Sentence Modifiers

Besides simple verb (and adjective) forms, there are many different ways to end a sentence, each of which affects the meaning. Most of these come after the short form of the sentence. This means the simple short form for verbs, adjectives, and nouns.

This gets its own section since it doesn't really fit under verb or adjective conjugation. Entries are sorted by the Japanese dictionary order of the variant listed first (where multiple versions exist), which I've tried to make the most "proper" version.

Certain particles can also come at the end of a sentence and affect the meaning somewhat, but they already have their own section, and are explained there.

Also see the verb page and adjective page for endings that are conjugations or that otherwise specifically apply to verbs or adjectives.

が良い (ga ii, ga yoi)

Should do:

Follow a short form verb with が良い (ga ii or ga yoi) to advise that the listener take this action. Depending on speaker and context, this can be any of giving advice, making imperious demands or outright threats, or speaking as though laying a curse. Regardless, this is an archaic usage that rarely appears outside of fiction, and is always directed at the listener.

There are several similar modern phrases. ~ばいい (-ba ii), using the provisional form, has much the same meaning, but it's not as well suited to making threats or curses. On the other hand, it can be self-directed, unlike [verb]が良い. 方がいい (hou ga ii) is another related form, but more indirect, which tends to make it more polite.

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かな (ka na) and かしら (kashira)

I wonder:

These give sort of a "thinking out loud" impression. Add かな (ka na) to the end of a sentence in short form, dropping だ (da) after -na adjectives and nouns. Women may use the more feminine かしら (kashira), which also seems to sound more cultured. かしら may additionally be followed by the ね (ne) particle, which かな may not.

This sort of wondering often coincides with situations that call for the のです (no desu) sentence ending. The combinations come out as のかな (no ka na) and のかしら (no kashira).

The ends of such sentences trail off fairly often. This is usually indicated in writing with an ellipsis (…), though かな is often has the vowel sound elongated as かなあ or something similar. It doesn't affect the meaning, just the pronounciation.

Indirect questions:

Indirect questions can be phrased as wondering about something.

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かも知れない (ka mo shirenai)


When uncertain, you can always say maybe. Add かも知れません (ka mo shiremasen) or かも知れない (ka mo shirenai) to the short form, dropping だ (da) after -na adjectives and nouns. The literal meaning approximates to "can't know whether".

In casual usage, かも知れない may be shortened to simply かも (ka mo).

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事がある (koto ga aru)

Have done:

To describe something you or someone else has (or hasn't) done, add 事がある (koto ga aru) to a short past affirmative verb and conjugate ある (aru) appropriately. As often happens, the subject particle が (ga) may replaced with は (wa) or も (mo) when appropriate, or simply dropped in casual speech.

If it helps to analyze what's going on here, 事 (koto) is an abstract generic noun (similar to "concept" or "event"), so [event] + 事 becomes an occurance of the event. The ある is then just saying that such an occurance exists (or doesn't). To be painfully literal, the first example sentence equates to, "An event exists in which I went to Japan."

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事にする (koto ni suru)

Decide to do:

Add 事にする (koto ni suru) to an action to refer to deciding on the action. する (suru) in this case often appears in past tense to refer to a decision already made.

Using the progressive form refers to something that, rather than a one-time decision, is an ongoing determination that acts as a regular practice. In other words, a past decision that continues to affect the present.

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事になる (koto ni naru)

Is decided:

Add 事になる (koto ni naru) to an action to mean that the action is decided on by outside forces, or that a situation comes to a resulting state. This is related to 事にする (koto ni suru), except that instead of you choosing this outcome, it just sort of happens.

Using the progressive form refers to something decided or established that continues to affect the present, usually by law, custom, or tradition. This can also be taken as a "that's just how it is" meaning.

You can also drop everything after こと (koto) for much the same effect, but with more of an impersonal authoritative tone.

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そうです (sou desu) and って (tte)

Or so I've heard:

To report something that you've heard, add そう (sou) to the short form. You can use って (tte) instead in casual speech. If the sentence ends in a noun or -na adjective, put だ (da) between it and そう.

To optionally give the source, you can use によると (ni yoru to) or によれば (ni yoreba), which mean "according to". In casual speech, it's good enough to just mention the source and pause briefly.

This そう is not the same as the ~そう (-sou) adjective ending (which means something seems to have that trait), or the ~そう (-sou) verb ending (which means something seems about to happen any minute). You can tell the three apart because they are formed differently—the adjective ending leaves out the だ for -na adjectives and drops the final い (i) for -i adjectives, while the verb ending attaches to the verb stem rather than a short form.

