Particles - Wa, Mo and No

Basic Japanese Lessons (3)

French man

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Click here for the dialogue for "Introducing People."


(1) Particles

A particle is a word that shows the relationship of a word, a phrase or a clause to the rest of the sentence. Particles are an important part of Japanese sentence structure. They resemble English prepositions in the way they connect words, but unlike English prepositions, which come before nouns, Japanese particles always come after nouns.

Often these particles can not be translated. Click here to learn more about particles.

Wa (topic marker)

The particle "wa" has no English equivalent. It tells you that the noun in front of it is the topic of the sentence. What comes after "wa" is the comment. Literally, "wa" means "as for."

Watashi wa gakusei desu.
I am a student.
Kare wa furansu-jin desu.
He is French.

Mo (also)

The particle "mo" means "also," "too," or "as well." It is used in both affirmative and negative sentences.

Anata mo gakusei desu ka. 
Are you a student, too?
Yuko mo sushi ga suki desu ka.
Does Yuko like sushi, too?

No (possessive marker)

The particle "no" indicates possession or attribution and comes after the noun it modifies. It is like the English apostrophe ('s). E.g. Karen's.

Watashi no tomodachi
My friend
Kimura-san no senmon
Mr. Kimura's field of study

(2) Questions

The particle "ka" is a question marker.

The formation of a question in Japanese is easy. Put the particle "ka" at the end of a sentence and it becomes a question. The word order does not change.

Kimura-san wa gakusei desu. 
Mr. Kimura is a student.
Kimura-san wa gakusei desu ka.
Is Mr. Kimura a student?