Japanese for Beginners: Quick and Easy to Understand Lessons
4.1 (15 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
5,258 students enrolled

Japanese for Beginners: Quick and Easy to Understand Lessons

Beginner's Guide to Japanese Grammar
4.1 (15 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
5,258 students enrolled
Created by Jeremy Rasmussen
Last updated 1/2020
English
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Current price: $12.99 Original price: $19.99 Discount: 35% off
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This course includes
  • 3 hours on-demand video
  • 64 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • How to speak, read, and write Japanese
Requirements
  • None
Description

This course will take you through 35 different lectures that cover various aspects of the Japanese language. Throughout the course, you will many things, such as:

  • Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

  • How to use は and が appropriately and make basic sentences

  • い and な-adjectives

  • How to conjugate all verbs to the ます-form

  • How to make verbs and adjectives negative

  • How to use い and な-adjectives

  • How to conjugate verbs to the past tense

  • How to make sentences with あげる, もらう, and くれる

  • How to give commands with the て-form and list off multiple actions

  • and more!

Each lecture consists of a short video that covers a specific aspect of Japanese. Each lecture also includes a downloaded PDF with lesson notes and practice problems to check your understanding. Audio of the Japanese from the lecture is also included so you can download and practice your pronunciation. Some lectures even included online quizzes to help check your understanding of the material.

Lessons are kept concise, but teach in a very easy to understand way.

If you are a complete beginner or someone with a little experience with Japanese, this course will be perfect for you. By the time you finish, you will be comfortable reading and writing Hiragana, Katakana, and many commonly used Kanji characters. You will be able to communicate basic ideas and form perfectly natural sounding sentences in Japanese.

よろしくお願いいたします!

Who this course is for:
  • Beginner to lower-intermediate Japanese learners
Course content
Expand all 35 lectures 03:11:53
+ Introduction to the Kana
3 lectures 20:21

初めまして (hajimemashite)!And welcome to the first lesson in my beginner Japanese series!

In this lesson and the next two, we are going to learn about the three Japanese writing systems. This lesson focus on Hiragana.

Hiragana characters compose one syllabry (Japanese does not have an alphabet. Instead, every Hiragana character represents a single syllable) of the Japanese language. The other syllabry is Katakana, which we will look at in the next lesson.

In this lesson, we will learn to read and write all 46 characters (and their subsequent combinations). As you watch the video, repeat the sounds along with the native Japanese speaker.

After watching this lesson, please see the attached Hiragana practice sheets PDF file. Print it out so you can practice writing each individual character.

You will also find an audio file with all of the pronunciations for the characters that you hear in this lesson for quick access and review.

After you review, try the Quiz for practice!

頑張ってください!(ganbatte kudasai!)

Preview 09:15

After reviewing the Hiragana practice sheets, take this quiz to check how many characters you can recognize.

Hiragana quiz
15 questions

こんにちは! (konnichiha)

Welcome back! In this lesson, we are going to go over Katakana.

You may be wondering, "What is the difference between Hiragana and Katakana?"

Well, they are very similar. In fact, they are pronounced the exact same as their Hiragana counterparts. The major differencse, though, are in how they look and the words

Hiragana characters tend to be more round (あ、い、う、え、お)while Katakana characters are a bit simpler(ア、イ、ウ、エ、オ)

The reason Katakana exists, though, is for writing loan words.

Loan words are words that Japanese adopts from other languages. These loan words can come from any language, but most of them tend to come from English. For instance

  • コーヒー (koohii) - Coffee

  • バス (basu) - Bus

  • ブラシ (burashi) - Brush

  • カップ (kappu) - Cup

You can see that the Japanese pronunciation sounds quite similar to the English pronunciation. But this means that you already know quite a few Japanese words and you may not even know it! 

Most of what you read and write will be in Hiragana (and eventually Kanji) but it is important to know how to read and write Katakana as well. Japanese is adopting more and more loan words, so you will tend to see them quite frequently.

When writing your name, for instance, unless you adopt a Japanese name, you'll want to use Katakana.

My name in Katakana is ジェレミー

See the attached files for some Katakana practice writing sheets and the audio for how each character is pronounced.

After you finish practicing, maybe you can try and write your own name in Katakana :-)

頑張ってください!

Katakana - A brief overview
07:44

Test your knowledge of the Katakana characters and their Roomaji

Katakana Quiz
15 questions

こんにちは皆さん!

