All About Japanese Particles: と (to)

I. Follows nouns; indicates such meanings as “and” and “with,” and sets off names.

1. Joins nouns, usually two or three (but not phrases and clauses): “and.” 

Note: Contrast with ya (#8, no. 1).

Aran-san to Pōru-san wa Furansu-jin desu.
Alain and Paul are French.

Shiroi yuri to akai bara no hana o kaimashō.
Let’s buy some white lilies and red roses.

2. Indicates a comparison or contrast: “and” or (when a choice is asked for) “or.”

Note: In this usage, to must follow each of the nouns.

Kono kaisha to sono kaisha to de wa, shihon-kin ga chigaimasu.
This company and that company have different amounts of capital.

Ringo to mikan to dochira ga suki desu ka.
Which do you like better, apples or mandarin oranges?

3. “Together, with.”

Shachō wa buchō to shokuji o shite imasu.
The company president is eating out with the division manager.

Ashita kono mondai ni tsuite, sensei to hanasu tsumori desu.
Tomorrow I intend to discuss this problem with my teacher [instructor, doctor, lawyer, etc.].

*4. Indicates a change or result (commonly used in the phrase to naru)

Note: Ni (#13, no. 8) is also used in this pattern; to is more formal and is commonly used in writing.

Orinpikku no kaikai-shiki no hi to natta.
The day of the opening ceremony of the Olympics arrived. (Lit., It became the day of the opening ceremony of the Olympics.)

Kotoshi no kaigai-ryokōsha wa, issen-man-nin to natta.
[The number of] overseas travelers this year reached ten million.

*5. Following an expression of quantity, reinforces the negative idea of the sentence: “(not) as much as.”

Ano yama ni noboru ni wa, ni-jikan to kakarimasen.
It won’t take as long as [won’t take even] two hours to climb that mountain.

Ano kaisha to wa nido to torihiki o shitaku nai.
I don’t want to have dealings with that company ever again. (Lit., I don’t want to have dealings with that company two times [because I’ve dealt with them once already and know what they’re like].)

II. Used after onomatopoeic adverbs, or follows a word, clause, or sentence and precedes such verbs, as iu, kiku, and omou to indicate what someone said, asked, thought, etc.

1. Indicates what someone said, ordered, asked, etc.

Yamamoto-san ga, ato de denwa suru to osshaimashita.
Yamamoto said that she would phone later.

Haha ga sensei ni yoroshiku to mōshite orimashita.
Mother said to give her regards to you (who are my teacher, doctor, etc.).

Watanabe-san ga kuji made ni jimu-sho ni kuru yō ni, to itte imashita.
Watanabe said that you should come to his office by nine o’clock. / Watanabe asked that you come to the office by nine o’clock.

2. Indicates what someone thinks or feels.

Rainen wa, Amerika e ikō to kangaete imasu.
I’m thinking of going to the United States next year.

Densha wa kuji ni deru to omoimashita ga, jūji deshita.
I thought the train would leave at nine o’clock, but [it left at] ten. / Or, I thought the train was going to leave [was scheduled to leave] at nine o’clock, but it turned out to be ten.

3. Indicates the name of something, about which an explanation follows; usually used when the name alone would not be under-stood. Always used in the form to iu (or some variation): “that (who, which) is called, known as.”

“Sekai’ to iu zasshi o shitte imasu ka.
Do you know the magazine Sekai?

Burii Sukaizu to iu hoteru ni tomarimashita.
I stayed at a hotel called Blue Skies.

Mazu, Tanaka to iu buchō ni shorui o moratte kudasai.
First of all, get the documents from a section manager named Tanaka.

4. Used after onomatopoeic adverbs.

Ogawa ga sarasara to, michi no soba o nagarete ita.
A sparkling brook flowed alongside the road.

Hoshi ga kirakira to kagayaite imasu.
The stars are twinkling.

III. Follows verbs and adjectives to form a conditional: “if, unless, whether or not.”

1. Indicates that a second action follows immediately upon the action preceding it; often used with sugu (immediately, right away): “as soon as.”

