My Japanese Coach: Lesson XXVII, Particles I


Lesson Twenty Seven: Particles I
I’ve talked before about what particles are, and we’ve even used them in the past. Now it’s time to teach you all that you’ll need to know about them! Remember, a particle is a small word that is placed after a noun to tell you how it’s used. I’m going to be teaching you ten particles in this lesson.
The first particle is (wa). As mentioned earlier this marks the topic of the sentences. This particle is actually written with a (ha) character instead of a (wa). But it is still pronounced “wa.”
The other particle that only tells what part of the sentence a word is without giving it more meaning is (ga). (ga) is used for words that are not the main focus, but shows that it is the subject of the verb or the nouns plus desu. Words that replace X in sentences like “I like X,” or “X exists,” also use a (ga).
I like you.
anata ga suki desu.
あんたがすきです。
A cat is here.
neko ga iru.
ねこがいる。

The particle (wa) is the topic marker (marks what the speaker is going to talk about) and it can take over the function of two other particles in a sentence. Those particles are the subject marker (ga) and the object marker (wo). The basic rules I just covered should work fine for now.
Now to cover some particles with real meaning to them! This allows for so much more that you can do in sentences!
The first one I want to cover is to, as in “go to the store.” The particle for that in Japanese is (ni). (ni) should be placed after the place that the topic of the sentence is going to. Next is “too,” as in “I went too.” Too is (mo), and it works just like wa except that is has the added meaning of “too” or “also.”
I went to Japan.
watashi wa nihon ni ikimashita.
わたしわにほんにいきました。
I ate sushi too.
watashi mo sushi wo tabeta.
わたしもすしをたべた。

Here they are as a list of words. All words that are particles will be marked as particles by a (p).
topic marker (p)
wa
subject marker (p)
ga
object marker (p)
wo
towards (p)
ni
too (p)
mo

The next particle is (no). It’s used to modify nouns. Remember how we used it for colors before? Right! We can use “noun (no) noun” to help describe the second noun. “nihon no ie” means Japanese house. What kind of house is it? It’s Japanese!
It can also be used to show ownership. The first noun should be the owner and the second noun the thing that is owned.
Haruka’s cat
haruka no neko
はるかのねこ
My house
watashi no uchi
わたしのうち

Those uses of (no) are very similar. You’ll just have to get used to telling the difference. Good luck!
Our next particle, (to), pulls a double shift, since it can mean something different depending on how it is used. If between two nouns, it means and. “watashi to Suzikisan wa ikimashita.” “I and Suzuki went.” Notice that both the nouns become the topic. “(watashi to Suzukisan) wa ikimashita.”
If the (to) is placed after one noun, but without a noun after it, the meaning becomes “with.” “watashi wa suzukisan to ikimashita.” “I went with Suzuki.”
The last particle that I’m going to cover is (de). Like (to), it has a double use. When put after a place name it means “at” or “in.” This is saying that the verb happens in the place marked with (de). The other main use is “by means of.” “kuruma de ikimashita.” “I went by means of a car.”
Take some time to review these.
and (p)
to
at (p)
de
with (p)
to
modifier (p)
no
by means of (p)
de

Check to see how well you remember them!
GAME: Flash cards
Without them you’ll just be speaking like Tarzan. “Me Haruka. Me Japanese teach.” Let’s get some more practice using these in sentences.
GAME: Bridge builder
Next time I’m going to teach you words you can use to talk about your family. Then you can refer to them in a language they don’t know!