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Good to know Modals in Japanese Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Grammar

I have covered some of the major particles in Japanese during the last few posts. In this post, let me introduce you to some of the modals that can be useful when expressing your opinions and ideas in Japanese.

~ BEKI desu.

This modal is close to “should” in English. It indicates your “strong opinion”on something.

For example:

  • He should go to school. ==> Kare wa gakko e iku beki desu.  彼は、学校へ行く べきです。(かれは、がっこうへ いく べきです。)


  • I should learn Japanese. ==> Watashi wa nihongo o benkyo suru beki desu. 私は、日本語を勉強する べきです。(わたしは、にほんごを べんきょう する べきです。)


  • You should work harder. ==> Kimi wa motto isshoukenmei hataraku beki desu.  君は、もっと一生懸命 働く べきです。(きみは、もっといっしょうけんめい はたらく べきです。)



This modal is close to “supposedly” or “is supposed to” in English.

For example:

  • He is supposed to go to work at 10 o’clock. ==> Kare wa jujini shigoto e iku hazu desu.  彼は、十時に 仕事へ 行く はずです。(かれは、じゅうじに しごとへ いく はず です。)


  • The item is supposed to be 1000 yen. ==> Sono shinamonowa senen no hazu desu.  その品物は、千円の はず です。 (そのしなものは、 ぜんえん の はず です。)


  • The movie is supposed to start at 3 o’clock. ==> Sono eiga wa sanji ni hajimaru hazu desu. その映画は、 三時に始まる はず です。(そのえいがは、さんじに はじまる はず です。)



This modal is close to “may” or “might” in English.

For example:

  • I may(might) go see the movie tomorrow. ==> Ashita sono eiga o mini iku kamoshiremasen. 明日、その映画を観に 行く かもしれません。(あした その えいがを みに いく かもしれません。


  • He may(might) be close to 40 years old. ==> Karewa yonju chikai kamoshiremasen. 彼は、四十近い かもしれません(かれは、よんじゅう ちかい かもしれません。)


  • It may(might) rain tomorrow. ==> Asu ame ga furu kamoshiremasen. 明日、雨が降る かもしれません。(あす あめが ふる かもしれません。


These modals come in handy when you want to express your opinions on something.  There are many more modals that are useful. I will cover them in my later posts. In the mean time, practice creating some sentences using these modals. Happy learning Japanese!




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About the Author:keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.