Note: -Tara (#35, no. 5) and nari (#46, no. 3) can be used here with much the same meaning.

Asa okiru to sugu, kāten o akemasu.
As soon as I get up in the morning, I open the curtains.

Kinō wa kaisha no shigoto ga owaru to, massugu ie ni kaetta.
Yesterday, as soon as work was over, I went home. / I went straight home after work yesterday.

2. Indicates the inevitability of a second action following the one preceding it: “when, as.”

Nihon de wa haru ni naru to sakura ga sakimasu.
When spring comes in Japan, the cherry trees bloom. / In Japan, the cherry trees bloom with the coming of spring.

Kuruma ga ōku naru to kōtsū-jiko ga fuemasu.
As (the number of) cars increases, the (incidence of) traffic accidents rises. / The more cars there are, the more traffic accidents occur.

Fu-keiki ni naru to shitsugyō-sha ga fuemasu.
When there is a recession, the number of jobless increases.

3. Indicates a hypothetical condition: “if, unless.”

Note: -Ba (#34, no. 1) and -tara (#35, no. 1) have much the same meaning. Compare also -ba (#34, no. 2).

Yamada-san ga konai to kaigi ga hajimeraremasen.
If Yamada doesn’t come, the meeting can’t be started. / We can’t start the meeting unless Yamada comes.

Ashita, tenki ga ii to yakyū ga dekimasu.
If the weather is good tomorrow, we can play baseball.

4. Indicates that something has been learned as a result of a certain action: “when, after, as a result of.”

Note: -Tara (#35, no. 4) can also be used with this meaning.

Ginkō e iku to, mō shimatte ita.
When I went to the bank, [I found] it was already closed.

Kōban de michi o kiku to, sono kaisha wa sugu mitsukatta.
After asking the way at a police box, I found [located] the company right away.

5. Used with two verbs (either two different verbs ending in -yo/-o, or the same verb repeated, the first ending in -yo/-o, the second in the negative -mai); indicates a lack of concern over which of the two events occurs: “whether … or (not).”

“En” ga tsuyoku narō to yowaku narō to, watashi no seikatsu ni wa kankei arimasen.
Whether the yen gets stronger or grows weaker [rises or falls], it has no effect on my [daily] life.

Kanojo ga hitori de pati ni ikō to iku mai to, watashi wa kamaimasen.
I don’t care whether she goes to the party alone or not.

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

All About Japanese Particles: や (ya)

1. Joins nouns to indicate a non-exhaustive list of items: “such things as, and … and.”

Note: Ya implies that the items stated are taken as examples from a larger group of items. In contrast, to (#6, I-1) implies that the items stated are the only ones under consideration. Ya is often combined with nado (“and such”), reinforcing its basic meaning.

Tēburu no ue ni, osushi ya yakitori ya tenpura nado ga arimasu.
On the table, there are such things as sushi, yakitori, and tempura.

Watashi no heya ni wa, konpyūtā ya sutereo ga oite arimasu.
In my room there is a computer, a stereo, and such.

*2. In the idiomatic expression ya ina ya (following a verb root): as soon as, no sooner had.”

Eki ni tsuku ya ina ya, densha ga dete shimatta.
No sooner had I arrived at the station than the train left.

Ofuro ni hairu ya ina ya, denwa ga natta.
No sooner had I gotten into the bath than the phone rang.

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

All About Japanese Particles: でも (demo)

Note: In all usages except no. 6, de mo can be replaced by the more informal datte (not included in this book). See also mo, #3, and -te mo (-de mo), #4.

1. Used after nouns to emphasize a hypothetical: “even, even if.”

Tsumaranai kaigi de mo shigoto desu kara denakereba narimasen.
Even if it’s a boring meeting, you have to attend since it’s [part of] the job. / You have to attend even the boring meetings since it’s [part of] the job.

Kirai na tabemono de mo, karada ni yokereba tabeta hō ga ii desu ne.
Even if it’s food you dislike, you should eat it if it’s good for your health. / You should eat even food you dislike if it’s good for your health.

