こんにちにゃああ～！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online in blog form, provided to you via The Internet. 嬉嬉と興子でございます, Kiki + Koko de gozaimasu! Or, should we say: 嬉嬉と興子です, Kiki + Koko desu? You hear it very often in Japanese, but what exactly does it mean? And more importantly, how do you use it? Well, we’re your personal guides to Japanese language and culture, and we’re here to tell you all about this ubiquitous magical Japanese copula!
Now, we can’t mention です, desu, without giving a bit of grammatical background to help you out. Let’s just use a quick and simple example sentence to get the ball rolling:
kore wa terebi desu.
This is a television.
Okay, so this brings up a few other factors that we’ll go into later such as how articles like a, an, and the are omitted. But, this is the basic Japanese sentence structure.
〇〇 is 〇〇.
So, if you remember our previous reading lesson on は, this is one of those times where は is pronounced wa. In this case it’s the equivalent of is, but it can also be are or am and more! Now, we’re not focusing today on particles, but you might be asking: Well, wa was translated as is, so what’s the desu at the end? Well… that’s actually a very valid question. In Japanese, sentences usually end with a verb. Desu is a copula or a copular verb. In English, this would be something like is, am, are and the past tense equivalents. With that being said, what if we told you there were an easier way to make a simple sentence?
This is/ It is a television.
Whoa! Where did half the sentence go!? Where’s the kore wa? That’s just it! In Japanese, a lot of the times, pronouns are omitted when they’re not necessary. です, desu, on its own can be translated as it is, or when the pronoun or subject is omitted, it can mean this is, that is, she is, he is, they are, I am, we are?? It’s magical! Like a chameleon of the copular world!!
Watashi wa Kiki desu.
I am Kiki.
So, while these are cases where pronouns are omitted, there are cases in conversation where you omit the subject as a whole. In English, you might use she, he, they, after mentioning someones name early in a conversation, but that feels a bit distant to say oddly enough. So, mostly, you can simply omit the subject when they’re understood. As a quick example, someone may say:
Kiki-chan to Kouko-chan wa dare desuka.
Who are Kiki and Koko?
And then you could omit the subject(s) since it’s already understood:
watashi no sensei desu.
They are/ Kiki and Koko are my teachers.
(With an implied subject that’s not understood, it could easily mean, I am my teacher. But, context is everything!!)
Kiki-chan to Kouko-chan wa watashi no sensei desu.
Kiki and Koko are my teachers.
But, this isn’t just for nouns; adjectives and others can come into the mix!
It is fun!
This could be used to describe anything, though! It could be omitting literally anything!! です, desu, is the magical word that can replace so many others. But, wait, this is just ＳＩＤＥ Ａ of our magical mystery tour?? です, desu, while all-powerful and useful in so many situations, still has a few other counterparts that you may or may not use early on in your studies, but they are important to understand in everyday situations! So, look out for ＳＩＤＥ Ｂ where more fabulous powers will be revealed to you.
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