Japanese particles

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Japanese particles, joshi (助詞?) or teniwoha (てにをは?), are suffixes or short words in Japanese grammar that immediately follow the modified noun, verb, adjective, or sentence. Their grammatical range can indicate various meanings and functions, such as speaker affect and assertiveness.

Orthography and diction[edit]

Japanese particles are written in hiragana in modern Japanese, though some of them also have kanji forms (弖 or 天 for te て; 爾 for ni に; 乎 or 遠 for o を; and 波 for wa は). Particles follow the same rules of phonetic transcription as all Japanese words, with the exception of は (written ha, pronounced wa), へ (written he, pronounced e) and を (written using a hiragana character with no other use in modern Japanese, originally assigned as wo, now usually pronounced o, though some speakers render it as wo). These exceptions are a relic of historical kana usage.

Types of particles[edit]

There are eight types of particles, depending on what function they serve.

  • Case markers (格助詞 kaku-joshi?)

が、の、を、に、へ、と、で、から、より

  • Parallel markers (並立助詞 heiritsu-joshi?)

か、の、や、に、と、やら、なり、だの

  • Sentence ending particles (終助詞 shū-joshi?)

か、の、や、な、わ、とも、かしら

  • Interjectory particles (間投助詞 kantō-joshi?)

さ、よ、ね

  • Adverbial particles (副助詞 fuku-joshi?)

ばかり、まで、だけ、ほど、くらい、など、なり、やら

  • Binding particles (係助詞 kakari-joshi?)

は、も、こそ、でも、しか、さえ、だに

  • Conjunctive particles (接続助詞 setsuzoku-joshi?)

や、が、て、のに、ので、から、ところが、けれども

  • Phrasal particles (準体助詞 juntai-joshi?)

の、から

Note that some particles appear in two types. For example, "kara" is a case marker where it describes where something is from or what happens after something; when it describes a cause it is a conjunctive particle.

List of particles[edit]

Index[edit]

Meaning and usage[edit]

Preceding syntactic element Example sentence Translation
bakari
ばかり (許り)
Translates to: "just, only, full of"
Colloquially: ばっかり bakkari, ばっか bakka
Noun Tōkyō wa hito bakari da.
東京は人ばかりだ。
Tokyo is just full of people.
Verbs (ta form) Tabeta bakari da.
食べたばかりだ。
I just ate.
Verb (te form) Kare wa tabete bakari iru
彼は食べてばかりいる。
He's always eating.
bakari ka
ばかりか (許りか)
Translates to: "not only".
Accompanied by さえ sae ("but also") indicates something unusual or unexpected.
Etymology: bakari + ka
Nouns Sofu bakari ka, sōsofu sae ikite iru.
祖父ばかりか、曽祖父さえ生きている。
Not only is my grandfather living, but so is my great-grandfather.
bakashi
ばかし (許し)
bakashi is another form of bakari.
dake
だけ (丈)
Translates to: "only"; limit.
Dake functions as a noun.
Kanji form 丈 is less commonly used.
Nouns rōmaji dake no jisho
ローマ字だけの辞書
a rōmaji-only dictionary
Verbs (volitional) Netai dake nereba ii.
寝たいだけ寝ればいい。
You can sleep as much as you want [to sleep].
da no
だの
Translates to: "and, things like".
Etymology: da (copula) + no.
This particle is used far less frequently than to ka.
Often has negative connotations.
Nouns, adjectives, verbs Nattō da no, shīfūdo da no, wasabi da no—nihonshoku ga nigate da.
納豆だのシーフードだのわさびだの—日本食が苦手だ。
Natto, seafood, wasabi—Japanese food isn't my thing.
de
Etymology: Originally an alteration of ni te, later treated as a conjugation of the copula da. de can be used as "at" or "by means of". When serving as the continuative TE form of a subordinate clause, de substitutes for da/desu, carries the meaning "is, and so...", and takes on the tense of the final verb of the sentence.
Nouns: instrument Jitensha de ikimashō.
自転車で行きましょう。
Let's go by bicycle.
Nouns: location Koko de yasumitai.
ここで休みたい。
I want to rest here.
Nouns: language Nihongo de tegami o kaita.
日本語で手紙を書いた。
I wrote the letter in Japanese.
TE form of copula: "is, and so..." kimi ga suki de yokatta
君 が 好き で よかった。
Pal, you are loved (and so) I am glad. / I am glad that I love you, pal.
de mo
でも
Translates to: "even; or; but, however; also in"
Etymology: de + mo
Nouns, particles: "even" Uchū kara de mo Banri-no-Chōjō ga mieru.
宇宙からでも万里の長城が見える。
Even from space you can see the Great Wall of China.
Noun: "or something" Ocha de mo, ikaga?
お茶でも、いかが?
Would you like tea or something?
Noun: "also in" Nihon de mo eigo o benkyō suru
日本でも英語を勉強する。
In Japan also, we study English.
Beginning of phrase: "but, however, even so" De mo, watashi wa sō omowanai
でも、私はそう思わない。
But I don't think so.
dokoro ka
どころか (所か)
Translates to: "anything but, far from"
Etymology: dokoro (tokoro: place) + ka
Nouns Kare wa keisatsukan dokoro ka, hanzaisha da.
彼は警察官どころか、犯罪者だ。
He's anything but a policeman; he's a criminal.
e
Translates to: "to, in"; direction
E is written with へ rather than え, reflecting old kana usage.
Nouns: direction Nihon e yōkoso!
日本へようこそ!
Welcome to Japan!
ga
Functions as: identifier (identifies something unspecified), conjunction ("but")