2. Used after nouns for emphasis: “even.”

Sono shigoto wa watashi de mo dekimashita kara, anata nara sugu dekimasu yo.
Since even I was able to do that work, you will be able to do it immediately. / If / can do it, you should be able to do it [handle that job] with ease.

Dōbutsu de mo ningen no kokoro ga wakarimasu.
Even animals can understand the human heart.

3. Used after an interrogative word for positive emphasis: “any-(one, where, etc.).”

Jon-san wa, Nihon-ryōri nara nan de mo tabemasu.
John will eat any [kind of] Japanese food.

Watashi wa, yoru dattara itsu de mo ii desu yo.
As long as it’s at night, any time is all right for me. / Any time at night is fine with me.

4. Used in the form donna … de mo: “whatever.”

Yōroppa e ittara, donna bijutsu-kan de mo mite mitai.
If I go to Europe, I’ll want to see whatever museums [I can].

Eigo no dekiru hito nara, donna hito de mo kamaimasen.
As long as it’s someone who can speak English, it doesn’t matter who it is. / Anyone who can speak English will do.

5. Used with two or more nouns which serve as examples of a larger list: “either … or (and others of a similar nature).”

Matsumoto-san wa undō-shinkei ga ii no de, tenisu de mo, gorufu de mo dekimasu yo.
Given Matsumoto’s good reflexes, he can play either tennis or golf [or any other sport].

Kataoka-san wa gaikoku-go ni kyōmi o motte iru kara, Furansu-go de mo Chūgoku-go de mo sugu oboete shimau.
Since Kataoka is interested in foreign languages, he can easily pick up either French or Chinese [or any other language].

6. Indicates one possibility: “… or something.”

Eiga de mo mi ni ikimasen ka.
Hou about going to see  a movie or something?

Rekōdo de mo kikimashō ka.
Shall we listen to a record or something?

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

All About Japanese Particles: とは (to wa)

1. Indicates a word or phrase being defined, or for which a defi-nition is being asked.

UN to wa, kokuren no koto desu.
“UN” refers to the United Nations.

Rida no jōken to wa nan deshō ka.
What are the prerequisites of leadership?

*2. Used between two clauses that are opposed in meaning; the first clause represents a concession to the second (usually in the form to wa ie): “though, even though.”

Seifu o shin’yō shite inai to wa ie, seifu no yarikata ni shitagawanai wake ni wa ikanai.
Even though you don’t trust the government, you [still] have to adhere to its way of doing things. / You may not trust the government, but you must still adhere to its ways of doing things.

Haru to wa ie mada samui.
Even though it’s spring, its still cold.

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

All About Japanese Particles: ても (でも) -te mo (-de mo)

Note: Here we are concerned with mo in combination with the – te (-de) form of verbs and the -kute form of adjectives. See also mo (#3) and de mo (#5).

1. “Even if, even though.”

Ashita tenki ga warukute mo, doraibu ni ikimashō.
Even if the weather is bad tomorrow, let’s go for a drive. / Let’s go for a drive tomorrow even if the weather’s bad.

Tomodachi ga tsukutte kureta no de, amari oishiku nakute mo ryōri wa zenbu tabemashita yo.
Since a friend prepared the food [for me), I ate everything, even though it didn’t taste very good.

2. After verbs, used in conjunction with interrogatives for emphasis: “no matter where (who, what, etc.).”

Takeda-san wa, ikura nonde mo yowanai-n desu yo.
No matter how much Takeda drinks, he doesn’t get drunk.

Ohanami no toki wa, doko e itte mo hito de ippai da.
During flower-viewing time, there are crowds of people wherever you go.

3. Emphasizes an approximate limit: “at the most.”

Sono kamera nara, takakute mo go-man-en kurai deshō.
At the most, that camera will cost around ¥50,000. (Lit., That camera, even if it’s expensive, will be about ¥50,000.)

Ano shibai wa nagakute mo san-jikan de owarimasu yo.
That play will last three hours at the most.

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

All About Japanese Particles: も (mo)

Note: See also -te mo (-de mo), #4, and de mo, #5.

