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The Japanese particles thread.

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default The Japanese particles thread.

Post by Laramie Castiel on 28/04/13, 09:27 am

I got this idea from a user that PMed me requesting for explanations of the other particles. There are many of them; easily more than 20, but in this thread, I will start off by explaining the commonly confused pairs:

~ Ga and o
~ Ga and wa
~ Ni and de
~ Ni and e
~ Ya and to

If there is enough demand for explanations of the less confusing particles, I'm happy to put them here at some stage, too.





[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] The Particles [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]


[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]~ Ga (が) or O/wo (を)? ~
Spoiler:

In short, in this case, "ga" is a subject marker (shows who did what) and "wo" is a direct object marker (shows who an action applied/s to). Just remembering these distinctions should be of great help.

First of all, let's look at two near-identical Japanese sentences:

A) "Sakana ga tabeteru." - "The fish are eating."
B) "Sakana wo tabeteru." - "[S/he's] eating the fish."

In sentence A, the subject of the sentence are the fish. Given that a subject dictates who did what: who- the fish, and they did what- eat. "Wo" would be incorrect, because what A wants to say is that the fish are eating. Using "wo" would imply that somebody is eating the fish.

In sentence B, the speaker aims to convey who an action is applied to. Who- the lady or man, and the action- eating the fish. "Ga" would be incorrect, because what B wants to say is that somebody is eating the fish. Using "ga" would change the meaning of the sentence into "the fish are eating", because ga emphasises what comes before it, in other words, the subject of the sentence.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]~ Ga (が) or Wa (は)? ~
Spoiler:

This website illustrates the concepts in detail, but I'll simplify things as best as I can.

"ga" emphasises what comes before "ga". It is a subject marker, meaning that the emphasis is on who did what.

"wa" emphasises what comes after "wa". It is a topc marker, meaning that the emphasis is on what is being talked about.

Let's say I'm in class. The teacher asks me one of two questions:

Scenario 1: "Who is Laramie Castiel?"
Scenario 2: "Who are you?"

In scenario 1,
the information the teacher wants is Laramie making herself known. So "Sensei, watashi "ga" or "wa" Laramie desu." in this situation?

The correct answer is: "Sensei, watashi ga Laramie Castiel desu."

This is because the information I want to tell the teacher is "I'm Laramie." So in that sentence above:

"Sensei, watashi ga Laramie Castiel desu."

The information I want to emphasise is the underlined section. It comes before "ga".

Now, for scenario 2. The teacher comes up to me and asks who I am. So "Sensei, watashi "ga" or "wa" Laramie desu." in this situation?

The correct answer is: "Watashi wa Laramie Castiel desu."

This is because the information I want to focus telling the teacher is "I'm Laramie Castiel", so:

"Sensei, watashi wa Laramie Castiel desu."

The information I want to emphasise is the underlined section. It comes after "wa".

To summarise, you make your choice depending on what information is desired of you. "Ga" is used to emphasise the subject of a sentence, which is whatever is before "ga". "Wa" is used to emphasise the topic of a sentence, which is whatever is after "wa".

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]~ Ni (に) or De ()? ~
Spoiler:

Basically, both are used to show actions at a location. The question is, in what way do they differ? The details may seem like a minor technicalities, but they ultimately become the difference between a grammatically correct and incorrect sentence.

In this scenario, "ni" is the particle to used to express verbs of state. In other words "ni" is used to convey direction and the location/position of a person or object.

"De" is used to express verbs of action. In other words, "de" conveys the place where an action occurs. "De" also conveys "by means of".

It may still seem confusing, but the differences present themselves when you get to see them in sentences:

Example 1- The correct usages of "ni"

A) "Watashi wa rainen Amerika ni ikimasu." - "I am going to America next year."
B) "Daigaku ni imasu." - I am in/at university."
C) "Terebi wa raunji ni arimasu." - "The TV is in the lounge."

Note that all sentences refer to the location of a person/object's state of being:
Sentence A refers to a direction of an action of state. The person will go to Japan.
Sentence B refers to a verb of state. The person is currently situated in university.
Sentence C refers to an object's location. The object is located in the lounge.

Example 2- The correct usages of "de"

A) "Kono suutsu wa Itaria de kaimashita." - "I bought this suit in Italy."
B) "Watashi wa Igirisu de hatarakimasu." - "I will work in England."
C) "Ore wa densha de iku." - "I go/I will go by train."

Notice that sentences A and B refer to a location in which an action will or has occurred:
Sentence A refers to a location where the action occurred. The person bought a suit in Italy.
Sentence B refers to a location in which an action will occur. The person will work in England.