Ga (が or ): Historical possessive used to connect nouns, most often seen in place names as

Nouns: identifier (answers a silent or asked question) Neko ga esa o tabeta.
猫が餌を食べた。
The cat ate the catfood. [Answers: "What ate the catfood?"]
Inu ga suki.
犬が好き。
I like dogs. [Answers: What do you like?]
Noun: noun connector wa ga kuni
我が
my/our [collective] country
Fujimi ga Oka
富士見が
Fuji View Hill
Seki ga hara
関が
Gateway Plains (site of the Battle of Sekigahara)
Phrases: conjunction Inu wa suki da ga, neko wa kirai da.
犬は好きだ、猫は嫌いだ。
I like dogs but I hate cats.
hodo
ほど (程)
Translates to: "as much as"; upper limit
Nouns Kare hodo nihongo ga umakunai.
彼ほど日本語がうまくない。
My Japanese isn't as good as his.
Adjectives* Hayai hodo ii.
早いほどいい。
The sooner, the better.
Verb Aitsu o koroshitai hodo kirai da
あいつを殺したいほど嫌いだ。
I hate him enough (to want) to kill him.
ka
Functions as: question denominator, alternative item conjunction, quotation expressing doubt; "whether", especially when used with dō ka ("or not").
Nouns, verbs: listing alternatives Kore ka, sore ka, dotchika erande yo.
これかそれか、どっちか選んでよ。
This or that, choose one of them.
Noun, verbs: "whether (or not)" Iku ka [dō ka] wakaranai.
行くか(どうか)分からない。
I don't know [whether or not / if] he'll go.
Adverbs (interrogative): uncertainty Dokoka de mita koto ga aru.
どこで見たことがある。
I think I've seen you somewhere before. (You look familiar)
Phrases: question Wakaru ka?
分かる
Do you understand? (informal)
Phrases: question, rhetorical Eigo nannte wakaru ka!
英語なんて分かる!
Why the heck would I understand English? (informal)
Phrases: question, invitation Sate, dekake yō ka?
さて、出かけよう
Right then, shall we leave?
Phrase: quotation expressing doubt Iku ka to omoimasu ga...
行くかと思いますが。。。
I think he'll go (but I'm not sure)...
kai
かい
kai is a gentler and masculine variant of the question marker ka.
ka na
かな
Translates to: "I wonder" (Note: "Ka na" implies having mostly made up one's mind. Drawing out the "na" [ka naa] implies less certainty.)

