JLPT N5 Grammar (da / desu)


to be (am, is, are, were, used to)

How to use

だ (casual)
です (polite)
だった (casual)
でした (polite)

Learn Japanese grammar: (da) & (desu). Meaning: to be (am, is, are, were, used to).

Let’s look at some of the different ways this grammar can be used.

Present affirmative form –

Example A) です

watashi wa kurisu desu.

I am Chris.

This literally translates to “I Chris am”. Remember that Japanese uses SOV (subject-object-verb), rather than SVO like English. This may be strange at first, but it will become natural after some practice.

Example B) だ

watashi wa kurisu da.

I am Chris.

だ (da) and です (desu) have the exact same meaning, but です (desu) is more polite, so when in doubt it’s best to always use です (desu).

Example C) to be: am, is, are

watashi no namae wa kurisu desu.

My name is Chris.

だ (da) and です (desu) can mean am, is and are. There is no distinction like in English, so it works for everything. This is one of the easier points of Japanese grammar.

Example D) They are

karera wa san nensei desu.

They are 3rd year students.

(datta / deshita) – used to be (past)

learn japanese grammar だった datta でした deshita jlpt n5

When you want to say something “used to be” (was, were, used to, etc), you’ll want to use this conjugation. Once again, there is a casual form (datta), and the more polite (deshita).

Example E) Was

kinou wa totemo kireina hi datta.

Yesterday was a very beautiful day.

Example F) Used to

kodomo no toki, amai mono ga suki deshita.

When I was a child, I used to like sweets.

Extra Study Notes

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- Example Sentences

Each example sentence includes a Japanese hint, the romaji reading, and the English translation.

Click the below red button to toggle off and and on all of the hints, and you can click on the buttons individually to show only the ones you want to see.

Example #1

kyou wa atsui da ne.
It's pretty hot today, right?
Example #2

kare wa watashi no tomodachi desu.
He is my friend.
Example #3

nihon no bunka ga suki desu.
I like Japanese culture
Example #4

mukashi wa sakka ga shumi datta ga, ima wa yatteinai.
Soccer used to be my hobby, but I don't play anymore.

Vocabulary List

Kanji Kana English
私の わたしの my
名前 なまえ name
彼ら かれら they
年生 ねんせい academic year
昨日 きのう yesterday
とても very
綺麗な きれいな beautiful
子供 こども child
とき time
甘いもの あまいもの sweets
好き すき to like
日本の文化 にほんのぶんか Japanese culture
今日 きょう today
暑い あつい hot
むかし the past
趣味 しゅみ hobby
いま now
やっていない not doing

View all JLPT N5 Vocabulary Lessons

JLPT N5 vocabulary list

View all JLPT N5 Grammar Lessons

JLPT N5 grammar list

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