This article describes particles – a kind of a grammatical glue in the Japanese language. They convey meanings such as direction, ownership and topics.

There are many particles in Japanese, and this section covers some of the most important ones and their basic usages. Each particle may have several other additional usages. And there are many particles not described in this section. Please note that as you progress in your learning.

Particles arranged by Topic

Introduction to Particles

  • は (wa)、 も (mo)、 が (ga)、 か (ka)

Particles used with Verbs

  • を (o)、 に (ni)、 へ (e)、 で (de)

Noun-related Particles

  • と (to)、や (ya)、の (no)、とか

Emotion

  • ね (ne)、よ (yo)

Time-related particles

Compound Sentences

  • から (kara)、かと(kato) 、ので、が (ga)、し (Shi)、 と (to)、のに、けど、 ~たり~する

Alphabetical List of Particles

The following, non-exhaustive, list shows the particles covered in this section:

  • de [で] Place of action, means, total, material
  • e [へ] Direction
  • ga [が]Subject marker, sentence softener, continuation
  • ka [か] Or, enumeration
  • ka [か] Question marker
  • ka to [か と]
  • kara [から] Origin, starting time
  • kara [から、ので] Reason
  • made [まで] – Target, end time, to the extent
  • mo [も] – Also, both … and, neither … nor
  • nagara [ながら] - Simultaneous action
  • no [の] Possession, description (using a noun to describe another noun), apposition (description set off by commas or parentheses)
  • ni [に]  object, location, direction, specific time
  • ne [ね/ねぇ] – Confirmation
  • o [を]- Direct object
  • Shi [し] – and, in addition to
  • to [と] – And (in a complete listing), involvement
  • to [と] – Quotation
  • wa [は]  Topic
  • ya [や] And (partial listing)
  • yo [よ] Emphasis

de [で] Place of action, means, total, material

Place of action:

私は本屋で本を三冊買いました。
Watashi wa honya de hon o sansatsu kaimashita.
I bought three books at the bookstore.

By, mean, using:

田中さんはバスで会社に行きます。
Tanaka san wa basu de kaisha ni ikimasu.
Mr. Tanaka goes to the office by bus.

ペン書く
pen de kaku
to write with a pen

黒いインク書く
kuroi inku de kaku
to write in black ink

Out of, made by, comes from:

テーブルは木でできています。
Teeburu wa ki de dekite imasu.
The table is made of wood.

By, amount of people:

明日映画に二人で行きます。
Ashita eiga ni futari de ikimasu.
Tomorrow the two of us are going to a movie.

e [へ] (Direction)

The direction marking particle e 「へ」 is used after a place, to mark the direction something is moving. This particle can always be replaced with ni 「に」 and still be grammatically correct, although the reverse may not be valid. It does however look better to use e 「へ」 in some cases. Please note that the particle “e” is written with the hiragana character “he” 「へ」 although it is pronounced “e” when used as a particle.

日本へ行きますか。
Nihon e ikimasu ka.
Are you going to Japan?

ga [が]Subject marker, sentence softener, continuation

The particle ga 「が」 is a subject marker. It is used instead of wa 「は」 when you want to emphasize the subject. It can also sometimes be used for variation if the topic marker already has been used in a sentence. It feels stronger than the topic marker wa 「は」.

Topic marker:

私はすしが好きです。
Watashi wa sushi ga suki desu.
I like sushi. (Literally, As for me, sushi is likable.”)

Ga 「が」 is also used in the end of a sentence. It is then often used for softening the sentence, or to show that something else is in contrast with what you first said. Much like “but…” can be used for in English.

Continuation:

田中さんは来ますが、わたなべさんは来ません。
Tanaka san wa kimasu ga, Watanabe san wa kimasen.
Mr. Tanaka is coming, but Mr. Watanabe isn’t.

Softening:

このテレビを買いたいんですが。
kono terebi o kaitai n desu ga.
(I think) I would like to buy this TV.

ka [か] or – enumeration

The particle ka 「か」 is used for showing options, much as “or” is used in English.

