Japanese with Reverse Lesson 22: Passive and causative verbs

Okay so I’m going to talk about verbs more in this post because verbs are hard, and this topic will be mainly centered around passive and causative verbs, but these are hard for me in Japanese so I’m not going to be too detailed

First off, let’s have a brief overview of these types of verbs so we know what exactly we’re dealing with.

A passive verb is when you say something has happened. For example, the sentence, “The book has been published” is a passive sentence, and this is indicated by “has been.”

Causative is when you make someone do something. “My mother made me clean my room” is a causative sentence.

How do you use these in Japanese, though? Well, you have to take the verb you’re using and conjugate it to fix the context. Let’s start with する, a common verb.

Passive Verbs

される is the passive form of する. When making a passive sentence, you have to stick れ in between す and る.

本が出版された。 (ほんがしゅっぱんさせた。)
The book has been published.

By saying される instead of する, you’re saying that the book is already out, and presumably ready to buy.

Causative Verbs

させる is the causative form of する. Don’t confuse this with される! I kind of think as causative verbs as kind of like potential verbs (“to be able to” form verbs. The potential form of する is できる.), instead of being able to do something, you’re forced to do it.

母が宿題をさせた。 (ははがしゅくだいをさせた)
My mother made me do my homework.

When used like this, these forms are pretty easy to understand. But as you conjugate different verbs to make more specific or complex sentences, this gets a little tougher.

Types of Verbs

In Japanese, there are three types of verbs: godan, ichidan, and irregular. Godan verbs end in あ, い, う, え, or お and ichidan verbs end in -いる or える. But be careful! There are several godan verbs that appear to be ichidan when they aren’t. Irregular verbs are する and 来る (くる).

I don’t have a readily available list of godan and ichidan verbs at the moment, but you can easily find some with a quick Google search.

Now, specific passive and causative conjugate differently with different verb groups. For example, when conjugating a godan verb into the passive, you would use -られる and just -れる for ichidan verbs. When conjugating into the causative, you use -させる for godan verbs and -せる for ichidan.

Conjugating an Ichidan Verb:

  • Passive (-られる)

食べる (たべる) = “to eat.” To conjugate this verb, you would write it out as 食べられる.

昼餉をべられた。 (ひるげをたべられた)
I have already eaten lunch.

  • Causative (-させる)

We’re going to use 食べる again for continuity. To make this verb causative, you have to write it out as 食べさせる.

母がトマトを食べさせた。 (ははがトマトをたべさせた)
My mother made me eat the tomatoes.

Conjugating a Godan Verb:

  • Passive (-れる)

The godan verb we’ll use is 書く (かく), “to write.” To conjugate this verb, you have to write it as 書かれる.

彼女はリポートを書かれた。 (かのじょはリポートをかかれた)
She has already written her report.

  • Causative (-せる)

We’ll use 書く again. The causative of 書く is 書かせる.

ケイはフミエさんが好きだから彼女にラブレターを書かせていた。 (彼はフミエさんがすきだからかのじょにラブレターをかかせていた)
Kei has a crush on Fumie so he made me write a love letter for her.

Conjugating Irregular Verbs:

Irregular verbs don’t really follow the grammar rules of other verbs, so you have to conjugate them differently. The irregular verbs in Japanese are する and 来る (くる). You can also just write kuru in hiragana as くる.

We’ll use both する and 来る for these examples.

  • Passive

Unlike the above examples, the passive form of する is される and the passive form of 来る is 来られる. This is pronounced られる and NOT くられる.

I’ve already played this game.

Note that する generally means “to do,” so the above sentence could literally be “I’ve already done this game.”

来る’s meaning is a little bit different. Generally, 来る means “to come,” as in to arrive somewhere, but it can also be used as “to get,” as in to get a present, and many other variants on those.

明日は私の誕生日ですけどフミエさんからのプレゼントを来られた。 (あしたはわたしのたんじょうびですけどフミエさんからのプレゼントをこられた)
My birthday is tomorrow, but my present from Fumie has already come.

  • Causative

The causative form of する is させる, and 来る is 来させる (こさせる).

