JLPT Guide/JLPT N4 Grammar

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Level N5 Level N4 Level N3 Level N2 Level N1

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.

~し[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 優しい(やさしい)、格好いい(かっこいい)、面白い(おもしろい)から。 Because he's kind, attractive and interesting (among other things).
  • Example: 駅(えき)から近い(ちかい)、車(くるま)でも来(こ)られる、この店(みせ)はとても便利(べんり)です。 Because it is near to the train station and can be reached by car, this shop is very convenient.
  • Example: 値段(ねだん)も安い(やすい)、味(あじ)もいい、いつもこの店(みせ)で食べ(たべ)ています。 Because the price is cheap and the taste is good, (I) always eat at this shop.
  • Example: すしもある、カレーライスもある、いつもこの店(みせ)で食べ(たべ)ています。 Because there are sushi and curry rice, (I) always eat at this shop.

そうです[edit | edit source]

It means "it seems like".

  • Example: 明日(あした)雪(ゆき)が降り(ふり)そうですTomorrow it looks like it will snow.
  • Example: 田中(たなか)さんは忙し(いそがし)そうですMr. Tanaka seems busy.
  • Example: この本(ほん)は高(たか)そうですThis book looks expensive.
  • Example: この椅子(いす)は丈夫(じょうぶ)そうですThis chair looks sturdy.

てみる[edit | edit source]

It means to try to do something.

  • Example: 彼(かれ)は彼女(かのじょ)と話し(はなし)てみるHe'll try to talk to her.
  • Example: 私(わたし)はあの本(ほん)を読ん(よん)でみるI'll try to read that book.

なら[edit | edit source]

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.

  • Example: 友達(ともだち)が来る(くる)なら、私(わたし)はピザを注文(ちゅうもん)する。 If our friends come, I will order pizza (first).

(period)に(frequency)[edit | edit source]

This is a particle used to link period and frequency.

  • Example: 一週(いっしゅ)間(かん)一回(いっかい)日本語(にほんご)を勉強し(べんきょうし)ます。 I study Japanese once a week.
  • Example: 一年(いちねん)間(かん)三回(さんかい)イタリアへ行か(いか)なければなりません。 I have to go to Italy 3 times a year.

~がほしい[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 私(わたし)はこの本(ほん)が欲しい(ほしい)I want this book.
  • Example: 私(わたし)はお菓子(おかし)が欲しい(ほしい)I want some sweets.

~がる[edit | edit source]

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.

  • Example: 家(うち)に帰っ(かえっ)たら、すぐパソコンを使い(つかい)たがるIt seems like (they) want to use the computer as soon as (they) get home.


~かもしれない[edit | edit source]

Use of かもしれない or かもしれません indicates possibility (maybe). It can also be shortened to かも informally, although in constructions like かもしれないけど, it cannot be shortened.

  • Example: 明日(あした)は雨(あめ)が降る(ふる)かもしれないIt may rain tomorrow (There is a possibility it may rain tomorrow).
  • Example: トムさんは子供(こども)のとき意地悪(いじわる)だったかもしれないTom may have been a bully when he was a kid.
  • Example: 難しい(むずかし)かもしれないけど、頑張り(がんばり)ます。 It might be difficult, but I'll do my best.

~たらどうですか[edit | edit source]

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.

  • Example: 薬(くすり)を飲ん(のん)だらどうですかHow about taking some medicine? (Said to someone who is ill)
  • Example: もっと勉強(べんきょう)したらどうですかWhy don’t you (how about you) study more? (Said to someone who has an exam coming up and is worried about it)

Number+も[edit | edit source]

It means "as many as".

  • Example: 昨日(きのう)、電話(でんわ)三(さん)回(かい)したよ! I called you like three times yesterday!

しかない[edit | edit source]

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

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

  • Example: 彼(かれ)にはお金(おかね)しかないHe has nothing but money.
  • Example: この部屋(へや)に美崎(みさき)しかないThere is nobody except Misaki in this room.

~ておく[edit | edit source]

It means to do something in advance.

  • Example: この分(ぶん)を覚え(おぼえ)ておくI'll memorize this part. (Because it may appear on a test.)
  • Example: お茶(おちゃ)を冷やし(ひやし)ておくI'll cool down the tea. (Because I don't want to burn myself.)

~よう[edit | edit source]

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(たべ)ようLet's eat this cake.
  • Example: あの映画(えいが)を見(み)ようLet's watch that movie.

~おう[edit | edit source]

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(あそ)ぼうLet's play over there.
  • Example: 帰(かえ)ろうLet's go home.

~てあげる[edit | edit source]

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(わたし)は山田(やまだ)さんに本(ほん)を買っ(かっ)てあげました。 I bought this book for Yamada-san.

~てくれる[edit | edit source]

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(やまだ)さんは私(わたし)に本(ほん)を買っ(かっ)てくれました。 Yamada-san bought this book for me.
  • Example: 私(わたし)は山田(やまだ)さんに本(ほん)を買っ(かっ)てもらいました。 I was bought this book byYamada-san.

Note the difference use of the particles は and に.

