日本語 | Basic Particles を で に へ

A particle is a word which has a purpose in the grammar of a sentence, but isn’t categorised as a main part of speech. Examples of these in English are to, at, and of. They may be small, but have a profound effect on the meaning. This post will discuss four of the main particles in Japanese: wo, de, ni, and he.

WO, pronounced o, indicates direct objects, things that are directly involved with and/or affected by the event.

e.g.

コーヒー飲みます。
Kōhī (w)o nomimasu.
I drink coffee.

The coffee is the direct object being affected.

音楽聞きます。
Ongaku (w)o kikimasu.
I listen to music.

テレビ見ます。
Terebi (w)o mimasu.
I watch TV.

 

DE indicates where the event being described by the verb takes place.

e.g.

テレビを見ます。
Uchi de terebi (w)o mimasu.
I watch TV at home.

カフェ本を読みます。
Kafe de hon (w)o yomimasu.
I read books at the café.

 

NI has multiple meanings, which include:

  • the goal towards which things move

e.g.

私は家帰ります。
Watashi wa uchi ni kaerimasu.
I will return home.

The subject (私) is moving towards ‘home’.

私は今日学校行きません。
Watashi wa kyou gakkou ni ikimasen.
I will not go to school today.

  • time

e.g.

日曜日京都に行きます。
Nichiyōbi ni Kyōto ni ikimasu.
I will go to Kyoto on Sunday.

十一時寝ます。
Jūichiji ni nemasu.
I will go to bed at eleven o’clock.

Time references can be made approximate by changing に into ごろ (goro) or ごろに (goro ni).

e.g.

十一時ごろ (に) 寝ます。
Jūichiji goro (ni) nemasu.
I will go to bed around eleven o’clock.

 

HE, pronounced e, also indicates a goal of movement and can be interchangeable with に (ni).

e.g.

私は家帰ります。
Watashi wa uchi (h)e kaerimasu.
I will return home.

私は今日学校行きません。
Watashi wa kyou gakkou (h)e ikimasen.
I will not go to school today.

 

*Any native Japanese speakers, please feel free to make any corrections. This information is based on studying from the Genki series of textbooks (Genki I, 2nd edition).*

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