N5 Grammar – もう (mou) and まだ (mada)

Welcome everyone, this is Mac with another N5 Grammar Lesson from JLPT Boot Camp. Last episode, we learned about how to express our wants and to make invitations. Today, we are going to learn how to talk about changes in states using もう and まだ. We are going to look at a few, very short exchanges. Let’s give it a try.

Conversation 1 (0:24)

Yu and Matt are deciding where to eat.

Yu:    たこやきは べたの。
            Takoyakiwa    tabetano.
           Did you eat takoyaki (before)?

Matt: もう食べたよ。おいしかった。
             Moutabetayo.  Oishikatta.
             (I) already ate it. (It) was delicious?

Breaking that down, Yu says たこやき, takoyaki or octopus balls, は, the topic marking particle, 食べた, the past casual form of 食べる, to eat, and finally の, the casual question marker. All together, she is asking “Did you eat takoyaki?”.

Matt responds with もう, already, 食べた, the past casual form of 食べる, to eat, and よ, a particle used for emphasis. Then おいしかった, casual past form of おいしい, delicious. All together, he is saying “(I) already ate it. (It) was delicious”.

Matt used もう to talk about the change in state. At one time, he hadn’t eaten takoyaki, but now he has. So the state has change from not being eaten to being eaten. To show that change in state, we can use もう. This can also sometimes be translated as ‘already’ in an affirmative sentence.

Let’s give it a try. Can you ask “Has the train already left?” in polite Japanese?

電車でんしゃは もうましたか
Tanakasanwa okonomiyakiwo tabetaidesuka.
Has the train already left?

Right! もう marks the change from not leaving (i.e. being at the station) to having left.

There is also another meaning for もう. It can also mean ‘again’ or ‘more’ like in the following sentence.

もうひとつ ください。
Mouhitotsu  kudasai.
One more please.

You can order a glass of the drink you are having this way.

もういっぱい ください。
Mouippai             kudasai.
One more cupful please.

Conversation 2 (2:38)

Let’s go back to Matt and Yu who are still talking about food. Again, it’s casual.

Yu:    なっとうは。もうべたの。
               Nattouwa. Moutabetano.
              How about natto? Did you eat (it) already?

Matt:   ええ。でも、なっとうは もう食べない。
               Ee. Demo, nattouwa moutabenai.
              Yes, but (I) don’t eat it anymore.

Yu:    なぜ。

Matt:   くさいから。
              Because it smells bad.

Breaking that down, なっとう, natto or fermented soy beans, は, the topic marking particle. Next sentence, もう, already, 食べた, ate, and then の, the casual question marker. All together, she is saying “How about natto? Did you eat (it) already?”.

Matt responds ええ, yes. Next sentence, でも, but, なっとう, natto, は, the topic marking particle, もう, anymore, 食べない, the negative non-past casual form of 食べる, to eat. All together, he is saying “yes, but (I) don’t eat it anymore”.

Yu asks なぜ, why?

Matt responds with くさい, smelly, and finally から, used to give a reason for something.

Matt is using もう in a slightly different way. When we use it with a negative form, it takes on the meaning of ‘anymore’. It goes back to what I was saying earlier. もう marks a change in state. In this case, the state is changing from eating natto to not eating natto. This is a case where trying to translate this to English is going to hurt you. You could remember the difference between negative and affirmative sentences, but it’s just easier to think of this as marking a change.

Let’s give it a try. How can you say “I’m not busy anymore.” in polite Japanese?

Hint: “busy” in Japanese is いそがしい.

I’m not busy anymore.

For bonus points, can you say “Mr. Tanaka isn’t busy anymore.” in polite Japanese?

田中たなかさんは もういそがしくないです。
Tanakasanwa mouisogashikunaidesu.
Mr. Tanaka isn’t busy anymore.

Excellent work! This is quite simple once you get used to the pattern. To add Mr. Tanaka to the sentence, we just have to put it at the front and mark it with the は particle..

Conversation 3 (5:25)

Yu is still asking Matt about his eating experiences. Again, this is casual.

Yu:   ふぐは べたの。
                    Fuguwa  tabetano.
                   Did you eat fugu?

Matt:         いいえ、ふぐは まだ食べていない。あぶないでしょう。
                     Iie,          fuguwa    madatabeteinai.        Abunaideshou.
                    No, (I) haven’t eaten fugu. (It)’s dangerous, right?

