Japanese Lesson – Days of the week – Yesterday and Tomorrow

Hello Everyone,

In this lesson we will go a step further in speaking of days by introducing the notions of  past and future.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

You have seen in our previous lesson that 今日 (きょう) [kyo~] means today, here is how to say yesterday, tomorrow…

一昨日 おととい ototoi The day before yesterday
昨日 きのう kino~ Yesterday
今日 きょう kyo~ Today
明日 あした ashita Tomorrow
明後日 あさって asatte The day after tomorrow

Past

Before we can carry on asking questions such as “What day will it be tomorrow?” or “What day was it yestetday?” we need to see quickly how these tenses are built in Japanese.

Past is built by using the -ました [-mashita] verb stem. In this form, です [desu] /to be/, which is a non conventional verb, becomes でした [deshita] /was/.

So “What day was it yesterday?” is said:

きのう昨日[kino~]/ yesterday /
[wa]/ {topic} /
なん[nan]/ what /
ようび曜日[yo~bi]/ day /
でしたでした[deshita]/ was /
[ka]/ {question} /
[.]/ . /

And if we are on Saturday for instance the answer will be:

きのう昨日[kino~]/ yesterday /
[wa]/ {topic} /
きんようび金曜日[doyo~bi]/ Saturday /
でしたでした[deshita]/ was /
[.]/ . /

/Yesterday was Friday./

Or more casually:

きんようび金曜日[doyo~bi]/ Saturday /
でしたでした[deshita]/ to be /
[.]/ . /

/It was Friday./

Present and Future

The present is expressed by using verbs with a -ます stem. This is the form at which です is already.

And to make things simple for once, thee does not exist a future conjugation form in Japanese. The notion of future is expressed by using a word expressing future (such as “in one hour”, “tomorrow”, “next year”…) plus à verb at its present conjugation form.

Therefore to ask “What day will it be tomorrow?” one will say:

あした明日[ashita]/ tomorrow /
[wa]/ {topic} /
なん[nan]/ what /
ようび曜日[yo~bi]/ day /
ですです[desu]/ to be /
[ka]/ {question} /
[.]/ . /

あした明日[ashita]/ tomorrow /
[wa]/ {topic} /
にちようび日曜日[nichiyo~bi]/ Sunday /
ですです[desu]/ to be /
[.]/ . /

/Tomorrow will be Sunday./

As stated in our lesson on The Particles は and が, the topic of the sentence can be dropped if there is no risk of ambiguity. Therefore in the context of the previous question, we could have simply answered:

にちようび日曜日[nichiyo~bi]/ Sunday /
ですです[desu]/ to be /
[.]/ . /

/It will be Sunday./

Exercises

Now, let’s practice what we have just learnt:

きょう今日[kyo~]
[wa]
すいようび水曜日[suiyo~bi]
ですです[desu]
[.]

Translation
Answer
Today is Wednesday.

きのう昨日[kino~]
[wa]
なん[nan]
ようび曜日[yo~bi]
でしたでした[deshita]
[ka]
[.]

Translation
Answer
What day was it yesterday?

 

Answer
Answer
昨日は火曜日でした。
きのう は かようび でした。
kino~ wa kayo~bi deshita.

あさって明後日[asatte]
[wa]
なん[nan]
ようび曜日[yo~bi]
ですです[desu]
[ka]
[.]

Translation
Answer
What day will it be the day after tomorrow?

 

Answer
Answer
明後日は金曜日です。
あさって は きんようび です。
asatte wa kinyo~bi desu.

 

That’s it. We are finished with this lesson. Next we will learn the last pieces needed to fully master time: dates and then years.

Stéphane

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