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JLPT N4 Grammar List

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

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)し、格好いい(かっこいい)し、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)し、車(くるま)でも来(こ)られるし、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)し、味(あじ)もいいし、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: すしもあるし、カレーライスもあるし、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

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

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

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)

This is a particle used to link period and frequency.

  • Example: 一週(いっしゅ)間(かん)に一回(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)に三回(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

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

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(かてっ)たら、すぐパソコンを使い(つかい)たがる。 (He) soon acts like wanting to use computer as soon as (he) gets home.

 

~かもしれない

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

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

It means “as many as”.

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

しかない

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 delivious.

~させる

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

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

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)ば分かる(わかる)。 If you go there, you’ll know.

~ても

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

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(かいもの)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

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

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

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

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)と私(わたし)は怒る(おこる)だろう! If you eat this cake, I will be angry!

~ながら

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

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

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

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

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 until 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

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

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~

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

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

If used with after a verb in the infinitive, 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

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 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

~てある

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,~

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

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

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

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

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

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)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

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

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.

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