Particles

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は wa

This is the topic marker. Used when changing or refreshing topics in conversation

わたしは watashi wa - 'I' The 'I' is the big idea of what is being talked about. Always translated as 'I', never 'me.'

が ga

Its main function is marking the subject. The one doing the action. Its usages include:

  1. subject marker
    私が
    watashi ga
    'I' The 'I' is the subject of the action. Always translated as 'I', never 'me.'
  2. weak contrastive / "but"
    済みませんが、今何時ですか
    sumimasen ga, ima nanji desu ka
    Excuse me, but what time is it?
  3. classical genitive marker
    我が二人寝し / あがせ(Kojiki)
    waga futari neshi / a ga se
    We two slept together. / my lover

を o

1. This is the direct object marker. The thing acted upon.

・コーヒを のみます。
kouhi o nomimasu
(I) drink coffee.
・コーヒーのおかわりを下さい。
kouhii no okawari o kudasai
Please give me onther cup of cofee.
・左手を上げなさい。
hidarite o agenasai

・これを三つください。
kore o mittsu kudasai

・3 に2 を足すと5 になる。
san ni ni o tasuto go ni naru

音をたてるな。
oto o tateruna

・このバケツに水を入れて下さい。
kono baketsu ni mizu o irete kudasai

・ケンがろうそくに火をつけた。
Ken ga rousoku ni hi o tusketa

2. archaic exclamatory particle
ここ に ちかく を きなきて よ (Manyoshu)
come and sing, Oh! close to here

へ e

This is a directional marker. to, toward
東京へいきます。
toukyou e ikimasu
(I) am going to Tokyo. (can also use に)

に ni

This is a multipurpose marker:

  1. indirect object (receiver)
    本をあなたにあげます。
    hon o anata ni agemasu
    (I) give you a book.
  2. place where something is going to 東京にいきます。
    toukyou ni ikimasu
    (I) am going to Tokyo. (can also use へ)
  3. time (at, in)
    7時にしゅっぱつ。
    shichi ji ni shuppatsu
    (I) will leave at 7.
  4. in/at a place
    東京にすんでいます。
    toukyou ni sundeimasu
    (I) live in Tokyo.
  5. purpose (to) コーヒにしましょう。
    kouhi ni shimashou
    Let's have coffee.

で de

This is also a multipurpose marker:

  1. by means of
    くるまでいきましょう。
    kuruma de ikimashou
    Let's go by (means of) car.
  2. place where the action happens
    家でテレビを見ます。
    ie de terebi o mimasu
    (I) watch tv at home.
  3. cause, reason
    たいふうで木がたおれました。
    taifuu de ki ga taoremashita
    Because of the typhoon, a tree fell.
  4. negation, in certain dialects
    ドイツ国に行かで
    doitu koku ni yukade.
    Not go to Germany.

See this post

から kara

  • from (a starting point in time or place or reason):
  1. Space
    アメリカから来ました。
    amerika kara kimashita.
    (I) came from America.
  2. Time
    家へ帰ってから御風呂に入ります。
    uchi e kaette kara ofuro ni hairimasu.
    (I) take a bath after returning home.
  3. Reason
    とても高いですから買いません。
    totemo takai desu kara kaimasen deshita.
    I do not buy it because it is so expensive.

と to

  1. a conjunction simllar to "and" and linking nouns
    オレンジと林檎とメロンが好きです。
    orenji to ringo to meron ga suki desu.
    I like oranges, apples and melons.
  2. open "and" list of nouns, used to mean "with"
    先生と話したいですか。
    sensei to hanashitai desu ka.
    Would you like to talk with the teacher?
  3. logical implication, natural consequence
    このシャンプーを買うとヘアブラシがついてきます。
    kono shanpu- o kau to heaburashu ga tsuitekimasu.
    This shampoo comes with a hair brush. (Lit. [Buying this shampoo.] and [A hairbrush comes along.])
  4. quoting particle
    「分かりませんか」と先生が聞きました
    wakarimasenka to sensei ga kikimashita
    "You did not understand?", asked the teacher.

まで made

  • the opposite of から
  • until, through, as far as, end point (in space, time or reason)
  1. Space
    此処から東京まで30分掛かりました。
    koko kara toukyou made sanjuppun kakarimashita.
    From here to Tokyo, it took 30 minutes.
  2. Time私は7時から8時まで日本語を勉強します。
    watashi wa shichi ji kara hachi ji made nihongo wo benkyou shimasu.
    I study Japanese from seven until eight.
  3. Reason
    そこまでする必要はない
    soko made suru hitsuyou ha nai
    There is no need do go this far. (meaning "Resort to doing something like this.")

の no

  • 's, of (possessive)

私の本です。
watashi no hon desu.
(it's) my book.
アメリカのフロリダ州から来ました。
amerika no furorida shuu kara kimashita.
(I) came from America's Florida state. (I came from Florida, America.)

とか toka

  • and, or -> etc. (used in lists of 2 or more things and then the list continues)

学校で英語とかフランス語とかドイツ語などを勉強しました。
gakkou de eigo toka furansu go toka doitsu go nado wo benkyou shimashita.
In school, I studied English, and French, and German...
何か飲む? お茶とかコーラとか・・・
nanika nomu? ocha toka kora toka...
Wanna drink something? Tea... or Coke ... or...

や ya

  • and -> etc. (used in lists of 2 or more nouns and then the list continues)

お茶やコーヒーがあ る。
ocha ya ko-hi- ga aru.
(We) have tea and coffee...

も mo

  • also, too

私も熊のプーさんが好き。
watashi mo kuma no pu-san ga suki.
I like Winnie the Pooh too!
ドイツ語も話せる。
doitsu go mo hanaseru.
I can also speak German.

が ga

  • but

熊のプーさんが 好きですが どらえもんは あまり 好き じゃない。
kuma no pu-san ga suki desu ga, Doraemon wa amari suki ja nai.
I like Winnie the Pooh but I don't like Doraemon too much.

NOTE: The first ga in the above example is the subject marker

毎日練習しますが・・・
mainichi renshuu shimasu ga...
Everyday I practice but...

けれども keredomo

(Also けれど, けど)

  • although, though

でも demo

  • but

しかし shikashi

  • but, however


For more detailed information, see the grammar pages.

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