Introduction

When you’re just starting to learn Japanese, you’d be stumped by the number of particles they haave. Japanese particles are small words which are used in between other words to show the relations of the sentence. I admit, when I first started learning Japanese, I was extremely confused by everything! Some of them have the same usage for me!

Not to worry, here, we’ll clarify all the Japanese particles — or at least most of them, the common ones — with examples of its usage. 

Japanese; Learning Language with Handwritten Hiragana Character Cards

は (wa/ha)

The most common Japanese particle is wa は (wa/ha). This always followed the topic of the sentence, hence this particle is often called the topic marking particle. The topic can be anything from the subject, object and sometimes even verbs. 

Here’s a general formation of this particle:A は B です。

A wa B desu.

A is B.

Here’s an example sentence: 

明日は休みです。

Ashita ha yasumi desu.

Tomorrow is a holiday.

が (ga)

The next particle, が (ga), is similar to the previous one. However, the difference is that this particle is used when you’re first introducing the subject or when you’re emphasizing something to distinguish it from the rest. 

Here’s an example sentence:

つくえのうえにほん が あります。

tsukue no ue ni hon ga arimasu

There is a book on the desk.

に (ni)

The Japanese particle に (ni) is used to indicate a place that something is moving towards. Usually, the following word after it is a moving verb. 

It is also used when you’re receiving something from someone, which then it has the meaning of “from”, but that’s a whole other article all together.

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Place に verb.

I’m (verb) to (place).

Here’s an example sentence: 

コンビニに行きます。

Konbini ni ikimasu.

I’m going to the convenience store.

へ (e/he)

The Japanese particle へ (e/he) is kind of similar to に but the difference is that へ emphasises the direction over the arrival. This particle is specifically for directions, whereas に can be used for other directional usage. 

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Location へ verb

Here’s an example sentence: 

彼女へ本をあげました。

Kanojo he hon wo agemashita.

I gave her a book.

で (de)

This Japanese particle, で (de), is also related to location. This one indicates the location of the action rather than the direction. 

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Location で ….

Here’s an example sentence: 

プールで泳ぎました

Pu-ru de oyogimashita.

I swam in the pool.

を (wo)

The を (wo) particle is used to mark the object of the sentence. Usually, it follows nouns or noun phrases. 

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Noun を verb

Here’s an example sentence: 

私はパンケーキを食べました.

Watashi ha panke-ki wo tabemashita.

I ate pancakes.

も (mo)

This Japanese particle も (mo) acts like the English word “too” or “also”. It’s used, similarly in English, when something said previously is also true for the current state. When this particle is used, other particles like ga, wa or wo is replaced.

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Noun は Property/Action です。

Noun も Property/Action です。

Here’s an example sentence: 

私はペンがあります。

私もペンがあります。

Watashi ha pen ga arimasu.

Watashi mo pen ga arimasu.

I have a pen.

I also have a pen.

と(to)

The と (to) particle is like the English word (and). It connects two nouns together to make a single noun. 

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Noun と noun と noun……

Here’s an example sentence: 

パンとご飯とパスタが好きです。

Pan to gohan to pasuta ga suki desu.

I like bread, rice and pasta.

や (ya)

Similar to the previous particle, や (ya) is used kind of like “and”, but it can translate to “such things as…”

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

A や B や…

Here’s an example sentence: 

日本の都市には東京や大阪があります

nihon no toshi niwa toukyou ya oosaka ga arimasu.

In Japan, there are big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, etc.

の (no)

This Japanese particle, の (no) indicates possession. In English, it’s kind of like the apostrophe-s (‘s). It has the meaning of “it belongs to,..”.

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Noun の noun

Here’s an example sentence: 

私の名前はアズラです。

Watashi no namae wa azura desu.

My name is Azra.

から (kara)

The Japanese particle から (kara) is used to indicate the source of an object or action. It can translate as “from” in English. If used as a point in time, it can be translates as “since” or “after”.

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Noun から…

Here’s an example sentence: 

学校から帰りました.

Gakkou kara kaerimashita.

I came from school.

まで (made)

The まで (made) particle is usually used with the previous particle. It shows the extent of an action or period of time. It can be translated as “until”.

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Noun まで…

Here’s an example sentence:

8時から18時まで買い物に行きました。

Hachi-ji kara juu-hachi-ji made kaimono ni ikimashita.

I went shopping from 8AM to 6PM.

ね (ne)

This next particle ね (ne) is used at the end of sentences. It’s like a rising intonation that’s kind of like a question tag to ask for confirmation from the listener. It’s used as a rhetorical device, like saying “it’s a sunny day, isn’t it?”

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Sentence  ね

Here’s an example sentence: 

今日はいい天気ですね。

Kyou ha ii tenki desu ne.

It’s great weather today, isn’t it?

よ (yo)

Similar to the previous particle, よ (yo) is attached to the end of the sentence. This particle is used to express a strong conviction about something.

Here’s a general formation of this particle:

Sentence よ

Here’s an example sentence: 

これは私のカバンよ。

Kore ha watashi no kaban yo.

This is my bag!

Conclusion

So there you have it — a brief yet useful guide to the most common Japanese particles that you’ll need to start off with. What I did learn when I moved to Japan is that, sometimes, particles are omitted in the sentence when speaking conversationally and casually… I don’t recommend not learning them, though, as it’s extremely crucial to know them all. Good luck!