Japanese Particles: と (to)

This particle, と (to) can be expressed or used in four ways. It can be used for making a list, asking a question, or to express performing an action with another person. Furthermore, the Japanese particle と (to) can quote something a person said, as well as one’s own thoughts.

To make a list

The Japanese particle と (to) is generally used to express “and” when wanting to list two or more objects. In addition, the Japanese particle と (to) can also be used after a certain person’s name, in order to indicate that you were with that certain person.


Tamago to gyunyu o kaimashita.
I bought eggs and milk.
Tomodachi to yuushoku o tabemashita.
I ate dinner with my friend.

To show a question

The Japanese particle と (to) can also be used to explain or show that the sentence before it, is a quotation. In some cases, this is a quotation that is usually used like quotations in English ( E.g. he said…”, she said…). In other cases, this is a “quotation” of someone or a certain person’s thoughts (e.g. I think that…). In addition, it can also be a poetic or metaphorical “quotation” of something that is not able to feel things.
By adding the Japanese particle と (to), a sentence can become a quotation even if no verb for “said” or “thought” is utilized.


Watashi wa “uso da” to itte imashita.
I said, “it’s a lie.”
Watashi wa “uso da” to omoimashita.
I thought, “it’s a lie.”
Watashi wa “uso da” to waraimashita.
“It’s a lie,” I laughed.
Watashi wa “uso da” to wakatte imashita.
I understood that it was a lie.

Note that, when the Japanese particle と (to) is used in a quotation-style sentence, whatever that is being quoted should be in short form. In addition, the だ (da) [the short form of です (desu)] ending should be included, if the last word of the quote is a noun or a *na-adjective.

*na-adjective: Conjugation is same as a noun.

To turn sound symbolic words into adverbs

When the Japanese particle と (to) is placed at the end of a sound symbolic word, it can turn that sound symbolic word into an adverb.
For example, “バタン (batan)” is the sound of something shutting or closing with a bang. If the Japanese particle と (to) is added to the end of “バタン (batan)” it can then be used with a verb.


Kanojyo wa mado o batan to shimemashita.
She shut the window with a bang.
Kabin ga gashan to wareta.
The vase broke with a crash.

To mean if/when

The Japanese particle と (to) can also be used to be defined as “if” or “when.” The Japanese language has many patterns for making conditional sentences. For example, if the Japanese particle と (to) is used for conditional sentences, the result will always occur when the condition occurs.


Kouen ni iku to, itsumo ochitsuki masu.
When I go to the park, I always feel calm.
Sono hana o kagu to, kushami ga tomaranai.
If I smell that flower, I can not stop sneezing.

Japanese Particles: や (ya)

The Japanese particle や (ya) is similar to と (to), in which it links two or more items in a list. The key difference is that the や (ya) is vaguer than と (to). While the Japanese particle と (to) implies that a list is concise or complete, や (ya) implies that the list may be incomplete, or that the things listed could perhaps be examples.


Pan ya yakigashi o yoku tsukurimasu.
I often make bread and baked sweets.


Japanese Particles: の (no)

The Japanese particle の (no) is one of the most versatile particles in the Japanese grammar. Both informal and semi-formal Japanese, の (no) is used primarily to express a ownership. In informal Japanese, の (no) can also be placed at the end of a sentence to express a question or an explanation.


Watashi no inu wa chiisakute shiroi desu
My dog is small and white.
Itsu Kyoto ni iku no?
When will you go to Kyoto?
Ima, ame ga futte iru no.
It’s raining outside right now.

The last sentence implies that you are telling or explaining to the listener something that they did not already know.


Let’s Study Japanese Particles: に (ni), へ (e), and で (de) !

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