Things That Make Japanese Easy

Japanese carries with it a bit of a reputation as being a difficult language, but this is largely just a misconception by people who consider it “exotic” but haven’t actually studied it. Indeed, there are many aspects of Japanese that are extremely easy, especially for native English speakers.

Pronunciation – Japanese pronunciation is relatively straightforward, and contains only two sounds that aren’t found in English: The initial “ts” (like in the word “tsunami”) and the Japanese “R” which is a flap R, similar to a non-rolled Spanish “R”, neither of which is difficult to learn. When learning new words in Japanese, you will understand them the first time you hear them, and since Japanese is very logical and phonetic, you will also be able to write them correctly in Japanese. By that same token, native Japanese speakers will have no trouble understanding you, even if your accent is not perfect.

Japanese only has 5 vowel sounds (which never change) a handful of consonants which are all found in English. Compare this to a language like Korean that has over 20 different vowel sounds (many of which don’t exist in English) and multiple versions of the same consonant which all sound the same to English speakers yet will give you much trouble trying to speak to natives who won’t understand you.

Gender – Anyone who has studied Spanish or French or any other romance language knows how nouns can have gender. And if you’ve studied German, you are aware of what a pain having three genders can be, especially when you can’t tell what they are from looking at the word. Japanese, like English has no gender system. All nouns are the same regardless of who is using them or how many of them you have.

Verb Conjugation – Another relief for anyone who has studied a European language: Japanese verbs do not conjugate according to person (do you remember having to all the different forms in Spanish?). In Japanese, “I go” is the same as “you go” which is the same as “they go,” and “he goes” and “she goes” and even “ya’ll go.” Japanese verbs do conjugate according to things like formality level, positive/negative, present/past tense, etc., but they don’t change according to person which is a huge relief for many people who got annoyed studying European languages.

Noun Cases – Just like in English, there are none in Japanese. Enough said!