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Particles in Japanese

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nihongojackie
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Postby nihongojackie » April 4th, 2011 10:39 am

Bueller_007 wrote:I have a bit of time, so here goes:

は marks a topic, emphasing what follows it as being specific to that topic. There is no real equivalent in English, but people often say that "AはB" = "As for A, B". The "topic" is often the grammatical subject, but can be anything (including the grammatical object, and sometimes the verb), and it may also follow some other particles.

が marks the grammatical subject of a sentence. It can also be used to join sentences, like the word "but", but that が is technically a different word.

を marks the grammatical object of a sentence.

も functions as "also" in English. It can be used most places where you'd use は. That means, when used, it replaces は and が (and usually を, although I've seen them used together) and can follow some other particles directly.

に indicates direction (and arrival of) of coming/going or giving/receiving verbs. It usually means "to" (I.e. "I go to work"), but in the case of giving/receiving verbs, can also mean "from". In the case of passive verbs, it marks the grammatical agent, making it the same as "by" in English. (i.e. "my wallet was stolen by my brother.") に is also used to indicate the location of existence when combined with the verbs いる or ある, making it the Japanese version of "at" (in some instances). It is also used to create adverbs from な-adjectives, like the English "-ly".

へ is basically the same as に, except it emphasizes direction over arrival. The main difference is usage. へ is never used as "from", "by", "at" or "-ly". In addition, the particle の can follow the へ particle directly, whereas it cannot follow に.

で is used to indicate location of an action, so it also means "at", but is not used together with the verbs いる or ある. A different で is also a form of the copula used to connect clauses or phrases, so when you see で, it could also mean "due to", "and then", "using", etc.

から indicates a temporal or spatial starting point. ("from", "since")

まで indicates a temporal or spatial finishing point. ("all the way to", "until")

と is used to join nouns together into an exhaustive list that functions as a single noun. ("with", "and"). Like the English "and", it can also be used to give an (immediate) consequence to an action. (i.e. I walked out my door and got hit by a bus.") It's also the particle used to indicate a direct quote (from someone's mind or speech), functioning like quotation marks in English.

や is used in the same way as the first sense of と, but the list is not exhaustive. It means "such things as A, B, and C".

の (often shortened to ん) indicates possession (functioning like the English "apostrophe-ess"), but can also be used (before a copula) to give a reason for something. Similarly, it also functions as an indefinite pronoun. It is also one of the nominalizers, converting verb phrases, etc. into noun phrases.

ね is used at the end of sentences, basically in the same way as an English tag question. Generally, if said with rising intonation, it indicates a request for confirmation from the listener (i.e. "It's a beautiful day, isn't it?"), whereas if it's said with falling intonation, it's used as rhetorical device (i.e. "It's a beautiful day, isn't it.") Over-generalization, but a decent starting point.

よ is used to add emphasis to a sentence, i.e. to strengthen one's argument during a debate. In already-very-emphatic sentences, it reduces emphasis somewhat. It's your emphasis-regulating particle.

As a beginner, that's all you'll need to know. I've omitted a lot of stuff, just because it's out of your league at the moment, and there are TONS of other particles, and combinations of particles, like ので and とか, that need to be memorized as well.


He did a really good job explaining it. For lots of example sentences on this matter and a GREAT book for explaining this and all basic grammar I HIGHLY recommend this book!
http://www.amazon.com/Dictionary-Basic- ... 999&sr=8-1

inuygoku4185
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Postby inuygoku4185 » July 3rd, 2012 8:16 am

I am probably still not fully understanding the major differences some of the explanations are good..... I am just still befuddled on these darn things. I find it funny that I can understand it being spoken but when I try think it out in my head and make a sentence it's gone. It doesn't make sense and it's like I don't know the language at all. I don't know if I am over thinking it or not thinking enough.

は is used to mark a topic of a sentence. I think the biggest problem I have here is trying to connect it to English. because they give you the "A is B" but than they give you a complete contraindication sentence that throws that rule out of the water.

