Particles

Vocabulary
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A particle is a small word which usually consists of one or two Hiragana letters. Particles are really important to make a perfect Japanese sentence although you might be able to make yourself understand without particles in some situations.

Quick reference chart

は:after a subject, no meaning
が:after a subject, no meaning
を:after an object, no meaning
に:after a time word, to (place)
へ:to (place)
と:and, with (person, animal)
や:and
も:also, too
で:in (language), with (tool), by (transport), at (place)
か:?
の:of (or ‘s)

は: Subject (or topic) marking particle

は is a subject marking particle. It needs to be placed after the subject of a sentence. It is は (ha), but you need to read it as ‘wa’ when は is a subject marking particle. It does not have a meaning on its own.

が: Subject (or topic) marking particle

が is a subject marking particle too. It does not have a meaning on its own.

What is the difference between は and が, subject marking particles?
Use が if you want to make the subject of a sentence specific and exclusive. Other than that, use は.

を is an object marking particle. It needs to be placed after an object. A verb comes after を. It does not have a meaning on its own.

へ is a destination marking particle. Its pronunciation is ‘e’ when へ is used as a particle. It means ‘to’ in English. へ is often used with ‘go’ or ‘come’.

There is another destination marking particle, which is .

Example

私は日本行きます。

I go to Japan.

に: Location marking particle

に is used with following Japanese verbs: live(住む), stay(とまる)etc.

Example

  • 父は日本住んでいます。(My father lives in Japan.)
  • 私はきのうホテルとまりました。(I stayed at a hotel yesterday.)

に:placed after a ‘time’ word

に is often placed after ‘time’.

Example

  • 八月に → in August
  • 月曜日に → on Monday
  • 九時に → at 9 o’clock

に:placed after a ‘destination’ word

に is a destination marking particle. It means ‘to’ in English. に is often used with ‘go’ or ‘come’.

There is another destination marking particle, which is .

Example

私は日本行きます。

I go to Japan.

で: Location marking particle

で is often placed after ‘place’.

Example

at a shop
学校at school
アメリカin U.S.A.

can also be a location marking particle.

What is the difference between で and に, location marking particles?
When you talk about a place, you often use 'in' or 'at' in English. In Japanese, they are で or に.

で: Transport or tool marking particle

で also needs to be placed after transport or tool.

Example for transport

by car
バスby bus

Example for tool

はしwith chopsticks

と: joining nouns

と is used to join nouns.

Example

  • 猫(ねこ) → dogs and cats
  • 私 → my older brother and I
  • 日本インド → Japan and India

と: with (somebody)

with my father
友だちwith friends

や: joining nouns

や is also used to join nouns.

Example

  • 猫(ねこ) → dogs and cats
  • 私 → my older brother and I
  • 日本インド → Japan and India
What is the difference between と and や to join nouns?
や implies more than what you list. と doesn't.

の: of / ‘s

の: ?

の can be a question mark if you have の at the end of a sentence. It is used by girls and kids more than men.

In this case, の has to follow Verb Plain Form or Adjective Plain Form. Also, the intonation goes up at the end.

If it doesn’t, that is just an affirmative sentence.

Example

テレビをよく見る

Do you often watch TV? (If the intonation rises at the end)

I often watch TV. (If the intonation does not rise at the end)

か: ?

か is equivalent to a question mark if you have it at the end of a sentence.

Example

Do you eat apples?

りんごを食べます

Female put わ at the end of a sentence. It does not mean anything. In this case, わ has to follow Verb Plain Form or Adjective Plain Form.

Male just use Verb Plain Form or Adjective Plain Form.

Example

Female say: 私は学校に行く

Male say: 私は学校に行く。

Both means ‘I go to school.’

Exercise

Task: Fill in the brackets with correct particles.

  • 私( )名前( )トーマスです。
  • きのう父( )こうえん( )さんぽしました。
  • 日本で会った友だち( )日本語( )手紙( )書くつもりです。
  • オーストラリア( )行ったことがありますか。
  • はし( )食事するのはむずかしいです。
  • 母はテニスだけでなくバスケットボール( )上手です。
  • 今年学校で数学( )英語( )日本語を勉強します。

Kanji

Answer