What particles can get involved?

Particle revolution

The last three particles (... not really!)

We have already come across very powerful constructs with which we can express almost anything we want. We will cover the particle 「の」, which gives us even more expression by allowing us to define a generic, abstract noun. We also learn how to determine nouns directly from nouns. The treated three particles can concatenate nouns in different ways.

This is the last chapter that deals specifically with particles, but that means Notthat there are not more particles to learn. We will encounter many more particles on our way, but they are not always marked as such. As long as you know what they mean and how to use them, it doesn't matter too much to know whether or not they are particles.

The enclosing particle 「と」

The particle 「と」 is similar to the particle 「も」 in that it has an inclusive meaning. He can combine two or more nouns to express an "and" relationship.

(1) ス プ ー ンフ ォ ー ク で 魚 を 食 べ た 。- Ate fish with a spoon and fork.
(2) 本雑 誌葉 書 を 買 っ た 。- Bought a book, magazine and postcard.

Another, similar use of 「と」 is to show that an action was performed with someone or with something.
(1) 友 達話 し た 。- Talked to friend.
(2) 先生会 っ た。 - Met (me) with teacher.

The vague listing particles 「や」 and 「と か」

The particle 「や」, like the particle 「と」, is used to list two or more nouns, with the difference that it is much more "spongy" than the particle 「と」. It may be that other things are not listed, or that not all of the items in the list need to be applicable. In German you can think of it as a kind of "and / or, etc." - Imagine listing.

(1) 飲 み 物カ ッ プナ プ キ ン は 、 い ら な い? - Don't you need (something like) a drink, cup, napkin or something?
(2) 靴シ ャ ツ を 買 う 。- Buy (things like) shoes and T-shirt, etc.

「と か」 has the same meaning as 「や」 but is a slightly more slang term.
(1) 飲 み 物と かカ ッ プと かナ プ キ ン は 、 い ら な い? - Don't you need (something like) a drink, cup, napkin or something?
(2) 靴と かシ ャ ツ を 買 う 。- Buy (things like) shoes and T-shirt, etc.

The particle 「の」

The particle 「の」 has many uses and is a very powerful particle. It is introduced here because, like 「と」 and 「や」, it can be used to connect two or more nouns together. Let's look at a few examples:

(1) ボ ブ本 。- Book by Bob.
(2) 本ボ ブ 。- Bob from the book.
The first example means something like "Bob's book" (not a chapter of the Bible). The second sentence means "Bob the Book," which is likely a mistake. I translated (1) as "The Book of Bob" because the particle 「の」 is not always possessive, as the next example shows.

(1) ボ ブ は 、 ア メ リ カ大学学生 だ 。- Bob is a student from College of America.
In normal German this would be called "Bob is a student at an American university." translate. The order of determination is backwards so that Bob is a student at a college that is American. 「学生 の 大学 の ア メ リ カ」 means "America of the College of Students" which is probably a mistake and has little point. (America of Student Colleges?)

The noun that is specified can be omitted if it is clear from the context what it is about. The following marked redundant words can be omitted:
(1) そ の シ ャ ツ は 誰 のシ ャ ツ? - Whose shirt is that shirt?
(2) ボ ブ のシ ャ ツだ 。- It's Bob's shirt.
(1) そ の シ ャ ツ は 誰? - Whose shirt is that there?
(2) ボ ブだ 。- It's Bob's.
(「そ の」 is an abbreviation of 「そ れ + の」, so that it can determine the noun directly because it already contains the particle 「の enthalten. Other such words are e.g. 「こ の」 from 「こ れ の」 and 「あ の」 from 「あ れ の」.)

In this type of application, the particle 「の」 basically replaces the noun and takes on the role of a noun itself. In essence, we can treat adjectives and verbs the same way as nouns by simply adding the particle 「の」. The particle then becomes a "general" noun that we can use like any normal noun.
(1) 白 い のは 、 か わ い い。 - Thing that is white is cute.
(2) 授業 に 行 く のを 忘 れ た。 - Forgot the event of going to class.

