Using “Desu”

“People who fear can’t genuinely give.” – Susan Jeffers

You know how to pronounce “desu” now, but what about it’s meaning? For our intents and purposes, we’re going to say that “desu” means “it is.”

I’ll tell you a secret, though. It doesn’t technically mean it is (pretty hard to translate desu, actually), but “it is” will help you learn desu and learn how it’s used, especially now that you know how Yoda talks. Desu is going to come at the end of sentences or phrases, and is of “neutral” formality, meaning it can be used in all kinds of situations and is very versatile.

“Desu” means “it is”

Anyways, I think the best way to learn it is to actually see it in action. Do you remember how Yoda talks? Good. Do you remember what we’re associating with desu (it is)? Good. Let’s take a look at this in English and Yoda-Speak, first.

English: It is a pen.

Yoda: Pen, it is.

Now, what does “desu” mean? You remember, right? Did you just have a little epiphany? I hope so.

Look at the sentences above, specifically the Yoda one: “Pen, it is.” There’s the “it is” part! What does “desu” mean? You got it, it means “it is!” Yoda-speak is a lot like basic Japanese grammar, so all you have to do is take the “it is” part in the Yoda sentence and replace it with “desu.” Let’s take a look.

Yoda: Pen, it is.

a Japanese: Pen desu.

Based off that, can you guess what “pen desu” means? You got it, “It is a pen.” Of course, with this knowledge, you can say anything, really. It is a bus. It is a cat. It is a dog. It is a monkey. It is a flamingo… The list goes on and on. All you need to do is replace the noun with another noun, and you can essentially say hundreds of thousands of different things… The cool part? You only had to learn one thing, “desu.”

Let’s try a few more examples.

Yoda: Monkey, it is.

Japanese: Monkey desu.

Yoda: Dog, it is.

Japanese: Dog desu.

Yoda: Cow, it is.

Japanese: Cow desu

That should be simple enough for you, so now let’s take one more step forward and replace the English nouns with Japanese ones.

When you understand how “desu” works (i.e. when you understand the above examples) you can move on. You’ve learned how basic Japanese sentences work! How cool is that?

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