Imasu / Desu

イ リ ニ


Could someone please help me understand why, in both of these examples, the U is pronounced in the first, but not in the second sentence?  

Ikka getsu benkyō shite imasu
Oishii o-mise o shitte imasu

Anata hodo jōzu ja nai desu
Mochiron desu

Thanks so much!


Hi イリニ-san!

Could you please specify which "u" you are referring to in the sentences?


イ リ ニ

Oops, I'm so sorry!  The words imasu and desu at the end of the sentences.  In the lessons, as I'm working on the pronunciation I'm confused why the "u" is pronounced in the first line of each example, but not the second.

Thanks Crystal :-)


Were they different speakers? Sorry, I don’t know precisely which lessons/sentences your examples are coming from. 

More careful or deliberate speakers will quite often take the trouble to enunciate as precisely as possible. Quicker speakers with maybe a more casual attitude might let it drop. 

If it’s the same speaker, sometimes it’s just the mood. Fully enunciating the U sometimes reflects a pensive or meditative thought.  And then, in a brighter, more carefree mood, the same speaker might skip over the U.  

I think that, for the most part, you generally don’t hear those trailing U sounds.

so desu ne! 


Doughoople, that seems to be the case.  I listen to TV Japan every day, and the u can sometimes be heard and sometimes not.  This is also found in these lessons.  I think this has been discussed on the Forum before and it was said that the u can be said or not at the end of words.


I believe those examples are from Module 1.3 but イ リ ニ would be the one to confirm or deny.  


Lessons 1.3 and 1.4. 

Kenny adds the U, Sayaka does not. 

So different people, slightly different usage. Either way is fine. If I had to guess, I’d be inclined to say Sayaka, in general, seems most aligned with everyday Japanese.  Kenny seems a bit more careful.

Both are good! If you can speak like either of them, you’re doing well!


At a natural pace the Japanese will not really emphasise the u on the end of desu or imasu unless they are speaking to little children, or teaching at at school or instructing the language. It is almost silent in natural pace. As this is an online course the person reading the script would have realised this and may have chosen to emphasise the u at the end to make it clear that is how the word is spelt.

It is kind of the same in English. When we speak to children or to babies or to even foreigners we subconsciously talk  slower and use simpler words.

Same goes for Japanese people. When they are comfortable you will hear them speak normally. When they know there is a person unfamiliar with the language around they may talk slower and emphasise all the sounds. 


Excellent point, Tony.

イ リ ニ

Ok, this gives me so much more insight, thanks everyone! :-)  Sorry for the late response as I've been on vacation.


Hi everyone!

My responses to these two posts might help:


Essentially,「です」and「います」are usually not spoken in full, and are pronounced as "des" and "imas" respectively. However, sometimes it is spoken in full, as "de-su" and "ima-su", to add an emphasis.

Generally, the "u" sound, when paired with a consonant, like "su" or "ku", becomes almost silent and turns into a "s" or "k" sound respectively.

There is no rule against fully pronouncing the the "u" sound, but since Japanese people usually speak quite quickly, the "u" sound usually ends up almost silent. However, as Tony-S10さん said, it is likely that the person reading the script is emphasising the "u" sound to emphasise the spelling of the word.

I hope that helps イリニさん, and thanks for your help everyone!


イ リ ニ

Thank you so much Crystal!  Learning these bits and pieces really helps.  I'm Greek and the Greeks speak very fast, but honestly, they've got nothing on the Japanese!


Thanks Crystal! What you mentioned about anime character pronunciation in one of your links hit home because a long time ago I picked up a  "de-SU" habit from an anime series—thankfully my bad habit ended shortly after the series was complete.  (⌒▽⌒)

Ask a question or a post a response

If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.

If you are already a member login here .
If you are not a member you can become one by taking the free Rocket Japanese trial here .