Etymology: ka + na

Phrases Kare wa ayashii hito ka na.
彼は怪しい人かな
I wonder if he's a suspicious person.
kara
から
Translates to: "from, after, because"
Kara may be followed by no to link two nouns.
Nouns: "from, out of" Tōkyō kara kaetta.
東京から帰った。
He returned from Tokyo.
zutto mae kara no hanashi
ずっと前からの話
a conversation from way back
Verb (te form): "after" Owatte kara, kite kudasai.
終わってから、来てください。
Please come by after finishing (after you've finished).
Adjectives, Verbs: "because" Niku o tabenai kara, raamen wa dame da
肉を食べないから、ラーメンはだめだ。
Because he doesn't eat meat, ramen is bad (a bad idea).
ka shira
かしら
Ka shira is like ka na, but is used more by women. See also Gender differences in spoken Japanese.

Etymology: ka + shira, the irrealis form (i.e. negative form minus the -nai) of shiru "to know"

Phrases Kare wa ayashii hito ka shira.
彼は怪しい人かしら
I wonder if he's a suspicious person.
kedo
けど
Translates to: "although, but"
Etymology: kedo is a shortened version of formal keredomo. It also appears semi-abbreviated and semi-formally as keredo or kedomo.
Adjectives, verbs Kanojo wa hen da kedo kirei da.
彼女は変だけどきれいだ。
She is strange but pretty
kiri
きり (切り)
Translates to: "just, only"
Kiri is more rarely used than dake, functions as a noun and may be followed by no.
Nouns futari kiri no o-mise
二人きりのお店
a shop with just two people [who work there]
koro/goro
ごろ (頃)
Translates to: "around, about, approximately"
Koro functions as a noun and may be followed by no.
Nouns San-ji goro ni aimashō.
三時ごろに会いましょう。
Let's meet around 3 o'clock.
koso
こそ
Functions as: Emphasis marker.

There is no direct translation, but roughly analogous to "precisely" or "exactly", as in examples below.

Phrases Kyō koso, yaru zo!
今日こそ、やるぞ!
Today, I'm going to do it!
Kimi ga suki da kara koso kore dake ganbatte iru n da yo.
君が好きだからこそこれだけがんばっているんだよ。
It's precisely because I like you that I'm working this hard.
Kochira koso, yoroshiku onegai shimasu.
こちらこそ、よろしくお願いします。
Nice to meet you, too. (Emphasizes this side or me too)
kurai/gurai
くらい・ぐらい (位)
Translates to: "about, approximately"
Kurai functions as a noun and may be followed by no.
Nouns Juppun kurai kakaru
十分くらいかかる。
It takes about 10 minutes.
made
まで (迄)
Translates to: "up to, until, as far as"
Indicates a time or place as a limit.
Nouns (specifically places or times) Kono densha wa, Shimonoseki made ikimasu.
この電車は、下関まで行きます。
This train goes as far as Shimonoseki.
Verb Kaeru made matte iru.
帰るまで待っている。
I'll wait until you come home.
made ni
までに (迄に)
Translates to: "by (a certain time)"