Than there is が I believe I get that が is used for the subject of the sentence. it's also used for words like dare and nani. That clicked it's just the exhaustive list that confuses me most on it and how が can be replaced by は.

would someone be able to explain this in a super simplified why. The linguistic explanations are getting me no where. Even though the make a bit of sense. I don't know I am just banging my head on my desk trying to figure out these two darn things all the other particles are easy besides は and が

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natsukoy9313
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Postby natsukoy9313 » July 3rd, 2012 6:42 pm

inuygoku4185-san,

It's very natural that you have problems about these two particles, so don't worry too much!! :wink:
(I'm sure 80-90% of Japanese can't give you a good explanation)

As you know, は is known as "topic marker" and が known as "subject marker".
These are basic idea for simple usage. When you use "dare" or "nani", it means the sentence is interrogative, right?
You can't make unknown things "topic" (if you don't know what the topic is, you can't telk about it at all, right?),
thus, は cannot be used after "dare" or "nani".

As extra information, が can be used also when you need to emphasise the subject/topic, where as は must be
used when two or more things are compared to each other.
Hope this helps and won't confuse you more...!!

Natsuko/JapanesePod101.com

mmmason8967
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Postby mmmason8967 » July 22nd, 2012 6:25 am

inuygoku4185 wrote:would someone be able to explain this in a super simplified why. The linguistic explanations are getting me no where. Even though the make a bit of sense. I don't know I am just banging my head on my desk trying to figure out these two darn things all the other particles are easy besides は and が

I'm a beginner and I also have trouble with the topic and subject markers. I'm happy to tell you what I've found out so far, but with the caveat that since I'm just a beginner, I could be mistaken.

One problem is that in standard English "topic" and "subject" mean much the same thing. Telling us that wa marks the topic and ga marks the subject sheds almost no light on the difference between them. My understanding is that ga marks the subject of the verb while wa announces a specific and often exclusive thing you're going to talk about. The wa phrase in a sentence isn't the subject of the verb, although it very often ends up being the subject when the sentence is translated into natural English. I like to translate "A wa" pedantically as "As for A" since it seems to me to be closer to what's being said in the original Japanese.

Here area couple of sentences where the only difference is that one uses ga and the other uses wa:-

Inu ga asoko ni imasu ==> a dog is over there (there's a dog over there)
Inu wa asoko ni imasu ==> as for the dog, he is over there (the dog is over there)

Actually, in the first sentence, inu could be either "a dog" or "the dog" although I think "a dog" is probably more likely. But in the second sentence it's definitely the dog--one specific dog that we both know about. The emphasis is slightly different in the two sentences: the first sentence is mostly about inu, the second is mostly about asoko ni.

I find it helpful to note that you can ask questions with a wa phrase. You say the wa phrase with a question mark at the end and wait for the other person answer by finishing off the sentence. In fact a sentence with a wa phrase is a bit like a question and the answer. You can break up inu wa asoko ni imasu like this:-

Q: Inu wa?
A: Asoko ni imasu.

Of course, when you use wa in a sentence you aren't really asking a question and then answering it, but thinking of it that way helps me to see what kind of effect the wa is having. The "answer" part is the actual content of the sentence, and the "question" part is the topic, the specific thing that the rest of the sentence is about.

I hope this helps.

natsukoy9313
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Postby natsukoy9313 » July 22nd, 2012 3:41 pm

mmmason8967-san,
Thank you very much! Perfect explanation!! :D
Translating "wa" to "as for" is what we usually do. Thank you very much for helping your colleague :wink:

Natsuko(奈津子)/JapanesePod101.com

dh4m13l
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Japanese Particle Workbook

Postby dh4m13l » September 3rd, 2012 8:38 am

I'd like to recommend a book which is very thorough and most importantly practical on this subject:
Japanese Particle Workbook by Taeko Kamiya. For every particle you have an explanation and exercises with ANSWERS!! Then the same particle is repeated for a more "advanced" usage and you have MORE EXERCISES AND MORE EXERCISES!!!
So you get hundreds of sentences without the particles on them and you need to fill in the gaps. This book helped me a lot.

natsukoy9313
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Postby natsukoy9313 » September 4th, 2012 2:58 pm

dh4m13l-san,
Thank you very much for your suggestion!! I've heard of that book and I also recommend it :wink:

Natsuko(奈津子),
Team JapanesePod101.com

cloa513ch2629
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Re: Particles in Japanese

Postby cloa513ch2629 » June 23rd, 2013 8:01 pm

Is this workbook cover this same material as Taeko's Advanced Particles book which the Saitama Library has?

neverbirth2848
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Re: Particles in Japanese

Postby neverbirth2848 » October 8th, 2013 8:18 pm

I think I mostly get the が and は particles, but yesterday read a sentence that made me wonder a bit more about them (well, just the later):

