.

Be sure to review this lesson!

– The Main Junkie

P.S. I highly recommend this for Japanese learners. If you REALLY want to learn to Japanese with effective lessons by real teachers – Sign up for free at JapanesePod101 (click here) and start learning!learn with japanesepod101

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fallsprout

This is super useful! ありがとうございます。

Jiji

はい。。。ありがとうございます。

Ivan chan

thank you sensei, very useful. arigato gozaimus

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