Now we can use the direct object, subject, and determinant particles along with verbs and adjectives. But we don't necessarily have to use the particle 「の」 for this. Instead, we can use the noun 「物」, which is a general object, or 「こ と」 for a general event. So we can say, for example:
(1) 白 いは 、 か わ い い。 - Thing that is white is cute.
(2) 授業 に 行 くこ とを 忘 れ た。 - Forgot the matter of going to class.

Be that as it may, the 「の sehr particle is very useful in that you don't need to specify a specific noun. In the following examples, the particle 「の」 does not replace a specific verb, but simply allows us to treat verb and adjective subordinate clauses like nouns. The subordinate clauses are marked.
(1) 毎 日 勉強 す るの は 大 変。 - The thing of studying every day is tough.
(2) 毎 日 同 じ 物 を 食 べ るの は 、 面 白 く な い。 - It is not interesting to eat the same thing every day.
You may have noticed that the word 「同 じ」 directly determines the word 「物」, even though it doesn't seem to be an i-adjective. I don't know exactly why this is possible. One explanation for this could be that this is an adverb that doesn't need particles, as we'll soon learn.

On the other hand, when using a na-adjective, a 「な wird is still needed to determine the noun, even if eins の」 is used for the noun.
(1) 静 か部屋 が 、 ア リ ス の 部屋 だ。 - Quiet room is Alice's room.
(1) 静 かの が 、 ア リ ス の 部屋 だ。 - The quiet one is Alice's room.

* Warning: It may appear that 「の」 can be substituted for any noun, but it is not. It is important to realize that the sentence must be about the subordinate clause and not the noun it replaces. E.g. in the last chapter we had the sentence 「学生 じ ゃ な い 人 は 、 学校 に 行 か な い」. One might think of simply replacing 「人」 with 「の」 to get 「学生 じ ゃ な いは 、 学校 に 行 か な い 」to get. In reality this doesn't make sense because the sentence is now about the subordinate clause "Is not a student". The sentence becomes "The thing of not being a student doesn't go to school", which is total nonsense, because 'not being a student' is a state, and it makes no sense for a state to go anywhere, let alone because to school.

The particle 「の」 as an explanation

If the particle 「の」 is added to the end of the last clause of a sentence, it can also give the sentence an explanatory tone of voice. For example, if someone asks you whether you have time, you could answer, for example, "Unfortunately, I'm a bit busy right now." Phrases like "It's like that ..." or "The thing is ..." can now also be expressed with the particle 「の」. These types of sentences have a "built-in" statement that explains the reason or reasons for something else.

The sentence could be formulated like this:
(1) 今 は 忙 し い。- The thing is, (I'm) busy now.

That sounds very gentle and feminine. In fact, adult males would almost always add the declarative 「だ」 unless for some reason they wanted to sound cute.
(2) 今 は 忙 し いの だ。- The thing is, (I'm) busy now.

Since the declarative 「だ」 cannot be used in questions, the same 「の」 has no feminine tone in questions, and is used by both men and women.
(1) 今 は 忙 し い? - Is it that (you) are busy now? (gender neutral)

If we want to use the copula while using the particle 「の」 to create an explanatory intonation, we have to add 「な」to distinguish it from the particle 「の」, which simply means "from".
(1) ジ ム の だ 。- It's from Jim.
(2) ジ ムの だ 。- It's Jim (with an explanatory tone).
Except in this one case, everything stays the same.

Because this type of explanatory tone is used all the time in everyday life, 「の だ」 is usually replaced by 「ん だ」. This is probably because 「ん だ」 is easier to pronounce than 「の だ」. It looks like this grammatical phrase can have many different meanings because not only can you use it with all forms of adjectives, nouns, and verbs, you can also conjugate itself, just like the copula. A conjugation table will clarify this.