一日中はゲームをさせている。 (いちにちじゅうはげーむをさせている)
I have been playing video games all day.

今日、姉は図書館に来される。 (きょう、あねはとしょかんにこされる)
My sister is making me come to the library today.

Verbs are hard and I always struggle with them, so correct me if I screwed up. And if you have any presents, feel free to ask! I’ll try to help out best I can.

do you think you can do a grammar lesson about し? i see it like なし、だし, and like i dont really understand it D:

し? し can be kind of tough sometimes and is considered advanced Japanese at times. I don’t really completely understand it either, but it’s sometimes used as “and.” It’s used to list reasons. For example:

Why do you like him?

Because he’s sweet and he’s nice and he’s funny.

In the things you listed above (なし and だし), な and だ are sentence endings. な emphasizes a sentence and is used in mainly masculine speech and even Osaka dialect if I remember correctly, and だ is just the plain form of です.

し is used to link two sentences, much like how we use commas in English. Like in the example I put above, all of the reasons why Person B likes Person C could all be individual sentences, but they are connected and made into one complete sentence by using し as a conjunction. わかる?

I hope this helps you out a little bit! Using し can be a little bit hard and I don’t use it much myself, but just keep practicing!

LEARN JAPANESE WITH GACKT’S ‘STACHE LESSON 21: Saying you must do something

Since I haven’t done a lesson in a long time, this edition of Japanese with Reverse’s temporary name change will be about how to say that you must do something. It was a little confusing to me until I read up on it, but I hope I can help you guys understand a little bit. じゃ、始めましょう!

In Japanese, when you say that you have something you need to do, you use the negative forms of verbs (-ない endings in plain form and -ません endings in polite form) plus といけない. This basically shows an obligation to do something. Let’s look at some example sentences. 

I must read that book.

Today my older brother is coming over so I must go home.

It’s really simple, isn’t it? Basically all you have to do is add といけない to the end of your sentence to say that you have something you must do. 易しいですね。

その: that
本 (ほん): book
を: object marker
読む (よむ): to read
読まないといけない (よまないといけない): must read

今日 (きょう): today
は、が: subject marker
来る (くる): to come
から: because; from; through (e.g. a window)
早く (はやく): quickly; early
帰る (かえる): to go home; to return
帰らないといけない (かえらないといけない): must go home
です: it is; polite copula in Japanese

I don’t do these nearly as much as I should, but I hope you got a little something out of this post today. If you have any questions about Japanese, feel free to drop by my ask. I tag all of these posts as “Japanese with Reverse" and you can also find these lessons and other resources on my Japanese resources page.


Japanese with Reverse Lesson 20: Directions

Alright, today I’m going to go over how to give and take directions in Japanese. This is something I struggle with a lot, so I’m partially making this post to drill this into my brain. じゃ、始めましょう!

Asking for assistance

To start things off, let’s go over すみません a bit. We all know that すみません is like saying “I’m sorry,” but you can also use it to express thanks. It’s like a humble way to say “thank you,” so think of it like saying, “Sorry to trouble you.”

Here you are.

Thank you. (Sorry to trouble you.)

You can say すみませんでした as well.

Now, let’s get to the focus of today’s post. Let’s say you’re lost and you need help finding some place in Japan. You can say すみませんが to someone in order to indicate that you’re about to ask for help. Note how が is put after すみません; when used in this way, が is like saying “but.” It is also used to express slight hesitation and will make you sound more polite.

Excuse me, but do you know where the bookstore is?

Note how すみませんが is like saying “excuse me” or “pardon me” and that you end your sentence with the polite でしょう. Remember that でしょう is the polite form of です and that it’s often used to express uncertainty or wonder, thus making you sound more polite.

Since you asked where a bookstore is, someone may tell you the approximate location of the bookstore by indicating a landmark:

It’s next to the movie theater.

To this answer, you would reply with どうもすみません, which is a humble way of saying “thank you” as we discussed.

