Learn With Nippon Hippo


Japanese Learning(N5) | 5 Minutes Read
Written by : Nippon Hippo & Vince
14 August 2021

Ever wonder how to say “I am ____.” or “He is ___.” in Japanese? Well, if you are already learning Japanese, then you would know that there are actually many ways to do it depending on the people you're talking to or the situations you are in at that moment.

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In this blog post, we are going to share with you what は and です are.

は and です are the first grammar you will learn in most Japanese language classes after you learn Hiragana & Katakana. It is very commonly used in many situations and is the easiest way to say “I am”, “He is”, “She is”, “We are” in Japanese. We can also use は and ですto ask questions such as “Are you ____?” and “Is he/she ____?”(We will discuss it in another blog post.)

What is は?

Before we go more in-depth explaining the sentence structure, the meaning of は and ですhere’s an example of how we use は and です.

私(わたし)は ヴィンセント です。
I am Vincent.

You might think は means “am / is / are”. However that is not the case. は is a copula (a connecting word, in particular a form of the verb be connecting a subject and complement). There isn’t any English translation for は. It is used for connecting nouns and nouns or nouns and adjectives.

Other than that, は is also a Topic Marker (or Topic Marking Particle). は is usually used after a noun or a group of nouns to make the nouns as the main topic of the sentence. Let’s look at the example again.

***Quick Tip : When we use は as a topic marker, it is read as "wa" instead of "ha".

 ヴィンセント です。
I am Vincent.

In this example, ( わたし, Meaning : I / Me) is the main topic of the sentence. Let’s look at another example just to make sure you are clear with what is a Topic Marker.

 ハンサムな人 です。
He is handsome.

In this example, ( かれ, Meaning : He) is the main topic of the sentence.

What is です?

If は is not “am / is / are”, is です “am / is / are”? The answer is yes. です means “am / is / are”. If you are a beginner learner, you might feel confused now, thinking why is it so different compared to English. Let’s look at the example again.

If we were to translate to English follow exactly Japanese, it will be:

私は ヴィンセント です
I Vincent am.

彼は ハンサムな人 です
He handsome am.

How to use は and です?

Now you know what は and です are. You might be wondering how we use it? Below is the sentence structure(or grammar rules).

A B です。

ヴィンセント です

 ハンサムな人 です

X ヴィンセント です。(Must have a noun in front.)

X  ハンサムな人 です。(Need to have particles in between nouns and adjectives.)

X ヴィンセント。(Incomplete sentence)

More は and です Examples

Noun and Noun

私は ヴィンセント です。
I am Vincent.

ミラさんと松本さんは 友達 です。
Mira and Matsumoto are friends.

Noun and Adjective

彼は ハンサムな人 です。
He is handsome.

このラーメンは おいしい です。
This ramen is delicious.