Etymology: made + ni

Nouns, verbs Ku-ji made ni kaeru.
九時までに帰る。
I'll come back by nine o'clock.
me
め (目)
me (目 only): ordinal particle
me (め only): "Damn..."; abusive/pejorative
Classifier nouns: ordinal Amerika wa nikai me desu.
アメリカは二回目です。
This is my second time to America.
Noun: abusive "damn..." Orokamono me!
愚か者め!
[You] damn fool!
mo
Translates to: "also"
Mo always replaces wa and ga, but may follow other particles.
Nouns, phrases Watashi ni mo kureta.
私にもくれた。
She gave some to me, too.
mono/mon
もの・もん
Verb + mono (物) : creates a noun from the verb (only applies to certain verbs)
もの/もん at the end of a sentence: casual feminine sentence ender like ; もん is very feminine and a bit cheeky.
With verbs Nomimono
飲み
Drink
Tabemono
食べ
Food
Ikimono
生き
Living thing
At the end of a sentence "Doushite konakatta no?" "Jugyō ga attanda mono."
「どうしてこなかったの?」「授業があったんだもの。」
"Why didn't you come?" "I had class."
"Doushite konakatta no?" "Jugyō ga attanda mon."
「どうしてこなかったの?」「授業があったんだもん。」
"Why didn't you come?" "I had class, hah."
mono de
もので
Similar meaning as ので.
mono ka/mon-ka
ものか/もんか
Put at the end of sentences, use in strongly decline. (More gently : もの/もんですか)
At the end of sentences Makeru-monka!
負けるもんか!
I will not surrender!
Dare ga anna tokoro-ni nido to iku-mondesuka!
誰があんなところに二度と行くもんですか!
Who dares to go to the place like that at the second time!
mono nara
ものなら (物なら)
if (I/we/etc.) could
mono o
ものを
Used in phrases to show deplore feelings about not doing something they should do.
Phrases "Sukida" to hito koto itte kure-sae shi-tara kekkon deki-ta mono o...
"好きだ"と一言言ってくれさえしたら、結婚できたものを...
If you had said "I like you", we would have gotten married...
na and naa
な(and なる)・なあ・なぁ
Na (な only): used with a class of adjectives which behave grammatically like nouns (see na-adjectives). A more archaic form of this na is naru (なる), which is used in the same way. If na follows a dictionary form verb, it is a negative command ("Don't... "). However, if used with a verb stem, it implies the opposite: "Do...". It is also used to modify general nouns before other particles which cannot directly follow nouns (e.g. no de).
Etymology: The na used with nouns (including na-adjectives) is a form of the copula. Na or naa at the end of a sentence is a variant of ne, implying more reflection.
Verb Suru-na
する
Don't do (something).
Tabe-na
食べ
Do eat / Please eat.
Na-adjectives hen na hito
変な
a strange person
Phrases Hen da na!
変だ
How strange!
nado
など (等)
Translates to: "for example, things like, such as, etc., and so on"
Functions as a noun and may be followed by no.
Nouns Nattō ya kabuki nado wa Nihon dake ni aru.
納豆や歌舞伎などは日本だけにある。
Things like natto and kabuki are only in Japan.
nanka/nante
なんか・なんて (何か・何て)
Functions to: emphasize disgust, contempt, or otherwise negative feelings of the speaker.
Nante is slightly more formal than nanka.
Nouns Jogen nanka iranai.
助言なんかいらない。
I don't need any (damn) advice.
Verb[1] Oyogu nante dekinai.
泳ぐなんてできない。
I can't swim.
Adjectives[2] Ōkiku nanka nai kedo, kirei da.
大きくなんかないけど、きれいだ。
It's not big [or anything], but it's clean.
nara
なら
Translates to: "if"; conditional
Hypothetical (仮定形) or conditional form of the copula da. Related to the more formal naraba.
Nouns, adjectives, verbs, phrases Atsui nara, eakon o tsukete
暑いなら、エアコンを付けて。
If you're hot, turn on the air conditioner.
ne
Translates to: "eh"; interjection, tag question
Similar to English "hey", "eh?", French "non?" and Spanish "no?" Asks or shows agreement and reflection at phrase-end, also used before sentences to catch listener's attention (informal).
Phrases Kimi wa kashikoi yo ne.
君は賢いよね。
You're pretty smart, aren't you.
Kakkō ii desu ne.
格好いいですね。
That's pretty neat, eh?
Ne, ima nanji?
、いま何時?
Hey, what time is it?
ni
Translates to: "to, in, at, by"; indirect object, direction; following a na-adjective, it creates an adverb
Noun: location Gakkō ni iru.
学校にいる。
I'm at/in school.
Noun: direction Gakkō ni iku.
学校にいく。
I'm going to school.
Noun: indirect object Ore ni kaese.
俺に返せ。
Give it back to me.
Noun: passive agent Ka ni sasareta.
蚊にさされた。
I was bitten by a mosquito.
Noun, verbs (stem only): purpose, intent Eiga o mi ni iku.
映画を見に行く。
I'm going to see a movie.
Adjective: forms adverb teinei, teinei ni
丁寧、 丁寧に
polite, politely
ni te
にて
Formal version of de, functions in exactly the same way.

Etymology: Case particle ni + conjunctive particle te (cf. te form of Japanese verbs)

ni wa
には
Translates to: "for; in, to; in order to";
Etymology: ni + wa (always written は)

The wa part is the topic particle.
Serves as emphasis for a negative ending.