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っけ (kke)

Slipped my mind:

Add っけ (kke) to the end of a question when you ought to know the answer, but just can't quite remember it right now.

This is also used at the end of statements when reminiscing, as when something is called to mind after being out of mind for a while.

Note that the sentence is usually, if not always, in past tense.

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つもり (tsumori)

Plans and intentions:

To describe plans or intentions, add つもり (tsumori) to the short nonpast form of a verb. The result then conjugates as a -na adjective. To indicate plans not to do something, just use the short nonpast negative instead of the affirmative. Use the past forms of the copula after つもり to indicate past intentions.

つもり is normally used only in affirmative forms (plans to not do negate the verb, as explained above), but can be negated in some situations. Most often this is in an apologetic sense, to explain that the outcome was not the intent.

I'm fairly certain that using つもりがない (tsumori ga nai) instead indicates a simple lack of intent, rather than planning not to do something as when using つもり after a negative verb, or intending something different as when using つもりじゃない (tsumori ja nai). For comparison:

Concepts and beliefs:

There's also a subtly different usage, one unintuitive from an English standpoint, found in such phrases as 分かっているつもり (wakatte iru tsumori) and 死んだつもりで働く (shinda tsumori de hataraku). Here, it's not so much a plan as a state of mind. When you say 分かっているつもり, the concept is that you think you understand or have the impression that you do, whether or not this is actually true. Somewhat similarly, 死んだつもりで働く isn't about actually intending to wind up dead, but about working so hard that you feel like it's killing you. I'd say the key point here is that any time there's a つもり, the phrase expresses what you're thinking about it, rather than necessarily having anything to do with objective reality. Some examples should help, including one where both senses overlap:

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でしょう (deshou) and だろう (darou)

Tentative form:

でしょう (deshou), sometimes shortened to でしょ (desho) when the situation's not too formal, and だろう (darou), similarly shortened to だろ (daro) at times, are the tentative forms of the copula. There's also a literary form, であろう (de arou). Ending a sentence with one is used to indicate uncertainty, as when making a guess or prediction.

This ending follows the short form, replacing だ (da) after -na adjectives and nouns.

Archaic tentatives:

The volitional / hortative conjugation of verbs used to function as a tentative as well, but this has fallen out of use in the modern language. The negative tentative, じゃあるまい (ja arumai) or ではあるまい (de wa arumai), is similarly very rare. Negatives are now formed by simply negating the sentence before でしょう or だろう, as demonstrated above.

Similarly, it's also possible to form a negative tentative by simply adding ~まい (-mai) to the short nonpast affirmative form of a verb. However, this form is rare in the modern language, and is more often a negative volitional even when it does occur.

In questions:

Yes/no questions may end in a tentative. This most often occurs when the person speaking expects a positive answer, but wants confirmation. Using a tentative where not necessary may also may a question more polite.

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といいね (to ii ne) and といいんだが (to ii n da ga)

I hope that:

These endings say that you hope something nice happens. Use といいですね (to ii desu ne) or といいね (to ii ne) when hoping that something nice will happen to someone else. Use the more reserved といいんですが (to ii n desu ga), といいんですけど (to ii n desu kedo), といいんだが (to ii n da ga), or といいんだけど (to ii n da kedo) instead when hoping something nice happens to you, presumably to avoid sounding overly eager.

Adjectives are often, but not always, verbed when used like this.

This form is used when the situation is out of your control, not when you can decide the outcome. However, you can often use it when you hope to do something by saying that you hope to be able to do it, or that you hope to succeed.

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ところ (tokoro)

Though ところ (tokoro) often means a place, it can also refer to a situation or point in time, and this more abstract meaning is the one explained here. The kanji, 所, rarely appears when ところ is used in this sense.

Just about to do:

When following a short form nonpast affirmative verb or volitional form verb + としている (to shite iru), ところ refers to the time shortly before the action, meaning that the action is soon to happen. Be careful of the "place" meaning of ところ, though, since it can follow a nonpast affirmative just as easily, but doesn't mean the same thing.

The particle ばかり (bakari) can also be used to mean the same thing, but using ところseems to be considerably more common in modern Japanese.

Just as soon as:

When following a short form past affirmative verb, ところ refers to the time shortly after the action. Note that both this time and the action may both be in the future, despite the use of past tense. As before, be careful of the "place" meaning of ところ, since it can follow a past affirmative just as easily, but doesn't mean the same thing.

