Japanese Particles – Guide to 200 Functions and Meanings

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Japanese is a language full of particles, if you thought particles were just a few letters like [は,も,で,ね] you are wrong. There are hundreds of particles and each one can perform many different functions, to help you we made this Practical Guide!

Particles, are one or more hiragana characters called “jyoshi” [助詞], appended to the end of a word to define what grammatical function that word has in the sentence.

Types of Japanese Particles

There are hundreds of Japanese particles that can be categorized as:

  • Kakujoshi [格助詞] – Marker Particles (が;の;を;に);
  • Shuujoshi [終助詞] – Located at the end of a sentence (か;な;よ). 
  • Heiritsujoshi [並立助詞] – Used to join two or more words together;

These are the three main types of particles but there are other lesser known definitions and classifications which are:

  • Kagarijoshi [係助詞] – Binding Particle (は;も;こそ;しか).
  • Setsuzokujyoshi [接続助詞] – Conjugation Particles (ば;から;けれど);
  • Jyuntaijyoshi [準体助詞] – particle that attaches to a sentence and acts on the entire sentence.
  • Fukujyoshi [副助詞] – Adverbial Particle (ばかり;など;くらい;ほど);
  • Kandoujoshi – [間投助詞] – Interjecting Particle (よ;ね;さ).
  • Heiretsujoshi [並列助詞] – Coordinate particle; highlighter; to list items (と;や;やら)
  • Heiritsujyoshi [並立助詞] – Simultaneous particle (even if marker);

There may be other ways to categorize particles that I don't know about. I personally know that the Japanese also often abbreviate the words mentioned above.

[は] WA particle

the particle wow [は] Indicates the subject or topic of the sentence, everything that is written before the は is the subject, main point of the sentence.

私はケビンです
Watashi wa kebin desu I am Kevin

Functions of the Japanese Particle wow [は]:

  • Indicates the topic of a sentence;
  • Indicates a contrast between 2 items;
  • Emphasizes contrasting elements;
  • Indicates that a number is greater or lesser;
  • Indicates the relationship between an object/subject and a verb/adjective;
  • Topic marker particle;
  • Indicates contrast with another option (declared or undeclared);
  • Adds emphasis;

Read too: Using wa(は) and ga(が) particles with Japanese verbs

[が] GA particle

The が particle identifies the subject, what the speaker wants and something not known. The one after the が is the focus of the sentence. The が particle is often confused with the は particle because they have similar functions.

私がケビンです
Watashi ga kebin desu I'm Kevin. Not him

Functions of the Japanese Particle GA [が]:

  • Connect two sentences with the meaning;
  • Indicates the subordinate clause object when it differs from the object;
  • Indicates the object of a relative clause;
  • Even if, “if… or not”
  • Used to soften a statement or refusal;
  • Indicates the subject of the sentence (occasionally object).
  • Possessive indicates (especially in literary expressions);
  • It can be “but; Yet; still; and";
  • Regardless of; whether or not;

[で] De particle

The で particle indicates the place where the action takes place and with what the action is done. Be very careful because there are similar particles that can be confused as [へ] and [に] particles.

ふとんで寝ます。
Nemasu futon Sleep with futon

Functions of the Japanese Particle in [で]:

  • Indicates alternating actions or states;
  • Indicates location of action (at);
  • Indicates the time of the action (at; when);
  • Indicates a medium or material;
  • Indicates a limit or range;
  • Indicates a cause or a reason;
  • Indicates a state/condition of something;
  • Numbers of limits of;
  • Indicates the time of completion or completion of something;
  • Indicates the means of action (in; with);
  • Conjunction of after; then;
  • Let me tell you; you don't know (kansaiben);

[か] KA particle

The か particle is often used to ask questions. But what few know is that it also performs another different function involving nouns to say that something is this or that.

Functions of the Japanese Particle ok [か]:

  • Indicates a choice or alternative;
  • Indicates a question at the end of the sentence [?];
  • Thing (something, someone) [何か];
  • Indicates uncertainty about something;
  • Indicates uncertainty about a state or reason;
  • At the end of a sentence indicates a question/question;
  • Yea?; no?; is not?; that's it?
  • Hmm; huh – Indicates doubt and uncertainty;
  • It can be used as an adjective prefix to mean a lot;
  • Thus (archaic);

[と] TO particle

The particle TO [と] has several uses involving verbs and nouns. Its main use is to list things similar to [,], [e] or [com] in Portuguese.