Nouns: "for" Shichimi wa, watashi ni wa kara-sugiru.
七味は、私には辛すぎる。
Shichimi is too spicy for me. (i.e., "you might like it, but I'm not touching it.")
Noun: "in, to" Kyōto ni wa hana ga aru.
京都には花がある。
There are flowers in Kyōto.

(Lit.: As for in Kyōto, there are flowers.)

Verb: "in order to" Mizu o mitsukeru ni wa
みずをみつけるには
In order to find water
no
Functions as: possession indicator, noun link, topic marker (subordinate clauses), nominalization

When nominalizing whole phrases, the no may function either as emphasis or as a question, depending on tone of voice. Similar to English, a falling tone denotes a statement, and a rising tone a question. Its use to mark statements tends to be more typical of feminine speech. See also Gender differences in spoken Japanese.

Nouns: possession ex. a sensei no kuruma
先生の
the teacher's car
Noun: possession ex. b watashi no konpyuuta
私のコンピューター
My computer
Noun: possession ex. c anata no shukudai
あなたの宿題
your homework
Noun: linking kuruma no Toyota
車のトヨタ
Toyota the car [company]
Noun: subject marker in subordinate clauses (see also: ga) Kare no tsukutta kēki wa oishikatta.
彼の作ったケーキはおいしかった。
The cake that he made was tasty.
i-adjectives: nominalization Yasui no wa, kore.
安いのは、これ。
This is the cheap[er] one.
Verb: nominalization Taberu no ga daisuki.
食べるのが大好き。
I love eating.
Phrases: nominalization Mō, tabeta no?
もう、食べたの
Have you eaten yet?
Kuruma na no?
なの
Is it a car?
Kare ni mō ageta no yo!
彼にもうあげたのよ!
I already gave it to him!
no de
ので
Translates to: "because"
Etymology: no + de
Colloquially, no de is often shortened to n de.
Phrases[3] Tesuto ga aru no de, ikenai.
テストがあるので、行けない。
Because I have a test, I can't go.
Gakkō na no de, kin'en da.
学校なので、禁煙だ。
Because this is a school it's no smoking.
nomi
のみ
Translates to: "only, just"
Nomi is more formal and far less common than dake. Unlike dake, its only meaning is that of small quantity or singleness of frequency.
Nouns Tō-ten de wa, Nihon en nomi go-riyō itadakemasu.
当店では、日本円のみご利用頂けます。
This store accepts Japanese Yen only.
no ni
のに
Translates to: "despite, although, even though; would have; in order to"
Etymology: no + ni
Nouns and na-adjectives must be followed by na before using this particle.
No ni has a stronger meaning than kedo when used to mean "although", and conveys regret when used to mean "would have".
Adjectives, verbs: "although" Benkyō shiteiru no ni, eigo ga hanasenai.
勉強しているのに、英語が話せない。
Although I am studying, I can't speak English.
Adjectives (conditional), verbs (conditional): "would have" Kaette kitara, yokatta no ni.
帰ってきたら、よかったのに
It would have been nice if you had come home.
Verb (plain form): "in order to" Hikkosu no ni torakku ga hitsuyō da.
引っ越すのにトラックが必要だ。
(In order) to move, you need a truck.
o
Functions as: direct object
Translates to: "through, from, past (motion verbs only)"
This is unrelated to the honorific prefix o, written お or 御.
Nouns: direct object Neko ga esa o tabeta.
猫が餌を食べた。
The cat ate the food.
Noun: through, etc. (motion) Sora o tobu
空を飛ぶ
fly through the sky
sa/saa
さ・さあ・さぁ
Functions as: Masculine sentence/phrase final particle, indicating explanation of obvious facts. It is softer than yo.
Saa: Feminine sentence/phrase final particle, used like ne, but often more frequently as extremely colloquial filler.
Phrases: masculine sa Kanojo ga inai kara, dansu niwa ikanai sa.
彼女がいないから、ダンスには行かない
I don't have a girlfriend, so I'm not going to the dance.
Phrases: saa Kinō saa, gakkō de saa, sensei ni saa, chūi sarete saa, chō mukatsuita.
昨日さあ、学校でさあ、先生にさあ、注意されてさあ、超むかついた。
Like, yesterday, in, like, school, I, like, got fussed at by, like, some teacher, and it totally made me sick.
sae
さえ
Sae: "even"

Note the meaning overlaps with mo. Sae implies (usually) positive emphasis that the evident extent of something is greater than initially expected. Can be followed by mo for additional emphasis. Contrast this with sura.

