Sentence Structure

The structure of Japanese sentences


One of the most difficult parts to learning Japanese for Speakers of European languages is the word order of the sentences. You may hear people say that it’s opposite or backwards. That’s not necessarily true. What is almost always true is that the verb comes at the end of the sentence.


I am American.


私      は          アメリカ      人             です。

I      (Topic)       America     person       is


(Approximate pronunciation) watashi  wa  amedika  jeen  dess


Literal translation:

I  WA(topic marker)  America  person  is.



Notice that “is” comes at the end of the sentence.


I go to school.


私   は   学校   に   行きます


(Approximate pronunciation) Watashi  wa  gakko  nee  eekeemasu


Literal translation:

I WA(topic marker) study exam  to  go.


Again, the verb comes at the end of the sentence.


As I discussed in the last article (particles), the other parts of the sentence can be understood by their grammar particles.


The basic order is this:


Topic Subject (other stuff) Verb


Now, I know that “other stuff” isn’t a technical term, but because of the Japanese use of particles, it is not necessary to put other words in any particular order.


Once you get the hang of the basic structure, it’s easier to understand what’s happening in a sentence.

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