Case particle, 格助詞;かくじょしEdit

Those particles indicate the grammatical case of the preceding work (subject, complements …).


It is used to denote the subject of the proposition. Note that the subject is often omitted (if not necessay) or marked with は instead.

ex: 頭がいいです。 (He) is smart. Literally : The head is good.

In this example, the subject 頭;あたま (head) is marqued with が indicating that it is the grammatical subject of いい (be good).

It is always used with the verbs ある and いる (exist, be somewhere) : は cannot be used in this case.

ex: 財布がテーブルの上にあります。The wallet is on the table.



It is used to indicate the object.

ex: 卵を食べています。 I'm eating an egg.


Noun complementEdit

It is used to indicate the adjunct of the following noun: AのB means "B of A".

ex: 冬の終わり. The end of winter.

The word preceding の, 冬;ふゆ (winter), is a complement of the noun after the の particle, 終わり;おわり (end).


This may be used for possessive adjective. For example 私の means "my", 父の "my father's".

ex: 私の仕事. My job. Literally: the job of I.

ex: 父の名前. My fathers' name.


The complement can be completed followed by a particle indicating the kind a relationship. This is particularly used when the completed word is an action. The following particles may be used: で, へ, から, と.

ex: 東京からの帰り。 Return from Tokyo.

The following particles are absorbed by の: が, を, に.


Nominalisation de propositionEdit

A clause can be turned into a nouns by appending の. The clause is in neutral form.








Adverbial particles, 副助詞Edit



  • theme of the proposition;
  • opposition;
  • focus of the negation.


This particle indicate the theme (or topic) of the proposition. The theme of the proposition is the thing that we are talking about: it is usually something that have already been talked about. It is opposed to the rheme (or comment), the new information of the proposition.

ex1: 田中さんは来ました。 M. Tanaka came.

ex2: 田中さんが来ました。 M. Tanaka came.

In (ex1), we are talking about 田中さん are the new information (rheme) is that he came: 来ました. Compare to (ex2), here the new information is 田中さん. They may be seen as the answers to the following (implicit) questions respectively.

q1: 田中さんは来ましたか。 Did M. Tanaka come?

q2: 誰が来ましたか。Who came?

In (q1), we are talking about 田中さん which is the theme of the phrase and we are asking if he came. The answer is (ex1), the theme of the answer is 田中さん. In (q1), we know that someone came: the answer (ex2) provide the answer 田中さん. Note the similarity of the corresponding questions and answer: they use the same particles.

Sometimes, the theme of the proposition is the same as the subject and the particle は replace the particle が. However, the theme of the phrase needs not be the subject of the phrase.

ex: 田中さんは疲れています。M. Tanaka is tired.

In this example, the theme is 田中さん (M. Tanaka): we are providing an information about M. Tanaka (he's tired). It is the subject as well.

ex: 今日は日本語勉強しています。Today I'm studying. (Question: is the progressive form suitable here?)

In this example, the theme of the phrase is 今日 (today) but the subject of the phrase is "I" (implied).


The verbs of existence ある and いる may be used to indicate the possession.

ex: 田中さんは車があります。M. Tanaka has a car. Literally: Concerning M. Tanaka, there is a car.

Many idiomatic expressions are constructed similarly. The subject of the English proposition is the theme of the Japanese one.

ex: 田中さんは頭がいいです。 M. Tanaka is smart. Literally: Concerning, M. Tanaka, the (his) head is good.

Here the theme of the phrase is 田中さん (M. Tanaka) and the subject is 頭 (head). 頭がいい (the head is good) means "be intelligent".



The は particle may be used to mark the focus of a negation. The focus of the negation if the thing that is being negated.

r: 病気ではしんでいませんでした。(悲しみで死んでいました。) No he didn't die of illness. (He died of sorrow.)

r': 病気で死んでいませんでした。(まだ生きています。)No he didn't die of illness. (He's still alive.

Both sentences can be seen as answers of the (possibly implicit) following question:

q: 病気で死んでいましたか。Did he died of illness?

In (r), the particle は is used to mark the focus of the negation, 病気で (of illness): the negation is not about the proposition (he did die) but about its cause. The particle must be used here otherwise it would mean that the proposition でいました (he died) is false and that he is still alive.

Contrast it with (r') where the negation is on the verb 死んでいました and not only in the cause of the death.

Summary: In partial negations, the focus of the negation is marked with は. Otherwise it is a total negation.




Positive usageEdit

Negative usageEdit






Final particles, 終助詞;しゅうじょしEdit

The final particles are placed at the very end of the sentence and modify the whole sentence.


This particle is used at the end of a sentence to indicate that this is a question. It is similar to the question mark in european languages.

ex: 何じに起きますか。 What time do you wake up?

ex: その車は高いですか。 Is this car expensive?