JLPT Guide/JLPT N4 Grammar

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Here is a list of the grammar points likely encountered on level N4 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. There is no official list, so it is possible that other grammar points may be seen. JLPT N5 grammar is likely to be seen on the N4 test but are not listed again here -- see the N5 page.


When you want to list reasons for multiple states or actions you can do so by adding 「し」 to the end of each relative clause. It is very similar to the 「や」 particle except that it lists reasons for verbs and state-of-being.

Verb-casual + し あそぶ  し
いadj + し    おおきい し
なadj + だし   きれい  だし
Noun + だし    女の子  だし

B:優しいし、かっこいいし、面白いから。 B: Because he's kind, attractive, and interesting (among other things).

a)えきから ちかいし、 くるまでも こられるし、 この みせは とても べんりです。
b)ねだんも やすいし、あじも いいし、 いつも この みせで たべて います
c)すしも あるし、カレーライスも あるし、いつも この みせで たべて います


It seems like.

このラーメンはおいしそうです。 (This ramen seems delicious)

田中さんは忙しそうです。 (Mr. Tanaka seems busy)

この本は高そうです。 (This book looks expensive.)

その車は安そうです。(This car looks cheap.)


It means to try do something.

  • Example: 彼は彼女と話してみる。He'll try to talk to her.
  • Example: 私はあの本を読んでみる。I'll try to read that book.


Use of なら implies that the verb before なら (nara) succeeds the verb after なら (nara) in time. This is the opposite of the conditional particle たら, which implies that the first verb will precede the second verb.




Tomodachi ga kuru nara, watashi wa piza o chūmon suru.

If our friends come, I will order pizza [first].


  • Example: 一週間に一回日本語を勉強します。 I study Japanese once a week.
  • Example: 一年間に三回イタリアへ行かなければなりません。 I have to go to Italy 3 times a year.


It means to want something (literally that something is wanted).

  • Example: 私はこの本が欲しい。I want this book.
  • Example: 私はお菓子が欲しい。I want some sweets.


The 「~がる」 grammar is used when you want to make an observation about how someone is feeling. This grammar is also used to observe very frankly on what you think someone other than yourself wants. This involves the adjective 「欲しい」 for things one wants or the 「~たい」 conjugation for actions one wants to do, which is essentially a verb conjugated to an i-adjective.

家に帰ったら、すぐパソコンを使いたがる。 (He) soon acts like wanting to use computer as soon as (he) gets home. http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/signs


Use of かもしれない or かもしれません indicates possibility (maybe). It is used in a similar way to ~でしょう




It may rain tomorrow (There is a possibility it may rain tomorrow).



Tom may have been a bully when he was a kid.


This construction is used for giving advice or suggesting a particular course of action (Advice…how about…? Why don’t you…?)

It is made from the past tense short form of the verb. It should only be used when explicitly being consulted about something, as it can be slightly critical. if someone is seeking your advice on a matter, you can use ~たらどうですか.



How about taking some medicine? (Said to someone who is ill)



Why don’t you (how about you) study more? (Said to someone who has an exam coming up and is worried about it)


as many as

昨日、電話三回もしたよ! I called you like three times yesterday!


only, as few as (takes the verb in the negative form)

Meaning; there is nothing except "-----"


      He has nothing but money.

    ②この部屋に美崎「み・さき」しかいない。There is nobody except Misaki in this room.


It means to do something in advance.

  • Example: この分を覚えておく。I'll memorize this part. (Because it may appear on a test.)
  • Example: お茶を冷やしておく。I'll cool down the tea. (Because I don't want to burn myself.)


It means "let's do (something)". This form is only used for ichidan verbs, for godan verbs see ~おう.

  • Example: このケーキを食べよう。Let's eat this cake.
  • Example: あの映画を見よう。Let's watch that movie.


It means "let's do (something)". The 「お」 may become any syllable ending with an "o" (e.g. こ、ろ、そ). This form is only used for godan verbs, for ichidan verbs see ~よう.

  • Example: あそこで遊ぼう。Let's play over there.
  • Example: 帰ろう。Let's go home.


A は B に verb-て あげる means "A does something for B" (literally A "gives" the action specified in the verb to B).

  • Example: 私は山田さんに本を買ってあげました。 I bought this book for Yamada-san.


くれる means "to receive" but can only be referred to the person that is talking.

  • A は 私に verb-て くれる。 A does something for me.

It must not be confused with もらう that can be used talking about everybody. For example these sentences have the same meaning.

  • Example: 山田さんは私に本を買ってくれました。 Yamada-san bought this book for me.
  • Example: 私は山田さんに本を買ってもらいました。 I was bought this book by Yamada-san.

Note the difference use of the particles は and に.


It means to get someone to do something.

