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3.1: Dialogue 1

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    Michael is checking apartment listings.

    Honda: Ii apaato, arimasu ka. Are there any good apartments?


    Michael: Sukunai desu nee. Very few.

    少 すく ないですねえ。


    Honda: Kono apaato wa dou desu ka? How about this apartment?


    Michael: Sou desu nee. Chotto takaku naidesu ka. Let’s see. Isn’t it a little expensive?

    そうですねえ。ちょっと高 たか くないですか。


    apaato あぱあと アパート apartment

    arimasu あります there is/are, exists

    sukunai すくない 少ない be few, there are few

    dou どう how

    sou desu nee そうですねえ Let me see, I’m thinking

    takai たかい 高い expensive

    takakunai たかくない 高くない is not expensive

    +manshon まんしょん マンション condominium

    +ie いえ 家 house, home

    +heya へや 部屋 room

    +ikaga いかが how (polite)

    +ooi おおい 多い be a lot, there are a lot

    +yasui やすい 安い cheap

    +ookii おおきい 大きい large, big

    +chiisai ちいさい 小さい small

    +atarashii あたらしい 新しい new

    +furui ふるい 古い old

    Grammar Notes

    Adjective Sentences

    All adjectives in Japanese end in -i (Non Past) , -katta (Past) , and -ku.

    takai expensive

    takaku nai not expensive

    To make the Past form, change -i to -katta. For the negative form, change nai to nakatta.

    takakatta was expensive

    takaku nakatta was not expensive

    To make a formal style adjective sentence, add desu.

    Takai desu. It’s expensive.

    Takaku nai desu . It’s not expensive.

    Takakatta desu. It was expensive.

    Takaku nakatta desu. It was not expensive.

    In Lessons 1 and 2 verb sentences and noun sentences were introduced. With the adjective sentences introduced in this lesson you have now seen all three Japanese sentence types. The chart below shows the forms that have been introduced so far.


    The adjective ii has special forms. This is the only exception in the entire class of adjectives.

    Ii desu It’s good

    Yoku nai desu It’s not good

    Yokatta desu It was good.

    Yoku nakatta desu. It wasn’t good.

    Yoku is one of the most commonly used adverbs and was already introduced in Lesson 1 as in yoku wakarimasu, yoku tabemasu, etc. Yokatta desu nee is a common response to good news.

    Adjectives + Noun

    In Lesson 2, you saw two ways of extending a noun into a noun phrase. One way is to modify a noun by another, as in the sequence /X no Y/ in the phrase Amerika no kaisha ‘American company.’ Another example is the kono-sono-ano-dono group that precedes a noun, as in ano kaisha ‘that company’. These two ways can be combined as in kono Amerika no kaisha ‘this American company.’

    Adjectives can directly modify a noun to make a noun phrase (no need for the particle no).

    takai keitai expensive cellphone

    takaku nai keitai cellphone that is not expensive

    It’s possible to combine more than one adjective or other modifying elements to extend a noun phrase.

    chiisai takai keitai small, expensive cellphone

    kono Amerika no chiisai takai keitai this small, expensive American cellphone

    Note that all the modifying elements occur before the main noun, and that the particle no must be attached to a noun modifier wherever it occurs. The order of modifying elements is rather free, unlike in English, where there are certain restrictions.

    chiisai takai kono Amerika no keitai this small, expensive American cellphone

    kono watashi no keitai this cellphone of mine

    watashi no kono keitai this cellphone of mine

    Arimasu 'there is X'

    The verb arimasu means ‘there is’ or ‘I have’. It indicates inanimate existence such as objects, plants, ideas, events, etc. A different verb is used for people and animals and will be introduced later. There are two negative forms for arimasu: arimasen and nai desu. The latter is less formal.

    As we have seen so far, nai desu is part of the negative forms for noun and adjective sentences. Arimasen can substitute for nai desu in these forms and sounds a little more elegant.

    Sumaho ja nai desu.  Sumaho ja arimasen. It’s not a smartphone.

    Takaku nai desu.  Takaku arimasen. It’s not expensive.

    Similarly, the Past form arimasen deshita can substitute for nakatta desu.

    Sumaho ja nakatta desu.  Sumaho ja arimasen deshita. It wasn’t a smartphone.

    Takaku nakatta desu.  Takaku arimasen deshita. It wasn’t expensive.

    The chart below shows all the forms including these alternatives.


    Note the difference between the following sentences.

    Kaisha ja arimasen / Kaisha ja nai desu. It’s not a company. (Identity)

    Kaisha wa arimasen / Kaisha wa nai desu. There is no company. (Existence)

    This page titled 3.1: Dialogue 1 is shared under a CC BY-NC license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Emiko Konomi (Portland State University Library) .

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