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Basic Japanese Particles

A list of a few basic Japanese particles with examples

The Small post-pre-positional thingies : Particles

If you are confused with particles, don’t worry – you are not alone. My advice is to open your ears to hear usage, practice using known examples, and improvise a lot!


– 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’ since it isn’t the object


This is the marker that usually marks the subject. The one doing the action.
わたしが watashi ga – ‘I’ The ‘I’ is the subject of the action. Always translated as ‘I’ never ‘me.’


This is the direct object marker.The thing acted upon .
コーヒをのみます。 kouhi o nomimasu (I) drink coffee .


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; note although this is hiragana he, it is often pronounced as ‘e’)


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 .


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 いえで テレビを みます 。 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.

An Excellent book on the subject:
All About Particles
A Highly recommended book on the ins and outs of those troublesome particles – wa, ga, o, ni and much more.

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