お茶かコーヒーいかがですか。

Ocha ka koohii ikaga desu ka.

How about tea or coffee?

ka [か] Question marker

The question marker ka 「か」 is put in the end of a sentence to mark it as a question.

学生ですか。
Gakusei desu ka.
Are you a student?

ka to [かと]

Ka to 「かと」 is a construct that  can be used to mark a quotation of something that is uncertain.

おいしい か と 思いました。
Oishii ka to omoimashita
Maybe it’s tasty, I thought.

行く か 行かない かと 考えました。
iku ka ikanai ka to kangaemashita.
I was thinking “Shall I go or not”.

kara [から] (Origin, starting time)

The particle kara [から] marks where something comes from, or when talking about time, the start of something.

Originating, coming from:

あの人は日本から来ました。
Ano hito wa Nihon kara kimashita.
He is from Japan.

Start in time:

デパートは十時からです。
Depaato wa juuji kara desu.
The department store opens at 10:00 o’clock.

kara [から、ので] Reason

Kara conveys a reason. It sounds a bit casual, and in writing or formal language ‘node’ together with the masu form of the verb is to prefer.

忙しいから、映画に行かなかった。
Isogashii kara, eiga ni ikanakatta.
Because I was busy, I didn’t go to the movie.

made [まで] Target, end time, to the extent

Made 「まで」 marks the end of something. It is frequently used for time, marking the end of a period, such as store opening hours or a destination. But it can also be used to show extent of something, how far something has gone.

End time:

デパートは六時までです。
Depaato wa rokuji made desu.
The department store closes at 6:00 o’clock.

デパートは10時から6時までです。
Depaato wa juuji kara rokuji made desu.
The department store is open from 10:00 o’clock until 6:00 o’clock.

Destination:

東京から横浜まで歩きました。
Toukyou kara Yokohama made arukimashita.
(I) walked (all the way) from Tokyo to Yokohama.

Even, to the extent of:

私のご飯まで食べました。
Watashi no gohan made tabemashita.
(He) even ate my food.

mo [も] Also, both … and, neither … nor

The particle mo 「も」 is used to connect two or more things that have something in common.

私はお茶が好きです。コーヒーもすきです。
Watashi wa ocha ga suki desu. Koohii mo suki desu.
I like tea. I also like coffee.

お茶もコーヒーも飲みます。
Ocha mo koohii mo nomimasu.
I drink both tea and coffee.

お茶もコーヒーも飲みません。
Ocha mo koohii mo nomimasen.
I drink neither tea nor coffee.

nagara [ながら] Simultaneous action

Nagara shows that something is happening at the same time as something else.

歩きながら、問題について考えました。
Aruki nagara, mondai ni tsuite kangaemashita.
While walking, I thought about the problem.

食べながら、テレビを見ました。
tabenagara terebi wo mimashita.
While eating, I watched TV.

ne [ね/ねぇ] Confirmation

The sentence ending ne 「ね」 is very common in casual Japanese. It is a request for agreement or a confirmation, but often it is just used rhetorically. In most cases the answer to a “ne”-question would just be an agreeing ne 「ね」.

学生ですね。
Gakusei desu ne.
You are a student, aren’t you?

「この寿司、おいしいね。」 「ねぇ」   (casual language)
“Kono sushi, oishii ne” “nee”
“Isn’t this sushi tasty?”  “Yea.”

no [の] Possession, description (using a noun to describe another noun), apposition (description set off by commas or parentheses)

The word no marks a possession, that something belongs to something else. It can be used both in a direct, physical case such as “My umbrella. – watashi no kasa.”. Or it can also be used in a abstract manner, such as “Mr Yamada from Sony. – Sony no Yamada-san.”.

Possessive:

シモンは娘の猫です。
Simon wa musume no neko desu.
Simon is my daughter’s cat.

Descriptive:

日本の食べ物は美味しいです。
Nihon no tabemono wa oishii desu.
Japanese food is delicious.

