Hello, and welcome to the second instructive article written by yours truly, Some Guy! Niko was kind enough to allow me to contribute to his site again, so I thought I’d use this opportunity to talk about  what I think is one of the more useful grammar structures in Japanese.

Today, we are going to learn how to describe something as being “easy to do” or “hard to do.” In addition to just being a useful sentence structure you can use for everyday conversation, what I like most about it is that it is also extremely easy to learn. By the end of this article, your powers of elucidation will know no bounds! (or, at the very least, they will know fewer bounds).

To begin, it is essential that you, dear reader, be familiar with the three different verb types of the Japanese language and how to convert a verb of each type to its ます-form. If you are already familiar, you may skip “Part 1” and head on down to “Part 2.” If you do not know, or need a little refresher, I will provide some examples and a quick explanation.

Part 1 – Japanese Verb Types

First, we’ll see how to convert a Type I verb to its correspondingます-form.

Type I verbs:

To read 読む 読みます yomu yomimasu
To walk 歩く 歩きます aruku arukimasu
To laugh 笑う 笑います warau waraimasu
To yell 叫ぶ 叫びます sakebu sakebimasu

As you can see, to convert a Type I verb to its ます-form, we simply take the final character from the dictionary-form and convert it to its corresponding い-character and append「ます.」When written out in Romaji, it is a little easier to understand;  looking at the examples we can see that mu in “yomu” becomes mi, ku in “aruku” becomes ki, u in “warau” becomes i, and bu in “sakebu” becomes bi).

Thankfully, Type II verbs are a little more straightforward.

Type II verbs:

To eat 食べる 食べます taberu tabemasu
To think 考える 考えます kangaeru kangaemasu
To wear 着る 着ます kiru kimasu
To disappear 消える 消えます kieru kiemasu

As you have no doubt already figured out on your own, to convert a Type II verb to its ます-form, all we have to do is drop the final character,「る,from its dictionary-form and add「ます.」

Type III verbs:

Type III verbs, unfortunately, are irregular. They don’t seem to follow any kind of set rule when being conjugated to their ます-forms. Fortunately, however, there are only two Type III verbs, so committing their quirky conjugation criteria (I’m a sucker for alliteration) to memory shouldn’t prove to be much of a challenge.

To do する します suru shimasu
To come 来る 来ます* kuru kimasu

*Please note how the「来」character changes from being read as “ku” in its dictionary-form to “ki” in its ます-form.

Now that all of that stuff is out of the way, let’s get on with the main focus of this article (I almost forgot what it was!); how to describe something as being “easy to do” or “hard to do.”

Part 2 – Saying Easy/Hard to [Verb] in Japanese

First, we’ll take a look at how to describe something as being “easy to do.”

Forming this structure is quite elementary. All we have to do is append「やすい」to theます-stem of a verb (the “stem” being everything that comes before「ます.」) Let’s look at a few examples:

To understand 分かる 分かります 分かりやすい
To read 読む 読みます 読みやすい
To say 言う 言います 言いやすい
To learn/remember 覚える 覚えます 覚えやすい

Now let’s check out a few example sentences using the above verbs:

Nihongo wa wakariyasui desu.
Japanese is easy to understand.

この 小説 は 読みやすい です
Kono shousetu wa yomiyasui desu.
This novel is easy to read.

あの ロシア人 名前 言いやすい です。
Ano roshia jin no namae wa iiyasui desu.
That Russian’s name is easy to say.

日本語 単語 覚えやすい です。
Nihongo no tango wa oboeyasui desu.
Japanese vocabulary words are easy to learn/remember.

楽勝だろう?(Piece of cake, right?) Now, in order to describe something as being “hard to do,” instead of appending「やすい」to the verb’sます-stem, we append「にくい」instead.

To understand 分かる 分かります 分かりにくい
To walk 読む 読みます 読みにくい
To read 言う 言います 言いにくい
To learn/remember 覚える 覚えます 覚えにくい

Now let’s use the above example sentences and see how the meanings change, just by swapping out「やすい」for「にくい.

