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All About Japanese Particles: の (no)

I. Used between two nouns, indicating that the first possesses or is modifying the second; also used in place of ga to indicate the subject in modifying clauses.

1. Indicates possession: “‘s.”

これは高木さん傘です。
Kore wa Takagi-san no kasa desu.
This is Takagi’s umbrella.

それが佐藤さん車です。
Sore ga Satō-san no kuruma desu.
That is Sato’s car.

Note: If the context is understood, the second noun can be omitted:

それが佐藤さんです。
Sore ga Satō-san no desu.
That is Sato’s.

2. Indicates position or location.

上、いす下、学校前、この建物後ろ。
Tsukue no ue, isu no shita, gakkō no mae, kono tatemono no ushiro.
The top of the desk [i.e., on the desk]; under the chair; the [area in] front of the school; behind this building.

3. Indicates that the first noun is modifying the second in terms of kind or category.

山田先生は英語先生です。
Yamada-sensei wa Eigo no sensei desu.
Yamada is a teacher of English [an English teacher].

この学校は料理学校です。
Kono gakkō wa ryōri no gakkō desu.
This school is a cooking school.

4. Indicates that two nouns are in apposition.

K大学学長今井氏が演説をしています。
K daigaku gakuchō no Imai-shi ga enzetsu o shite imasu.
Mr. Imai, the president of K University, is making a speech.

こちらが佐山さんのお姉さん千香子さんです。
Kochira ga Sayama-san no onēsan no Chikako-san desu.
This is Chikako, Sayama’s elder sister.

5. Used to replace ga to indicate the subject of a clause modifying a noun.

これは坂本さん描いた油絵です。
Kore wa Sakamoto-san no kaita aburae desu.
This is the oil painting that Sakamoto painted.

昨日あなた話していたレストランはどこですか。
Kinō anata no hanashite ita resutoran wa doko desu ka.
Where is the restaurant you were talking about yesterday?

II. Used to nominalize verbs and adjectives.

1. Simple nominalizer: “-ing, what.”

天気が悪いですから、ドライブに行くはやめましょう。
Tenki ga warui desu kara, doraibu ni iku no wa yamemashō.
Since the weather is bad, let’s call off going for a drive.

外国語を学ぶは、難しいですね。
Gaikoku-go o manabu no wa, muzukashii desu ne.
Learning a foreign language is difficult, isn’t it.

彼女が欲しいは、新しいピアノです。
Kanojo ga hoshii no wa, atarashii piano desu.
What she wants is a new piano.

2. Used as a nominalizer before verbs of perception (e.g., mieru [to be visible], kikoeru [to be audible]).

このビルの屋上から、車が走っているがよく見えます。
Kono biru no okujō kara, kuruma ga hashitte iru no ga yoku miemasu.
From the roof [top] of this building, you can clearly see the cars going by. (Lit., … the driving cars are easily visible.)

女の人が歌っているが聞こえますね。
Onna no hito ga utatte iru no ga kikoemasu ne.
You can hear a woman singing, can’t you. (Lit., A woman’s singing is audible …)

III. Used at the end of sentences.

1. Indicates a question (colloquial usage).

会社、本当にやめる
Kaisha, honto ni yameru no.
You really quitting the company?

明日は何時に出かける
Ashita wa nanji ni dekakeru no.
What time you leaving tomorrow?

2. Imparts a softer tone to a statement (usually used by women).

私、来月フランスに留学する
Watashi, raigetsu Furansu ni ryūgaku suru no.
I will be going to France to study next month.

土曜日はコンサートに行きたいと思っている
Doyōbi wa konsāto ni ikitai to omotte iru no.
I’m thinking I’d like to go to a concert on Saturday.

*3. Indicates a mild command.

そんなこと言わない
Sonna koto iwanai no.
Don’t say such things. / Don’t say that.

あなたは黙っていればいい
Anata wa damatte ireba ii no.
You just keep quiet. (Lit., As for you, if you keep silent, it’s good.)

– Source: All about particles – A handbook of Japanese function words

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