How to Create Sentences in Japanese: Working with a Topic 

 February 1, 2020

By  Paolo Palabrica

In the Japanese language, linking verbs like “is, am, are” are not present. Instead they use something called particles. 

A particle is a Japanese word which does not mean anything in itself, but changes direction or meaning of a sentence depending on the usage. These are the main components needed for basic Japanese grammar.

In this article, you will be able to learn to create sentences based on a topic that you would like to talk about.

Japanese Sentences

Topic Marker wa (は)

For the first particle, we’ll discuss the usage of the particle wa(は). Any word before this particle would be given the focus in the sentence.

Watashi      wa     Mike      desu (わたしはマイクです)

    ( I )          (am) (Mike)     (.)

In this case wa may have the same meaning as the English language’s “am”. But if you look closely, the word preceded by wa has become the topic of the sentence. The main topic of the sentence is watashi (わたし) or I.

Ringo          wa      aka     desu (リンゴは赤です)

(apples)    (are) (red)     (.)

In this case, the meaning of wa has changed to “are”. However, the rule still stays the same, the main topic of the sentence is “ringo”.

Also, in other textbooks, wa is written as “ha” but it is pronounced as wa. Keep that in mind in case you encounter these words in other references.

The more you look at it, since Japanese only uses one word for linking verbs, Japanese is probably easier than English isn’t it?

Kore, Sore and Are (これ、それ、あれ)

Here are some extra words that are useful when creating sentences. These are the English equivalent of our demonstrative nouns, “this, that and over there”.

kid drawing

In this diagram, let’s differentiate the words kore, sore and are. 

Kore  wa      kiiroi      desu (これは黄色いです)

(this) (is)   (yellow) (.)

Sore     wa    murasaki   desu (それはむらさきです)

(That)  (is) (purple)       (.)

Are                            wa     akai   desu (あれは赤いです)

(That over there)   (is) (red) (.)

Easy isn’t it? These are the words you can use when pointing to something.

Question Words dore and docchi (どれ、どっち)

These are the English language equivalent of “which one”. However, unlike the English language, this question word is not attached to the start of the sentence. It is placed on the end.

Inu       wa        dore       desu ka

(dog)   (is) (which)         (?)

This roughly translates to “Which one is the dog?”. This phrase can be used when you are asked to choose from a picture of animals and they ask you “which one is the dog?”.

On the other hand, docchi (どっち) is used for only two options. Only between A or B. So when you use the sentence “docchi desu ka?”(どっちですか?), there should only be two choices.


At this point, you will now be able to easily talk about a topic that you’re interested in, and point to different kinds of things that you’d like to talk about. By using these simple grammar patterns you can even choose your preferences in a Japanese restaurant.

Mata ne!(またね!)(See you later!).

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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