Please help me understand tense

Jace *\(^o^)/*
Asked 7 years ago


What is their significance, and how do I know which tense to use, and why?


Know someone who might be able to answer this question?

2 Answers


Hi Jace-san!

I'd love to help you, but it looks like you're reading a big grammar book;

I would say that you need to learn a foreign language step by step.  It is impossible for me to explain all the grammar terms you mentioned here.  To know which tense to use, you need to learn which expression is used in which situation.  For example, "potential."  There are several ways to express "potential," but I would teach the following expression to beginners.


For example,

あめがふるかもしれません。 It is possible that it will rain.

It can be translated as "it is possible ~." To use this expression, you need to know the plain form of verbs since ~かもしれない requires a plain verb before it.  Also, you need to know how to conjugate the ichidan verb しれる.

I would recommend NOT to worry too much about the grammar terms.  Usually, any text books for beginners (including the lessons in Nihongo Master, of course!) are designed for the learners to master the grammar step by step.  Just by following the lessons, you'll eventually understand the grammar terms.  がんばって!

Answered 7 years ago

I appreciate the encouragement. I study hard every day, and you're right, it must be taken one step at a time. I taught myself English as well, and the only way I did so was through daily bombardment with English words and phrases. I unfortunately do not have the same 24/7 access to Nihongo. By that, I mean I don't get to hear all around me speaking Nihongo, or see Nihongo everywhere(or anywhere) I go. So, I milk every means at my disposal. I try to learn at least 5 new vocabulary words every day. But then, I always get confused by the different inflections of each word. I thought I would ask for some material to help me understand them, but it may be a deeper pool than I am prepared to dive into. そうね、I will just continue to work until I get there! がんばりますよ!

Jace *\(^o^)/*
Commented 7 years ago

Wow! English is not your first language?! I'm sure you'll be fluent in Japanese soon, too! Questions are always welcome!

Commented 7 years ago


Hello Jace-san,

I can give you a general overview of some of these terms, though they won't be necessarily specific to Japanese. Almost all of my grammar knowledge was learned in college with Latin, but there is some overlap. XD

+ Anyway, passive is not a tense; it's a voice. There are active and passive voices. Basically, active is when the subject (the nominative) acts upon a direct object (the accusative). I (subject) kicked (action) the ball (direct object). Easy.

Passive voice is when the subject receives the action, or is acted upon. The ball (subject) was kicked (action). If the subject is doing the action, that's active. If the subject is receiving the action, it's passive.

More examples:

The cat chases the mouse. (active)

The mouse is being chased. (passive)

+ Imperatives are commands. Pretty straightforward. Sit down! Silence! Eat! Read! Sleep! 

+ Conditions are a pain in the neck to explain in full detail. Basically, they are if/then clauses, or if a/ then b.. "If it is raining, the turtle is getting wet", "If it were to rain, then the turtle would get wet", "If it was raining, then the turtle got wet", "If it ever rained, then the turtle would have gotten wet". 

Hope this helps a bit!

MC's Neechan
Answered 6 years ago