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TYJ Japanese grammatical terms

This article is in the series Teach Yourself Japanese

1.3. Grammatical terms

I use several grammatical terms on this site, and they might be difficult if you haven't learned English grammar. Since most grammatical terms are used in both English and Japanese grammar, knowing English grammar will help you learn Japanese grammar. You can skip this section if you are familiar with them.

I explain some of them here.

  • Addressee
    An addressee is a person who receives a sentence, i.e. a listener or a reader. In English, an addressee is referred to with the second-person pronouns such as you.

  • Adjective
    An adjective is a word that means an attribute of a thing and adds information to a noun. An adjective is almost always placed before a noun in English. Beautiful, tasty, and good-looking are all adjectives.

  • Adposition
    An adposition is a word that works as a marker of the grammatical relation of the accompanying noun or noun phrase. It is called a preposition if placed before a noun and is called a postposition if placed after a noun.

  • Adverb
    An adverb is a word that adds information to a verb, an adjective, or an adverb. An adverb is often a form of an adjective in English. Very, quickly, and beautifully are all adverbs.

  • Copula
    A copula is a word that combines the subject and its explanation. The verb be is the English copula. The Japanese copula is not a verb.

  • Inflexion
    Inflexion has more than one form to express different grammatical roles. English nouns have inflexion to show numbers, such as cat and cats. Verb inflexion is sometimes called conjugation. English verbs have inflexion to indicate tense, such as eat and ate.

  • Interjection
    An interjection is a word that is independent of other words and used as it is. Yes, hello, and hi are all interjections.

  • Interrogative
    An interrogative is a word to ask for specific information. In English, who and what are interrogative pronouns, and when and how are interrogative pro-adverbs.

  • Noun
    A noun is a word that means a thing, either concrete or abstract. A noun can be the subject or the object of a sentence in English. Textbook, PC, and website are all nouns. A proper noun is a noun that is the name of a person or a thing. In English, proper nouns are always capitalised. John and Japan are both proper nouns.

  • Phone
    A phone is actual pronunciation of a phoneme. A phone is represented between brackets.

  • Phoneme
    A phoneme is the smallest unit of the sound system of a language. If two sounds have the same phoneme, they are treated equally. A phoneme is represented between slashes.

  • Postposition
    A postposition is an adposition placed after a noun. Japanese has several postpositions, but English has few postpositions.

  • Preposition
    A preposition is an adposition placed before a noun. In, for, and from are all prepositions. Japanese has no prepositions.

  • Pronoun
    A pronoun is a word that refers to a person or a thing that has already talked about. It is a kind of noun, but its function is different from nouns in English. What a pronoun means depends on the context. Me and yourself are pronouns.

  • Speaker
    A speaker is a person who sends a sentence, i.e. a person who speaks or writes. In English, a speaker is referred to as the first-person pronouns such as I and we.

  • Verb
    A verb is a word that means an event or an action, and it combines things involved in the event in a sentence. A verb has several forms such as the present, past, and gerund in English. Read and have are all verbs.

Further reading:
Next article in the series 'Teach Yourself Japanese': Hiragana for vowels
Previous article in the series 'Teach Yourself Japanese': Romanization, phonemes, and morae
About author
My name is TAKASUGI Shinji. TAKASUGI is my family name, and Shinji is my given name; a family name is placed before a given name in Japan, as in other Asian nations. My family name is capitalized to avoid misunderstanding.

I have been living in Yokohama since I was born. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, which is just 30 kilometers away from the biggest city Tôkyô. It takes 30 minutes to go by train from home to Shibuya, which is the hottest town now in Tôkyô.

I work as a display engineer.

One of my hobbies is creating things with computers; creating programs, computer graphics and web pages is the thing I spent a lot of time doing. I am also interested in a wide range of sciences, and linguistics is my favorite. I like English and I like using it, but my focus is mainly on Japanese, which is my native language. I'm proud of knowing the language, and the difference between English and Japanese has been fascinating me. I have been thinking whether I can introduce it to people outside of Japan. My attempt of introducing Japanese with some Java applets has had more than 1 million visitors.


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