Japanese Particles - Guide to 200 Functions and Meanings

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

Particles are one or more characters in the Hiragana called in Japanese from jyoshi or joshi [助詞], which are 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] - Marking 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;

These are the three main types of particles, but there are other, less unknown definitions and classifications that are:

  • Kagarijoshi [係助詞] - Bonding 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 binds 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] - Interjectory particle (よ; ね; さ).
  • Heiretsujoshi [並列助詞] - Coordinated 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 the particles that I am unaware of. Personally I know that the Japanese also tend to abbreviate the words mentioned above.

[は] WA particle

The particle wa [は] Indicates the subject or topic of the sentence, everything that is written before the は is the subject, main point of the sentence. We recommend reading our article on particle wa and ga to understand more.

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

Japanese Particle Functions wa [は]:

  • Indicates the topic of a sentence;
  • Indicates a contrast between 2 items;
  • Emphasizes contrasting elements;
  • Indicates that a number is greater or less;
  • Indicates the relationship between an object / subject with a verb / adjective;
  • Topic marker particle;
  • Indicates contrast with another option (declared or not declared);
  • Adds emphasis;

[が] GA particle

The particle ga [が] identifies the subject, what the speaker wants and something not known. What is after が is the focus of the sentence. Often the particle ga [が] is quite confused with the particle wa [は] for having similar functions.

私がケビンです
Watashi ga kebin desu
Eu sou o Kevin. Not him

Japanese Particle Functions ga [が]:

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

[で] De particle

The particle in [で] indicates the location where the action takes place and what the action is done with. Be very careful because there are similar particles that can be mistaken for he [へ] and ni [に] particles.

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

Japanese Particle Functions in [で]:

  • Indicates alternating actions or states;
  • Indicates the location of the action (in);
  • Indicates the time of the action (in; when);
  • Indicates a medium or material;
  • Indicates a limit or range;
  • Indicates a cause or reason;
  • Indicates a state / condition of something;
  • Limit numbers for;
  • Indicates the time of completion or completion of something;
  • Indicates the location of an action;
  • Indicates the means of action (in; com);
  • Conjunction of after; So;
  • Let me tell you; you don't know (Kansaiben);

[か] KA particle

The particle ka [か] is often used to ask questions. But what few know is that it also has a different function involving nouns to say that something is this or that.

Japanese Particle Functions ka [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;
  • Yes?; not?; it is not?; it is?
  • Hmm; huh - Indicates doubt, uncertainty and etc;
  • It can be used as an adjective prefix to mean a lot;
  • That way (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 English.

アニメと漫画 Anime to Manga Anime and manga

Japanese Particle Functions to [と]:

  • Used to link and list multiple items;
  • Along with;
  • Used when quoting someone;
  • Indicates a comparison;
  • Indicates a condition that results in an inevitable result;
  • Emphasizes a number in a negative sentence;
  • About to do something, "trying to do something";
  • Even; if; or not; When; and; with;
  • Used to quote thoughts, speeches and others;
  • You can indicate a question in the Kyuushuu dialect;

Below are some particles that are junctions of to [と]:

  • Toiu [という] - Indicates the name of something;
  • Towa [とは] - Used to mark something that is being defined;

NI [に] particle

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

I に k がいます 
Umi ni sakana ga imasu
There are / are fish (s) in the sea

Japanese Particle Functions ni [に]:

  • Indicates time or frequency;
  • Indicates the indirect object of the verb;
  • Indicates the surface of an object where some action takes place;
  • Indicates a point of arrival;
  • Indicates an entry movement;
  • 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 that attended;
  • Two or more nouns are added to indicate a list of items;
  • Two or more items are connected to indicate a match or a contrast;
  • Indicates a location;

It is usually the equivalent of English as:

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

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

  • Ni shite wa [にしては] - Indicates a general consensus on pattern;
  • Ni tsuite [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 [を] particle

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 occurs.

寿司を食べます
Sushi wo tabemasu Eating sushi

Japanese Particle Functions wo [を]:

  • Indicates a starting point;
  • Indicates the 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 crossed
  • 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 name verbs and adjectives. It is usually the substitute for the ga [が] particle 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

Japanese Particle Functions no [の]:

  • Indicates possession;
  • Indicates an apposition;
  • Indicates that the subject of a relative clause;
  • Indicates a modified pronoun;
  • Used to nominalize verbs and phrases;
  • At the end of the sentence a rising tone indicates a 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 that are 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 [も] particle

The particle mo [も] means something like that too.

私も Watashi mo Me too
  • It means "a lot", "or", "too";
  • Besides that; beyond that, beyond that;
  • Nothing, nobody ", nothing", if used with an interrogative word;
  • Emphasizes in a positive or negative way;
  • Up until; as well as; as many as; as far as; While; not less than; nor;
  • Both, like A and B;
  • Even if; even though;
  • Further; again; other;

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

Kara [から] and Made [まで] particles

The kara [から] particle 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." Usually Kara performs the following functions below:

  • As "if" (verbal assistant who makes the case conditional);
  • Indicates a source as a donor, a cause or material;
  • Set that means “after” or “once”;
  • Used as a set and indicates a cause or reason;
  • Indicates a starting point in time or place;
  • Express sympathy or warning;
  • Through (for example, window, vestibule;
  • It can mean After (since it follows the form [て] of a verb).
  • Outside (constituent, part).
  • From (for example, time, location, numerical quantity); since.

