Japanese Particles: What Are They and How to Use Them

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と言いました。/ 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 a 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。/ 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)
姉は一週間二回映画を見ます。/ 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!

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8 months ago

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

8 months ago

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

8 months 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.

8 months ago

This is helpful

8 months ago

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

Tereza Stankova
Tereza Stankova
7 months ago

So helpful, this really helped me understand.

3 months ago

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

18 days 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 🙂

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