Japanese: Lesson 3

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Healthy in Japanese is "Genki". The "ki" in Genki comes from the Chinese word Qi, the fictitious magical life force.

So how would you ask "Are you healthy"?

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The Japanese word for yes is "hai" spelt H A I. How would you answer "Yes, I’m healthy"?

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To say "I’m fine, what about you?", you need the Japanese word for "what about".

"What about" is "wa". It sounds like "What about" but it’s much shorter, just "wa". the "Wa" goes after the person, or thing. "Wa" can be used as a question to mean "What about?" or as a statement to mean "let’s talk about".

So remembering the word for "you" and putting "what about" after it, how would you say "what about you"?

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Now say "Yes I’m healthy, what about you?"

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You could have included "watashi ga" in that sentence or you could have left it out. It is much more common to leave it out.

ha: は

Wa is actually spelt "ha", H A, even though it must be pronounced "wa". That’s because in ancient Japanese it was pronounced "ha". All other Japanese words are spelt the way they sound, except for "wa" and two other short words like it which we’ll learn later.

The Japanese letter "ha" looks like a person playing a harp. The harp is on the left, and the person is kneeling down on the right. In all other words, for example "hai", it will always be pronounced "ha", but in this word it is pronounced "wa".

You remember how to say "Sushi is liked"?

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Well if you want to say who sushi is liked by, you need to use the "let’s talk about..." meaning of "wa". To say unambiguously "I like sushi" you have to say "Let’s talk about me. Sushi is liked." How would you say that?

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How would you say politely "You like sushi"?

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Another little word, or particle, which can go after one of the things in the sentence, is the word for "also" or "too".

The word for "also" is "mo", spelt M O. Sounds a bit like the English word "more", so think "It’s mo than just you who does it, I also do".

The letter "mo" in Japanese looks like a picture of a mop.

mo: も

The two lines on the top represent the arm holding the mop, and the bottom curves to the right like a mop pressed against the ground.

Mo means "also" or "too" and goes after the thing.

So how would you say "me too"?

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When you use "mo" in a sentence, it replaces the word "wa" or the word "ga". So how would you say "I also like sushi" meaning "It is not only you who likes sushi"?

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If you want to say the exact same English sentence "I also like sushi", but this time you mean "I don’t only like tempura, I also like sushi", you put the "mo" after "sushi" instead of after "watashi".

So how would you say that politely?

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In English you don’t need to show which thing the "also" applies to, but in Japanese you do.

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