  • Example: 彼に宿題を見せてもらう。I'll make him show his homework.
  • Example: 彼女にこの服を買ってもらう。I'll make her buy these clothes.


This is used when (1) requesting someone to (help) do something or (2) asking permission

Example: 窓を 開けていただけませんか。 Could you open the window?


This means "I hope ~" or "It would be nice if ~"

  • Example: 明日いい天気だといいですね。It will be nice if tomorrow's weather is good./I hope the weather tomorrow is good.
  • Example: おいしいといいですね。I hope it tastes good.


Use the te-form to describe things you have done that you want to apologize for.



I’m sorry for using bad language (previously).

When you want to apologize for something you failed to do, you use ~なくて, the short, negative te-form of a verb. To derive this form, first change the verb to the short, negative ~ない, then replace the last い with くて.



Sorry I didn't tell you earlier.


This phrase means, literally, "it is so." It is used to show agreement, and is a general filler. When そう is used as a suffix, however, such as after a verb (note: you can only place it after the stem of a verb,) noun, or adjective, it means that something is seeming to be a certain way.

  • Example: 彼はケーキをたべそうです。 It seems he eats cake.
  • Example: 彼女は疲れていそうです。 She looks tired.


It means to let someone do something, or to make someone do it.

  • Example: この音が私をいらいらさせる。This sound irritates me. (lit. This sound makes me get irritated.)
  • Example: 私にこのケーキを食べさせてください。Please let me eat this cake.


It's used for giving orders and commands. It is primarily chosen over the imperative conjugation for politeness.

  • Example: 学校へ行きなさい。Go to school!
  • Example: それをやめなさい。Stop that!


It means "if (something happened)".

  • Example: この果物を食べればすぐに元気になる。If you eat this fruit you'll recover soon.
  • Example: 金があればあの車を買う。If I had money I would buy that car.
  • Example: あそこへ行けば分かる。If you go there you'll know.


By simply using the te-form and the 「も」 particle, you are essentially saying, "even if you do X..."

全部食べてもいいよ。 You can go ahead and eat it all. (lit: Even if you eat it all, it's good, you know.)

雨が 降って も ゴルフに いきます。 "I'll go to play golf even if it rains."

先生でも、まちがえます。 "Even the teacher makes mistakes."


Used to refer to conditional (if) dependence. If we say A ~たら B, that means B is valid, contingent to fulfillment of A.



I will buy a kimono if (and when) I go to Japan.

The initial た in ~たら comes from the short form past tense ending of predicates



If the weather is good, we will go for a walk.



If the person is Japanese, they will probably know this word。


It means something doesn't have to be done. (It's fine not to do it.)

  • Example: 君は今日学校へ行かなくてもいい。You don't have to go to school today.
  • Example: これを運ばなくてもいい。This doesn't have to be transported.


It means that something seems to be (difficult/deep/etc.).

  • Example: この本は難しいみたい。This book seems to be difficult.
  • Example: あの湖は深いみたい。That lake seems to be deep.


It means to end up doing something.

  • Example: 私はけっきょく学校へ行ってしまう。After all I'll end up going to school.
  • Example: 彼はたぶんあのケーキを食べてしまう。He'll probably end up eating that cake.

Dictionary form+と[edit]

Typically used for an "if A then B" situation. Usually used when the situation can not be controlled.

もし あなたがこのケーキを食べると 私は怒るだろう!

もし あなたがこのケーキをたべると わたしはおこるだろう!

If you eat this cake, I will be angry!


This form shows that two actions are happening at once, such as "the boy eats cake while he drinks coffee." This form is used with the verb stem of a verb, and simply appended to the end. The emphasis is stronger on the second verb in the series. The second verb in the series is also the verb which determines the tense.

  • 男の子はケーキを食べながらコーヒーを飲んだ。The boy drank coffee while he ate cake (note: here the emphasis is on the fact that he was drinking coffee; the fact that he was eating cake wasn't the topic of interest.)


This means wish I’d done or should have done. All verbs can regularly be turned into a ばよかった sentence with no exception or irregularity. You form the ば-form based on the present tense short form.



I should have studied when I was a student.



I should have taken medicine.


The meaning is 'Thank you for doing'

「手伝ってくれてありがとう」「どういたしまして」 "Thank you for your help." "It's my pleasure."

「手伝ってくれてありがとう」「どう致しまして」 "Thank you for helping me." "Don't mention it."

いろいろ親切にしてくれてありがとう。 Thank you for your many kindness to me.

ご親切に手伝ってくれてありがとう。 It is kind of you to help me.


〜てよかった is used to express your gratitude for something you were able to do.

駅で久しぶりに友達と会えてよかった。 えきでひさしぶりにともだちとあえてよかった。 I'm glad I could meet my friend at the station after a long time.

