Now, let's learn about "particles" !
Particles are the key grammatical element to understand Japanese sentences.
What are particles ?
Case 1They are similar to "prepositions" (to, on, at, for...) in English. But in Japanese, they are placed after the related word.
The particle で indicates that the preceding word is the "means of transportation". So, you can translate it as "by".
The particle と indicates accompaniment. So you can translate it as "with" someone.
3 じ に
at 3 o'clock
One particle could have several meanings. For example, the particle に could indicate "time and date" or "destination"... It depends on the context of the sentence.
Case 2The particles indicate what role the preceding word plays in a sentence.
This function does not exist in English ! That means there is NO direct translation in English for this use of particle.
This is a very commonly used particle. It indicates that the preceding word is the "Subject / Topic" of the sentence.
More specifically, the particle は(wa) indicates "the topic" of the sentence. It may be translated as "Regarding..." or "Concerning..." in English. However, "the topic" of Japanese sentences could often correspond to the "subject" in the English translation. Click here for examples.
This particle indicates the direct object of the sentence. Again, there is NO direct translation in English for this use of particle.
Rhythm of speaking
Tip ! When you are speaking, add a small pause after every particle. It makes the sentence flow and sound more natural !
List of frequently used particles
Meanings / Examples
1 - Tools or means of transportation, language, etc.
2 - Place of action : "in", "at" - Click here for more.
2 - Object of preference, skills/ability, desire etc - Click here for more.
3 - "Even though" "but " - Click here for more.
1 - Starting point : "from"
2 - Reason : "because" - Click here for more.
2 - Indirect Object : "to" someone, "from" someone
3 - Location (use with verbs あります / います) - Click here for more.
4 - Destination, direction, space you reach : "into", "to","towards" - Click here for more.
"of" - Click here for more.
Direct Object - Click here for more.
2 - Complete list of nouns : "and" - Click here for more.
Incomplete list : "and… etc." More casual than や - Click here for more.
Incomplete list of nouns : "and… etc." - Click here for more.
How to use the particle の ?
The particle の(no) is a very frequently used particle. の(no) placed between two nouns links those two nouns. It functions like "of" in English.
A の B
But the translation would be B of A, not A of B
You should always translate the second noun first !
President of Toyota
School of Japanese language
→ Japanese language school
If の(no) is preceded by human (or animal...), it indicates "ownership" or "belonging to".
car of me → my car
あに  の むすめ
daughter of my brother
→ my brother's daughter
If you want to say just "mine", "yours" or "Noriko's"...., omit the second noun.
Ｂ B of me → mine
Ｂ B of you → yours
Ｂ B of Noriko → Noriko's
Example sentences using the particle の
In which case do you use に or で for the location ?
Destination / direction. The place you go to. When using a verb that describes moving towards something (go, come, enter, get into, etc...)
Case 2When indicating the location in a sentence with the verb, あります or います.
Example sentences using the particle に
When it is not the destination. When using a verb that describes not moving towards something (eat, study, read, sing, speak, etc...)
Case 2When indicating the location of the event in a sentence using the verb あります.
Example sentences using the particle で
Difference between と and や when listing nouns
When you want to list nouns (not verbs or adjectives !), use the particle と(to) or や(ya).と(to) is used when listing everything, while や(ya) is used when listing only part of things. In a daily conversation, とか(toka) is often used instead of や(ya). とか(toka) is more casual than や(ya).
Example sentences using the particle と and や
など(nado) can be added after listing things using や(ya). など(nado) means "etc." but や(ya) already carries the nuance of "etc." Therefore, adding など(nado) is optional.
1 - When you want to list verbs or adjectives, you can not use the particle と(to). You have to use て(te) form of verbs or adjectives to list them.
2 - You can not start a sentece with the particle と(to) in order to mean "And...". For this purpose, you should use a linking word such as そして(soshite) or それから(sorekara).
Difference between が and を (direct object)
What is the direct object ?
The direct object is the word which answers the question "What?" or "Who?" in the sentence. Generally, it comes after the verb without a preposition.
1 - I watch TV at home.
What do I watch ? → TV
So, "TV" is the direct object of this sentence.
2 - Dennis saw Jennifer yesterday.
Who did Dennis see ? → Jennifer
So, "Jennifer" is the direct object of this sentence.
Normally, the particle を(o) is used to indicate the direct object in the sentence. But, in some cases, you should use the particle が instead of を(o). Let's learn here 3 main cases as follows:
Case 1When you talk about the preference.
→ talking about the preference
Case 2When you talk about the skill, ability, possibility.
→ talking about the skill
→ talking about the possibility
→ talking about the ability
Case 3When you talk about the the desire, hope (The Japanese word for
"I want..." and "I would like..." is the same).
I want to have a car.
With this expression « verb + tai desu », both を(o) and が(ga) can be used for the direct object.
→ talking about the desire
This rule only applies to the particle を(o). All other particles (に(ni), で(de), と(to) etc.）don't change.
I want to go to Japan.
We are finished with particles !
Now, let's take a look at adjectives !