Adding ばかり (bakari) to a past action has a similar meaning, but it's not quite the same. I think using ばかり makes the action itself more central to the meaning, while with ところ it's more of a description of the circumstances.

In this situation:

ところ at the end of a phrase can refer to the situation in which that is the case. No specific conjugation is required, and the phrase can end in an adjective, not just a verb. Since ところ is a noun, follow -na adjectives with な (na). Once again, be careful of the "place" meaning of ところ.

The two previous sections are arguably simply special cases of this meaning (the situation in which the action will soon occur and the one in which it has just occurred).

どころじゃない (dokoro ja nai)

Not the time for that:

Xどころじゃない (X dokoro ja nai) means that X is absolutely out of the question given the situation. Maybe there's just no time for it, maybe the mood is entirely wrong, but regardless, it's simply not feasible to consider it at the moment.

どころじゃない comes directly after nouns, verbs and adjectives. It can also be used to connect two phrases when in the adverbial form どころじゃなく (dokoro ja naku) or linking form どころじゃなくて (dokoro ja nakute).

With a marginally related meaning, もんか (mon ka) similarly refuses to do something, but in the sense of objecting to the action itself, rather than declining because it's not feasible given the current situation.

Not even close:

どころじゃない may also be a sentence-ending variant of どころか (dokoro ka), which indicates that this isn't even close to expressing the reality of the situation.

As with the other meaning, どころじゃなくて (dokoro ja nakute) can be used to link two phrases.

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とする (to suru)

Making an assumption:

Xとする (X to suru) means to assume that X is true. する (suru) conjugates as usual, and often appears in conditional form or provisional form, or followed by the と (to) particle, to give an if/then meaning.

When used in a phrase like Xはいいとして (X wa ii to shite), it indicates putting the matter of X to the side for now to move on to something else.

See also にしても (ni shite mo), which is largely equivalent to としても.

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とは限らない (to wa kagiranai)

Not necessarily:

Xとは限らない (X to wa kagiranai) means that X is not necessarily true or is not the only option possible.

Also refer to the related からと言って (kara to itte), which roughly translates to "just because ... doesn't mean that ...". These two phrases are found together relatively often.

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のです (no desu), んです (n desu), のだ (no da), んだ (n da), の (no)

Explanatory mode:

It's very common, and not too difficult to understand and use, but that doesn't mean it's not a pain to explain. In short, sticking this onto a statement adds an extra dimension to it by indicating that something else is being implied by context, often something that is a result of what is actually being said. When used with questions, it adds a similar implication and an implied request for explanation and clarification. It can be difficult to know when to use it, but its presence basically amounts to letting the listener know they ought to be reading between the lines.

On the other hand, some characters habitually overuse this as a quirk of their speaking style to the point that it ceases to have any real meaning at all. In this case, you can safely ignore it.

This ending attaches to the short form of a sentence, but follow -na adjectives and nouns with な (na) instead of だ (da).

のです (no desu) is sometimes used rather than んです (n desu), especially in writing, and のだ (no da) also appears infrequently in place of んだ (n da). Questions in casual speech often use の (no) instead of んだ (n da). Statements may also end with の rather than んだ, but only in feminine language.

Negative forms of the copula may also occur, but in the "positive negative" sense described under that entry, and do not actually negate the sentence.

In tentative sentences:

From time to time, you'll see んでしょう (n deshou), のでしょう (no deshou), んだろう (n darou), or のだろう (no darou). These are the same thing, but since they end in the tentative form of the copula, the sentence is tentative. Think of a big "probably" or "maybe" being stuck on the whole thing. Ending a question with one of these makes the question more indirect, or perhaps gives it a sense of idle musing or being at a total loss.

You can also get a similar effect by using negative forms of the copula instead of the tentative forms, such as んじゃない (n ja nai). Using んじゃない on a question seems to imply that the situation appears to disagree with what the assumed truth is, while んだろう has no such implication. That may not be the best way to explain it, but hopefully some examples will help:

As directives:

This form can also be used as an imperative (command). Negate the copula to form negative (don't do this) commands:

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ばかり (bakari)

Just did:

To say that an action has just happened, follow a short past affirmative verb with ばかり (bakari). It might be gramatically possible to use the negative past, but I can't think of any situation in which that would make any sense.

Adding ところ (tokoro) to a past action has a similar meaning, but it's not quite the same. I think using ばかり makes the action itself more central to the meaning, while with ところ it's more of a description of the circumstances.

