The Big Fat Master List of Japanese Particles. Part 1.


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Ah, Japanese particles.

These little words and letters can instantly change the meaning of your sentence. The good news is, there aren’t so many of them like there are vocabulary and kanji. Master yo’ Japanese particles and you can start stringing coherent sentences instead of speaking like Tarzan. “Me, Go, Eat, Sushi, Love Japan Much, Please, Yes”

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So, assuming you got the basics of Japanese grammar, hiragana, katakana, have eaten at Benihana and wielded a katana, you’re good to go. Let’s get to the big fat master list of Japanese particles that you need to know.


The topic markers は and が. They drive everyone NUTS.

Both are topic markers. The basic rule you should remember for now is… is general and is specific. Very similar to “a” and “the” in terms of “this is a pen” and “this is the pen (that we were talking about). “

For example

  • 私は大学生です meaning.. I am a college student. Just a general introduction of fact.
  • 私が大学生です is you distinctly pointing out that you’re the college student. Perhaps someone wants to know who’s a college student in a room you’re in. Or… maybe someone’s mistaken you for a janitor at your community college and you must clarify that “uhh, dude, actually, 私が大学生です .”

の. The No Particle. There are 3 uses.

  1. Possessive adjective (person) no (object)
    1. コーヒー
    2. My coffee
  2. Turning nouns into adjectives (descriptive noun) no (noun)
    1. えいごせんせい
    2. English teacher
    3. アメリカぶんか
    4. American Culture
  3. Asking casual questions: It serves as a question marker because the question mark is not used in Japanese.
    1. どこ行く.
    2. Where are you going?

の方が. No Hou Ga. 2 uses.

  1. Saying something is more/less than something. Noun1 の方が Noun2 より X. Meaning noun1 is more X than noun2.
    1. 東京のが 北海道より楽しいです
    2. Tokyo is more fun than Hokkaido.
  2. Pointing out that one noun, out of the implied others, is (adjective). Nounの方が(adjective)です。
    1. お茶は薄い方がおいしいです。
    2. Weak tea is better. (Implying that you’ve already tasted the other tea.)
    3. これのほうがいいです。
    4. This is better.

ので (node) or Because.

  1. ので is the most polite of the “because” particles (yes, there are more of them) and interchangeable with から (kara).
    1. iPhoneは便利なので人気がある。
    2. The iPhone is popular because it’s useful.

か. The Ka Particle. There are 2 uses.

  1. <question>か。Signifies a question since question marks aren’t really used in Japanese. This is a more polite way to ask than using the particle .
    1. どこ行きますか。
    2. Where are you going?
  2. Noun1かNoun2か. Used as “or” – Noun1 or Noun 2?
    1. ジュースお茶どっちでも大丈夫です。
    2. Juice or tea, either is OK.
    3. ニューヨーク、4月には寒い暑い、全然わからない。
    4. I don’t know if New York is cold or hot in April.

The particle も, Mo. There are 3 uses.

  1. も is used as “also” or “too.” (subject) or (object)も(verb)
    1. a. 私はそこに行きたい。b. 私も行きたい!
    2. a. I want to go there. b. I also want to go!
  2. Noun1noun2. Saying “both, Noun1 and noun2” or “neither noun1 nor noun2.”
    1. 私は英語もロシア語も話せます。
    2. I can speak both Russian & English.
  3. Using for emphasis. “I can’t even…”
    1. 私は漢字も読めない。
    2. I can’t even read Kanji. (implying that’s how awful I am)
    3. その人見たこともなかった。
    4. I didn’t even seen that person.
    5. 何も知らない。
    6. I don’t know anything.
    7. 何も食べなかった。
    8. I didn’t eat anything.

Are we done yet? Of course not!

Read Part 2 Here.

This is a pretty big fat list after all. Make sure to leave a comment or ask a question if I’ve missed something or made a mistake.

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