Telling where things are

Alright, let’s talk about how to answer a question with where something is. You’ve been asked where a bookstore is, so you have to give an answer. In Japanese, it’s very common to repeat the question you’ve just been asked and follow it up with ええと, which is like saying “hm…”

The bookstore? Let’s see…

Then, just like in English, you give directions using landmarks, like streets or buildings.

So straight along this street. Then you’ll see a movie theater. The bookstore is next to the movie theater.

That’s kind of long, isn’t it? Let’s break these sentences down a bit. Notice how in the first sentence, you say ください after the て-form verb, 行って (いって, “go”). この道をまっすぐ (このみちをまっすぐ) means “Go straight along the street,” with この meaning “this,” 道 (みち) meaning “street” and まっすぐ is “straight.”

In the second sentence, we start off with そうすると which is like saying “and then” or “after that.” The particle が always comes after the landmark.

Lastly, the destination is explained in relation to the landmark. Since the bookstore is next to the movie theater, you have to use the particle の after the landmark and before preposition. Remember that prepositions are positioning words like “above,” “below,” or “next to.” You always put に after a preposition. I’ve seen で come after prepositions too, but that’s a little complicated. I think they may be interchangeable or that maybe one is used if the other has already been used in a sentence (kind of like the は and が relationship or the に and へ relationship), but I’d use に just to be safe.

Particles and directions

Like with prepositions, you use の to describe a corner.

The corner with the traffic lights

The corner with the bookstore

The second corner 

You use を when directing someone to go around, along, or across something.

Turn at the next corner.

Cross the bridge. 

Go along this street. 

And then, like with prepositions, you use に when you tell someone to go left or right.

Turn right at the corner with the stoplights.  

Turn left at the second corner. 

て-form verbs and directions

When you give directions, you often suggest an action for the recipient to do, like to cross, to turn, to go, etc. When you want to convey these verbs, you have to use the て-form of whatever verb you’re using. In this way, the て-form makes it so that it suggests a command as well as carry the meaning of “and.” And remember, you always use the て-form of a verb coupled with ください.

Cross this street and turn left at the next corner.


Alright, that was today’s lesson. This is hard even for me, so hopefully this won’t go completely over your heads. Just study and you’ll get the hang of it eventually. If you have any questions about today’s lesson, please ask and I’ll help you out. 質問がありますか?質問を聞いてください。

Remember that if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions that my ask is always open. If there are any mistakes, please let me know and I’ll correct them right away. I tag all of these posts as “Japanese with Reverse" so you can refer back to them at my blog at any time. You can also find these posts under my new "Japanese" page, so feel free to refer back to that as well.


Japanese with Reverse Lesson 19: Adverbs

Hi guys, today I’ll discuss adverbs with you all. I’m making this lesson because a follower last night asked me if I could help them out with today’s target subject. As always, I am more than happy to help you guys out with specific Japanese-related things, so if you struggle with something specific, please don’t hesitate to ask me! I’ll definitely help you out.

If you’re a native English speaker, you know adverbs are really weird words. I myself don’t know how to conjugate English adverbs; I just kind of know how. I thought Japanese adverbs would be just as hard, but after studying a bit, I came to find that adverbs in Japanese are pretty easy. I’m sure you all can get the hang of it! Like always, just be sure to pay attention and to practice.

Japanese adverbs are really simple and straight-forward to understand. In addition, the existence of particles in the Japanese language makes it so you can place an adverb anywhere in a sentence as long as it comes before the verb. There are two different sets of adverbs: adverbs that stem from い-adjectives and ones that stem from な-adjectives.

How to change an adjective into an adverb:

  • い-adjectives: replace the い with く

例えば: 大きい -> 大きく (おおきい -> おおきく)
Example: great (as in “big”) -> greatly 

  • な-adjectives: add the particle に

例えば: 静か -> 静かに (しずか -> しずかに)
Example: quiet -> quietly 

This is pretty simple, isn’t it? It’s really easy to get the hang of Japanese adverbs. Let’s take a look at some example sentences using adverbs. I’ll bold the adverb used in the sentence.

