Japanese Particles: What Are They and How to Use Them

Wake up. Learn languages. Be happy.

Japanese particles shows the relationship of a word, a phrase, or a clause, to the rest of the sentence. If you have trouble keeping all the particles straight, let LingoDeer show you how to use them one by one.

Topic marking particle は

は (ha) “is the topic marking particle in Japanese. It is used to introduce the topic of a sentence. When used as the topic marker, “は” is no longer pronounced as “ha” but “wa”.
Example: 私日本人です。/ I’m Japanese.

Subject marking particle が

1. indicates the subject of the existence (JP1: Existence 1)
部屋に机あります。/ There is a table in the room.

2. indicates the secondary subject (features of a larger subject) of the sentence (JP1: Adjective 4)
姉の目小さいです。/ My sister’s eyes are small.

3. indicates the subject of a question sentence. (JP1: Public Area)
どこ病院ですか。/ Where is the hospital?

4. indicates the preference/ability towards an object (JP1: Sports)
私は海好きです。/ I love the sea. 

Direct object particle

1. indicates the object, direct object marking particle (JP1: Verb1)
読みます。/ I read a book.

2. indicates the route/course of a motion verb. (JP1: Direction)
飛びます。/ (Something) flies across the sky.

Direct object particle

1. connects two nouns of equal importance (JP1: Existence 1)
椅子。(Tables and chairs)

2. quotes the words/thoughts of somebody (JP2: Communication)
私は先生に留学したい言いました。/ I told the teacher that I want to study abroad.


1. means “also” or “as well” (JP1: Gender)
田中さん日本人です。/ Mr. Tanaka is also Japanese.

2. means absolute negation (JP1: Negation)
だれいません。/ There is no one here.

Particle の

1. indicates possession or attribution (JP1: Daily Supplies)
これは私本です。/ This is my book.

2. refers to a noun that has been previously mentioned in the context (JP2: Shopping)
ウエストがきついです。もう少し大きはありますか。/ The waist (part of the dress) is too tight. Do you have a bigger one? 

3. turns a phrase into a sub-clause that acts as a noun in the sentence (JP2: Nominalization 1)
一番欲しいはどれですか。/ What do you want the most? 


1. indicates the location of an action (JP1: Daily Life)
教室勉強します。/ I study in a classroom.

2. indicates the transports. (JP1: Transportation)
バスいきます。/ I go there by bus.

3. indicates a tool or mean of an action (JP1: Tableware)
ラーメンを食べます。/ I eat ramen with chopsticks. 

4. indicates the total amount (JP2: Particles)
この漫画は三冊1200円です。/ These 3 mangas cost 1,200 yen.

5. indicates a period of time (JP2: Particles)
この小説を一日読んでしまいたい。/ I’d like to finish this novel in one day.

6. indicates the range of items for comparison (JP1: Compare 2)
果物の中でイチゴが一番好きです。/ Among fruits, I like strawberries the most.

7. indicates the reason/cause/factor (JP2: Environment)
学校を休みました。/ I didn’t go to school because of the rain.

8. indicates the number of subjects carrying out an action (JP2: Particles)
みんな掃除しましょう。/ Let’s clean the room together!

9. indicates what material something is made of (JP2: Passive Voice 3)
この家は木作られる。/ This house is made of wood.

Particle に

1. indicates the place/location of the existence. / JP1: Existence 1
部屋は机があります。/ There is a table in the room.

2. indicates where the object of the action is or is supposed to be (JP1: Direction)
ここ名前を書いてください。 / Please sign your name here.

3. indicates a specific time of an action (JP1: Verb 2)
7時起きます。/ I wake up at 7.

4. indicates the purpose of an action (JP1: Purpose)
弟はアメリカへ留学し来ました。/ My brother came to the US to study.

5. indicates the receiver (a person) of an action (JP2: Communication)
私は先生留学したいと言いました。/ I told the teacher that I want to study abroad.

6. indicates the frequency of an activity (JP1: Frequency)
姉は一週間映画を二回見ます。/ My sister watches films twice a week.

Particle から

1. indicates starting points of time or space (JP1: Transportation)
九時から五時まで働きます。/ I work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

2. indicates what material something is made of, and the source material is not directly visible.
ワインはぶどうから作られている。/ The wine is made from grapes.

3. indicates the initiator/starting point of an action (JP2: Humble Language)
王さんからもらった食べ物です。/ I got this food from Mr. Ou.

Particle まで

まで indicates the ending point of time or space (JP1: Transportation)
東京から大阪まで飛行機でいきます。/ I go to Osaka from Tokyo by air.

Particle へ

へ indicates destination the subject is moving toward (JP1: Travel)
日本行きます。/ I’m going to Japan.

Don’t forget to check your LingoDeer Japanese lessons, including grammar focus on particles, questions words, vocabulary and more! Just enjoy your language learning journey with LingoDeer!


Wish to learn more Japanese phrases but don’t know where to start? Let me help!

I’m LingoDeer. I’m here to make your Japanese learning journey smart and fun!

Try LingoDeer for free

Your Simple Guide to Choose a Cute Japanese Name
Want to give yourself a cool Japanese name? Looking to write a …
Telling Time in Japanese: A Fundamental Guide
After working on basic Japanese language skills such as particles, numbers, and …
Essential Vocabulary for JLPT N4
Hey Japanese learners! To help you learn Japanese and pass JLPT easier, …
Essential Vocabulary for JLPT N5
Hey Japanese learners! To help you learn Japanese and pass JLPT easier, …
4 4 votes
Article Rating

Leave a comment

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Yeah it’s helpful, but imma go to basics first

2 years ago

This is why I tend to get confused on the use of で

2 years ago

It’s been a while since I used this app. I had problems with particles. As soon as I saw “particles” I clicked rapidly. So far best explanation I have ever seen. Thank you.

2 years ago

This is helpful

2 years ago

を and は always got me so confused, but now it’s all clear

Tereza Stankova
Tereza Stankova
1 year ago

So helpful, this really helped me understand.

1 year ago

ya, de has so many uses, its just easier to equate it to an English equivalent.

1 year ago

Hello! Just commenting to let you know: below the を section, i think there should be a と section, but there are only the examples 1 and 2 using と, without a title or explanation. Maybe you could correct it. Thank you for this article 🙂

11 months ago

読んでしまいたい can anyone help me with this conjugation? it’s the te-form of yomu and then what? thank you xx

11 months ago

also why is there a し after 留学 in this sentence 弟はアメリカへ留学し来ました。? thank you xx