Yu:   いえいえ。おいしいよ。食べましょう。
                    Ieie.              Oishiiyo.        Tabemashou.
                   No no. (It)’s delicious. Let’s eat (some).

Breaking that down, ふぐ, fugu or blowfish, は, the topic marking particle, 食べた, the past casual form of 食べる, to eat, and finally の, the casual question marking particle. All together, she is asking “did you eat blowfish?”

Matt responds with いいえ, no, ふぐ, fugu or blowfish, は, the topic marking particle, まだ, yet, and finally 食べていない, haven’t eaten. Next sentence, あぶない, dangerous, and でしょう, right? So all together, he is saying “no, (I) haven’t eaten fugu yet. (It) is dangerous, right?”

Yu responds with いえいえ, no no. Next sentence, おいしい, delicious, and then よ, a particle used to assure the listener. 食べましょう, let’s eat. So all together, she is saying “No. It’s delicious! Let’s eat!”

Matt was using まだ to emphasize the lack of a change in state, in other words, no change in state. In the past he didn’t eat fugu, and now he still doesn’t eat fugu. He hasn’t eaten fugu yet. This shows there is no change in state currently, but the state might change in the future, much like we use ‘yet’ in English when it is used with a negative form.

For example, “I haven’t been to Tokyo, yet.” implies that we have at least a small desire to go to Tokyo in the future.

When it is used with an affirmative form, like まっています, waiting, it takes on the meaning of ‘still’ in English. Again, we are emphasizing that the state has not changed. Some state is still true. For example, まだまっています means still waiting, as in I’m still waiting.

Now you give it a try. Can you say “Are you still living in Osaka?” in polite Japanese. “To live” in Japanese is すむ. And we will have to use the ている form here because we are talking about a state.

大阪おおさかに まだすんでいますか。
Are you still living in Osaka?

That’s right! In this sentence, we are using the polite form of ている, ています, to talk about the state of living in a place (e.g. Osaka).

You ready for a pop quiz? I’ll give you the English, can you translate it into Japanese?

Pop Quiz (8:37)

Can you tell me the following in Japanese?

(I) don’t see Mr.Tanaka anymore. 

Hint:  ‘To see’ in this situation is あう in Japanese.


田中たなかさんには もう 会いません。
Tanakasanniwa mou   aimasen.

For “(I) don’t see Mr.Tanaka anymore”, we would say “田中さんには もう会いません” in polite Japanese. Going over that quickly, 田中さん, Mr.Tanaka, に, which we need to use with 会う, は, the topic marking particle, もう, anymore, and finally 会いません, the non-past negative polite from of 会う, to meet. We need the に particle to mark the person we are meeting when we are using 会う. And, using は is necessary because you are making a contrast. You are basically saying “I’ve seen other people, but as for Mr.Tanaka, I haven’t seen him”.

(I) already did my homework.

Hint: ‘To do homework’ is しゅくだいをする in Japanese.


しゅくだいを もうしました。
Shukudaio         moushimashita.

For “(I) already did my homework”, we would say “しゅくだいを もうしました” in polite Japanese. Going over that quickly, しゅくだい, homework, を, the object marking particle, もう, already, and finally しました, the past polite form of する, to do.

He is still sleeping.

Hint: ‘To sleep’ is ねる in Japanese.


かれは まだ ねています。
Karewa   mada  neteimasu.

For “he is still sleeping”, we would say “かれは まだ ねていました” in polite Japanese. Going over that quickly, かれ, he, は, the topic marking particle, まだ, still, and finally ねています, the non-past ている form of ねる, to sleep.


Today, we went over how to use もう and まだ. When we use もう, we are emphasizing the fact that a change has taken place in a state. It can be translated as ‘already’ in an affirmative sentence, while in a negative sentence, it is translated as ‘(not) anymore’. It can also be used to mean ‘again’ or ‘~more’ as in ‘one more’.

Meanwhile まだ is used to talk about a state not changing. It can be translated as ‘still’ for affirmative sentences, and ‘yet’ for negative sentences. It is often used with the ている form, which expresses states.

That’s it for this episode. For notes and more practice with the grammar point, stop by the JLPT Boot Camp courses site. There you can find quizzes, study guides for this grammar point and every grammar point covered in the videos. You can also get all of your questions answered you might have. Just leave me a comment, and I’ll get back to you.

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