アニメと漫画 Anime to Manga Anime and manga

Functions of the Japanese Particle to [と]:

  • Used to link and list various items;
  • Along with;
  • Used when quoting someone;
  • Indicates a comparison;
  • Indicates a condition resulting in the inevitable;
  • Emphasizes a number in a negative sentence;
  • About to do something, “trying to do something”;
  • Even though; if; or not; When; and; with;
  • Used to quote thoughts, speeches and others;
  • May indicate a question in Kyuushuu dialect;

Below are some particles that are TO junctions [と]:

  • tou [という] – Indicates the name of something;
  • towa [とは] – Used to mark something being defined;

NI particle [に]

The に particle indicates existence or location. Be careful not to confuse its usage with the [で] and [へ] particles. With the に particle it is possible to indicate existence, location, destination, direction of an action, space of time and many other things.

海に魚がいます Umi ni sakana ga imasu There are/are fish(s) in the sea

Functions of the Japanese Particle no [に]:

  • Indicates time or frequency;
  • Indicates the indirect object of the verb;
  • Indicates surface of an object where some action takes place;
  • Indicates an arrival point;
  • Indicates an entry move;
  • Used in conjunction with a verb to express a purpose;
  • Used with a verb to indicate a change or choice;
  • Indicates a person who gives something or provides a service;
  • Indicates who acts or who is served;
  • Join two or more nouns to indicate a list of items;
  • Connect two or more items to indicate a match or contrast;
  • Indicates a location;

It is usually the Portuguese equivalent as:

  • at (place, time); inside; in; during;
  • to (direction, state); toward; in;
  • for (purpose);
  • because of (reason); for; with;
  • per; in;
  • as (ie, in the role of);
  • per; inside; for; a (for example, “once a month”);
  • and; Besides;
  • if; although;

Below we have other particles composed of the [に] particle:

  • Ni shite wa [にしては] – Indicates a general consensus on a pattern;
  • in suite [について] – “About” something or someone (about);
  • Nitotte [にとって ] – Indicates an effect or value of a person or thing;

WO particle [を]

The Japanese particle wo [を] indicates the object of an action or verb. It also usually indicates the subject of causal expression, the starting point, route and period in which an action takes place.

寿司を食べます
Sushi wo tabemasu Eat sushi

Functions of the Japanese Particle wo [を]:

  • Indicates a starting point;
  • Indicates separation of an action.
  • Indicates a route of a movement;
  • Indicates direct object of action;
  • Indicates subject of causal expression;
  • Indicates the time (period) during which the action takes place.
  • Indicates an area traversed
  • Used with a verb to express emotions, it indicates the cause of the emotion;
  • Indicates object of desire, taste, hate, etc.;
  • Indicates the direct object of a verb;
  • Expresses an occupation or position;
  • Wo suru [をする] – Expresses an occupation or position;

NO [の] particle

The Japanese particle no [の] usually indicates that one thing belongs to another (possession) and can also nominalize verbs and adjectives. It is often used as a substitute for the particle ga [が] in subordinate sentences. Women often use it at the end of a sentence to express a question or soften a command.

私のパソコン
Watashi no Pasokon My Computer

Functions of the Japanese Particle no [の]:

  • Indicates ownership;
  • Indicates an affix;
  • Indicates the object of a relative clause;
  • Indicates a modified pronoun;
  • Used to nominalize verbs and phrases;
  • At the end of the sentence with a rising tone indicates question.
  • Indicates emotional emphasis at the end of sentences (women);
  • Indicates a confident conclusion with a disbelieving tone at the end of the sentence.

Below we have other particles composed of the particle no [の]:

  • Node [ので] – Indicates a strong reason;
  • Nodesu [のです] – Asks for an explanation or reason;
Japanese particle guide and its 188 functions

MO particle [も]

The particle mo [も] means something like too.