In this lecture, we are going to learn about:

  • The history of Kanji (the short version)

  • How Kanji characters work

  • How Kanji characters are read

  • How to read and write basic Kanji characters

  • The differences between the Onyomi and Kunyomi

The attached worksheet will be extremely helpful in understanding how Japanese Kanji work. There are also practice sheets to help you learn to read and write some of the most commonly used characters.

The characters on the sheet are from the bank of JLPT 5 level Kanji. These are some of the most commonly used characters, so it would be a really good idea to familiarize yourself with all of them. Print it out and practice, practice, practice!

頑張ってください!

Kanji - A brief overview
03:22

Be sure to go over the Kanji practice sheets before attempting this quiz if you are unfamiliar with Kanji characters.

You can always come back to this quiz later after you take more lectures and learn more Japanese. This may be difficult if you are just starting out.

If you check a 'wrong' answer, you can learn about the other characters and maybe some new words. So, even if you know the right answer, you can test yourself by hitting the wrong answer as well.

Kanji Quiz
15 questions
+ Let's start making some sentences!
8 lectures 26:18

こんにちは!

In this lesson, we are going to learn about:

  • Using the subject marking particle は

  • Using the subject marking particle が

  • Using the copula です

  • The differences between は and が

With just these three tools, we can start putting together complete Japanese sentences!

Be sure to watch the video a couple of times and to download and review the attached worksheet to reinforce what you learned.

頑張ってください!

Preview 03:01

こんにちは!

In this lesson we are going to learn how to make sentences negative with ではありません

By the end of this lesson you will know how to say things like, "She is not a student," or "I am not Japanese."

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Making sentences negative with ではありません
02:05

こんにちは!

In this lesson, we are going to learn to talk about our likes and dislikes using 好き (suki).

By the end of this lesson you will be able to say something like 私は寿司が好きです (watashi ha sushi ga suki desu) - I like sushi. Or, 彼女は犬が好きではありません (kanojo ha inu ga suki dehaarimasen) - She doesn't like dogs.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Talking about likes and dislikes with 好き and 好きではありません
02:49

こんにちは!

In this lecture, we are going to learn how to show possession using the particle の

By the end of the lesson, you will know how to say something like イタリアのワインはおいしいです (itari no wain ha oishii desu) - Italian wine tastes great. Or, 日本のマンガは面白いです (nihon no manga ha omoshiroi desu) - Japan's manga is interesting/fun.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Showing possession with の
03:10

Go over the commonly used pronouns and their possessive pronoun equivalents.

Pronouns and possessive pronouns
10 questions

こんにちは!

Now that we are familiar with the basic particles は, が, and です and how to talk about likes and dislikes, we are going to introduce another very important particle: か

In this lecture we will learn how to use か to change a regular statement like "He is Japanese" to a question like "Is he Japanese" or "He likes anime" to "Does he like anime?"

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Asking questions with the particle か
02:58

こんにちは皆さん!

In this lecture, we are going to learn how to conjugate verbs to their ます-forms.

This is an absolutely essential skill if you want to be able to speak Japanese. Fortunately, it is not very complicated and once you can conjugate a Type I, II, and III verb to the ます-form, you will be able to conjugate any verb this way.

By the end of this video, you will be able to:

  • Conjugate Type I, II, and III verbs to the ます-form

  • Identify any verb's ます-stem

  • Speak in the present and future tense

Remember, in Japanese there is no future-tense, only past and non-past. So the sentence

私はスタに行きます (watashi ha suta ni ikimasu) can mean either "I go to the store," "I am going to the store," or "I will go to the store."

It all depends on context.

Before moving onto other lessons, be sure you have the information in here down, because you will definitely need to be comfortable finding the ます-stem of a verb to use future structures.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Preview 05:31

Practice conjugating verbs to the ます-form

Conjugating to the ます-form
10 questions

こんにちは皆さん!

In the previous lesson, we learned how to conjugate all verb Types to the ます-form. If you can do that, this lesson will be a breeze.

Conjugating to the ません-form works the exact same way. But the key difference is that the ません-form is negative.

By the end of this lesson, you'll know how to:

  • Make negative sentences in the future and present tense

You will be able to say something like "She won't eat sushi" or "He doesn't study Japanese."

