How to Create Simple Sentences in Japanese 

 January 20, 2020

By  Paolo Palabrica

In this article, you will be able to create your own simple Japanese sentences. These sentences are used to convey simple declarative sentences and simple interrogative sentences. Try them out on your Japanese friends!

Simple Sentences in Japanese


Unlike the English language wherein you just add an additional “s” to the noun (bag -> bags), the Japanese language does not have a solid usage of plurals in their sentences. 

For example, a singular cat is called nekoねこ , and the word cats is also called nekoねこ. This is where it gets tricky since, the singularity and plurality of the word changes depending on the context.

Cats are cute, aren’t they? –  neko      wa       kawaii      yo ne? (ねこはかわいいよね?)

              (cat) (is/are)    (cute) (isn’t it?)

That cat is cute, isn’t it? –  sono   neko     wa        kawaii    yo ne? (そのねこはかわいいよね?)

                                                (that)  (cat) (is/are)     (cute) (isn’t it)

By adding the demonstrative pronoun “that”, the sentence became singular. 

This is one of the problems encountered by native Japanese speakers when they are studying English. The only way of knowing whether the speaker is talking about plurals is through context.

Desu (です)

When creating a simple sentence, the Japanese language often uses the word desu. This word is pronounced as “des” and the u sound at the end is omitted. 

I like catswatashi wa     neko ga    suki       desu (ねこがすきです)

                      (I/as for me)     (cats) (like)       (.)

I am Jameswatashi wa     James      desu

                               (I am)       (James) (.)

The desu gives the sentence a more solidified declaration. It simply means “to be” or “it is”. Think of it as your “period” to mean the end of your declarative sentence.

This single Japanese word is important in making simple sentence structures. Without it, your sentence will just seem hanging.

Ka (か)

For interrogative sentences, just add a  ka(か) at the end of your sentence.

For example, a simple sentence like this:

James is an American James san    wa   America jin  desu (Jamesさんはアメリカ人です)

                 (Mr. James)  (is) (American)   (.)

Do note that the Japanese also doesn’t have particles (a, an, and the).

In order to convert the sentence into a question, just add the particle ka(か).

Is James an American?James san wa America jin desu ka? (Jamesさんはアメリカ人ですか)

                                    (Mr. James) (is)  (American) (?) 

Which roughly translates to “Is Mr. James an American?”.


The word Nani(何) basically means “What” in English. However, the sentence structure is quite different to that of English. The question word is placed at the end of the sentence.

What is that? –  sore    wa       nan     desu ka? (それは何ですか?)

                             (that)   (is) (what)        (?)

What time is it now? –    ima    wa      nan         ji         desu ka? (今は何時ですか?)

                                           (now)   (is) (what)  (time) (?)

The word nani is often pronounced as nan to make it smoother and easier for the tongue to pronounce. Saying nani desu ka is quite mouthful for the native speakers to say, therefore it sounds weird when saying it and hearing it from somebody.


Be sure to use these simple tips in structuring your own Japanese sentences. Don’t forget to add the desu(です)word in order to solidify your sentences and make them sound more natural. 

Ganbatte ne! (頑張ってね!) Goodluck!

Paolo Palabrica

Paolo is a software engineer in the Philippines whose hobby is learning languages. He has self-studied Japanese for over 3 years, and now speaks 3 languages and 3 Philippine dialects.

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