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I've recently started learning Japanese through self teaching (a few different mobile apps and books, this question is spawned from using one called Memrise)

But I'm learning to say "I don't like " which is pretty straight forward, but I'm confused on the particle used (if it is a particle, I still haven't fully grasped them yet).

I'll use "I don't Like Apples" as an example, part of confusion bolded:

わたしはりんごがすきではありません

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Practically you may just memorize ではない as a negative form of だ, and ではありません as a negative form of です, as shown in this chart. To break down, this では is made of two components, one being a particle and the other being an (auxiliary) verb.

So you know how to say "I like apples".

わたしはりんごがすきだ。 (plain form)

You can construct its negative version in several ways:

  • わたしはりんごがすきではない。 (sounds "plain"; see the link above)
  • わたしはりんごがすきでない。 (は may be dropped, especially when this appears as a clause of a long sentence)
  • わたしはりんごがすきではありません。 (polite form)
  • わたしはりんごがすきじゃない。 (では becomes じゃ in casual speech)
  • That chart really helps. Particles and such have been my main stumbling point with the language so far. – Rapitor Mar 30 '17 at 2:44
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ではありません is the more polite form of じゃありません, but the most common form used is じゃない。 

So ではありません is basically negating 好き to mean "Don't like".

You could use that sentence as:

わたしはりんごがすきではありません。formal.

わたしはりんごがすきじゃありません。 still formal but not as much as the first.

わたしはりんごがすきじゃない。 more casual.

わたし > 私

すき > 好き

  • so is では just another "polite" particle like です? – Rapitor Mar 30 '17 at 0:30
  • @Rapitor です isn't a particle, it's a verb. じゃ is a contraction of では. In では, you can view it as actually two particles, as evidenced by the は in では being pronounced like わ (as when it's just a topic marker) – Mark S. Mar 30 '17 at 1:05
  • @Rapitor just like Mark said, です is used at the end of sentences when you want politeness and lack a masu stem verb at the end of your sentence, and です is "affirmative" per say, whereas ではありません and it's other less polite forms are negatives. So you could say じゃないです because じゃない is not masu stem, but you can't say じゃありませんです because ありません already is the masu stem of ない (negative of ある) – Felipe Oliveira Mar 30 '17 at 1:26
  • @Rapitor this contraction is used in other patterns as well, for instance "sore de ha dame" = that's not good / you shouldn't do that could be used as "sore ja dame" cause you turn deha into ja – Felipe Oliveira Mar 30 '17 at 1:28
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    ではありません is formal. A Super polite way is: ではございません – user20428 Mar 30 '17 at 6:52

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