Not to be confused with:

The particle ばかり (bakari) follows nouns, -te form verbs, and so on, and gives an impression of something being overwhelmingly common, frequent, etc.

The longer ばかりでなく (bakari de naku) and ばかりか (bakari ka) are variants on the particle and translate to "not just... but also"

There are two different meanings for the phrase ばかりに (bakari ni). One is roughly "just because" and, like ばかり here, usually comes after a short past affirmative verb. The other roughly means "as if to do" and usually appears in phrases such as 言わんばかりに (iwan bakari ni).

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はず (hazu)


はず, sometimes written in kanji as 筈, indicates that you have every reason to believe something is true, but lack concrete proof. This is equivalent to "should" as commonly used when describing something from memory ("there should be a green button on the side").

はず does NOT equate to "should" as used when giving advice ("you should eat more vegetables") or citing customs or other social expectations ("you shouldn't talk with food in your mouth"). For those, try 方がいい (hou ga ii) or ~ばいい (-ba ii) for milder suggestions, or べき (beki), 事になっている (koto ni natte iru), or a "must do" construct to be more imperative.

はず is a noun, and so attaches directly to verbs and -i adjectives, while nouns must use の (no) and -na adjectives must use な (na).

Looking at the first example, it's important to note that this does not mean that it's a good idea for the store to be open, or that the store has some obligation to be open, just that you expect it to be and have no reason to believe otherwise.

In past tense:

Tense can get confusing, because the past tense can come both before and after はず, with different meanings depending on which one it is. If the past tense comes before はず, it's part of the sentence being modified, which means that the sentence is in past tense (and you have every reason to believe that it has happened, but no proof).

On the other hand, if the past tense comes after はず, that means that though it was supposed to be the case, more recent information shows otherwise. This information is often given as part of the sentence.

In the negative:

はず sentences can also be negated. Since はず is a noun, follow it with the subject particle が (ga) or the topic particle は (wa) before adding a negative form of the existence verb ある (aru) to the end. There doesn't seem to be any particular reason to use either one over the other, but this may be related to the spontaneous appearance of は in negative sentences (refer to the particle). Regardless, since using はず means you have no reason to believe otherwise, はずはない indicates that you have every reason to believe otherwise.

The second use of はず demonstrated above doesn't really have a good English equivalent. In a situation where a Japanese speaker would say that, an English speaker would probably say something similar to "That can't be right!" instead.

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べき (beki), べし (beshi), べく (beku), べからず (bekarazu)

Ought to do:

Where はず (hazu) equates to "should" in the sense of expecting something to be true, べき equates to "should" in the sense of having some social or moral obligation to be that way.

べき follows short-form verbs. A phrase ending in べき can also modify a noun, since べき itself is an adjective, the classical Japanese equivalent of modern -i adjectives. However, べき is nearly always followed by at least だ (da) at the end of a sentence, even when the copula would normally be omitted. Finally, すべき (subeki) often appears instead of するべき (suru beki), retaning an archaic conjugation.

For those interested, classical Japanese distinguished between the sentence-final form and the pre-noun form for verbs and adjectives. べき is the pre-noun form, which is presumably why there's such reluctance to put べき at the end of a sentence without at least a だ. The corresponding sentence-final form is べし (beshi), but it appears only very rarely in modern Japanese.

For the negative equivalent, any of the more modern べきじゃない (beki ja nai) and the more archaic sentence-final べからず (bekarazu) and pre-noun べからざる (bekarazaru) may appear.


Yet another variant is the connective form べく (beku). Though it can be used with the above meaning, it's more often used in a different sense of the base adjective べし, one that indicates the possibility of an action rather than the need for it. A phrase in the form XべくY means that Y is required in order for X to be possible. The other forms of べし may also be used to mean that something is possible, but appear only extremely rarely in modern Japanese, though this usage isn't particularly common, either.

It may help to think of this as Y in order to X, even though it's a bit more complicated than that, probably more like Y because of intending X. Alternately, you could consider X as being a need (in a looser sense than being mandatory) that Y helps to fulfill.

As with すべき (subeki), すべく (subeku) has a good chance of appearing rather than するべく (suru beku).

Note that, at least in some cases, this can still be safely interpreted in the first sense. Bannan, Egdar, and Tina flee to Narshe through the rapids in order to be able to escape the Empire, but escaping is also, in a sense, a duty they have.

More modern conversational language, at least, generally prefers to use different grammar with similar meanings, such as a volitional form verb + として (to shite):