Japanese Particles (じょし) Explained

Particles in Japanese are short words that immediately follow a noun, adjective, verb, or sentence. They are used to show the relationship of words in a sentence. There are hundreds of them and they can be extremely frustrating for learners.

I will list my known particles here and update this page as I study more Japanese and learn more about the correct use of particles.

Usage of が

が introduces the subject of a sentence.

じゅぎょう 始まります。 - The class begins.

が can also show likes, dislikes or capability.

私は とんかつ すきです。 – As for me, I like tonkatsu.

母は たまねぎ すきではありません。- As for my mother, (she) doesn’t like onions.

兄は 日本語 へたです。 – As for my older brother, (he) is bad at Japanese.

can show something mentioned for the first time.


Usage of は

は highlights the word as the main topic of the sentence after it has been shared.

あの せんせい 私たちの 先生です。- That teacher over there is our teacher. [ is introducing the fact]

私たちの 先生 きびしいです。 – As for our teacher (he/she) is strict. [ is introducing the teacher (先生 – sensei) as the main topic of the sentence]

は can be placed after words that specify time or place.

去年 三年生でした。 – Last year (I) was a third year student.

can also specify the Topic of the whole sentence.

 手が 大きいです。- My older brother has big hands.

is used in place of を when the object of the verb is the topic.

スミス先生が 英語を 教えます。 – Smith sensei teaches English.

Changes to:

英語 スミス先生が 教えます。 – As for English, Smith sensei teaches (it).