Basic Japanese Lesson – O and De partiles

Posted on 15. Aug, 2014 by in Grammar

iro

Photo from raffacama from flickr.com

So, this month is the month you will be familiar with basic Japanese grammar.  We are starting with important particles.

So far, we have covered the following particles:

  • Mo (も) – means “too” or “also” in English. Click here to review this.

 

  • Ga(が) & Wa (は) – two confusing particles of Japanese. Click here to review this.

Today’s lesson covers the O (を) and De (で) particles.

First let’s cover the O (を)  particle. This particle has a lot to do with “direct object”.  According to the definition from Wikipedia, “Traditional grammar defines the object in a sentence as the entity that is acted upon by the subject.”. So, basically direct object is the entity that occurs right after the verb.  In Japanese, the direct object is followed by the particles O(を). 

Let me show you some examples:

  • Watashi wa okashi o mottekimasu. 私は、おかし  持ってきます。(わたしは、おかし  もってきます。)- I will bring the snacks.

 

  • Watashi wa pan o kaimasu.  私は、パン  買います。(わたしは、パン  かいます。)- I will buy the bread.

 

  • Oto-to wa manga o yondeimasu. 弟は、漫画  読んでいます。(おとうとは、まんが  よんでいます。)- My brother is reading a comic book.

 

  • Kino- watashi wa tomato o kaimashita. 昨日 私は、トマト  買いました。 (きのう わたしは、トマト  かいました。)- Yesterday, I bought tomatoes.

 

The next particle is also useful one where you can use to mark the location of activities.  In English, this will be expressed by “at” or “in”.

Examples are:

  • Ani wa ginko de hataraite imasu. 兄は、銀行  働いています。(あには、 ぎんこう  はたらいています。)- My older brother works at the bank.

 

  • **Watashi wa sono inu o ko-en de mitsukemashita. 私は、その犬を公園  見つけました。(わたしは このいぬを こうえん みつけました。)- I found the dog at the park.

**Notice that there are two particles in discussion are used in the above sentence.

 

The particle De(で) does not just mark the location of the activities but also marks the means by which the action is performed. For example, tools and methods.  This is similar to “with”, “on”, “in”, “by” in English.

Examples are:

  • Watashi wa haha to denwa de hanashimashita. 私は、 母と 電話  話しました。(わたしは、ははと でんわ  はなしました。)- I spoke to my mom on the phone.

 

  • Kyou wa kuruma de kokoe kimashita. 今日は、車  ここへ来ました。(きょうは、くるま  ここへきました。)- I came here by car today.

 

  • Watashi wa nihongo de hanasunoga sukidesu. 私は、日本語 で 話すのが 好きです。(わたしは、 にほんご  はなすのが すきです。)I like speaking in Japanese.

Try using these particles in your Japanese sentences. Try creating as many sentences as possible for your practice and let me know if you have any questions!

What is Japanese Obon?

Posted on 13. Aug, 2014 by in Culture

Have you heard of Obon before? Obon is so unique to Japanese culture.This year, between August 13th through August 17th, most companies will give their employees what they call, “Obon yasumi (おぼん やすみ、 お盆休み)” which is “Obon break”.

In simple words, Obon(お盆) is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating one’s ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives. This sounded a bit scary when I was growing up. I was thinking, what do you mean that my grandmother who passed away last spring would come back? But soon I realized that actually, this cultural event was more to honor your ancestors.

Traditionally, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide the ancestors’ spirits, Obon(お盆) dances (bon odori, 盆踊り、ぼんおどり) are performed, graves are visited by family members to get it cleaned up.

At the end of Obon(お盆), floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world. Depending on the region, the way they let the lanterns float back into the water varies based on their tradition.

Obon(お盆) is observed typically from the 13th to the 15th day of August. August 13th is normally the day to welcome ancestors’ spirits, and August 15th is the day to say good-bye to those spirits. This year, August 15th is followed by Saturday and Sunday, so the Obon break (おぼん やすみ、 お盆休み) is a bit longer than normal. Most of the companies are closed during this time frame.

Take a look at the following videos about Obon(お盆). You will get an idea as to how Obon(お盆) is done in Japan. The first video will show you in detail how they welcome their family member’s spirit into their house and send it back at the end of Obon(お盆).

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Another quick video about Obon in Japanese with English subtitles.
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Basic Japanese Lesson – ga and wa particles

Posted on 11. Aug, 2014 by in Grammar

natsue

photo from Vainsang on flickr.com

 

The use of particles in Japanese language is often considered as confusing aspect of learning. One of the most confusing particles are probably “ga(が)” and “wa(は)” particles.  They are a bit confusing, but let me show you the differences in basic sentences below. Once you get the basics done, it will be easier for you to identify which one to use in a particular sentence. Read on~!

There are three major sentences in Japanese. Most sentences are categorized based on the fact that if it has predicate noun, predicate adjectives, or predicate verb.

For example:

Predicate Noun:

Sumisu san wa shacho desu. (スミスさん  社長 です。 スミスさん  しゃちょう です。) - Mr. Smith is a president.

Predicate Adjective:

Sumisu san wa yasashii. (スミスさん  優しい です。 スミスさん  やさしい です。) - Mr. Smith is kind.

Predicate Verb:

Sumisu san ga ima kimashita. (スミスさん が 今 来ました。 スミスさん  いま きました。)-Mr. Smith just got here.

 

As you notice in the above examples, “wa(は)” is used in the sentences with predicate noun and predicate adjectives. On the other hand, “ga(が)” is used in a sentence with predicate verb.  This is the basic rule in terms of differentiating between the two particles.

Let me show you more examples:

Kare wa seito desu. 彼  生徒 です。(かれ 、 せいと です。)-He is a student.

Kono ame wa nigai desu. (この飴  にがい です。この あめ  にがい です。) - This candy is bitter.

Watashi wa neko yori inu no hou ga suki desu. (私は、猫より 犬の方  好きです。わたしは、ねこより いぬのほう  すきです。) - I like dogs better than cats.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, the above is the basic rule of using these particles; however, there are some exceptions as explained below. Let’s see if you switch between ga and wa particles.  Following sentences are the same exact sentences that use “Mr. Smith” as a subject; however, each of them now means completely different.

Predicate Noun:

Sumisu san ga shacho desu. (スミスさん  社長 です。 スミスさん  しゃちょう です。) - Mr. Smith is the president.

Predicate Adjective:

Sumisu san  ga yasashii. (スミスさん  優しい です。 スミスさん  やさしい です。) - Mr. Smith is the one who is kind.

Predicate Verb:

Sumisu san wa ima kimashita. (スミスさん は 今 来ました。 スミスさん  いま きました。)-Mr. Smith just got here.

If you notice how I translated each one of them above, you will get an idea. The first two sentences indicate the meaning where Mr.Smith is the one, one particular individual whom the sentence is referring to. The last sentence still means the same in English as, “Mr. Smith just got here.” However, when you change the particle from “ga” to “wa” in Japanese, it indicates that Mr. Smith just got here, but nobody else has gotten here yet. 

So, the use of “ga” and “wa” particles all depend on the meaning of its sentence.

To summarize:

1) Within sentences that has predicate noun and predicate adjective, the basic rule is to use “wa(は)” particle. For sentence with predicate verb, the basic rule is to use “ga(が)”.

2) When “ga(が)” particle is used in a sentences with predicate noun and adjective, the sentence will indicate that the subject is being focused as an exclusion.

Hope this lesson helped you clarify the difference between “ga(が)” and “wa(は) particles!