1. Indicates that two words are equal in weight: “also, too.”

Kore wa sakura desu. Kore mo sakura desu.
This is a cherry tree. This is a cherry tree, too.

Pōru-san wa Nihon-go o benkyō shite imasu. Nanshii-san mo Nihon-go o benkyō shite imasu.
Paul is studying Japanese. Nancy is also studying Japanese.

2. Showing similar nouns in parallel construction: “and, as well as, both.”

Watashi no kaisha ni wa, Amerika-jin mo chūgoku-jin mo imasu.
There are both Americans and Chinese in my company.

Hanako-san wa, sushi mo tenpura mo suki desu yo.
Hanako likes both sushi and tempura.

3. Indicates an addition: “as well as, in addition.”

Kore wa kuro desu ga, shiroi kutsu mo arimasu yo.
These are black, but we have white shoes as well.

Nihon de wa kodomo dake de naku, otona mo manga o yon-de imasu.
In Japan, not only children read comic books, but adults as well.

4. Shows emphasis or absence of doubt concerning a question of time, quantity, etc.: “any number of times, continually.”

Ano eiga wa nando mo mimashita.
I have seen that movie any number of times.

Kono resutoran wa, itsu mo konde imasu.
This restaurant is always crowded.

5. Indicates total negation concerning a question of quality or quantity (accompanied by a negative verb): “no, nothing.”

Nani mo arimasen ga, meshiagatte kudasai.
We have nothing special to offer, but please help yourself. (Lit., There is nothing, but please eat [a conventional phrase].)

Ano heya ni wa, dare mo imasen yo.
There is no one in that room.

6. To emphasize the extent of a number: “all of, as much (many) as.”

Sumisu-san wa, kanji o gosen mo shitte imasu.
Mr. Smith knows all of five thousand kanji.

Sono apāto no yachin wa, ikkagetsu kyujū-man-en mo suru sō desu.
The rent for that apartment is said to be as high as ¥900,000.

7. Indicates approximation (by showing an approximate upper limit) regarding number or quantity: “around, up to.”

Ichi-jikan mo areba, hoteru kara kūkō e ikemasu.
If you have as much as an hour, you can get from the hotel to the airport. / You can get from the hotel to the airport inside an hour [in an hour or so].

Go-man-en mo daseba, ii kamera ga kaemasu yo.
If you spend up to ¥50,000, you can get a good camera. / You can buy a good camera for ¥50,000.

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

All About Japanese Particles: が (ga)

I. Indicates the subject of the sentences or, with certain verbs and adjectives, the object.

1. Indicates existence; used with such verbs as aru, gozaimasu, iru, irassharu.

Asoko ni watashi no bōrupen ga arimasu ka.
Is my ball-point pen over there?

Asoko ni yūbin-kyoku ga arimasu.
There’s a post office over there.

Watashi no kaisha ni wa, onna no hito ga gojuū-nin ijō imasu.
There are more than fifty women in my company.

Note: Wa can replace ga in such sentences when (first example below) something is being contrasted (my ball-point pen, say, in contrast to my pencil) or when (second example) information is being presented about a subject already identified. See wa (#1, nos. 1, 4).

Watashi no bōrupen wa asoko ni arimasu ka.
Is my ball-point pen over there?


Yūbin-kyoku wa doko ni arimasu ka.
(Yūbin-kyoku wa) eki no mae ni arimasu.
Where is the post office?
(The post office is) in front of the station.

2. Indicates the subject of the predicate.

Asoko ni sakura ga saite imasu.
The cherry trees are blooming over there.

Ano yama o mite kudasai. Mada yuki ga nokotte imasu yo.
Look at that mountain. There’s still snow on it. (Lit., … snow still remains.)

Note: When making a contrast, wa (#1, no. 4) can replace ga:

Asoko ni sakura wa saite imasu ga, ume wa saite imasen.
The cherry trees are blooming over there, but the plum trees are not.

3. Indicates the subject of an intransitive verb.

To ga akimashita.
The door opened.

Ame ga futte iru.
It’s raining.