Yuki ate breakfast quickly

I’d like to note that the Japanese word 早く works a little differently from the English word “quickly.” Depending on context, 早く can mean both “quickly” and “early.” For example, the sentence 彼は早く眠った (かれははやくねむった)means “He went to sleep early.” In this context, 早く means “early.”

In the library, we do things quietly.

However, not all adverbs come from adjectives and don’t need conjugation. These words can be used without particles just like a regular adverb.

例えば: アニメをたくさん見る。(アニメをたくさんみる。)
Example: I watch a lot of anime. 

例えば: 最近、全然食べない。(さいきん、ぜんぜんたべない。)
Example: Lately, I don’t eat at all.


Alright, today’s lesson was pretty short. But this is pretty easy, isn’t it? Just practice and you’ll get the hang of adverbs in no time.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, my ask box is always open. If there are any specific Japanese things you don’t understand of struggle with, message me and I can help you out! If there are any mistakes, please let me know and I’ll correct them right away. I tag all of these posts as “Japanese with Reverse,” so feel free to refer back to them on my blog at any time.


Japanese with Reverse Lesson 18: Plain Form

It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten a post out. Not going to lie, I haven’t been able to think of what to post about! So, before I start things off, if you guys have anything specific you’d like me to cover, just send me an ask and I’ll make a post!

Alright, today we’re going to talk about some very important Japanese. We’re going to discuss plain form today. I’ve gone over plain form a little bit in the past, but today I’ll review and elaborate. Plain form is essentially casual, everyday language, and is also called dictionary form. Dictionary form is basically the form of a word when you look it up in the dictionary. For example, the dictionary form of します is する. Plain form is used in casual and informal situations, such as when you’re with your friends or talking to your family.

Plain speech is characterized by its use of dictionary form verbs, shorter and more direct sentences, the dropping of particles, and changing です to だ. I’d like to note that sometimes です is simply dropped from speech all together and that だ is more commonly used by men. However, I’ve heard women use だ too, so the rule isn’t set in stone.

Let’s take a look at some examples of plain speech versus polite speech. I’ll use examples for neutral, male, and female Japanese, so please review the post on male and female Japanese if you need to.

Polite speech:

例えば: あの人は誰ですか。(あのひとはだれですか。)
Example: Who is that person? 

Plain speech:

例えば: あの人誰?(あのひとはだれ?)
Example: Who is that person? 

The first example is in polite speech and the second is in plain form. Both questions are asking, “Who is that (person)?” but as you can see, the plain form version drops the particle は, です, and the question particle か is replaced by a question mark. It sounds a lot more informal, doesn’t it?

Let’s take a look at male plain form speech.

Polite speech: 

例えば: あの映画が面白そうですね。(あのえいががおもしろそうですね。)
Example: That movie looks good, doesn’t it?

Plain speech:

例えば: あの映画、面白そうだね。(あのえいがが、おもしろそうだね。)
Example: That movie looks good, huh?

In this example, I used male Japanese to say that a movie looks appealing to me. I used だ instead of です, and if I were speaking, I’d probably talk in a lower register. I also replaced the particle が with a comma and made the sentence shorter.

The female Japanese version of this sentence in plain form would be あの映画、面白そうね (あのえいが、おもしろそうね). There isn’t much of a difference except that です is completely dropped and だ is not used. You’d also probably speak in a higher register.

I covered verbs back in lesson 15, so please review it if you need to. But I’ll still give a short overview of plain form verbs here.

When speaking to friends and family, you always use plain form. For example, instead of saying 今晩テレビを見ますか (こんばんテレビをみますか) when asking someone in your family if they’re watching TV tonight, you would say 今晩テレビ見る? (こんばんテレビみる?) It’s just a lot more casual.

The form of plain verbs depends on the type of verb you need to conjugate. For weak verbs, you drop the ~ます stem and change it to る.

例えば: 食べます -> 食べる (たべます -> たべる)
Example: to eat -> to eat 

例えば: 見ます -> 見る (みます -> みる)
Example: to see -> to see 

When you change strong verbs into the plain form, you have to drop the ~ます stem and change any “i" sound to an "u" sound.