この仕事は来月の下旬には終わります。

Could anyone explain me how and when could someone decide to have two topic markers in the same sentence? here the speaker is not comparing things or similar, so why both of the は particles? is the speaker just overemphasizing? or is there something else behind the sentence? Having two topics at the same time seems strange to me, and I don't recall seeing two ha particles when changing from one topic to another.

mewes6190
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Re: Particles in Japanese

Postby mewes6190 » October 10th, 2013 6:08 pm

neverbirth2848 wrote:I think I mostly get the が and は particles, but yesterday read a sentence that made me wonder a bit more about them (well, just the later):

この仕事は来月の下旬には終わります。

Could anyone explain me how and when could someone decide to have two topic markers in the same sentence? here the speaker is not comparing things or similar, so why both of the は particles? is the speaker just overemphasizing? or is there something else behind the sentence? Having two topics at the same time seems strange to me, and I don't recall seeing two ha particles when changing from one topic to another.


は is, in my opinion, one of the most complex and confusing particle of them all ... It's so much more than just a topic marker, or simply an emphasizer. Or as I read some weeks ago: "This particle is terrible for beginners because it is so versatile and flexible that you will end up finding it in every damn place." :D
In that sentence of yours, I would see the first は as the topic marking particle, while the second is more like the indication of a point in time. It reads like the answer to a "when?" question.
"That work, it will be done by THE END of next month." So, it emphasizes that it's not done sometimes next month, but especially in THE END, and no other time. は often does that, that it lifts ONE possibility out of a wider variety of possibilities.
So, the work could be done at a lot of times, but it will be done by the end of next month, and no other time.
は is often combined with other particles in that way, like に, で or へ.

But here again - it's just the way I would interpret it. :)

Best
Kurokuma

neverbirth2848
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Re: Particles in Japanese

Postby neverbirth2848 » October 10th, 2013 7:24 pm

Been thinking about it these past days, and came to the same conclusion as you, but don't know if it's really that way.

community.japanese
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Re: Particles in Japanese

Postby community.japanese » October 10th, 2013 8:37 pm

neverbirth2848-san, Kurokuma-san,
You got the meanings right. :D
には should be considered as "a set deal" rather than two particles, because the original meaning
of the particle に is also pretty much weakened.

Topic of this sentence is この仕事 marked by は
~には shows "the latest" timing. This には can be of course analysed as a combination of
two particles (i.e. how each one works and how they make the new meaning together), but
I think it'd get too linguistical. So...
[time related word]+には => by [time], [time] as the latest, etc.

Just as information, if the particle は has "contrast" meaning, those items/objects marked by は
needs to "share" the rest of the sentence.
i.e. りんごは好きですが、みかんは嫌いです。 In this sentence, sentence's discussion is about likes and dislikes (whether or not one likes something). This idea or dicussion focus applies to both りんご and みかん
This is the basic and important information bit you need to remember regarding "making contrast" :wink:

Hope this helps!

Natsuko (奈津子),
Team JapanesePod101.com

mewes6190
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Re: Particles in Japanese

Postby mewes6190 » October 11th, 2013 2:40 pm

奈津子さん、
thanks for the insights! That's really great information, and I didn't know the part about "contrast". So, there CAN be two topics in a sentence, right?

You really helped a lot. (At least me! :) )

くろくま

neverbirth2848
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Re: Particles in Japanese

Postby neverbirth2848 » October 11th, 2013 3:43 pm

mewes6190 wrote:So, there CAN be two topics in a sentence, right?


Mmmm... I didn't take that sentence as having two topics at once. I understood it more like the topic was shared between the two fruits and the speaker made a contrast between them because he wanted to note he likes one and not the other. I don't know how to properly explain it, but I took it as some sort of comparisson like I meant in my original question this topic.

mewes6190
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Re: Particles in Japanese

Postby mewes6190 » October 11th, 2013 4:58 pm

neverbirth2848 wrote:
mewes6190 wrote:So, there CAN be two topics in a sentence, right?


Mmmm... I didn't take that sentence as having two topics at once. I understood it more like the topic was shared between the two fruits and the speaker made a contrast between them because he wanted to note he likes one and not the other. I don't know how to properly explain it, but I took it as some sort of comparisson like I meant in my original question this topic.


Yeah, okay, that's kind of what I meant - that BOTH fruits are the topic of the discussion! And yes, it's a comparison, but if I get 奈津子先生 right, she added that such a comparison by は makes both (or even possibly more?) matters which are compared to the shared topic.


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