What are Japanese Particles?

Tokyo nightscape with lights, blue.

Particles in Japanese are written in Hiragana and indicate who, what, when, where-to, where-at, how, and so on, akin to the W-words in English.

The layout of a basic sentence has bunsetsu jars arrayed before a sentence-final verb.

Let’s look at a concrete example:

Japanese particles match their corresponding nouns [people, places, things] to indicate the “who, what, when, where, how” and so forth in a sentence. Their order can be mixed up as long as the verb arrives at the end.

Particles are how the role of each element in a sentence is indicated. You can get a nice primer on the different meanings of the particles in our free guide, Essential Japanese: The Mental Model [pdf].

Learning Japanese is fun! One retrains their brain and language reflexes to anticipate particles after the focal terms, as opposed to before as in English.

“To the store” becomes “store Ni” and “With a friend” becomes “friend toh.” The simple swap from before-a-word to after-a-word takes training, and is 100% attainable with practice and study.

As mentioned above, you can get a nice primer on the different meanings of the particles in our free guide, Essential Japanese: The Mental Model [pdf] brought to you by Japanese Complete, Go All The Way.

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