Can someone please explain the particles/markers/things?
I am a beginner Japanese learner. I started learning it a couple months ago, and have been learning on and off ever since.
I am new to Duolingo. I made this account today. A friend recommended it to me a while ago, but I didn't make this account until now.
To get to the point of this discussion, can someone please explain the particles/markers/whatever they're called? Like "wa" in "Watashi wa amerikajin desu"
When do you use which one?
Thank you very much for your answers, which I assure you, are much appreciated.
The wa (は) particle is used to show to topic. So in the sentence 私はアメリカ人です。(I am an American), the word "watashi" (私) is the topic because "wa" (は) shows the topic. The particles basically are grammatical markers to show how a noun is being used; the particle "no" (の) for example can mean belonging to (i.e, 私の本, "watashi no hon", translated to "my book"). Here "watashi" is the person the "hon" belongs to.
Here's some links about Japanese particles. You don't have to know all of them overnight but it's good to know where to look to study them.
I'll just answer for the は / が usage:
は is the topic marker and が is the subject marker. In sentences, normally the “wa”は focuses the verb on the word that follows the “wa”. The particle “ga”が focuses the verb on the word that proceeds it.
Topic: a non-grammatical context for the whole sentence. Subject: a grammatical relationship only to the verb.
One clever example sentence for は and が is:
watashi wa [name] desu. watashi ga [name] desu.
While these sentences in English both come out as “I am [name].” In Japanese, they answer different questions:
Q: Who are you? A: watashi wa Lloyd desu. Q: Who is Lloyd? A: watashi ga Lloyd desu.
Here’s a similar example showing how the question changes when we use an adjective.
Q: What do you think of Japan? A: nihon wa omoshiroi desu. Q: Which country is interesting? A: nihon ga omoshiroi desu.
In Japanese, the topic marker (は) is often used to illustrate contrast.
Consider the sentence “watashi wa chikoku shita” (I was late). There are two situations where we could use this sentence:
Topic (Normal): watashi wa chikoku shita : I was late. (used in a discussion centered around the speaker)
Topic (Contrast): watashi wa chikoku shita : I was late. (used when some other relevant person was not late, or it is not known if they were late).
Other major particles:
“wo” tells us what the object is, that is, to what the action was done
“ni” tells us the destination of an action involving movement, similar to English “to”. Alternatively, “ni” tells us the location where something is when using verbs like “arimasu” and “imasu”
“de” tells us the location (in, on, at) where the action takes place In other cases, “de” tells us the means by which the action is performed (by), such as a mode of transport or a tool.
“kara” から (from, towards, until) is used to express receiving something from someone else. It can be used as an alternative to the Particle より (yori).
“to” と can be used like “and”, to connect two nouns in a sentence. The particle と cannot be used to connect phrases or clauses in the sentence.
“no” の is a possessive marker.
An addition to the other people here, and my apologies for my lack of hiragana keyboard. wo - in front of a verb ni - when you go somewhere (heya ni iki masu = I'm going to the room) he - between location and verb to - to connect multiple verbs mo - used as "also" or used instead of "wa" when negation
If I got anything wrong, please correct me!