Thursday, August 20, 2009

Japanese を (O) and の (NO) Particles

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The Particle "" (O)

Direct Object Marker

"O" (を) is placed after a noun, and indicates that the noun is the direct object.
  • Neko ga esa o tabeta. 猫が餌を食べた。 The cat ate the food.
  • Kinou eiga o mimashita. 昨日映画を見ました。I watched the movie yesterday.
  • Kutsu o kaimashita. 靴を買いました。I bought shoes.
always follows the direct object of the sentence, and since it is only ever used for this purpose, is the Japanese reader's best friend. When you see , you can be sure that what precedes it is the direct object.

For example,

さかなをたべます。
How do we translate this into English? さかな (fish) is the direct object of the verb たべます (eat). In English statements (but not necessarily questions), the direct object is what goes after the verb. So we can translate the sentence by putting "fish" after "eat" and writing:
[I/you/he/she/...] eat fish.
Click here to learn other terrible things people do to fish using を particle...

Route of Motion

Verbs such as walk, run, pass, turn, drive, go through etc., take the particle "" to indicate the route which the movement follows.
  • Sora o tobu 空を飛ぶ fly through the sky
  • Basu wa toshokan no mae o toorimasu. バスは図書館の前を通ります。 The bus passes in front of the library.
  • Tsugi no kado o magatte kudasai. 次の角を曲がってください。 Please turn the next corner.
Point of Departure

Verbs such as leave, come out, get off etc., take the particle "o" to mark the place from which one gets of or leaves.
  • Hachi-ji ni ie o demasu. 八時に家を出ます。 I leave home at eight o'clock.
  • Kyonen koukou o sotsugyou shimashita. 去年高校を卒業しました。 I graduated from high school last year.
This is unrelated to the honorific (politeness) prefix o, written お or 御.

The Particle "" (No)

Possessive Marker

"No" indicates ownership or attribution. It is similar to the English "apostrophe s ('s). "
  • sensei no kuruma 先生のthe teacher's car
  • watashi no konpyuuta 私のコンピュータ My computer
  • anata no shukudai あなたの宿題
  • Kore wa watashi no hon desu. これは私の本です。 This is my book.
  • Watashi no ane wa Tokyo ni sunde imasu. 私の姉は東京に住んでいます。 My sister lives in Tokyo.


Similar, but not the same:
  • kuruma no Toyota 車のトヨタ Toyota the car [company]



The final noun can be omitted if it is clear to both speaker and listener.
  • Are wa watashi no (kuruma) desu. あれは私の(車)です。 That is mine (my car).
"No" can be used many times in one sentence. In this usage the order of nouns in Japanese is the reverse of the English structure. The normal Japanese order is from large to small, or general to specific.
  • Osaka daigaku no nihongo no sensei 大阪大学の日本語の先生 a teacher of Japanese at Osaka university
  • yooroppa no kuni no namae ヨーロッパの国の名前 the names of the countries in Europe

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