| Keys for Writers, Second Edition
| ESL Tip Sheet 5: Japanese
Spoken in Japan.
The written language
Sentence structure and word order
- Uses Chinese characters and other Japanese
alphabets (for example, Kana).
Nouns and pronouns
- Usual pattern is S-O-V, with the verb at the
end of a clause, but subject and object do not need to be
- Information that in English would form an
adjective clause or phrase precedes the noun it modifies, with no
relative pronoun: *He gave me a too difficult for me book.
- A subordinating conjunction occurs after the
dependent clause. 34d.
- Has postpositions (after the noun), not
Verbs and verbals
- Nouns do not have plural forms. 60b.
- No distinction between countable and
uncountable nouns. 60c.
- Many nouns can function as adjectives and
adverbs; this leads to confusion between danger and dangerous, safe, safety, and safely. 45.
- Possessive pronouns can be omitted: *He hurt
- Pronoun subject not expressed: "wakarimasen"
is a single word that means: I don't understand; he
doesn't understand. 44a.
Adjectives and adverbs
- Modal verbs follow main verbs. 41c.
- A verb can stand alone, with subject and
object understood: *Kaimasita: (I) bought (it). 38d.
- Verb forms and tenses contain only one word.
- Verbs do not change for person or number.
Japanese writers have difficulties with agreement with third
person singular subject. 41a; 43.
- No equivalent of auxiliary do. 41c.
- In reported speech, the tense of the direct
speech is used. 41i.
- Different limits on what can be used in the
passive voice: *They were stolen their luggage. 42.
- Complex adjective phrases can precede a noun:
*The responsible for the changes committee. 62b.
- Expressions with easy and difficult are used as subject
complement to refer to a person: *I am easy to fix a car.
- No system for referring to number or to
countability: *Computer is expensive. *She bought coat last week.