As for Sentence C, it refers to the other usage of "de", which is to convey how one achieves/achieved an action by usage of something. The person either commutes to the unspecified location by train, or is expressing his intention of going by train.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]~ Ni (に) or E (へ)? ~
Spoiler:

To break things down, I'll try
to "define" each of the two particles:

Ni: "Ni" is used when you want to point out a certain destination.

E: "E" is used when you want to point out a direction of a motion towards a destination.

The difference is minute, but here's an important tip: There are many scenarios in which "ni" can be used in place of "e" in most situations and still be correct, but "e" cannot replace "ni".

Example 1 - When the two are interchangeable.

"I'm going to university tomorrow"

Ashita daigaku ni ikimasu.
Ashita daigaku e ikimasu.

What's the difference here? Which is right, which is wrong? The answer: both are correct. But why? "Ni" is fine here, because the speaker is talking about where they are going, in other words, a certain destination. "E" is okay here, because the speaker's sentence conveys a direction of motion which will lead to a destination.

So what you should have learned in the above example is that when you're not trying to convey specific directions alone, "ni" and "e" can be used interchangeably.

Example 2 - When "ni" is incorrect.

"I'm going north." (as in, travelling in the compass direction, not a Northern suburban area)

Kita ni ikimasu.
Kita e ikimasu.

If you read back to the defining differences between "ni" and "e", you should see that "ni" is incorrect in this situation. Remember that this is because "ni" is a particle used to pointing out a destination. In this example, the speaker is saying that they're going to go north, which is clearly a direction. Of course, since a compass direction is not a destination, "ni" is incorrect here.

Example 3 - When "e" is incorrect.

"I'm at work."

Shigoto ni imasu.
Shigoto e imasu.

After understanding the above two examples, this should be clear which one is incorrect. "E" is incorrect here, because there is no direction of motion to a destination. How can there be a direction of motion when the speaker is already at the location? If you're already at the destination, "e" is never correct. Using "e" in this scenario would be like saying in English, "I'm to work".

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]~ Ya (や) or To (と)? ~
Spoiler:

Luckily, this difference is the easiest to both explain and understand.

"Ya" refers to incomplete listings. For example:

"Yaoya de wa kyuuri ya tomato wo kaemasu." - "At the veggie shop, you can buy things like cucumbers and tomatoes."

Of course, (I'd hope) vegetable stores don't limit their stock to just cucumbers and tomatoes. So "ya" is the correct one here, since it refers to an incomplete list.

"To" refers to complete listings. For example:

"Sono pen no shurui wa akai no to aoi yatsu ga arimasu." - "That pen comes in two types- red or blue."


Last edited by Laramie Castiel on 02/05/13, 03:59 am; edited 2 times in total

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default Re: The Japanese particles thread.

Post by Eryx on 28/04/13, 09:42 am

Ahhh. Thank you so so much for this! :D

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default Re: The Japanese particles thread.

Post by Laramie Castiel on 28/04/13, 09:46 am

No worries! Glad you like it. =)

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Post by Kopin on 28/04/13, 10:31 am

Cas, ily.

And uh, I didn't know there were so many particles! Sorry for not being very specific! My textbook has only covered は、が、に、and を so far and が and を were confusin' the shiz outta me. I was always wondering how you were supposed to tell who was doing what so thanks for that! :D

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default Re: The Japanese particles thread.

Post by Laramie Castiel on 28/04/13, 10:33 am

No problem! Glad I could help. =)

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Post by Clairbaby on 30/04/13, 01:26 pm

This is very well explained! I dare say you explained it better than most of the teachers out there..

I think some people just have the talent to teach and a knack for explaining things in a certain way that makes it easy for others to grasp... When I try to explain something it always goes somewhat messy, lol.

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default Re: The Japanese particles thread.

Post by Laramie Castiel on 30/04/13, 01:35 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Clairbaby! I'm glad it's easy to understand. I will admit to referencing dictionaries and other websites just to make sure I'm accurate, but otherwise, I do construct the explanations myself.

I'm sure if I had to verbally educate this, my head will spin. I prefer explaining in writing, since I can clarify what I want to say the first time. I can delete what doesn't make sense, and so on.

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Post by kyuuichii on 25/03/14, 05:57 am

Thanks for the explanation :)I've been struggle with ni and e, now I'm happy because I can understand that xD
nee, would you make another expanation about grammar? I mean about past and present tense of Japanese  Just as planned

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Post by Akitsuki on 06/04/14, 07:56 pm

This is so helpful! Your explanation is just simple and clear and enough to be understood! I've been struggling to find the differences between ga and wa, and you clearly said them. Thank you very much!

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Post by icingcandies on 01/06/16, 02:13 pm

Thank you, kind soul who posted these helpful explanations!  cat

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