In its structure, the Japanese language possesses all the characteristics of the Turanian family. It is in the main an agglutinative language, that is to say, the roots of words suffer no change, and the results which are obtained in European languages by inflection are arrived at in Japanese by the use of separate particles suffixed to the root. Like the other languages of this family, Japanese has no formative prefixes such as the German Ge, or the reduplication of the perfect in Latin and Greek verbs. Its poverty in conjunctions and copious use of participles instead is another point of resemblance. The Japanese language is further an example of the rule common to all languages of this family, that every word which serves to define another word invariably precedes it. Thus the adjective precedes the noun, the adverb the verb, the genitive the word which governs it, the objective case the verb, and the word governed by a preposition the preposition.
The number of vocables common to Japanese with its kindred tongues is much smaller than might have been expected.