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Japanese Grammar: The no (の) particle Posted by on Mar 10, 2009 in Grammar

When you want to say “my name” or “his friend” how will you say it in Japanese?  In order to complete this exercise you’ll need to know the Japanese possessive called no ().  Take a look at this sentence: watashi no namae (わたし の なまえ).  Notice that the no () goes between the word watashi (わたし) and namae (なまえ).  Watashi (わたし) means “I” while namae (なまえ) means “name”.  Since the no () possessive is after the watashi (わたし), you know that the person who is doing the possession is “I”.  So in English this would change to the word “my”.  Altogether the sentence watashi no namae (わたし の なまえ) means “my name”.

The no () particle is used to connect nouns together. This means that the no () particle has a wide range of uses other than just a possessive particle.  For example, wasada daigaku no gakusee (わさだ だいがく の がくせい) connects the noun daigaku (だいがく) to gakusee (がくせい).  Let’s break this sentence down.  Wasada daigaku (だいがく) is a proper noun.  Daigaku (だいがく) means college and Wasada (わさだ) is the name of the college.  Next, gakusee (がくせい) means “student”.  Altogether the phrase wasada daigaku no gakusee (わさだ だいがく の がくせい) in English means, “A student at Wasada College” or “A student of Wasada College”.

There are a couple of things to note here with the phrases, “(A) student at Wasada College” and “(A) student of Wasada College”.  One, there is no “a” or “the” function in Japanese.  That’s why the “A” is in parentheses.  Second, the no () particle in this instance can mean “at” or “of” in English.  This just goes to show how flexible the no () particle is.

Another thing to note is that the first noun is the more descriptive noun, while the second noun is the general noun.  For example the phrase, “kookoo no sensee” (こうこう の せんせい) has the first noun, kookoo (こうこう) as being the more specific noun, while the sensee (せんせい) noun is the main idea.  Kookoo (こうこう) means high school.  Sensee (せんせい) means teacher.  Altogether the phrase “kookoo no sensee” (こうこう の せんせい) means “high school teacher”.

That’s it for today, see you next post.

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