There's really nothing new here. The first table simply adds 「ん だ」 (or 「な ん だ」) to a conjugated verb, noun, or adjective. The second table appends 「ん だ」 (or 「な ん だ」) to a non-conjugated verb, noun or adjective and then simply conjugates the 「だ」 part of 「ん だ」, just like the regular copula for nouns and na- Adjectives. Please don't forget to add 「な」 for nouns and na-adjectives.

 Noun / na-adjectiveVerb / i adjective
presence学生な ん だ飲 むん だ
negative学生 じ ゃ な いん だ飲 ま な いん だ
past学生 だ っ たん だ飲 ん だん だ
neg. past学生 じ ゃ な か っ たん だ飲 ま な か っ たん だ
 Noun / na-adjectiveVerb / i adjective
presence学生な ん だ飲 むん だ
negative学生な ん じ ゃ な い飲 むん じ ゃ な い
past学生な ん だ っ た飲 むん だ っ た
neg. past学生な ん じ ゃ な か っ た飲 むん じ ゃ な か っ た

I would say that the past tense and negative past tense for nouns / na-adjectives are almost never used in the second table (especially with 「の」), but they are included for the sake of completeness.

The crucial difference between using the explanatory 「の」 and no ending at all is that you are telling the listener: "Look, that's the reason" versus simply bringing in new information. For example, if someone asks you "Are you busy?", You can simply answer 「今 は 忙 し い」. But if someone asks "Why can't you talk to me?", You would obviously have to make some kind of explanation and would therefore answer 「今 は 忙 し い の」 or 「今 は 忙 し い ん だ」. This grammatical phrase is indispensable when looking for explanations through questions. For example, if you wanted to ask, "Hey, isn't it too late?", You can't just ask 「遅 く な い?」 because that is simply, "Isn't it late?" means. You have to state that you are looking for an explanation, something like 「遅 い ん じ ゃ な い?」.

Let's look at a few examples of situations where this phrase is used. The examples have been translated as literally as possible to better show how the meaning stays the same and translates into completely different types of sentences in normal German. A more natural German translation is also given because the literal translation can get a little tangled.

example 1

ア リ ス : ど こ に 行 く? - Where is it where (you) are going?
ボ ブ : 授業 に 行 くん だ。- It is that (I) go to class.
Alice: where are you going? (Looking for an explanation)
Bob: I'm going to class. (explanatory)

Example 2

ア リ ス : 今 、 授業 が あ るん じ ゃ な い? - Isn't it the case that lessons are now taking place?
ボ ブ : 今 は 、 な いん だ。- Now it is that there is no class.
Alice: Don't you have a class now? (with the expectation that there will be lessons)
Bob: No, there is no class now. (explanatory)

Example 3

ア リ ス : 今 、 授業 が な いん じ ゃ な い の? - Isn't it the case that there are no lessons now?
ボ ブ : う う ん 、 あ る 。- No, it is.
Alice: Isn't it that you don't have a class now? (with the expectation that there will be no lessons)
Bob: No, I have classes.

Example 4

ア リ ス : そ の 人 が 買 うん じ ゃ な か っ た の? - Wasn't it this person who went shopping?
ボ ブ : う う ん 、 先生 が 買 うん だ。- No, the teacher is shopping.
Alice: Wasn't it that person who went shopping? (with the expectation that this person would shop)
Bob: No, the teacher is shopping. (Explanatory)

Example 5

ア リ ス : 朝 ご 飯 を 食 べ るん じ ゃ な か っ たよ。 - It's like breakfast shouldn't be eaten, you know.
ボ ブ : ど う し て? - Why?
Alice: Shouldn't have eaten breakfast, you know. (Explains that breakfast shouldn't be eaten)
Bob: Why then?

Don't worry if you are completely confused now, we will encounter many more examples along our way. Once you get a feel for how it all works, it's better to forget about the German because double and triple negations like in example 3 can be pretty confusing. In Japanese, however, this is a perfectly normal expression, as you will find out once you get used to it.

This page was last viewed 2005/6/1 Unknown reference to 「そ こ」 and 「あ そ こ」 removed 2005/6/1 Translation was last viewed 2006/01/07