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Conjugating to the ません-form
03:02

Practice conjugating verbs to the ません-form

Conjugating to the ません-form
10 questions

こんにちは皆さん!

In the previous lesson, we learned how to make verbs negative with the ません-form. This is a formal/polite way of speaking.

In casual situations, however, like when speaking with friends, you'll most likely want to use the more informal/casual ない-form.

Instead of saying 「私は英語を勉強しません」(watshi ha eigo wo benkyou shimasen) - I don't study English, you'll want to say 「英語を勉強しない」(eigo wo benkyou shinai) - I don't study English.

Also please notice how in the second sentence that uses ない that we also left off the subject of the sentence. When speaking casually, this is more common and natural.

By the end of this video, you'll be able to:

  • Conjugate Type I, II, and III verbs to their informal/casual ない-forms

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

The ない-form
03:42

Practice conjugating verbs to their ない-forms

Conjugating to the ない-form
10 questions
+ Describing location and movement with に and へ
2 lectures 06:22

こんにちは皆さん!

In this lecture, we are going to learn how to use the particles に and へ to describe direction and movement.

By the end of this lesson you will be able to say things like "I am going to the store," or "She is coming to the office."

This lesson will also be great way to check your understanding of the verbs いる and ある because the structure of our sentences will look something like this:

Subject は Location に  いる/ある

If our subject is a living, animate object, we will want to use いる. If it is a non-living, inanimate object, we will use ある.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Describing movement with the particles に and へ
02:10

こんにちは皆さん!

In this lesson we are going to learn how to describe the location living things and objects.

By the end of this lesson you will be able to:

  • Describe the location of a living, animate object with いる

  • Describe the location of a non-living, inanimate object with ある

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Using the particle に to describe locations
04:12
+ Using the こーそーあーど system
2 lectures 10:03

こんにちは皆さん!

This is the first part of a two-part mini-series that goes over how to use the こーそーあーど system of the Japanese language.

Having an understanding of this system will help tremendously in improving your Japanese in a relatively quick way.

Japanese has a great way of identifying locations relative to the speaker, and that is where the こーそーあーど system comes in.

  • こ is used for locations near or on the speaker

  • そ is used for locations not near the speaker but near or on the listener

  • あ is used for locations neither near the speaker nor the listener

  • ど is used for asking questions

By the end of the lesson, you'll be able to say something like "This is a pen" or "Where are you?" or "What is that thing way over there?"

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Preview 04:54

こんにちは皆さん!

Here we are going to build off of what we learned in Part 1 of the こーそーあーど system.

Now we are going to look at pairing こーそーあーど with the characters こ、れ、and の

By the end of this listen you'll be able to say things like "Which one do you like?" or "That cup is blue" or "That thing over there is interesting."

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Using the こーそーあーど system Part II
05:09

Check your understanding of the こーそーあーど system

こーそーあーど Review
10 questions
+ Introduction to adjectives, using を, and expressing abilities with ことができる
5 lectures 29:06

こんにちは!

In this lecture, we are going to look at an introduction to Japanese adjectives.

You will learn:

  • that there are two kinds of adjectives

    • い-adjectives and な-adjectives

  • how to link them directly to nouns

  • how to separate them from nouns they describe

  • how な-adjectives work

In a later lesson, we will learn how to make our adjectives negative. For now, we are just introducing them so that we can begin making our sentences more complex and express more precise ideas.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Preview 06:10

こんにちは!

We are going to continue learning about adjectives, but this time we are going to look at how to make them negative.

By the end of this lecture, you'll be able to say things like, 「今日は暑くない」(kyou ha atsukunai) - Today is not hot. Or, 「彼女は優しくありません」(kanojo ha yasashiku arimasen) - She is not nice.

For い-adjectives, all we need to do is drop the final い-character and add くありません.

な-adjectives are a little easier. We can just append ではない or ではありません (depending whether we want to use informal or formal.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Introduction to adjectives Part II
08:54

Review what we learned about い and な adjectives and making adjectives negative.

Introduction to Adjectives
9 questions

こんにちは!

In this lecture, we are going to learn how to start pairing up verbs and objects to make more complex sentences.

What that means is we are now going to learn how to pair up a some thing with an action that we (or someone else) is doing. For instance, in the sentence "I eat sandwiches," "eat" is the verb and what I eat (the object) are "sandwiches."