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

  • Even, used to emphasize;
  • Indicates a time, space or quantity limit;
  • Up to (once); for.
  • To (a place);
  • Only; merely;
  • A certain point; as far as.

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

If you want to know more about these two particles, we recommend reading our article on kara and made. We also recommend the video below that talks a little about these two particles:

DAKE [だけ] particle

The particle dake [だけ] comes from the ideogram [丈] which means length, measure, height, just and only. This particle is usually used to define and determine a limit as “only; only; only; simply; no more than; nothing more than that; 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 on things or values;
  • Indicates a limit for an action or state;
  • Like…
  • The more ... More ...
  • Used to express “not only… but also”;
  • Dakeni [だけに] - Indicates a cause or reason;
  • As well as; as far as; enough for you;

DEMO [でも] and TEMO [ても] particle

The particle demo [でも] means something like “but; Yet; although; even so; still; Besides that; too“. It is a junction of the particle in [で] with the particle mo [も] and literally means even so.

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

The particle fear [ても] has pretty much the same meaning, something like "even if; though and also”As this is just a change of tone. Its use may vary slightly and depends on the sentence. See some examples of using fear below:

  • A conjunction that means "even if";
  • Used with a set of contrasting verbs and adjectives;
  • Along with an interrogative word that means "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 these 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: Roll the table sideways with your finger >>
Used as a set to express a likely 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 an 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 particles of the Japanese language are more unknown, but they are also of great importance in the Japanese language. Below you will see some particles that we did not mention previously and their functions. Some of the particles below are the junction of two particles, this can help you understand them.

  • - Indicates where you are going. (アメリカへ行きます。I'm going to the USA.)
  • - Indicate where an action takes place or how it is performed;
  • - Creates lists of nouns, incomplete list, indicates one 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 - It means "same" and follows nouns. (書けます漢字さえyou can even write kanji ”.)
  • - Indicates affirmation, used more by men informally;
  • には - The emphasis of a given situation, and means for (direction, purpose) and in, no, na (time, place);
  • のは - indicates the topic of a sentence, which can be used with verbs, adjectives, adverbs, as opposed to は;
  • きり - Always, alone;
  • くらい - 1 - Approximately, about, around. 2- Only that. 3 - Both, and;
  • そう – It seems that, perhaps, it may be that, they say;
  • たら - Verbal assistant who makes the case conditional; “If; case; etc." and also when;
  • ずつ - each, respectively;
  • – Same as né English, used at the end for da emphasis and interrogation; confirmation request. In the beginning 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 that expresses surprise, admiration, etc. Interrogative particle; how ?, how?
  • 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 in the meantime; the same way; the gerund form of a verb;
  • だって - because ..., because; explanatory particle; but however;
Responsive Table: Roll the table sideways with your finger >>
ParticleMeaning / Use / Function / Description
かしら (kashira)At the end of a sentence to express uncertainty, a request or question is used mainly by women.
かな (kana)At the end of a sentence to express uncertainty, a request or question is used mainly by men.
かないうちに (ka nai uchi ni)I didn't have it earlier, “I almost didn't”
がはやいか (ga Hayai ka)As soon as
きり (kiri)Indicates a limit for a quantity.
きり (kiri)Indicates the last time that 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 “though”
けれども(keredomo)Indicates a preliminary observation.
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)Even, used to emphasize.
さえ (SAE)What 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 "have no choice but to".
すら (sura)Emphasizes, in the sense of “same”
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 on things or values.
だけ (dake)Indicates a limit 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 that two or more items or actions in 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 set 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 a negative conclusion.
ては (tewa)Expresses the repetition of an action.
でも (demo)Indicates emphasis.
でも (demo)Along with an interrogative word that means "nothing", "anyone", anytime ".
でも (demo)Following a noun, it means "or something like that".
でも (demo)Indicates that two or more items as an example of a larger list.
ても (temo)a conjunction that means "same if".
ても (temo)Used with a set of contrasting verbs and adjectives.
ても (temo)Along with an interrogative word that means "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 things or ore stocks is not exhaustive.
ところ (Tokoro)Indicates that an action occurs, has just occurred, or is about to take place.
ところ (Tokoro)Used as a set to indicate a condition that causes a discovery.
どころか (dokoro ka)Far from, “not to mention”
ところで (tokoro de)Even if
として (toshite)Indicates the state, capacity or function.
として (toshite)Provides emphasis on a negative sentence.
とも (tomo)Used with numbers and counters to say "either" 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 period, 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 to be expected.
な (na)At the end of a sentence and used by men to confirm an indication.
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 the 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 taking place simultaneously.
ながら (nagara)Although, "despite", "but".
ながら (nagara)Used with numbers and counters to say "either" or "all".
など (nado)Used with や (ya) to partially list multiple items.
など (nado)Something for that purpose.
など (nado)Indicates examples.
など (nado)Expresses a humble attitude towards an 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, “anyone”, “anytime”
なり (nari)As soon as
ね (ne)At the end of a period to confirm an appointment.
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 limit (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 extent of an action or condition.
ほど (hodo)The more ... More ...
まで (feito)Even, used to emphasize.
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 much… and…, nor…
も (mo)Nothing, nobody ", nothing", if used with an interrogative word.
も (mo)Emphasizes in a positive or negative way.
も(mo)means "a lot", "or", "too"
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 "away".
や (ya)Partially used to link and list several items.
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 in 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 being revised gradually, so make good use of it and come back later to see more news.

Source: https://nihongoichiban.com/

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