~てもらう[edit | edit source]

It means to get someone to do something.

  • Example: 彼(かれ)に宿題(しゅくだい)を見せ(みせ)てもらうI'll make him show his homework.
  • Example: 彼女(かのじょ)にこの服(ふく)を買っ(かっ)てもらうI'll make her buy these clothes.

~ていただけませんか[edit | edit source]

This is used when (1) requesting someone to (help) do something or (2) asking permission. This is a more polite way of asking for something than ~てください.

  • Example: 窓(まど)を開け(あけ)ていただけませんかCould you open the window?

~といいです[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 明日(あした)いい天気(てんき)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: 美味しい(おいしい)といいですね。 I hope it tastes good.

~てすみません[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 汚い(きたない)言葉(ことば)を使っ(つかっ)てすみませんでした。 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.

  • Example: もっと早く(はやく)言わ(いわ)なくて、ごめん。 Sorry I didn't tell you earlier.

~そうです[edit | edit source]

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(かれ)はケーキを食べ(たべ)そうですIt seems he eats cake.
  • Example: 彼女(かのじょ)は疲れていそうですShe looks tired.
  • Example: このラーメンは美味し(おいし)そうですThis ramen looks delicious.

~させる[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: この音(おと)が私(わたし)をいらいらさせるThis sound irritates me. (lit. This sound makes me get irritated.)
  • Example: 私(わたし)にこのケーキを食べ(たべ)させて下さい(ください)。 Please let me eat this cake.

~なさい[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 学校(がっこう)へ行き(いき)なさいGo to school!
  • Example: それを止め(やめ)なさいStop that!

~ば/~れば[edit | edit source]

It means "if (something happened)".

  • Example: この果物(くだもの)を食べ(たべ)ればすぐに元気(げんき)になる。 If you eat this fruit, you'll recover soon.
  • Example: 金(かね)があればあの車(くるま)を買う(かう)。 If I had money, I would buy that car.
  • Example: あそこへ行け(いけ)分かる(わかる)。 If you go there, you'll know.

~ても[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 全部(ぜんぶ)食べ(たべ)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.)
  • Example: 雨(あめ)が降っ(ふっ)てもゴルフに行き(いき)ます。 I'll go to play golf even if it rains.
  • Example: 先生(せんせい)でも、間違え(まちがえ)ます。 Even the teacher makes mistakes.

~たら[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 日本(にほん)に行っ(いっ)たら、着物(きもの)を買い(かい)ます。 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

  • Example: 天気(てんき)が良かっ(よかっ)たら、散歩(さんぽ)に行き(いき)ます。 If the weather is good, we will go for a walk.
  • Example: 日本(にほん)人(じん)だったら、この言葉(ことば)を知って(しって)いるでしょう。 If the person is Japanese, they will probably know this word.

~なくてもいい[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 君(きみ)は今日(きょう)学校(がっこう)へ行か(いか)なくてもいいYou don't have to go to school today.
  • Example: これを運ば(はこば)なくてもいいThis doesn't have to be transported.

~みたい[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: この本(ほん)は難しい(むずかしい)みたいThis book seems to be difficult.
  • Example: あの湖(みずうみ)は深い(ふかい)みたいThat lake seems to be deep.

~てしまう[edit | edit source]

It means to end up doing something.

  • Example: 私(わたし)はけっきょく学校(がっこう)へ行っ(いっ)てしまうAfter all I'll end up going to school.
  • Example: 彼(かれ)はたぶんあのケーキを食べ(たべ)てしまうHe'll probably end up eating that cake.

Dictionary form+と[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: もし貴方(あなた)がこのケーキを食べる(たべる)私(わたし)は怒る(おこる)だろう! If you eat this cake, I will be angry!

~ながら[edit | edit source]

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.

  • Example: 男の子(おとこのこ)はケーキを食べ(たべ)ながらコーヒーを飲ん(のん)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.)

~ばよかった[edit | edit source]

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.

  • Example: 学生(がくせい)のとき、勉強(べんきょう)すれば良かった(よかった)です。 I should have studied when I was a student.
  • Example: 薬(くすり)を飲め(のめ)ば良かった(よかった)です。 I should have taken medicine.

~てくれてありがとう[edit | edit source]

The meaning is 'Thank you for doing'

  • Example: 手伝っ(てつだっ)てくれてありがとうThank you for your help. どういたしまして。 It's my pleasure.
  • Example: 手伝っ(てつだっ)てくれてありがとうThank you for helping me. どう致(いた)しまして。 Don't mention it.
  • Example: いろいろ親切(しんせつ)にしてくれてありがとうThank you for your many kindness to me.
  • Example: ご親切(しんせつ)に手伝っ(てつだっ)てくれてありがとうIt is kind of you to help me.

~てよかった[edit | edit source]

This is used to express your gratitude for something you were able to do.

  • Example: 駅(えき)で久しぶり(ひさしぶり)に友達(ともだち)と会え(あえ)てよかったI'm glad I could meet my friend at the station after a long time.
  • Example: ジェットコースターに乗れ(のれ)てよかったIt was good to ride the roller coaster.
  • Example: 電車(でんしゃ)に間に(まに)合っ(あっ)てよかったI'm glad I was on time for the train.