ジェットコースターに乗れてよかった。 ジェットコースターにのれてよかった。 It was good to ride the roller coaster.

電車に間に合ってよかった。 でんしゃにまにあってよかった。 I'm glad I was on time for the train.


It means something like "should be".

  • Example: それは これまでに 終わったはずです。 It should have ended until now.
  • Example: あのペンは つくえの上に あるはずです。 That pen should be on the desk.


It means "don't do (something)". It might also be connected with "ください" to make it more polite.

  • Example: このケーキを食べないで。 Don't eat this cake.
  • Example: この部屋からしばらく出て行かないで。 Don't go out of this room for a while.
  • Example: その本をすてないでください。 Please don't throw away that book.


When it's a yes/no question, you can append an optional 「どうか」 to represent the other choice.

田中さんは、明日来るかどうか、分かりますか。 Do (you) know whether Tanaka-san is coming tomorrow or not?



Meaning: called, such as, that. クレヨンしんちゃんという漫画は面白いですよ。 kureyon shin chan to iu manga wa omoshiroi desu yo. Crayon Shinchan-called-manga-(topic particle)-interesting-is-(emphatic) A manga called Crayon Shinchan is really interesting.

Notes: The speaker assumes the listener hasn't heard of Crayon Shinchan.


When used after the [stem], this indicates that an action is easy. As an い adjective, [conjugates as an い adjective].

  • 水は飲みやすいです。 Drinking water is easy.
  • その料理は食べやすくなかったです。 Eating the food was not easy.


If used with after a verb in the infinitive, it means that the verb is hard to do. Basically the opposite of yasui.

この字は読みにくい This hand-writing is hard to read.



Verb (nai stem) + れる・られる

(Grp I)  ~れる  話す → 話さ.れる (be told)  聞く → 聞かれる (be heard)

(Grp II)  ~られる  食べる → 食べ.られる (be eaten)  立てる → 立て.られる (be built)

(irreg)  来る → 来られる  する → される Compare the passive and active examples below

(active)  子供が水を飲みました。  The child drank the water (passive)  水が子供に飲まれました。  the water was drunk by the child

話す  話される was spoken 聞く  聞かれる was listened/heard 泳ぐ  泳がれる was swum 待つ  待たれる was carried 死ぬ  死なれる was killed 会う  会われる was met 作る  作られる was made 呼ぶ  呼ばれる was called


Usually, this expression is used to explain that something is in a state of completion.

B:準備は、もうしてあるよ。 B: The preparations are already done.

この部屋は冷房してある。 This room is air-conditioned.



お風呂に入っている間に電話がありました。 There was a phone call while I was taking a bath.

ゆうべ、寝ている間に地震がありました。 There was an earthquake while I was asleep last night.

~く/ ~にする[edit]

This displays the changing of the state or condition of something. The change is done by the subject. 看板娘にする (make someone into a Poster Girl) きれいにする (to make pretty, clean) よくする (to make better)

クラスの何人かがいつも私を馬鹿にする。 Some of my classmate always make a fool of me.


(私は)父に たばこを やめてほしいです。 I want my father to stop smoking.

(私は)母に おいしいおかしを作ってほしいです。 I want my mother to make sweets.


It means something like "even though/albeit/despite".

  • Example: 私は宿題を終えたのにまだねられない。Even though I've finished my homework I can't go to sleep yet.
  • Example: このケーキはまずいのに高い。This cake is expensive despite being unappetizing.
  • Example: 彼女はきれいなのにモテない。Despite being beautiful she's not popular.


This pattern acts as an adjective for describing nouns.

ある意味で、スージーは私のお母さんのようなものだ. In a way, Susie seems like my mother.

あなたは天使のような子だ。 You are an angel of a child.


To be like, or similar to.

①ピカピカの太陽のように shining like the sun.

②ほら!見て見て!あの人は豚のようにたべている。Hey! Look look! That guy is eating like a pig.

③彼は子供のようにしゃべている。He is talking like a child.

あなたのように英語が話せたらいいなあ。 I wish I could speak English like you.

あなたのように上手になりたい。 I want to be as good as you.


Before we start: かく 1. かく -> かか 2. かか -> かかせられる (is made to write)

Before we start: たべる 1. たべる -> たべ 2. たべ -> たべさせられる (is made to eat)

する (to do) is changed to させられる. くる (to come) is changed to こさせられる.

*母に勉強(を)させられる =I am forced to study by my mother.


It means to decide something (similar to 決める).

  • Example: 彼は勉強することにする。He's deciding to study.
  • Example: 私は今コンビニへ行くことにした。I've decided that I'll now go to the convenience store.

The list of grammar terms was compiled by Jonathan Waller, [1].