Nouns Kanji sae kakeru.
漢字さえ書ける。
He can even write kanji.
de sae
でさえ
Translates to: "even"
Etymology: de + sae
De sae replaces wa and ga, like de mo above.
Nouns Sonna koto wa saru de sae dekiru.
そんなことは猿でさえできる。
Even a monkey can do that.
sae...ba/ra
さえ…ば・ら
Function: sae followed by a verb in the conditional means "if only".
Nouns Kore sae nomeba, futsukayoi ga naoru yo.
これさえ飲めば、二日酔いが直るよ。
If you would just drink this, your hangover would get better.
shi
Translates to: "and what's more" (conjunction)
Adjectives, verbs Kirei da shi, hiroi shi, ii ne, kono apaato!
きれいだし広いし、いいね、このアパート。
It's clean, it's spacious; this apartment is nice, isn't it!
shika
しか
Translates to: "only, just"
Shika must be followed by a negative verb.
Shika may be compounded as dakeshika, kirishika, and nomishika (plus the negative verb) to stress an extremely limited quantity or frequency.
Nouns Ichi en dama shika nai.
一円玉しかない。
I have just a one-yen coin.
Verb Yūbin-kyoku ni iku shika nai.
郵便局に行くしかない。
The only thing [to do] is to go to the post office.
sura
すら
Translates to: "even"

Note the meaning overlaps with mo. Sura implies (usually) negative emphasis that the evident extent of something is less than initially expected. Contrast this with sae.

Nouns Kanji sura kakenai.
漢字すら書けない。
He can't even write kanji.
to
Translates to: "and" (conjunction); "with" or "as with" (preposition); "if"; quotation.
Nouns: conjunction sore to kore
それとこれ
that and this
Nouns: conjunction sore to kore to
それ と これ と
that or this
Verbs: transition/state change taiyōkei dasshutsu e to chikazuite itta
太陽系 脱出 へ と 近づいて 行った。
They were getting close to the point of leaving the Solar System.
Noun: preposition Boku to ikitai?
僕と行きたい?
Do you want to go with me?
Verb, adjectives: "if" Benkyō suru to wakaru.
勉強すると分かる。
If you study, you'll understand.
Any phrase: quotation Umi made! to sakenda.
「海まで!」と叫んだ。
"To the sea!" he cried.
to ka
とか
Functions as: A listing particle used like nado. Often used with the question word nani (what) in the form nantoka ("something or other").
Etymology: to + ka
Nouns Kani to ka, hotate to ka, zenbu tabeta yo.
蟹とか、帆立とか、全部食べたよ。
We had crab, scallops, [other stuff,] we ate them all.
to mo
とも (共)
Tomo (共): "both, all of the"

To mo (no kanji): "even if, even though; at the ...-est; whether; [emphasis]"
If following a noun and used with a negative verb, meaning changes to "none".

Etymology: to + mo

Counted nouns Watashi wa, aitsura ga futari tomo kirai da.
私は、あいつらが、二人とも嫌いだ。
I hate the both of those guys.
Zannen nagara, sono kuruma wa san dai tomo irimasen.
残念ながら、その車は三台とも要りません。
Unfortunately, we need none of those three cars.
Volitional verbs shiyō to mo amari susumanai.
どうしようともあまり進まない。
No matter how we try [to do something], we don't make much progress.
Adverbial (continuative) form of i-adjectives Sukunaku to mo go-jū mairu aruite kita.
少なくとも五十マイル歩いてきた。
We walked at least fifty miles [to get here].
Osoku to mo itte miyō yo.
遅くともいってみようよ。
Even if it's late, let's go and check it out.
Verb (paired with same verb in negative) Kau to mo kawanai to mo hakkiri shite imasen.
買うとも買わないともはっきりしていません。
It isn't clear whether they're going to buy or not.
Verb, adjectives
This use is similar to the English expression, "as if [something] wouldn't [phrase]."
Waratte ii to mo.
笑っていいとも。[4]
It's okay to laugh.
Ikimasen to mo.
行きませんとも。
As if I would go.
tte
って
Written as って in hiragana, this is another form of to. It is a shortened version of toiu (という), the present progressive form of the verb iu (言う), "to say"; it functions as a type of verbal quotation mark. It is sometimes used for a direct quote, sometimes for an indirect quote, and sometimes simply to emphasize a word or concept.

tte is casual, and (because it can be a direct quote) the politeness level of the quoted material does not necessarily reflect on the speaker. If you wish to be assuredly formal, use to iimasu instead of tte.