私も Watashi mo Me too
  • It means “very”, “or”, “also”;
  • Furthermore; moreover, moreover;
  • Nothing, nobody, if used with an interrogative word;
  • Emphasizes positively or negatively;
  • Up until; as well as; as many as; as far as; While; not less than; nor;
  • Both, as A and B;
  • Even if; in spite of;
  • Further; again; other;

[のも] – Used like the particle [も], but in front of adjectives, verbs and adverbs.

Kara [から] and Made [まで] particles

The particle kara [から] indicates a source or cause. Its use can happen both in the middle and at the end of the sentence with different meanings. A common translation is “From”. Generally Kara performs the following functions below:

  • As “if” (verbal auxiliary that makes the conditional case);
  • Indicates a source such as a donor, cause or material;
  • Set meaning “after” or “since”;
  • Used as a conjunct and indicates a cause or reason;
  • Indicates a starting point in time or place;
  • Expresses sympathy or warning;
  • Through (eg window, vestibule;
  • It can mean After (as long as it follows the [て] form of a verb).
  • Outside of (constituent, part).
  • From (eg time, place, numerical quantity); since.

If kara [から] means from, the particle made [まで] means up to. Often used in conjunction with kara, made marks the end point of a situation that may or may not have been reached. Other functions of made [まで] are:

  • Same, used to emphasize;
  • Indicates a time, space, or quantity limit;
  • Until (once); for.
  • To (one place);
  • Only; merely;
  • To a certain extent; as far as.

The particle made has an origin ideogram [迄], but is commonly written with hiragana. Its ideogram means up to or measure. There is an adverb called madeni [迄に] which indicates “of; not later; before".

We recommend reading: Basic Class – Kara and Made Particles

DAKE Particle [だけ]

The particle “dake” [だけ] originates from the ideogram [丈] which means length, measure, stature, only and only. Usually this particle is used to define and determine a boundary such as “only; only; only; simply; no more than; nothing else; alone"

10分だけ付き合おう。
Juupun dake tsukiaou I can save you just 10 minutes.

Here are some functions of the dake particle:

  • Indicates a limit to things or values;
  • Indicates a threshold for an action or state;
  • As…
  • The more… More…
  • Used to express “not only… but also”;
  • Dakeni [だけに] – Indicates a cause or reason;
  • As well as; to the extent of; enough for you;

Particle DEMO [でも] and TEMO [ても]

The particle demo [でも] means something like “but; Yet; although; even though; still; furthermore; also". It is a combination of the particle of [で] and the particle mo [も] and literally means anyway.

  • Same;
  • However; no matter how; even if; although;
  • Indicates emphasis;
  • With an interrogative word, it means “nothing”, “anyone”, anytime”;
  • Following a noun, it means "or something like that";
  • Indicates two or more items as an example of a larger list;
  • Or something like this; or; nor; as;
  • For want of something better to do;

The particle temo [ても] has practically the same meaning, something like “even if; although and also” since it is just a change of tone. Its usage may vary slightly and depends on the sentence. See some examples of using the term below:

  • A conjunction meaning "even if";
  • Used with a set of contrasting verbs and adjectives;
  • With an interrogative word meaning “no matter what/where/who”;
  • Indicates an approximate limit with the meaning of “at most”.
  • Wow.

BA [ば] and BAKARI [ばかり] particles

I put such particles together because they both start with BA [ば], but have no similarities in their functions. See below a table that explains the function of each particle and its variations:

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
Used as a set to express a probable outcome.
Used to enumerate two or more actions or states.
ばいいAll you have to do…
ばかりIndicates an approximate value.
ばかりIndicates that a item, state or action is one.
ばかりIndicates that an action has been completed.
ばかりIndicates the only action left to do.
ばかりでなくNot only…but also
ばかりにEmphasizes a reason or cause.

Functions of Other Japanese Particles

Some Japanese language particles are more unknown, but they also have great importance in the Japanese language. Below you will see some particles that we didn't mention before and their functions. Some of the particles below are junction of two particles, this can help you to understand them.

