JLPT N4 Grammar: 〜しよう (Volitional form – How to say "Let's do…" in Japanese)

Shiyou – How to use Volitional in Japanese

We have another JLPT grammar blog for you!  This one is a companion to the Youtube video above, in which Yuka-sensei teaches us the JLPT N4 Grammar: しよう (shiyou) – volitional form “let’s do!”.
This is a Japanese grammar word that is used in daily life as well as on the JLPT – so it is definitely worth your time to memorize!
First watch the video above, and then review with this blog article!

How to Use JLPT N4 Grammar: しよう (shiyou) “Let’s do~” in Japanese

In Japanese, the volitional form is used quite frequently.  In this particular context, しよう (shiyou) is used in a friendly way to say “Let’s do~ xyz”.  Other ways of using volitional form can be to give light-sounding commands to someone beneath you.  But in this blog post we are just looking at using it to say “Let’s do!” in Japanese.
しよう(shiyou) is the causal/plain form of しましょう (shimashou) meaning, “let’s do(it)”.  This is the volitional form of the verb する (suru) meaning “to do” (Verb group 3 – see conjugation below).
Because this is a verb form (volitional form) there are 3 different ways to conjugate depending on the group.
These conjugations are all plain form/casual form.
Group I – う Verb Endings
For group 1 verbs, change the (u) ending to an おう (ou) sound ending.
(to buy) → おう
(to go) → こう
あそ(to play) → あそぼう
Group II – る Verb Endings
Group 2 is easy – just replace the (ru) ending with よう (yō).
(to see) → よう
べる(to eat) → べよう
Group III  – Irregular verbs
These are irregular verbs, so there is no rule – just memorize the 2 verbs!
する(to do) → しよう
(to come) → よう
Let’s look at some of Yuka-sensei’s examples!

Sentence Examples

Example 1

A: 週末、うちでバーベキューしない?
shuu matsu, uchi de bābekyū shinai?
This weekend, want to have a BBQ at my place?
B: うん、いいね!しよう!
un, ii ne! shiyou!
Yeah, sounds good! Let’s do it!
This example is quite straightforward.  Yuka-sensei B is saying “Let’s do it!” in agreement with Yuka-sensei A.
Looking at the conjugations above, する – to do – is an irregular verbs, so we just change it to しよう plain and simple.

Example 2

A: 12時はどう?
jyuu ni ji wa dou?
How does 12 o clock sound?
B: いいね! 12時から始めようか?
ii ne! jyuu ni ji kara hajimeyou ka?
Great! Let’s start at at 12!
In this example, you may notice Yuka-sensei phrases it as a question.  However, this is common in Japanese due to the ambiguous use of the language.  While a literal translation might be “Shall we start at 12?” this phrase conveys more of a “let’s do!” sentiment.
始める is a group 2 “” (ru) verb, so conjugation i easy!  Simply drop the ending and replace it with よう.
As stated in above, a literal translation of this is more like “shall we?”
In Japanese, if you want to sound more inviting or polite to a friend in a casual way, you can use volitional form + ?
This will convey the sentiment of “let’s do!” without seeming forceful!

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