Any phrase Sugu kimasu tte
すぐ来ますって。
Could be, "He said he'll come soon" (more politely) or, "He said, 'I'll come soon.'" (less so).
Arabiago tte, muzukashikunai?
アラビア語って難しくない?
"Arabic─isn't it difficult?"
(Emphasizing a word; used instead of というものは or )
tteba
ってば
Functions as:'strong emphasis marker, especially when the speaker has grown impatient.
Etymology: te + ba
Any phrase: quotation kōhī datteba !
コーヒーだってば
I said "coffee"!
wa
wa is a topic marker. It is written with the hiragana ha, rather than the hiragana , wa. Not to be confused with the particle .
wa
wa is used at the end of the sentence to establish an emotional connection. It is used by both gender when it is pronounced with a falling intonation especially in dialects of Kansai, Nagoya and elsewhere, but with a rising intonation, it is generally used by females. This also conveys a certain deference to the speaker's wishes and emotions.
ya
Ya is used to make incomplete lists of things (usually nouns). To make an exhaustive list, the particle to is used instead.
Watashi no suki na tabemono wa okashi ya pan ya mikan nado desu
私の好きな食べ物はお菓子やパンやミカンなどです。
"I like snacks, bread and tangerines."
yara
やら
Denotes either uncertainty or listing.
yo
Yo comes at the end of the sentence, and is used to make assertions. Compare zo and ze below.

Yo is also sometimes used after nouns, and functions as a vocative marker. This is especially used in older speech, poetry, and songs.

Kaeru yo!
帰るよ!
"I'm going home!"
Saraba, tomo yo
さらば友よ。
"Farewell, oh friend!"
yori
より
Yori can mean "from", and is also used to make comparisons. Yori is usually written より in hiragana.
Kono densha-wa, Kashiwa-yori saki wa kaku eki-ni tomarimasu
この電車は柏より先は各駅に止まります。
"This train will stop at every station after Kashiwa".
Dare-yori-mo kanemochi-ni naritai
誰よりも金持ちになりたい。
"I want to become richer than anyone (else)".
ze
ze indicates assertion. Used mostly by men, it is never considered polite. Compare yo and zo.
zo
zo indicates assertion. Used mainly by men, it is considered somewhat less forceful and more positive than ze. Compare yo and ze above.
zutsu
ずつ
Zutsu denotes an equal or gradual distribution of quantity like "at a time" in "one at a time", "by" in "one by one", or "each" in "one each". It usually follows counted nouns, and is written with hiragana as ずつ.
Noun: counted Chokorēto-o ni-ko-zutsu tabemashita
チョコレートを二個ずつ食べました。
Either "I ate two pieces of chocolate on each (countable) times." or "Each one ate (=shared) two pieces of chocolate (from larger amount)."

Contrast[edit]

wa and が ga[edit]

ni and で de[edit]

Ni and de can both be used to show location, corresponding to the prepositions "in" or "at" in English. Their uses are mutually exclusive.

Ni, when used to show location, is used only with stative verbs such as iru, "to be, exist;" aru, "to be, exist, have;" and sumu, "to live, inhabit."

日本に住んでいる。 (Nihon-ni sunde iru. "I live in Japan."?)
Gakkō-ni iru. "I am in school."

De is used with action verbs to convey the place of action, as opposed to location of being.