  • – Indicates where you are going. (アメリカへ行きます。I'm going to the US.)
  • – Indicate where an action takes place or how it is performed;
  • – Creates lists of nouns, incomplete list, indicates an action happens immediately after another;
  • – Used to make comparisons at the end of the sentence;
  • から - From;
  • まで - Up until;
  • ってば – Used to give strong emphasis;
  • さえ – Means “even” and follows nouns. (書けます漢字さえ "can even write the kanji".)
  • – Indicates affirmation, used more by men in an informal way;
  • には – From the emphasis of a given situation, and means to(direction, purpose) and in, at, in(time, place);
  • のは – indicates the topic of a sentence, and can be used with verbs, adjectives, adverbs, unlike は;
  • きり – Always, alone, alone;
  • くらい – 1 – Approximately, about, about. 2- That's all. 3 – Both, as;
  • そう – It seems that, perhaps, it could be that, they say;
  • たら – Verbal auxiliary that makes the conditional case; “if; case; etc." and also when;
  • ずつ – each, each, respectively;
  • – Same as the Portuguese né, used at the end for emphasis and interrogation; confirmation request. At first to get attention;
  • – Indicates emphasis (admiration, emotion, childishness, etc.), most commonly used in female speech;
  • だけど – only (only) of; only that; just with that
  • なんて – Adverbial particle expressing surprise, admiration, etc. Interrogative particle; how?, in what way?
  • なんか – Adverbial particle that emphasizes disgust, contempt, disbelief, frustration, etc. or it just emphasizes the negation of the sentence;
  • ながら – While, at the same time; although, in spite of, but, however; the same way; the gerund form of a verb;
  • だって – that's because..., because; explanatory particle; but however;
Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
ParticleMeaning / Usage / Function / Description
かしら (kashira)At the end of a sentence to express uncertainty, a request or a question is mostly used by women.
かな (kana)At the end of a sentence to express uncertainty, a request or a question is mostly used by men.
かないうちに (ka nai uchi ni)Didn't have it sooner, "almost didn't have it"
がはやいか (ga Hayai ka)As soon as
きり (kiri)Indicates a limit for an amount.
きり (kiri)Indicates the last time a certain incident occurred.
くらい (kurai)Indicates an approximate value.
くらい (kurai)Indicates a comparison.
くらい (kurai)Expresses an extension of an action or condition similar to ぐ らい gurai.
けれども(keredomo)Connect 2 phrase means “but” or “although”
けれども(keredomo)Indicates a preliminary remark.
けれども(keredomo)Indicates a wish.
こそ (Koso)Emphasizes the word that precedes it.
こそ (Koso)Emphasizes a reason or a cause.
こと (koto)At the end of a period to indicate emotion, used by women.
こと (koto)At the end of a sentence to express a suggestion or invitation, used by women.
さ (sa)At the end of a period to indicate slight emphasis, used by men.
さえ (SAE)Same, used for emphasis.
さえ (SAE)And if or "while".
し (shi)Used as a set, indicating two or more actions or states.
し (shi)Used as a set indicating a reason.
しか (Shika)Used with a negative verb to indicate limits on conditions or quantities that mean "only".
しかない (shika nai)used with a verb meaning "to have no choice but to."
すら (sura)Emphasizes, in the sense of “even”
ぜ (ze)At the end of a sentence to add and to sentence, used by men.
ぞ (zo)At the end of a sentence to add strength to a sentence or to express a question to yourself.
だけ (dake)Indicates a limit to things or values.
だけ (dake)Indicates a threshold for an action or state.
だけ (dake)How... how...
だけ (dake)The more… More…
だけ (dake)used to express “not only… but also”
だけに (dakeni)Indicates a cause or reason
だの (Dano)Indicates two or more items or actions from a longer list (similar to Toka とか).
だの (Dano)Indicates a pair of opposing actions or states.
たら (tara)Used as a set, it indicates an assumption or condition.
たら (tara)Used as a ensemble to indicate that an action occurs before the action described in the main sentence.
たら (tara)At the end of a period to indicate a suggestion or proposal.
たり (Tari)List of two or more actions in any particular sequence.
たり (Tari)Indicates alternating actions or states.
ては (tewa)Indicates a condition that will bring about a negative conclusion.
