Richard Webb
Author Archives: Richard Webb

Ni vs De: How to choose between these two location-defining particles

Two of the first particles that you are likely to encounter when learning Japanese are “ni”「に」 and “de”「で」.

They are often confused with one another for a couple of fairly obvious reasons:

  • Both can be used to define a place or location
  • Both can be translated into English as “in”, “on” or “at”, depending on the situation

In most cases, however, the difference between these two particles is actually very simple. You just need a proper understanding of what they do.

In this article, I will use examples to show you the clear difference between “ni”「に」 and “de”「で」, and give you a few simple and practical rules you can apply to ensure you always choose the right one.

The Word “Desu”: What it is, what it does, and when and how to use it

The Japanese word desu

“Desu”「です」 is a tricky word.

It is one of the first words that most Japanese language students encounter, yet it is also one of the most misunderstood. Far too many people are mistakenly led to believe that it just makes a sentence polite, and although that is effectively all it does in some cases, it is so much more than that.

The truth is that much of the time, “desu”「です」 is actually a verb.

That alone doesn’t tell us the whole story, though, and ultimately, what we call it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is knowing what “desu”「です」 does in different situations.

Understanding the role of “desu”「です」 will make it much easier to determine when we should (and shouldn’t) use it, and in what form.

Perhaps more importantly, a proper understanding of “desu”「です」 will also give us a more complete picture of Japanese grammar as a whole.

In this article, I’m going to explore in depth the practical uses of “desu”「です」 and its underlying purpose in different situations.

By the end, you should have a fairly clear understanding of what “desu”「です」 is, when you should use it, and, perhaps most importantly, how it fits into the overall Japanese grammar system.

Japanese Pronunciation: A Detailed Guide (With Audio)

Japanese pronunciation

A very important (and often underrated) aspect of Japanese that will help you communicate effectively is good pronunciation.

Getting your tongue around a new language can be hard work, but the reality is that proper pronunciation is essential to speaking.

If you can speak clearly, you will be understood - even if your grammar and vocab aren't perfect.

The opposite is not true, however, as perfectly formed sentences mean nothing to a person if they can't understand the sounds coming out of your mouth.

Good pronunciation can also greatly improve your confidence, which means you’ll be more willing to put yourself out there and speak as often as possible.

Like all physical skills, the key to good pronunciation is simple...

Practice!

You can't train your tongue to shape the right sounds by reading about it. The muscles need to be developed, and your ears need to be trained to identify the subtle differences too.

Although this does generally get harder with age (part of the reason immigrant kids usually have much better pronunciation than their parents), with practice, it can still be learnt.

Quite simply, the more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more natural you will sound.

Below is my detailed guide to Japanese pronunciation. It includes a thorough explanation of all the different sounds in the language, as well as audio for each sound and a few useful words to practice with.

Basic Japanese Grammar Cheat Sheet

Learning Japanese can be a bit overwhelming at times, but it ultimately boils down to a few simple rules.

Remembering and internalising those rules will give you the biggest boost on your path to fluency, because you only need to learn them once and you can then apply them every single time you speak, read, write or listen to Japanese.

It can be hard to bring yourself to study the same things over and over again, so I’ve made a handy little cheat sheet to make it easy.

Well, really, I’ve made two – one with romaji and one with hiragana. Here’s a zoomed-out look at the hiragana version:

Japanese Sentence Structure Cheat Sheet

The best part? I’m giving these cheat sheets away for free.

Just click below to get your copy of these printable PDFs, which are available in both A4 and A3 sizes.

Click here to download the cheat sheet

 

Want more details before you download?

Read on for a quick breakdown of what’s included on the cheat sheet.

Using Adverbs in Japanese

Once you have a solid understanding of Japanese sentence structure, one of the easiest ways to add a bit more description to your sentences is with the use of adverbs.

In case you’re not entirely sure, adverbs are words like “quickly”, “always” and “very” that are used to add further description to verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. They are very much like adjectives, except instead of being used to describe things (nouns), they describe actions (verbs), or add greater description to other descriptions (adjectives and other adverbs):

 

In this article, I’ll go over the various aspects of Japanese adverbs, including types of adverbs, how to form them, and perhaps most importantly, how to use them in a sentence. Let’s get to it.