学校で寝る。 (Gakkō-de neru. "I sleep in/at school."?)
*Gakkō-ni neru. *"I sleep to school," is not usually used.

ni and へ e[edit]

Ni and e can both indicate direction of motion, meaning "to" or "at" in English. In this sense, e is perhaps closer to English "towards" in terms of use (see example below). As long as ni is used directionally, it is possible to substitute e in its place. Ni used in other senses cannot be replaced by e:

学校に行く。 (Gakkō ni iku. "I'm going to school"?), where 学校 gakkō, "school," is the destination of 行く iku, "go."
Gakkō e iku. "I'm going to school," where gakkō, "school," is the destination of iku, "go."
学校にいる。 (Gakkō ni iru. "I'm at school"?), where 学校 gakkō, "school," is the location of いる iru, "be;" not a destination.
*Gakkō e iru. *"I'm to school," is not a possible construction since "be" is not a verb of motion.
友達に会う。 (Tomodachi ni au "I'll meet my friends"?) where 友達 tomodachi, "friends," is the indirect object of 会う au, "meet;" not a destination.
*Tomodachi e au *"I'll meet to my friends," which is impossible because "meet" is not a verb of motion.
本を買いに行った。 (Hon o kai ni itta "I went to buy a book"?), where 買いに kai ni, "to buy," shows purpose or intent, and is a verbal adverb; not destination.
*Hon o kai e itta *"I went towards buying a book," is not possible because kai, "buying," cannot be a destination.

Indicating direction, using e instead of ni is preferred when ni is used non-directionally in proximity:

友達に会いに京都へ行った。 (Tomodachi ni ai ni Kyōto e itta. "I went to Kyoto to meet my friends."?)

ga and を o[edit]

In some cases, ga and o are interchangeable. For example, with the tai form, meaning "want to", it is possible to say either of the following:

ご飯が食べたい。 (Gohan ga tabetai. "I want to eat rice."?)
ご飯を食べたい。 (Gohan o tabetai. "I want to eat rice."?)

Similarly, 好き suki, a na adjective meaning "liked", can take either ga or o:

君が好きだ。 (Kimi ga suki da "I like you"?)
君を好きでよかった (Kimi o suki de yokatta "I'm glad I like you"?) (words from a popular song)

ni and と to[edit]

Ni and to are sometimes interchangeable in forms like になる ni naru and となる to naru. The ni naru form suggests a natural change, whereas to naru suggests change to a final stage.

ya and と to[edit]

Ya is used for incomplete lists, whereas to is used for complete ones.

Differences from English prepositions[edit]

Many Japanese particles fill the role of prepositions in English, but they are unlike prepositions in many ways. Japanese does not have equivalents of prepositions like "on", and often uses particles along with verbs and nouns to modify another word where English might use prepositions. For example, ue is a noun meaning "top/up"; and ni tsuite is a fixed verbal expression meaning "concerning", and when used as postpositions:

Tēburu-no  -ue-ni   aru.
Table-OF  top/up-AT exists.
"It's on the table."
Ano  hito-wa,    gitaa-ni   tsuite  nandemo wakaru.
That person-TOPIC guitar-TO concerning anything  knows.
"That person knows everything about guitars."

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Nanka/nante is usually followed by a verb which conveys some kind of undervalue, lacking, or dislike, often in the negative.
  2. ^ Can immediately follow i-adjectives, using the adjective's ku form if followed by the negative, or if the adjective is followed by no. Na-adjectives require the copula da or no before nante or nanka.
  3. ^ Phrases ending in a noun or na-adjective require the na form of the copula before the nominalizing no.
  4. ^ Title of a Japanese TV programme hosted by Tamori.

References[edit]

  • Chino, Naoko. How to Tell the Difference Between Japanese Particles. Tokyo; New York: Kodansha International, 2005. ISBN 4-7700-2200-X.
  • Martin, Samuel E. A Reference Grammar of Japanese. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1975. ISBN 0-300-01813-4.
  • Makino, Seiichi, and Michio Tsutsui. A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar. Tokyo: Japan Times, 1986. ISBN 4-7890-0454-6.
  • Makino, Seiichi, and Michio Tsutsui. A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar. Tokyo: Japan Times, 1997. ISBN 4-7890-0775-8.
  • McClain, Yoko Matsuoka. A Handbook of Modern Japanese Grammar: Including Lists of Words and Expressions with English Equivalents for Reading Aid. Tokyo: Hokuseido Press, 1981. ISBN 4-590-00570-0, ISBN 0-89346-149-0.