ては (tewa)Manifests the repetition of an action.
でも (demo)Indicates emphasis.
でも (demo)Along with an interrogative word meaning “nothing”, “anyone”, anytime”.
でも (demo)Following a noun, it means "or something like that".
でも (demo)Indicates two or more items as an example of a larger list.
ても (temo)a conjunction meaning "even if".
ても (temo)Used with a set of contrasting verbs and adjectives.
ても (temo)Along with an interrogative word meaning “no matter what/where/who”.
ても (temo)Indicates an approximate limit with the meaning of “at most”.
とか (toka)Something like.
とか (toka)Indicates that a list of two more ore things or actions is not exhaustive.
ところ (Tokoro)Indicates that an action takes place, has just taken place, or is about to take place.
ところ (Tokoro)Used as a set to indicate a condition that causes a finding.
どころか (dokoro ka)Far from, “not to mention”
ところで (tokoro de)Even if
として (toshite)Indicates status, capability or function.
として (toshite)Provides emphasis on a negative sentence.
とも (tomo)Used with numbers and counters to say “so much” or “all”.
とも (tomo)Indicates inclusion.
とも (tomo)Indicates an approximate maximum or minimum.
とも (tomo)No matter what, “even if”
とも (tomo)At the end of a sentence, to express a statement.
とも… とも (tomo tomo…)I can't say if... or...
ともあろうひと(tomo hito aroo)To express that someone has done something that is not expected.
な (na)At the end of a sentence and used by men to confirm a statement.
な (na)At the end of a period of expressing a ban, used by men.
なあ (NAA)At the end of a period to express emotion, used by men.
なあ (NAA)At the end of a period to express a wish.
ながら (nagara)Indicates that an action is happening simultaneously.
ながら (nagara)Although, “in spite of”, “but”.
ながら (nagara)Used with numbers and counters to say “so much” or “all”.
など (nado)Used with や (ya) to partially list multiple items.
など (nado)Something to that effect.
など (nado)Indicates examples.
など (nado)It expresses a humble attitude towards a item.
なら (nara)Used as a set and indicates an assumption or condition.
なら (nara)Indicates a topic and is used as an alternative to wa (No. 1).
なり (nari)Or..., "if... or"
なり (nari)Nothing, “any”, “anytime”
なり (nari)As soon as
ね (ne)At the end of a period to confirm a referral.
ね (ne)At the end of a period to soften a request or suggestion.
ね (ne)At the end of a period to indicate a reason or cause.
ねえ (nee)At the end of a period to indicate emotion.
のにAlthough, “despite the fact that”.
のにIndicates a purpose or function.
のみ (nomi)Indicates a boundary (similar to だけ dake).
のみ (nomi)used to express “not only… but also”
へ(e)Indicates the direction.
ほ ど (hodo)Indicates a comparison in a negative sentence.
ほど (hodo)Indicates an approximate value.
ほど (hodo)Indicates the extension of an action or condition.
ほど (hodo)The more… More…
まで (feito)Same, used for emphasis.
まで(feito)Indicates a time, space, or quantity limit.
までもない (feito nai mo)There is no need…
も (mo)so… and…, not…
も (mo)Nothing, nobody, "nothing", if used with an interrogative word.
も (mo)Emphasizes positively or negatively.
も(mo)means "very", "or", "also"
もの (mono)At the end of a period, to express a reason or excuse.
ものか (monoka)At the end of a period, to express a negative determination, used by men.
ものの (monono)But or "although".
や (ya)Used to link and list several items partially.
や (ya)At the end of a sentence to soften a statement, request or suggestion, used by men.
やいなや (yainaya)As soon as
やら (yara)Indicates two or more items from a longer list.
やら (yara)Indicates uncertainty.
やら (yara)At the end of a sentence, to indicate a rhetorical question with a negative implication.
よ (yo)At the end of a sentence to indicate a strong conviction.
よ (yo)At the end of a sentence to articulate a request or suggestion.
より (Yori)Indicates a comparison.
より (Yori)Indicates superlative.
より(Yori)Indicates a starting point in time or place, but more formal than kara (20).
わ (WA)At the end of a sentence to soften a statement, used by women.

As we update this article, we will separate each particle and create a subtitle for it. The article is gradually being revised, so enjoy it and check back later for more updates.

Source: https://nihongoichiban.com/

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