例えば: 読みます -> 読む (よみます -> よむ)
Example: to read -> to read

例えば: 買います -> 買う (かいます -> かう)
Example: to buy -> to buy

Please review lesson 15 if you need to. Verbs are hard! 

Asking questions in plain form can be a little different too. When you use a question word (どこ、何、いつ、etc), you use の at the end of the sentence.

例えば: どこ行くの?(どこいくの?)
Example: Where are you going?

例えば: いつ来るの?(いつくるの?)
Example: When are you coming? 

Male and female speakers usually respond differently to questions in plain speech. I’ll post a question and answer it with male speech on top and female on the bottom.

例えば: 今日何するの?(きょうなにするの>)
What are you doing today?

男: 出かけるんだ。(でかけるんだ。)
女: 出かけるの。 (でかけるの。)
I’m going out.

As you can see, males will typically add んだ at the end of their sentence whereas women will simply just say の. It’s also very common for males to simply respond with the place. This same form also applies for the plain form of ~ています verbs.

例えば: 今何してるの?(いまなにしてるの?)
Example: What are you doing?

男: 友達待ってるんだ。(ともだちまってるんだ。)
女: 友達待ってるの。(ともだちまってるの。) 
I’m waiting for my friend. 

If there is no question word, then の is not used and only a question mark is added.

例えば: このサイン分かる?(このサインわかる?)
Example: Do you understand this sign?

例えば: うん、分かる。(うん、わかる。) 
Example: Yeah, I do.

Plain form is a very important part of Japanese, so keep all of this in mind. Most of the time you’ll hear informal Japanese, but don’t let that make you neglect polite form! Both are a very important part of the language.

I hope you all learned something new today. It’s impossible to give fast and accurate rules for plain form because patterns are always changing and people always talk differently in real life. Knowing the common patterns is the first step to understanding though!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, my ask is always open. If there are any mistakes, let me know and I’ll correct them right away! I tag all of these posts as “Japanese with Reverse,” so feel free to refer back to them on my blog at any time.


Review: Particles が, に, and で

A lot of people have problems with particles. Particles are hard. In this review, I’m going to go over some particles that a lot of people struggle with as simply and as thoroughly as I can.

I’ll start with the particle が. が acts as a subject marker just like は does. However, が is often used for emphasis and can be a little stronger than は. It’s also used when は has already been used in a sentence. Let’s look at some examples.

例えば: 猫は遊ぶの好きです。(ねこはあそぶのがすきです)
Example: My cat likes to play. 

Notice how in this example が is used because は already marked the subject of my sentence. 

例えば: それいいね!
Example: That’s good! 

In this example, I’m using が to put more strength on the sentence. Something is good, and by saying が, I’m emphasizing that fact. いいですか?

Next I’ll talk about the particle に. に is a particle that’s pretty hard to grasp. Essentially, に is a directional marker. It shows where something is. Think of it like the English word “to.”

例えば: 本屋いく。(ほんやにいく)
Example: I’m going to the bookstore. 

You can also use に mark the direction of an action:

例えば: 田中さん本を貸しました。(たなかさんにほんをかしました)
Example: I loaned a book to Mr. Tanaka. 

You can also use に to indicate a point in time:

例えば: 九時合いましょう。(くじにあいましょう)
Example: Let’s meet at 9 o’clock. 

Now, let’s talk about で. で can be a little bit weird. で is a lot like に and has lots of uses. It’s usually used to indicate a place of action, kind of like the English word “by.”

例えば: バス学校に行く。(バスでがっこうにいく)
Example: I go to school by bus. 

で is also used to indicate where something took place, much like the English word “at.” Also think of it like saying “with,” “means of,” or “in,” the latter pertaining to language.

例えば: 本屋本を買いました。(ほんやでほんをかいました)
Example: I bought a book at the bookstore. 

例えば: ペン書いてください。(ペンでかいてください)
Example: Please write with a pen. 

例えば: 日本語話してください。(にほんごではなしてください)
Example: Please speak in Japanese. 

Alright, I hope I managed to clarify some things for you guys. Particles are really confusing, so never hesitate to ask if you have any questions!