Structure of Japanese sentence

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Japanese sentence order and elements


I will explain the detailed grammar later, so even if you do not understand everything on this page, it is enough if you can feel the atmosphere of Japanese.

Japanese sentence structure is very simple.

Japanese sentences consist of only 3 parts, Predicate, Modifier, and Modality.


A word or phrase that is used with another word or phrase to limit or add to its meaning.


In grammar, the part of a sentence contains the verb* and gives information about the subject.
*The Japanese Predicate contains either a verb, adjective, or noun.


About a speaker’s or a writer’s attitude towards the world. A speaker or writer can express certainty,
possibility, willingness, obligation, necessity, and ability by using modal words and expressions.



For instance, the following sentence has 3 Modifiers, 1 Predicate, and 1 Modality.

About modifier

A modifier consists of a noun or noun phrase plus a case particle.

The case particles have the following main meanings.

The case particlesExamples of usage (meanings)
_____がThe subject of state/action etc.
_____をThe object of action etc.
_____にDestination, Time, etc.
_____でLocation, Method, etc.
_____とTogether, Quotations, etc.
_____へDirection, Recipient, etc.
_____からThe starting point, Cause, etc.
_____よりSender, Comparison, etc.
_____までLimit of time/place etc.
typical roles of case particles

The meaning does not change even if the modifiers are interchanged. Usually, you put the words in the order you want to emphasize them.

The most natural word order is (1)when (2)where (3)who (4)what (5)how.

About Topic (kind of modifier)

A topic consists of a noun or noun phrase plus an adverbial particle.

The adverbial particles have the following main meanings. Topics are a kind of modality.

The adverbial particlesExamples of usage (meanings)
_____はTopic, Contrast, etc.
_____ならContrast, Correlation, etc.
typical roles of adverbial particles

About Predicate

Only Verbs, I-adjectives, Na-adjectives, and Nouns can be predicates.


ONE PIECE (C)尾田栄一郎/集英社・フジテレビ・東映アニメーション

Kaizoku ouni orewa naru!

I’m going to become the pirate king! *Predicate (Verb)

この 世界せかい残酷ざんこくだ。* そして、 とても うつくしい。*

進撃の巨人 ©諫山創・講談社/「進撃の巨人」製作委員会

Kono sekaiwa zankokuda. Soshite totemo utsukushii.

This is a cruel world. And yet so beautiful. *Predicate (Na-Adjective) *Predicate (I-Adjective)


ドラゴンボール ©バードスタジオ/集英社・東映アニメーション

Watashi no sentouryoku wa gojuusanmandesu.

My power level is 530,000. *Predicate (Noun)

About modality

Auxiliary verbs and sentence-ending particles can be modality.
Modality represents the speaker’s feelings and thoughts about a matter and his or her intentions toward the listener.

Auxiliary verbsCore of meanings
だ、(です、ます)assertion, (+politeness)
らしい、ようだ、みたいだ、そうだconjecture, hearsay
だろう、でしょうnon-conclusion, guess
べきだ、なければならない/いけないnecessarily, duty
Auxiliary verbs
Ending particlesCore of meanings
か、かな、かしらquestion, wondering
よ、ぞ、ぜ、さ、わnotification, informative
ね、よねasking for consent, empathy
Sentence-ending particles

And more other particles exist.
There are many, so I will omit them from this article.

e.g. A casual conversation with a good friend.

Other than predicates can be omitted in many cases

In Japanese, Other than predicates in the sentence, they are all predicate modifiers.
Predicate modifiers can be omitted. Only the predicate cannot be omitted.

Common Japanese sentence structure

(Modifier 1 + Modifier 2 + +) Predicate (+ Modality1 + Modality2 + …) 。

Especially, the subject is almost omitted in Japanese sentences.

Especially if the subject in the situation is obvious, it has about 98% chance of being omitted in my experience. In other words, if the subject is not omitted in many sentences, the Japanese will be unnatural for native speakers.


新世紀エヴァンゲリオン ©カラー/Project Eva.

It’s disgusting. *Predicate (I-Adjective)

(それが* )気持ち悪い。 *それが is omitted. “It” in Japanese is always omitted.


進撃の巨人 ©諫山創・講談社/「進撃の巨人」製作委員会

I’m going to exterminate the titans! *Predicate (Verb)

(俺が* )(巨人を* ) 駆逐してやる! *俺が and 巨人を are omitted. Because in this situation, they are obvious.

Word order is not so important

You can switch the word order. In Japanese sentences, the Case particles* function instead of the word order of English. But the Predicate must always be at the end of the sentence, except for special expressions.

*A case particle is attached to the end of the other than predicates.
_____が _____を _____に _____と etc.

海賊王かいぞくおう おれ なるっ!*

ONE PIECE (C)尾田栄一郎/集英社・フジテレビ・東映アニメーション

I‘m going to become the pirate king! *Predicate (Verb)

It is not wrong word order, and the first word of the sentence “海賊王に” is emphasized.

However, the most natural word order is (1)when (2)where (3)who (4)what (5)how.

e.g. (わたしは*) 今日きょう 学校がっこう 友達ともだち テニスを した。 *私は should be omitted in most cases

I played tennis with my friends at school today.

Sentence patterns


I think these patterns are not so important.
So, for your reference below.

The sentence structure is divided into 10 patterns below.

Sentence with Verb

-All verbs end with the sound “u”.

1. SubjectがVerb


The flowers bloom.

2. SubjectがObjectをVerb

いぬ えさ べる

The dog eats food.

3. SubjectがObjectにVerb

台風たいふう 日本にほん ちかづく

The typhoon approaches Japan.

4. SubjectがObjectとVerb

人類じんるい 宇宙人うちゅうじん たたか

Mankind fights aliens.

5. SubjectがObjectにObjectをVerb

ねこ 外国人がいこくじん 日本語にほんご おしえる

The cat teaches Japanese to foreigners.

Sentence with I-Adjective。

All I-adjectives end with the sound “i”.

6. SubjectがI-Adjective


The sea is beautiful.

7. SubjectがObjectにI-Adjective


The friend is familiar with anime.

Sentence with Na-Adjective。

All Na-Adjectives end with the sound “na”, but if the Na-Adjective is at the end of the sentence, the last sound will be “da”.

8. SubjectがNa-Adjective


It’s quiet outside.

9. SubjectがObjectにNa-Adjective


The train is accurate in time.

Sentence with Nounだ。

All Nouns end with the sound “da” or “desu”, but there are some exceptions.

10. SubjectがNounだ


She is the person in charge.