Over 150 million people speak Japanese worldwide. The word Japanese is the English word for the language. In Japanese it is referred to as nihongo (日本語). Japanese a very different language from English and you will learn to understand this as you go along in your studies. For now let's look at the key points you need to know before studying Japanese.

  • Different sentence order
  • No plural form   (Nouns can usually mean 1, or more than 1)
  • Keigo   (Polite language used in formal situations)
  • Different sounds   (Less sounds, flat tones, no strong accents)
  • Gender differences   (Male and female speech is different)
  • Omitted words   (Can be understood without saying all the words)

   The Japanese writing system is comprised of three different parts. You will need to learn them all if you want to read Japanese. Each part of the writing system has a different use. There are two alphabets that represent different sounds.

KATAKANA カタカナ (Alphabet) Foreign loan words, Sounds, Animals and food
HIRAGANA ひらがな (Alphabet) Japanese words and grammar
KANJI 漢字 (Meanings) From Chinese characters used for whole words or parts of words

   Romaji (Roman characters) is not part of the Japanese language. I is only used in Japan on company names and signs, advertising, station names and it is used to teach English speakers how to speak Japanese. It is commonly misspelled as romanji.

   All the lessons in the free section of the website, will have romaji as well as the Japanese equivalent to the sentence.