Understanding this grammar usage is very important because we will be building most of our sentences around this concept from now on.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Using を to make more active sentences
03:38

こんにちは皆さん!

In this lesson, we learn an extremely useful structure that is also extremely easy to use.

We're going to learn how to express one's ability (or inability) to do something using ことができる

By the end of this lesson you'll know how to say something like "I can speak Japanese," or "She can't ride a bike."

Understanding this basic structure will really help take your Japanese to new heights, and you'll be able to communicate much more complex ideas.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Expressing the ability to do something with ことができる
04:13

こんにちは皆さん!

In this lecture, we are going to learn to express what we (or someone else) can or cannot do.

By the end of this lesson, you will know how to say something like "He can speak Spanish," or "He can't cook."

This structure is very similar to what we learned already with ことができる, but is a vital skill to learn nonetheless.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

The potential-form
06:11

Review how to conjugate verbs to their potential-forms

The potential-form
6 questions
+ Expressing cause and effect with から and ので
2 lectures 11:05

こんにちは!

In this lecture, we are going to learn how to use から to express cause and effect. By the end of this lesson, you will know how to use から with い-adjectives, な-adjectives, nouns, and verbs to say something like "I am hungry, so I am going to eat" or "He is nice, so he has lots of friends.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Expressing cause and effect with から
05:52

こんにちは皆さん!

In this lesson, we are going to go over cause and effect... again. However, in this lesson we are going to learn to use ので for this purpose (and not から).

If you are familiar and comfortable using から to express cause and effect, then this lesson will be a breeze because they are quite similar in construction.

By the end of this video, you'll be able to:

  • Use ので with nouns, verbs, and adjectives to describe cause and effect

You may be wondering, "What is the difference between ので and から."

They are very similar, but the key difference is that ので is a little more polite than から. For this reason, when making a request, ので is preferable.

If you say "It is hot, so please turn on the AC" you would want to say「熱いので、エアコンを付けてください」(atsui node, eakon wo tsukete kudasai) not 「熱いから、エアコンを付けてください」(atsui kara, eakon wo tsukete kudasai).

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Expressing cause and effect with ので
05:13
+ Conjugating to the affirmative past-tense
2 lectures 09:28

こんにちは!

I am very excited to teach this lesson because now we are getting into the really good stuff. After you learn to use the past-tense, you can almost express any idea (remember, in Japanese there is not future-tense). Since you have all but mastered the non-past aspect of Japanese, after this lesson (and the next) you should be well on you way to Japanese proficiency.

In this lesson, we will learn:

  • To conjugate Type I, II, and III verbs to the formal past-tense

  • That there is a formal and informal way of speaking

  • When speaking with those of a higher social status, we should use this (the formal form) way of speaking

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

The formal past-tense
02:24

Review conjugating verbs to their formal past-tense forms.

The formal past-tense
7 questions

こんにちは皆さん!

In the previous lesson we learned how to conjugate verbs to their formal past-tense forms. In this lecture, we are going to learn how to conjugate verbs (Types I, II, and III verbs) to their informal past-tense forms.

In this lesson we will learn:

  • To conjugate Type I, II, and III verbs to their informal past-tense forms

  • Type I, II, and III verbs all conjugate differently

  • This conjugate structure should be used in casual situations

This is extremely important to learn because, although this is the informal form, you will find yourself using it quite a bit when you learn more advanced structures.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

The informal past-tense
07:04

Review what you learned about conjugating verbs to their informal past-tense forms

The informal past-tense
11 questions
+ Using the negative past-tense
2 lectures 07:36

こんにちは皆さん!

In this lecture we are going to learn how to conjugate verbs to their formal negative past-tense forms. Wow, that is a mouthful...

In the previous section, we learned how to conjugate verbs to the formal and informal past tense, but what if we want to say "We didn't go to the movies," or "I didn't eat sushi"? While I always try to stay positive, there is no way to avoid making negative sentences.

By the end of this video, you will be able to:

  • Conjugate Type I, II, and III verbs to their informal negative past-tense forms

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

The formal negative past-tense
03:57

Review what we learned about formal negative past-tense verbs

The formal negative past-tense
7 questions

ハロー!

In this lecture, we are going to continue learning about the negative past-tense, but this time we are going to learn how to conjugate verbs to their informal more casual negative past-tense forms.

