How to Use Linking Words and Phrases to Connect Your Sentences
Adding a few linking words and phrases between your sentences (words similar to the English “and then,” “and so,” “after all,” and so on) can help your Japanese feel very fluid and natural. This is especially good when telling a story or relating a series of events. This article will introduce some of the most common of these linking words and phrases, with examples of how and when to use them!
Linking Words and Phrases
Use “Datte” at the beginning of a sentence to elaborate on or explain the previous sentence. It can mean “but,” “because,” or “after all” (sometimes, its meaning is a combination of these meanings).
アラスカに行った時、セーターを５枚も持ってきた。だって、アラスカがものすごく寒いもんだ。Alaska ni itta toki, se-ta- o go mai mo motte kita. Datte, Alaska ga monosugoku samui mon da (When I went to Alaska, I brought five sweaters. It’s cold there, after all).
If you watch Japanese tv dramas or anime, you may also hear “datte” used either by itself or at the start of a sentence either as an indication that the following sentence will be an explanation, or as an exclamation of frustration or petulance (or both at the same time).
When translating, be aware that “datte” can have several other meanings. It is either attached to a singular word, or used in a different part of the sentence.
For example, attach “datte” to:
- Question words (who, when, where, etc) to modify them to be “no matter___” (“itsu” means “when” but “itsudatte” means “no matter when).”
- Any noun to mean “even___.” For instance, “watashi datte” means “even me” or “even I”).
Demo でも, kedo けど, shikashi しかし, and ga が
Japanese has quite a few words that all mean “but” or “however.” These words have little difference in meaning, but they are slightly different in terms depending on usage.
Most importantly, we use “demo” and “shikashi” at the start of a sentence (when the previous sentence ended with a period). And we use “kedo” and “ga” to link two sentences or thoughts with no periods between.
“Demo,” “kedo,” and “ga” are all fairly standard words, with the main difference between them being that “ga” can sometimes have a meaning closer to “and” than “but.”
“Shikashi,” on the other hand, sounds somewhat more formal. It’s heard when an explanation is being given or a story is being told as opposed to in casual conversation.
アラスカを旅行した事がある。でも、ハワイイを旅行した事がない。Alaska o ryokou shita koto ga aru. Demo, Hawaii o ryokou shita koto ga nai (I have traveled in Alaska. But, I have not traveled in Hawaii).
アラスカを旅行した事があるけど、ハワイイを旅行した事がない。Alaska o ryokou shita koto ga aru kedo, Hawaii o ryokou shita koto ga nai (I have traveled in Alaska, but I have not traveled in Hawaii).
Similarly to “datte,” “demo” can be used on the following:
- Attach to question words to modify them to be “no matter___” (for instance, “itsudemo” (much like “itsudatte”) means “no matter when”)
- Attached to any noun to mean “even___” (for instance, “watashi demo” means “even me” or “even I”).
You may sometimes hear people saying “keredo,” “keredomo,” or other similar words in place of “kedo.” These words are all more or less the same in meaning.
“Souieba” literally means “if you say [it/that]”. It’s used at the start of a sentence similarly to how the phrase “That reminds me” is used in English.
そういえば、ネットで読んだ記事によると、春のアラスカはかなり暖かい。Souieba, netto de yonda kiji ni yoru to, haru no Alaska wa kanari atatakai (That reminds me, according to an article I read online, spring in Alaska is quite warm).
Sore de それで
We use “Sore de” at the beginning of a sentence when the sentence will be describing the results of an action or situation. This is similar to a combination of “then” and “and so.”
セーターを持っていかなかった。それで、風邪を引いてしまった。Se-ta- o motte ikanakatta. Sore de, kaze o hiite shimatta (I didn’t bring a sweater. So then, I caught a cold).
Sore demo それでも
“Sore demo” literally means “even that,”. But is used similarly to the English “even so”. You can use it at the start of a sentence.
寒い所はあまり好きじゃない。それでも、アラスカに行くと決めた。Samui tokoro wa amari suki janai. Soredemo, Alaska ni iku to kimeta (I don’t like cold places very much. Even so, I decided to go to Alaska).
Sore kara それから
“Sore kara” means “after that” . We use it either at the start of a sentence or in the middle of a sentence to continue a list of sequential actions or events.
去年の１月にアラスカを旅行した。それから、アラスカに引っ越すと決めた。Kyonen no 1 gatsu ni Alaska o ryokou shita. Sorekara, Alaska ni hikkosu to kimeta (In January of last year, I traveled in Alaska. After that, I decided to move to Alaska).
Sore ni それに and shikamo しかも
“Sore ni” and “shikamo” are both similar in meaning to the English “on top of that” or “moreover.” We use it either at the start of a sentence or in the middle of a sentence.
アラスカの夏はとても暖かい。それに、夏には太陽が沈まない。Alaska no natsu wa totemo atatakai. Soreni, natsu ni wa taiyou ga shizumanai (Alaska’s summers are very warm. On top of that, in the summer the sun does not set).
アラスカの夏はとても暖かい、しかも夏には太陽が沈まない。Alaska no natsu wa totemo atatakai, shikamo natsu ni wa taiyou ga shizumanai (Alaska’s summers are very warm, and on top of that, in the summer the sun does not set).
Those are all our linking words and phrases for now! There are still more that we did not get a chance to cover, though!
If there are any other linking words or phrases that you want to learn about in particular, or if you have any questions about the words and phrases in this article, leave us a comment and we’ll include that information in our next linking words and phrases article!