Forms of Japanese grammar

The Japanese on translations on Mr How to Say may be marked with one of these grammar forms. The grammar structure in Japanese can change in certain situations. Each form has its own ways of how grammar should be structured. And even the vocabulary itself can change from form to form. Though there are more than these five below, these are the ones that don't exist/are not used in English, and are therefore difficult for an English speaker to understand.

Grammar FormJapanese nameExplanationPerspective when usedNotes
Casual form日常会話Pronouced as nichijoukaiwaeveryday casual language, commonly used between friends and family.all kindsMost of the time, this form is mutually used. The speaker and the responder both use this form.
Polite form丁寧語Pronouced as teineigoconvays a sense of politeness, used when speaking to strangers, people older than you, higher social status ect.all kindswhen you speak polite form to someone the other person may not always use polite form when speaking back to you. But you should continue you use polite form anyway
Humble form謙譲語Pronouced as kenjougoconvays a sense of humility, commonly used by store employees, espessially in the service industry.Speaking about yourselfThis form is one way. only the person trying to lower themselves before the other uses this form. The person being spoken to with humble form often replies with Polite form
Honorific form尊敬語Pronouced as sonkeigoconvays respect to the subject of the sentence, very important in a business setting.Speaking about another personThis form is one way. only the person trying to elevate the person they are speaking to. The person being spoken to with honorific form often will reply with Casual or Polite form
Imperative form命令形Pronouced as meireikeiconvays a sense of urgency, order or command.Call (another person) to actionIn English, a command is often communicated in the tone of ones voice. While in Japanese, using this grammar style can also do that.
Written form文語体Pronouced as bungotaiform of language that is normally only used in written contexts. A native Japanese would not use this form when speaking.all kindsUsing written form of Japanese in a conversation will add a touch of strangness to your words. Should only be used in written contexts.

Example 1: (Speaking about yourself)
The English sentence "I will go to your house" can be expressed in the following forms.

Grammar FormPossible Translation
Casual form家に行く
Humble formお家に伺い致します
Polite form家に行きます
All of these sentences carry the meaning "I will go to your house" But as you can see, all three sentences are written and spoken totally different. The difference between them is just, the feel added from the grammar form used, as explained in the above table.
We cannot make an this sentence in Honorific form because it is only used when speaking about another person, another person you want to elevate above you.
We cannot make an this sentence in Imperative form because it is only used when calling another person to action.

Example 2: (peaking about another person)
The English sentence "Mr. Ritchie,(teacher) will you come to my house?" can be expressed in three different grammar forms

Grammar FormPossible Translation
Casual formリッチー先生は家に来る?
Polite formリッチー先生は家に来ますか?
Honorific formリッチー先生は家にいらっしゃいますか?
All of these sentences carry the meaning "Mr. Ritchie,(teacher) will you come to my house?" But again, are written and spoken totally different. In English most people would not speak any differently to their teacher than their family or friends. But in Japanese, unless you are a child, you would be expected to use Honorific form when asking this kind of question to your Teacher.
With all that said, someone who understands the difference between these forms would gather a sense such as: the first sentence I can see being said by a kindergarten student, who is not quite used to speaking politely from having up until now spoke casually with his family at home. The second sentence, perhaps an elementary student speaking, who knows to speak politely but has not yet master Honorific form. And the third sentence being the proper from to use given the situation.
Since all that information can be assumed just by knowing the Grammar forms, its important not to be in the dark about them.

Example 3: (calling someone to action)
The English sentence "come to my house" can be expressed in three different grammar forms

Grammar FormPossible Translation
Imperative form家に来い
Casual form家に来て
Polite form家に来て下さい
All of these sentences carry the meaning "come to my house" But again, are written and spoken totally different. In English we might just raise our voice to communicate an order. "come to my house!!" or use a slightly different phrase like, "come to my house right this minute!" But Japanese also has these options which maybe said in casual or imperative form. So this distinction is still necessary.

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