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  1. (mo)
  2. (no)
  3. (wo)
  4. 単語 (vocabulary)

The particle is a particle that can replace any of は、が、を (topic, subject, object). It means 'in addition' or 'also'. If it follows a list of nouns, than it should be repeated after each one: 「A も B も C も D です。」means "A, B and C are also D."

Using the particle introduces ambiguity into a sentence, which is of course always a good thing. If you hear 「さかなも たべます」, you can't tell whether that would mean in English "They eat fish too." or "Fish eat them too."


The particle can follow different parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives), and each part of speech requires a slightly different part of speech. When you need to translate it, always ask yourself what kind of word you see before it.

after a noun or pronoun

<Noun> の」 is an adjective that means "<noun>'s" or sometimes just "<noun>" (when the English noun can also be an adjective). As a first guess, and always when the noun refers to a person, you should translate using the possessive "'s" or "my/your/his/her/etc.":

わたしの my
あなたの your
かれの his
ジョンの John's

If a "'s" sounds awkward, especially in a long chain of -phrases, try leaving it out. For example, when translating

rather than saying
Kristen's husband's university's library's math's book's right's page
it sounds more natural to say
Kristen's husband's university library's math book right-hand page
or even
The right-hand page in the math book from Kristen's husband's university library.

Don't make the common mistake of translating 「さむらいのかたな」 as "the samurai of the sword" instead of the correct "the samurai's sword". Always translate first without changing word order, and then paraphase only once the meaning is clear: "the sword of the samurai". If means anything in English, it means "'s", not "of".

after an adjective

<Adjective> の」 is a noun that means "the <adjective> one". For example, 「あかいの」 means "the red one".

When Japanese adjectives correspond with English verbs, it's better to use the English phrasing "what [I/you/he/she/etc.] <verb>". For example, with the -adjective ひつような meaning "necessary" or "needed", 「ひつようなの」 sounds better as "what [I] need" rather than "the necessary one".

after a verb

<Verb> の」 is a noun that means "the action of <verb>-ing" or just "<verb>-ing". For example, 「およぐのはたのしいです。」 means "swimming is fun". Note that in this usage, Japanese always uses the informal -u forms, never the formal -masu forms. Negative verbs are fine though: 「およがないのもたのしいです。」 means "Not swimming is fun too."

In colloquial speech, a verb (but not です in any of its forms) at the end of a sentence is often followed by the particle . This makes the speaker sound more familiar and emotionally emphatic. For example,

いくのか? Are you going, or what?
いきたくないの! I don't wanna go!

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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,

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.
Note that the Japanese do not usually use a subject pronoun (I/you/he/she/...) unless unusual emphasis is called for.

Compare this with the similar sentence

which uses the subject marker (ga). In this case, さかな (fish) is the subject of the verb たべます (eat). In English statements (but not necessarily questions), the subject is what goes before the verb. So we can translate the sentence this time by putting "fish" before "eat" and writing:
Fish eat.
Finally, consider the sentence
which uses the subject marker (wa). In this case, さかな (fish) is the topic of the verb たべます (eat). English does not have topics, so this sentence is harder to translate without losing nuances.

Japanese speakers will blurt out the topic of the sentence (that is, what's on their mind) before figuring out minor details like whether it's going to end up being the subject or the object (that is, to an English speaker, whether it ought to go before or after the verb). Some people do this colloquially in English, too: "Fish! I'll have some please." or "The fish! They're eating!"

When you do this in English, you usually have to pause (after the "!") to figure out what's going to come before your verb in the sentence that follows. The Japanese are unhampered by clumsy English grammar and just say and barrel along with the rest of the sentence, leaving it to the listener to figure out whether the fish are eating or being eaten.

Some texts recommend translating as "As for...", and it's not a bad idea for a first, literal version. So we could try translating the sentence as either of

As for fish, I'll eat them [but possibly not whatever else you offered; or I eat them despite being otherwise a vegetarian; or there's something otherwise special about fish that makes me want to eat them.].
As for the fish, they eat [that stuff, but the crabs in my aquarium won't touch it; or there's something special that we're discussing about fish that drives them to eat this].
But without more context, it's hard to come up with a single concise, let alone accurate translation.

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単語 (Vocabulary)

日本語 にほんご English
あなた あなた you
行きたい いきたい wanting to go (desiderative of 行く)
行く いく to go
泳ぐ およぐ to swim
かたな katana (sword)
かれ he
御主人 ごしゅじん (someone else's honourable) husband
さかな fish
さむらい samurai
数学 すうがく mathematics
大学 だいがく university
楽しい たのしい fun
食べる たべる to eat
図書館 としょかん library (building or system, not room)
必要な ひつような necessary, needed
ほん book
わたし I

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