Beginner (1) X は Y です。(Genki 1 / P. 42)

Please watch this Homework Club (Practice page) after the lesson!

Hi everyone! It’s Hanako!

Since you are watching this video, I guess you just started learning Japanese.

First, there is something you need to do before watching this video.

”ひらがなを覚えること” です。
That is, “to memorize hiragana”.

Japanese has three sets of characters.

ひらがな、カタカナ、漢字 です。
That would be hiragana, katakana, and kanji.

Japanese sentences are a mix of all these three.

For example,

Daniel is a Spanish.

”さん” ”は” ”です”は、ひらがなです。
さん, は, and です are all hiragana.

人 は 漢字です。
人 (じん) is Kanji.

ダニエル and スペイン are Katakana.

Hiragana is unique to Japanese words.

Kanji came from China.

Katakana is used mainly for loan words, e.g. Japanese English.

So, what I would like you to do before watching this video is to memorize this “hiragana”.

I’ve published hiragana videos on YouTube. You can also watch other hiragana videos on YouTube.

Anyway, please memorize hiragana in one week.

The reason why it should be one week is because if you study Japanese at university, you will have one week to memorize hiragana.

Japanese six-year-olds have six months to learn hiragana when they start elementary school.

You are grown up, so you can memorize hiragana in a week, right?

はい、今日はGenki 1の42ページ、”XはYです” を勉強します。
So, let’s learn from Genki 1 page 42, “X is Y”.

X は Y です。
X is Y

“は” is what we call a “particle”.

If you have learned hiragana, you know it sounds like “ha”, however, as a particle, we read it as “wa”.

I am Japanese.
わたし  にほんじん です。

I am a student.
わたし  がくせい です。

Daniel is a Spanish.
ダニエル  スペイン人(すぺいんじん)です。

Also, in Japanese, there is no singular or plural form of words, it is almost always implied.
There are also no articles (“a”, “the”, etc.).
That’s why Japanese people often mix up singular and plural as well as drop articles when we learn English.

Japanese speakers tend to omit the subject of a sentence whenever they think it is clear or obvious to the listener to what or to whom they are referring.

So, if someone asked,
“Are you Japanese?”,
we say,

“Yes, Japanese.”
はい、にほんじん です。

I am (わたし は)is omitted.

Also, you can omit です in less formal contexts, such as when you are talking with your friends.

です is polite language.

We add です when we talk with strangers, people who are older than you, or people who are above you like your boss or teacher.

However, kids don’t use polite language with strangers who happen to also be kids.

But once you start working, you use polite language with coworkers who are around the same age, then, as you get to know each other better, polite Japanese gradually changes into casual Japanese.

(1) Conversation between two kids.

What’s your name?

I am Hanako.

(2) You start working at a company.

A coworker asks, “What’s your name?”

I am Hanako.
はなこ です。

Then, they start investigating secretly which of them are older while having general conversation, so that older people can use casual Japanese, meaning they can omit です。

OK, so let’s practice a little more.

せんこう は にほんご です。
My major is Japanese.

すずきさん は せんせい です。
Suzuki-san is a teacher.

(Japanese call people by family name if they are not friends. Even boys at my high school called me “Suzuki-san” not “Hanako-chan”. Girls called me”Hanako-chan”.)

わたし は りゅうがくせい です。
I am an exchange student.

わたし は アメリカ人(あめりかじん) です。
I am American.

わたし は イギリス人(いぎりすじん) です。
I am British.

わたし は カナダ人(かなだじん) です。
I am Canadian.

わたし は 中国人(ちゅうごくじん)です。
I am Chinese.

わたし は オーストラリア人(おーすとらりあじん)です。
I am Australian.

If you have already memorized hiragana, let’s memorize katakana as well.

Please click my links below, they are my hiragana and katakana videos.

Next week we will learn “question sentences”.

Please find the lesson memo below.

If you have any questions, please write a comment below.


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This course consists of 45-minute lessons four times a month. You can watch it live on YouTube every Saturday at 6pm (Pacific Time) and of course, watch the recorded lessons anytime.

The price is $30/month.

I will send via email lesson memos on Saturday, homework on Monday, homework answers on Thursday, and lesson reminders on Friday.

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Thank you!