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Japanese Particles Explanation

Hello! If you are confused about the Japanese particles and want to know how they are used, this may help! I will be going over the は、が、に、へ、で、を、か particles.

The first is the は particle. This one is used to mark the topic of the sentence. As a particle, it is pronounced wa. However, it is pronounced ha in other cases. For example, 私は男の子です。「わたしはおとこのこです。」This means I am a boy. It can also be stated as "As for me, I am a boy."

The next particle is the が particle. The が particle is used to mark the subject. This makes the は and が particles sound the same, but they're very different! The が is used to specify something about something. For example, 私が学生です。「わたしががくせいです。」is different from 私は学生です。The first is saying "I am the one who is student" while the other is saying "As for me, I am a student". Another use for this particle is to describe specific things with adjectives. For example, 魚が好きです。「さかながすきです。」This literally says "Fish is likeable", but will usually mean "I like fish".

The third particle is the に particle. This is used for location, direction, and time. The first example is 学校にいる。「がっこうにいる。」which means "I am at school". Here, school is the location. The next example is 学校に行く。「がっこうにいく。」which means I go to school. The school is the direction. Lastly, 八時に起きた。「はちじにおきた。」which means I woke up at 8 o'clock. Here, 8 o'clock is the time.

The next particle is the へ particle. As a particle, it is pronounced 'e' like え. It is also used to mark direction. However, it means more like "towards" in English. So, 学校へ行く。also works.

The fourth particle I will go over is the で particle. This is for marking location, with what something is used, and what language something is in. For example, 学校で食べる。「がっこうでたべる。」 means I eat at school. How is the で particle different from に? Well, the で particle, when used for location, is used with action verbs like to eat, to drink, etc. On the other hand, に, when used as location, is used with state-of-being verbs (to be, exist) which are ある(for inanimate objects) and いる(for animate objects), and is used with the verb 住む「すむ 」which means to live, reside.

The fifth particle I will go over is the を particle. The を particle is to show the direct object of the sentence. For example, リンゴを食べる「りんごをたべる」means I eat an apple. Apple is given the direct object marker here.

The last particle I will go over is the か particle. The basic use for this particle is to turn something into a question. For example, 彼は学生ですか。「かれはがくせいですか。」means "Is he a student?"

For more information about Japanese grammar, I recommend Tae Kim's Grammar Guide. For more about learning JLPT N5 vocab and kanji, I recommend this Memrise course: JLPT N5 Vocab. Thanks for reading! I hope this post helps those learning Japanese on Duolingo!

May 20, 2017



Thank you, I really needed this. When I saw Konnichiwa with は (ha) instead of わ (wa) it really started to confuse everything for me.


No problem! 頑張って!


こんにちは is a special case. Normally "wa" in は is only used for a particle. Within other words, such as はな and わたし, は and わ are read as "ha" and "wa" respectively. However, the greeting こんにちは is not a word, it's phrase which has been shortened like "G'day" (good day) or "Howdy y'all" (how do you do you all). Since it used to be a particle in the phrase, it is spelled こんにちは but read "wa". Beware, this is not normally the case and this usally only applies to when は is used as a particle (which it is no longer in こんにちは).


Before World War II (or, more precisely, before late 1946), the Japanese orthography was more complex: in the middle or end of a word, 'wa' sound could be written as は or わ, and 'e' could be writeen as え, へ, or ゑ. The distinguish came from word origin, so pupils had to recite them word by word. In 1946 it was decided that the orthography be simplified; but if one would write all these particles as わ and え, all the readers would be suddenly unable to read any more.

In the case of konnichiwa, it is simply half a sentence 'today is ...' . Such half sentences are usually used in spoken Japanese.


Another way to understand the particles if one is familiar with languages with cases (e.g. German, Russian, Latin): が ~ Nom., の ~ Gen., に ~ Dat., を ~ Acu., で ~ Instr. / Loc., へ ~ Lative / particle for direction, は ~ topic marker.

Actually these particles are called 格助詞 (case particles) in the Japanese grammar taught in Japanese schools. Courses on languages like German, Russian, Latin etc. in Japanese also use these Japanese particles as analogies.

However, as to location / direction, there are many subtle rules: besides the mentioned 学校いる・学校食べる, there are also some expressions like 空飛ぶ (to fly in the sky). It is the same as in German, or in Russian, or in Latin: the verbs (and which cases they need) must be learned one by one.


We now have a Japanese from English forum and we are now moving Japanese-related discussions over, including this one. Please post future Japanese conversations there. =]

Announcement here


I don't know how and what Duolingo teaches in the Japanese course yet, since I'm an android user, but is it worth talking about the particle "mo" ? Anyone know if they've seen it in the Japanese course??


You probably meant "a boy" at the end of the second paragraph...


If it was "a boy" that would make the sentence 彼は男の子ですか。 instead of 彼は学生ですか。because 男の子 is a boy (literally a child of male) and 学生 means student.


the second paragraph from the top :-)




Omg ty - This page has been bookmarked lol


There are some particles which are not stressed over much but again are very important as they have more than one use, particles like no, mo, kara, made, ne and yo are used in daily conversation but I didn't see any page explaining their uses and examples. I'll recommend you guys to check https://linguapsych.com/japanese-particles/ this guide for complete information on 14 Japanese Articles

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