日本語 分かりにくい です。
Nihongo wa wakarinikui desu.
Japanese is difficult to understand.

この 小説 は 読みにくです
Kono shousetu wa yominikui desu.
This novel is difficult to read.

あの ロシア人 名前 言いにくい です。
Ano roshia jin no namae wa iinikui desu.
That Russian person’s name is difficult to say.

日本語 単語 覚えにくい です。
Nihongo no tango wa oboenikui desu.
Japanese vocabulary words are difficult to learn/remember.

While I’m sure you’ve pretty much gotten it down now, just for fun try and fill in the blanks of the following sentences with the given verbs in theirやすいorにくい-forms. Use the provided English translation as a guide.

お箸 ________________________です。(使う)
Ohashi wa ________________________ desu. (tsukau)
Chopsticks are difficult to use.

手巻き寿司 ________________________です。(作る)
Temakizushi wa ________________________ desu. (tsukuru)
Temakizushi (self-hand-rolled sushi) is easy to make.

この ボール ________________________です。(投げる)
Kono booru wa ________________________ desu. (nageru)
This ball is easy to throw.

小さい から、とても 掃除_____________________です。(する)
Watashi no ie wa chiisai kara, totemo souji ________________________ desu. (suru)
Because my house is small, it is really easy to clean.

大きい スーツケース ________________________です。(運ぶ)
Kare no ookii suutsukeesu wa ________________________ desu. (hakobu)
His big suitcase is hard to carry.

Hopefully that didn’t pose too much of a challenge for you, but if you want to check your answers, be sure to leave a post!

This, of course, only scratches the surface of what we can do with our awesome new conjugation capabilities (I just wanted to squeeze in one more little alliteration). When you feel that you are ready for more advanced conversations, you can try conjugating the verbs to the past tense. For example,

最初 これ 分かりにくかった けど、今 簡単 思う。
Saisho wa kore ga wakarinikukatta kedo, ima wa kantan da to omou.
At first, I thought this was hard. Now I think it’s easy.

Or, we can use one of our conjugated verbs like an adjective to describe a noun:

分かりやすい 漫画 好き だ。あれ 難しすぎる。
Wakariyasui manga ga suki da. Are wa muzukashisugiru.
I like manga that is easy to understand (easy to understand manga). That is too difficult.

Be sure to have a solid foundation of the basics before trying to move on to the more difficult stuff, though!

To summarize, in order to describe something as being easy to do, we simply append「やすい」to the verb’sます-stem. Contrariwise, if we want to describe something as being “hard to do” we instead append「にくい」to the verb’sます-stem.

Anyway, that’s it for this article. I hope that you found it informative. Please be sure to leave a post with any feedback (feedback of the positive variety is certainly the most welcome).


Jeremy “Some Guy” Rasmussen

Author of Learn Japanese From Some Guy

Jeremy “Some Guy” Rasmussen

Jeremy “Some Guy” Rasmussen

初めまして! My name is Jeremy “Some Guy” Rasmussen, author of Learn Japanese from Some Guy.

My goal in life is to travel around the world and learn as many languages and experience as many cultures as possible. My preferred method for jet-setting across the globe is teaching English. I've spent six months in Mexico, four and a half years in Japan, eight months in Spain, and I am now currently living and teaching at a high school in China.

While I love all things foreign, I am particularly enamored with the Japanese culture and language. Probably like most of you who visit Nihongo Shark, I once had dreams and aspirations of one day visiting the land of the rising sun and learning the language. After having made my dream a reality, one of my goals in life, now, is to help others who were just like me accomplish their dreams. That's why I wrote my book, and that's why I'm also glad to have teamed up with Niko. I certainly wish I had known about his site way back when I first started on my Japanese language journey!

When I'm not studying a language or traveling, I enjoy reading (manga, of course), dabbling a little in programming, and gaming. Any Hearthstone players out there?

Anyway, I wish you all the best in your quest to conquer Japanese. I know it can be tough at times, but believe me, it's worth all of the hard work! 頑張ってください!

Jeremy “Some Guy” Rasmussen

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