友達の田中さんは先生です。
Tomodachi no Tanaka san wa sensei desu.
My friend, Mr. Tanaka, is a teacher.

ni [に]  object, location, direction, specific time

The particle “ni” has several uses. Here are some of them.

Marking a location or direction of movement.

ひろみさんは東京にいます。
Hiromi san wa Toukyou ni imasu.
Hiromi is in Tokyo.

東京に行きます。
Toukyou ni ikimasu.
I am going to Tokyo.

昨日私は早くうちに帰りました。
Kinou watashi wa hayaku uchi ni kaerimashita.
Yesterday I went home early.

Marking the direction of an action

私は弟に飴をもらいました。
Watashi wa otouto ni ame o moraimashita.
I received candy from my (younger) brother.

私は弟に飴をあげました。
Watashi wa otouto ni ame o agemashita.
I gave candy to my (younger) brother.

私は田中さんに本を貸しました。
Watashi wa Tanaka san ni hon o kashimashita.
I loaned Mr. Tanaka a book.

Marking a point in time

9時に会いましょう。
9ji ni aimashou.
Let’s meet at 9 o’clock.

Example Usage

午後十時に ごごじゅうじに gogo juuji ni at 10 PM
日曜日に にちじょうびに nichiyoubi ni on Sunday
七月に しちがつに shichigatsu ni in july
2001年に にせんいちねんに nisen ichi nen ni in the year 2001

o [を]Direct object

The object marker o 「を」 is used to mark the object in the sentence. That is, the word that the verbs directly act on.

トラコは小鳥をみています。
Torako wa kotori o mite imasu.
Torako is looking at the bird

Shi [し]- and, reason, conclusion

The particle し (shi) is commonly used as “and”. It can also be used to give a reason or conclusion.

1. Usage as “and”

It can be used to join several parts of a sentence. But it’s a little different from English “and”. As you can see in the following sentence, all phrases generally have “し” at each of the end of them.

うちの猫は最高だよ。かわいいし、頭はいいし、おとなしいし。
uchi no neko wa saikou da yo. Kawaii shi, atama wa ii shi, ato otonashii shi.
Our cat is the best – it’s cute, smart and calm.

2. Used to indicate reason (advanced use)

Used in this way, し (shi) has the same function as ので (node) and から (kara). Shi gives the nuance of that more reasons than the ones stated do exist. This use has the nuance of slang, and may not be considered as proper Japanese.

Beginners are recommended to use ので (node) and から (kara) to indicate reasons, rather than し (shi), as し will not work in all cases. Please refer to a advanced grammar book to read more about this.

家も近いんだし、たまには寄れよ。
ie mo chikai n da shi, tama ni wa yore yo.
Since you live nearby, drop in us at times.

Please be careful using shi in this way, as it may not be exactly as when using kara and node, as illustrated by the following examples.

(1) あの時はとても眠かったので、質問に答えられませんでした。
Since I was so sleepy at that time, I couldn’t answer the question.

(2) あの時はとても眠かったし、質問に答えられませんでした。
I was so sleepy at that time and I couldn’t answer the question.

(3) 時計が壊れていたので、遅刻しました。
Since my watch was broken, I was late at school.

(4) 時計が壊れていたし、遅刻しました。
My watch was broken, (and… anyway) I was late at school.

Example (2) is used commonly, but (4) is a bit awkward and possibly the person can be quite rude or childish because the speech tends to be heard his poor excuse. “し” is often used in coloquial speaking way, and it’s often used when the person doesn’t have decent or proper reason of the result, I think.

3. Conclusion

After saying a fact or condition, the latter clause implies the conclusion indicated by し (shi).

(1) 旅行はしたいけど、暇はないし。
ryokou ha shitai kedo, hima wa nai shi.
I want to take a trip, but I don’t have enough time. (therefore I can’t)

Compare it with the following sentence that does not have “し”:

(2) 旅行はしたいけど、暇はない。
ryokou wa shitai kedo, hima wa nai.
I want to trip, but I don’t have enough time.