The meaning is the exact same as what we learned in the previous lesson. The major difference is that in this lecture, we are going to learn about speaking more casually. So, you will want to use these structures in casual situations or when speaking with someone of the same or lower social status than you.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

The informal negative past-tense
03:39

Let's review what we learned about conjugating verbs to the informal negative past-tense form.

The informal negative past-tense
8 questions
+ Gaining an ability to do something, Wh-Questions, and past experiences
4 lectures 32:11

ハイ!

In this lesson we are going to learn to express gaining the ability to do something. I know it sounds kind of weird, but but by the end of this lecture, you'll be able to:

  • Use ようになる to express gaining the ability to do something

So, by the end of the lecture, you'll be able to say something like "I learned how to speak Japanese," or "He learned how to swim."

It is a pre-requisite that you be able to conjugate to the potential-form, because this structure requires the use of the potential-form.

If you are not confident in doing that, go back and review before taking this lecture.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Using ようになる to express gaining the ability to do something
03:49

こんにちは皆さん!

In this lesson, we are going to learn how to ask three of the wh-questions; who, what, and where. In part II we will look at when, why, and how.

Now we are familiar with making various sentences, and we've seen how to turn a statement into a question just by adding か, but now that we are improving our Japanese skills so drastically, naturally we'll want to start asking some deeper questions.

By the end of this lesson, you'll be able to:

  • Use 誰(だれ) to ask 'who' questions

  • Use 何(なん/なに) to ask 'what' questions

  • Use どこ  to ask where questions.

You'll be able to ask 「彼は誰ですか」(kare ha dare desu ka) - who is he? 「一番好きなマンガは何ですか」(ichiban suki na manga ha nandesu ka) - What is your favorite manga? and 「アリゾナはどこですか」(arizona ha doko desu ka) - Where is Arizona?

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Preview 11:37

ヘイ!

In this lesson, we are going to continue learning our wh-questions. This time, we are going to take a look at the remaining Wh-questions; when, why, and how (which, of course, does not start with a 'wh').

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Use いつ to ask 'when' questions

  • Use なんで to ask 'why' questions

  • Use どう to ask 'how' questions

  • Use どうやって to ask about a method or way of doing something

You will learn how to say something like 「あなたはいつ私の家に来ますか」(anata ha itsu watashi no ie ni kimasu ka) - When will you come to my house. 「なんで彼がそんなこと言った?」(nande kare ga sonnna koto itta?) - Why did he say such a thing. 「あなたのすしはどうですか」(anata no sushi ha dou desu ka) - How is your sushi? and 「どうやってこのケーキを作りましたか」(kono keeki wo douyatte tsukurimashita ka) - How did you make this cake?

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Wh-Questions Part II
08:50

Review Wh-questions

Wh-Questions
6 questions

こんにちは!

In this lesson, we are going to learn how to:

  • Talk about past experiences using ことがある

This basically equates to the perfect tense in English. So, by the end of this lesson you will be able say things like, 「私は日本に行ったことがあります」(watashi ha nihon ni itta koto ga arimasu) - I have been to Japan before. Or 「彼はすしを食べたことがありません」(kare ha sushi wo tabeta koto ga arimasen) - He has never eaten sushi before.

It is essential that you be able to conjugate verbs to their informal past-tense forms because all we are doing in this lesson is appending ことがある to it.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Using ことがある to talk about past experiences
07:55
+ The volitional-form, giving and receiving, and making suggestions
3 lectures 24:43
The volitional-form
11:00

Review conjugating verbs to their volitional-forms

Conjugating to the volitional-form
10 questions
Giving and receiving with あげる, もらう, and くれる
09:30

Let's go over the basics of Giving and receiving with あげる, もらう, and くれる

あげる, もらう, and くれる
9 questions

In this lecture, we are going to learn to make suggestions using ほうがいい

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to say something like 「それを買ったほうがいい)(sore wo katta hou ga ii) - You should buy that. Or 「オフィスに行ったほうがいい」(ofisu ni itta hou ga ii) - You should go to the office.

It is necessary that you be able to conjugate verbs to their informal past-tense forms (the た-form), because in order to use this structure, we just need to append ほうがいい to any verb's informal past-tense form.

Be sure to check the worksheet for practice and the audio files to practice your listening and pronunciation.

頑張ってください!

Making suggestions with ほうがいい
04:13