Japanese Cheat Sheet

After 2 months of planning and composition (okay, so I did procrastinate quite a bit), I now understand how Moses felt when he descended Mount Sinai with the holy tablets. Behold, Nihonshock’s newly revised and much improved Japanese cheat sheet!

Sheet Updated, click here to go to new page

What is this?

This is a “cheat sheet” for the Japanese language. It is an attempt to condense and organize as many of the basic elements of the language onto one sheet of paper as possible.

How do I use it?

The intended use of this document is for you to download it, print it on two sides of one sheet of paper and keep it wherever you need it (in your Japanese textbook, on your desk, in your pocket, etc).

It’s possible to keep the cheat sheet on your computer, but it won’t be anywhere near as handy or portable as a printed version, and you’ll need to do quite a bit of scrolling and zooming because of the small font size.

What information is inside?

Page 1

  • Formal (polite) verb forms
  • Informal verb forms
  • Neutral verb forms
  • Verb conjugation guide for U-Verbs, RU-Verbs and the irregulars (suru, kuru)
  • Hiragana chart
  • Katakana chart
  • Kanji chart listing all JLPT N5 (previously: Level 4) kanji.
  • Chart of the forms of de aru (desu)
  • Adjective/Adverbs usage chart

Page 2

  • Core particles: は, が, を, に, と, で, も, か, へ, の, や (wa, ga, o, ni, to, de, mo, ka, e, no, ya)
    • Usage points
    • Example sentences color coded for easy vocabulary tracking
  • Assisting particles: だけ, しか, ほど, より, でも, くらい, ばかり, から, まで (dake, shika, hodo, yori, demo, kurai, bakari, kara, made)
    • Example sentences color coded for easy vocabulary tracking
  • Common grammatical words and patterns
    • Example sentences color coded for easy vocabulary tracking
  • Verbs for giving and receiving
  • A small space to add a couple small written notes of your own

Who is this for?

This document will be most useful for beginner to intermediate Japanese learners. A beginner will find the document to be more of a roadmap to what information they should study next and how it fits into the “bigger picture,” and an intermediate Japanese learner get more use with this document as a reference for review.

Why are there four versions?

There are four versions of the file in order to accommodate for users in different parts of the world (North America uses different paper sizes from the rest of the world), and to provide users with a choice regarding how Japanese text is written: using the Japanese hiragana script, or using romaji (phonetic representation in the western alphabet).

What this document is NOT

This document is in no way intended to be a substitute for serious study and learning. Acquiring a human language with 2000+ years of history is a massive undertaking, and this cheat sheet provides only the bare minimum explanation for topics that have great depth.

Nor is this document a comprehensive overview of Japanese language. I’ve tried my best to include as much of the most useful and basic elements as possible, but to get this onto 1 sheet of paper, many things were omitted.

Changes from the old version

Aside from a complete, from-scratch graphical overhaul in Adobe Ilustrator (the old version was made in Microsoft Word), this new version contains updated and expanded information. Here is a pretty complete list of changes:

  • “Polite” verbs forms is now more accurately called “Formal” forms, and the command form ~nasai has been moved into this category accordingly.
  • Instead of marking forms that cannot be made into a verb with koto/no, noun-able forms are now marked.
  • Added abrupt command forms in the informal category.
  • In both the formal and informal categories, the causative form of kuru has been corrected to kosaseru, not koraseru
  • Added to the neutral verb forms category: Even (if)…, To do too much…, To do… and so on, To seem to want to…
  • The note about using verbs as nouns with koto or no is now in the footer.
  • Added a note about potential rudeness with the word darou.
  • Added a note about how desu/da changes when noun-ified.
  • Changed the na-adjective noun form to the form without sa, since this is the more common method (note added)
  • Added the continuous/combining form for na-adjectives.
  • Changed the old explanation about easily confused i-adjectives to the true difference (the ~ei thing is just a shortcut, no i-adjectives end in ~ei but there are a few na-adjectives that end in い and are not preceeded by an e-line sound.). Added a couple commonly confused na-adjectives also.
  • Added a note about the adjective ii, because it always conjugates as yoi.
  • Made numerous changes to explanations and example sentences for the particles.
  • Added the particle no.
  • To the common grammatical words/structures section, added: ka mo shirenai and no you na/ni
  • Removed tame from grammatical words section, to make room and because it was already mentioned in the informal verbs section on page 1.
  • Added a note that kudasaru is typically used as kudasai.
  • Added a small space for the learner to write a few notes of their own.



Final word

Please comment and let me know what you think of the cheat sheet, if you notice any mistakes or if you have any suggestions for improvement. I’ll release minor updates to the cheat sheet whenever I get a new round of prints, but the next major update probably won’t be until next year.

Posted under Language & Study, Most Popular Posts by Nihonshock.

34 Responses