Example (2) is a simple statement, but in (1), the listener/reader can feel something negative, as if the speaker is complaining, has frustration or so.

to [と] - And (in a complete listing), involvement

The particle to 「と」 is a marker with the same meaning as “and”, but also conveys that the list of things said is complete. If there may be more things, the particle ya 「や」 is used. The particle to can also show involvement, for instance “I talked with him – Kare to hanashimashita”.

The particle can also be used to mark quotation, and to indicate a consequence. (examples missing)

Complete listing:

その学生はペンと鉛筆をもっています。
Sono gakusei wa pen to enpitsu o motte imasu.
That student has a pen and a pencil.

Involvement:

私はよく友達と昼ご飯を食べます。
Watashi wa yoku tomodachi to hirugohan o tabemasu.
I often have lunch with my friends.

to [と] – Quotation

To quote someone, follow the quotation by 「と いいます」 to iimasu, or whatever tense and form is appropriate. To say what someone has said without making a quotation, use to iimasu but put what was said into the plain form. It’s common to omit da when reporting on questions. The verb iimasu may be used to ask how to say something in English or Japanese.

マイクさんは「早く走ることができません」といいました。
Maiku san wa, “Hayaku hashiru koto ga dekimasen,” to iimashita.
Mike said, “I can’t run fast”.

マイクさんは「明日野球をします」といいました。
Maiku san wa, “Ashita yakyuu o shimasu,” to iimashita.
Mike said, “I’m playing baseball tomorrow”.

マイクさんは明日野球をするといいました。
Maiku san wa, ashita yakyuu o suru to iimashita.
Mike said he’s playing baseball tomorrow.

私はアメリカ人かと聞きました。
Watashi wa Amerikajin ka to kikimashita.
He asked if I was American.

オートムン」は日本語で何と言いますか。「秋」と言います。
“Autumn” wa Nihongo de nan to iimasu ka. “Aki” to iimasu.
How do you say “autumn” in Japanese? It’s “aki”.

wa [は]  Topic

The particle 「は」 is used to mark the topic of a sentence. It may be easiest to think of it translated as “regarding …” or “.. as for ..”

この本は面白いです。
Kono hon wa omoshiroi desu.
This book is interesting.

陽子さんは大学院の学生です。
Youko san wa daigakuin no gakusei desu.
Youko is a graduate student. (Literally, “As for Youko, she is a graduate student.”)

私はかぜを引いたけど、弟は元気です。
Watashi wa kaze wo hiita kedo, otouto wa genki desu.
I have caught a cold, but my kid brother is all right.

ya [や] And (partial listing)

The particle ya 「や」 works as the English word “and”, but also indicates that the list of things listed may not be complete. Compare with the particle to 「と」.

私達は京都や大阪などへ行きました。
Watashitachi wa Kyouto ya Ousaka (nado) e ikimashita.
We went to Kyoto, Osaka, etc.

yo [よ] Emphasis

よ (yo) can be added to the end of a sentence to put emphasis on the sentence.

あなたはテレビを見ていいよ。 (casual language)

anata wa terebi o mite ii yo.
You can watch television.

2時間も待てないよ。 (casual language)
nijikan mo matte nai yo.
Two hours is too long to wait.

10分とかからずにつきますよ。
juppun to kakarazu ni tsukimasu yo.
You’ll get there in less than ten minutes.

If the sentence ends with a noun or -na adjective, as it often does in casual language, よ (yo) must be preceeded with a だ (da).

だめだよ。            (casual language)
Dame da yo.
Stop it!

An exception is if using feminine language, where usage of よ (yo) and ね (ne) without だ (da) is correct.

あれ は いぬ よ。

are wa inu yo (casual, feminine language)

That’s a dog!

きれい よ!

kirei yo (casual, feminine language)

It’s beautiful!


This page is edited by the StudyJapanese team, based on a part of “Some Notes on Japanese Grammar” published for your personal use, with the kind permission of Keith Smillie (http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~smillie/)