~はずです[edit | edit source]

It means something like "should be".

  • Example: それはこれまでに終わった(をわった)はずですIt should have ended by now.
  • Example: あのペンは机(つくえ)の上(うえ)にあるはずですThat pen should be on the desk.

~ないで[edit | edit source]

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(たべ)ないでDon't eat this cake.
  • Example: この部屋(へや)からしばらく出て(でて)行か(いか)ないでDon't go out of this room for a while.
  • Example: その本(ほん)を捨て(すて)ないでください。 Please don't throw away that book.

~かどうか[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 田中(たなか)さんは、明日(あした)来る(くる)かどうか、分かり(わかり)ますか? Do (you) know whether Tanaka-san is coming tomorrow or not?


~という~[edit | edit source]

Meaning: called, such as, that.

  • Example: クレヨンしんちゃんという漫画(まんが)は面白い(おもしろい)ですよ。 A comic called Crayon Shinchan is really interesting.

~やすい[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 水(みず)は飲み(のみ)易い(やすい)です。 Drinking water is easy.
  • Example: その料理(りょうり)は食べ(たべ)易(やす)くなかったです。 Eating the food was not easy.

~にくい[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: この字(じ)は読み(よみ)にくいThis hand-writing is hard to read.

~られる[edit | edit source]

This is used to form passive verbs in passive sentences.

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(こども)が水(みず)を飲み(のみ)ました。 The child drank the water.
(passive)  水(みず)が子供(こども)に飲ま(のま)れました。 The water was drunk by the child.

話す  話される to be spoken
聞く  聞かれる to be heard/asked
泳ぐ  泳がれる to swim
待つ  待たれる to be carried
死ぬ  死なれる to lose someone (literally 'to be lost/dead')
会う  会われる to meet/to be met
作る  作られる to be made
呼ぶ  呼ばれる to be called

Note: There aren't passive voices for intransitive verbs in English, the above translations are close translations. Passive voice is often used for politeness.

~てある[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 準備(じゅんび)は、もうしてあるよ。 The preparations are already done.
  • Example: この部屋(へや)は冷房(れいぼう)してあるThis room is air-conditioned.


~ているあいだに,~[edit | edit source]

This means "while".

  • Example: お風呂(おふろ)に入っ(はいっ)ている間(あいだ)に、電話(でんわ)がありました。 There was a phone call while I was taking a bath.
  • Example: 夕べ(ゆうべ)、寝(ね)ている間(あいだ)に、地震(じしん)がありました。 There was an earthquake while I was asleep last night.

~く/ ~にする[edit | edit source]

This displays the changing of the state or condition of something. The change is done by the subject.

  • Example: 看板娘(かんばんむすめ)にする (make someone into a Poster Girl)
  • Example: きれいにする (to make pretty, clean)
  • Example: よくする (to make better)
  • Example: クラスの何人か(なんにんか)がいつも私(わたし)を馬鹿(ばか)にするSome of my classmate always make a fool of me.

~てほしい[edit | edit source]

It means "want to".

  • Example: [私(わたし)は]父(ちち)にたばこを止め(やめ)てほしいです。 I want my father to stop smoking.
  • Example: [私(わたし)は]母(はは)に美味しい(おいしい)お菓子(おかし)を作っ(つくっ)てほしいです。 I want my mother to make sweets.

のに[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 私(わたし)は宿題(しゅくだい)を終えた(おえた)のにまだ寝られ(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(たかい)。 This cake is expensive despite being unappetizing.
  • Example: 彼女(かのじょ)はきれいなのにモテない。 Despite being beautiful she's not popular.

~のような[edit | edit source]

This pattern acts as an adjective for describing nouns.

  • Example: ある意味(いみ)で、スージーは私(わたし)のお母(おかあ)さんのようなものだ。 In a way, Susie seems like my mother.
  • Example: 貴方(あなた)は天使(てんし)のような子(こ)だ。 You are an angel of a child.

~のように[edit | edit source]

To be like, or similar to.

  • Example: ピカピカの太陽(たいよう)のようにShining like the sun.
  • Example: ほら!見(み)て見(み)て!あの人(ひと)は豚(ぶた)のように食べて(たべて)いる。 Hey! Look look! That guy is eating like a pig.
  • Example: 彼(かれ)は子供(こども)のように喋(しゃべ)っている。 He is talking like a child.
  • Example: 貴方(あなた)のように英語(えいご)が話(はな)せたらいいなあ。 I wish I could speak English like you.
  • Example: 貴方(あなた)のように上手(じょうず)になりたい。 I want to be as good as you.

~させられる[edit | edit source]

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.

  • Example: 母(はは)に勉強(べんきょう)[を]させられるI am forced to study by my mother.

~ことにする[edit | edit source]

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

  • Example: 彼(かれ)は勉強(べんきょう)することにするHe's deciding to study.
  • Example: 私(わたし)は今(いま)コンビニへ行く(いく)ことにしたI've decided that I'll now go to the convenience store.