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In addition to the words for your immediate family, the N5 also includes the more basic vocabulary you need to refer to people, starting with how to refer to a man and a woman:
And you can talk about younger people by just adding
Note that you can sometimes abbreviate man and woman to just
To refer to people above your position, for example if you are in a customer service position, you can use
Are you Japanese?
Next person, please.
And to refer to the whole group of people, you can say みなさん:
Good morning everyone!
Picture of ticket machine
When buying train tickets or admission to a park, you will typically see two options:
Should I use あなた (anata)?
In some situations, あなた can sound a little informal or rude. When speaking to people your age or older, superiors, strangers that you have just meet, or anyone you want to show respect toward it is best to avoid using あなた.
Does this mean you will be dragged out into the street in summarily shot if you use it in the wrong situation? Well, no, most Japanese will understand that you are learning and will be understanding. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to use it and in fact it is often dropped unless needed for clarity.
Also, wives will commonly use it to refer to their husbands. It’s kind of a term of endearment like “honey” in English, at least as long as the tone is friendly and welcoming ;).
How to use
watashiwa jibunno ashiwo araimashita.
I washed my own feet. (lit. I washed self’s feet.)
tanakasanwa jibunno denwabangoo wasuremashita.
Mr.Tanaka forgot his own phone number. (lit. Mr.Tanaka forgot self’s phone number.)
It is very commonly combined with the で particle to mean that you did something by yourself:
じぶんで ばんごはんを つくりました。
jibunde bangohano tsukurimashita.
I made dinner by myself. (lit. [I] made dinner with self.)
Do it yourself please. (lit. [you] do it with self.)
What can be confusing is that in Kansai, じぶん can often be used in questions to refer to the listener:
jibun, dokokara kimashitaka.
Where did (you) come from? (lit. self, where did [you] come from?)
The speaker is, in fact, asking about you, not him or herself. This won’t come up on the test, but something to keep in mind.
People at School
A student at any kind of school is a
If you are studying abroad, the term is
watshiwa eigono senseidesu.
I am an English teacher.
Most people will understand what you are saying, but the best word to use is
外国人 (gaikokujin) vs. 外人 (gaijin)
You may have heard that the word ‘
However, you will hear this word used quite commonly in the Kansai area to refer to foreigners. Most people use it without really realizing the connotations. And of course, foreigners will use it among themselves to joke around. Generally speaking though, you should try your best to use
How to use 〜たち (tachi)
The suffix たち is used to make words plural. But wait a minute, Japanese doesn’t have plurals, does it? Ahh, but it does. However, it is only used in certain circumstances. Specifically, it is usually only used to make words referring to people or animals plural. Here are a few examples:
わたしたち – we
かのじょたち – they (group of women)
かれたち – they (group of men)
ねこたち – those cats
Some other useful vocabulary:
みなさん – everybody
おまわりさん – police officer
いしゃ – doctor
Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below. If you think you have these words mastered, go ahead and take the quiz.
JLPT N5 Resources
JEES has made the official JLPT N5 Workbook available for download free. The N5 workbook is pretty close to the same size as the real test and the questions are made up of questions from previous exams. Also it is free, so if you have the time, be sure to download it and give it a try.
A subscription to the JLPT Boot Camp Courses site includes a complete guide to studying and preparing for the JLPT as well as a complete grammar guide for N5. The grammar guide includes tips and common mistakes to look out for when taking the test. Each chapter includes a video explanation, clear grammar explanations, several example sentences, and JLPT-style questions. Sign up today and get started on the right path.
Ask Publishing is well-known for their books on the N5. This is a pretty straightforward vocabulary study book that covers all the essential vocabulary that you’ll need to learn in order to pass the test. I like how this book offers check boxes to help you chart your progress as well as clear sentences to help you understand every word.
Japanese Pod 101 has a 6 lesson last minute prep course for the test as well as additional practice tests. Also, their lessons are sorted by grammar points, so if you are having problems with a particular point, it is a great place to focus in on the one point that is giving you some trouble.