Key phrases
watashi                                      I
watashi wa Igirisu-jin desu    I’m British
Sumisu-san wa, Igirisu-jin desu ka?                                                                  Mr. Smith, are you British?
hai, so‾ desu.                            yes, that’s right
ıee chigaimasu                        no, that’s incorrect

Listening and speaking
Konnichiwa, Sumisu-san.       Hello, Mr Smith.
Konnichiwa, Honda-san.        Hello, Miss Honda.
Sumimasen. Sumisu-san wa Igirisu-jin desu ka?
                     Excuse me. Mr. Smith, are you British?
Hai, so‾ desu.                           Yes, that’s right.


so‾ desu = that’s right  & so‾ desu ka = is that right?                Although so‾ desu ka? is a question, when said with a falling intonation it is simply an acknowledgement to show that you’re listening, similar to: “Oh, is that so?”, “Really?” or “I see.” No answer is expected.  

NOTE                                                                                                  desu = is, am or are

Conversation 1
Konnichiwa, Buraun-san.          Hello, Mr Brown.
Konnichiwa, Yamada-san.         Hello, Mrs Yamada.
Sumimasen. Buraun-san wa Nyu‾jı‾rando-jin desu ka?
                   Excuse me. Mr Brown, are you a New Zealander?
Hai, watashi wa Nyu‾jı‾rando-jin desu.                                                     Yes, I’m a New Zealander.

So‾ desu ka.                                 Is that right?

Converdation 2
Konnichiwa, Sumisu-san.         Hello, Mr Smith.
Konnichiwa, Honda-san.           Hello, Miss Honda.
Sumimasen. Sumisu-san wa O‾ sutoraria-jin desu ka?
                      Excuse me. Mr Smith, are you Australian?
Iee, chigaimasu. Watashi wa Igirisu-jin desu.
                       No, that’s incorrect. I’m British.
Honda-san wa?                           And you, Miss Honda?
Watashi wa Nihon-jin desu.      I’m Japanese.
So‾ desu ka.                                 Is that right?


No articles. In Japanese, there are no words for “the”,“a” or “an”. So to say “I’m a New Zealander”, you simply say “I New Zealander am”. watashi wa Nyu‾jı‾rando-jin desu.

… wa?

A person’s name followed by a questioning wa means “And you?”


To say what nationality you are, take the name of your country and add -jin, which means “person”.
Igirisu                   UK                   Igirisu-jin                 British
Amerika               USA                 Amerika-jin              American
Kanada                Canada            Kanada-jin                Canadian
O‾sutoraria       Australia          O‾sutoraria-jin        Australian
Nyu‾ jı‾rando  New Zealand   Nyu‾jı‾rando-jin    New Zealander
Airurando          Ireland              Airurando-jin           Irish
Nihon                 Japan                 Nihon-jin                  Japanese
And if you want to say that you are of mixed blood, half X and half Y, you can say X to Y no ha‾fu. To is “and”, no is “of”, and ha‾fu is “half”.
Igirisu-jin to Nihon-jin no ha‾fu                   half British, half Japanese
Amerika-jin to Airurandojin no ha‾fu         half American, half Irish


“Loan words”

Japanese has borrowed many foreign words, like the country names Airurando and O‾sutoraria. It’s a good idea to try and learn some katakana, which is the script used to write foreign names and words. Not only will you be able to write your own name in Japanese but you’ll also be able to read some foreign menu items, such as aisukurı‾mu, hotto doggu and chı‾zuba‾ga‾, and take a reasonable guess as to what they might mean!