Note: Wa (#1, no. 4) can replace ga for contrastive purposes:

Ame wa futte iru ga, yuki wa mada futte imasen.
It’s raining, but it’s not snowing yet.

4. Indicates the subject of the sentence when new, as-yet-unknown information is being presented.

Kochira ga Yamada-san desu.
This is Mr. Yamada. (a personal introduction)

Kinō tomodachi no Jakku ga anata ni aitai to itte imashita.
Yesterday my friend Jack said that he wanted to meet you.

Note: Here again wa (#1, no. 4) can replace ga for contrastive purposes:

Goshōkai shimasu. Kochira ga Yamada-san de, kochira wa Suzuki-san desu.
Let me do the introductions. This is Mr. Yamada, and this is Ms. Suzuki.

5. Used with interrogative words in questions.

a) In general questions:

Dono hito ga kachō desu ka.
Which one [person] is the section chief?

Dare ga ichiban hayaku kimashita ka.
Who came [arrived] first?

Note: Wa (#1, nos. 1, 2) can replace ga if a topic is being presented:

Kachō wa dono hito desu ka.
The section chief—which one [person] is he? / Which one is the section chief?

b) In asking for a choice:

Sushi to tenpura to dochira ga suki desu ka.
Which do you like better, sushi or tempura?

Chūgoku-go to Nihon-go to, dochira ga muzukashii desu ka.
Which is more difficult, Chinese or Japanese?

6. Indicates the subject of a relative clause.

Senshū watashi ga mita eiga wa tsumaranakatta.
The movie I saw last week was boring.

Isshūkan de watashi ga yomu hon wa yonsatsu desu.
I read four books a week [in one week]. (Lit., Four books is what I read in one week.)

Note: No (#17, 1-5) may replace ga in this usage.

7. Indicates the subject of a clause ending in ka.

Naze kare ga sonna koto o yatta ka, wakarimasen.
I don’t know why he did that [lit., … something like that].

Dō shite kanojo ga anna tsumaranai hon o yonde iru no ka, fushigi desu.
It is a mystery to me [beyond me] why she’s reading such a boring book [a boring book like that].

8. Indicates the subject of a subordinate or conditional clause when it is different from the subject of the main clause.

a) Subordinate clauses:

Haha ga Nihon ni kuru mae ni, [watashi wa] kono heya o kirei ni sōji shinakereba naranai.
Before my mother comes to Japan, I have to make this room nice and dean.

Haha ga kita toki, watashi wa gochisō o tsukutta.
When my mother came, I prepared quite a spread.

Haha ga kita ato, watashi wa kaimono ni dekaketa.
After my mother came, I went out shopping.

b) Conditional clauses.

Ano hito ga iku-n dattara, watashi wa ikanai.
If he’s going, I am not.

Anata ga sō iu nara, nattō o tabete mimasu.
If you say so [if you recommend it, insist, etc.], I’ll try some fer-mented beans.

9. Indicates the object of verbs of ability (dekiru, wakaru, and the potential forms of verbs).

Abe-san wa gorufu ga dekimasu.
Abe can play [lit., do] golf.

Okada-san wa piano ga hikemasu.
Okada can play the piano.

Yamada-san wa Chūgoku-go ga wakarimasu.
Yamada understands Chinese.

Note: Wa (#1, no. 4) can replace ga to create a contrast:

Yamada-san wa, Chūgoku-go wa wakarimasu ga, Eigo wa wakari-masen.
Yamada understands Chinese, but not English.

10. Indicates the object of verbs of sensation (mieru and kikoeru) as well as suru in certain uses.

Koko kara Fuji-san ga miemasu.
Mt. Fuji can be seen from here. / You can see Mt. Fuji from here.

Asa no daidokoro wa, kōhī no kaori ga shimasu.
The kitchen smells of coffee in the morning. / In the morning you can smell coffee [brewing] in the kitchen.

Note: Wa (#1, no. 4) can replace ga for contrast:

Koko kara Fuji-san wa miemasu ga, noboru hito no sugata wa miemasen.
You can see Mt. Fuji from here, but not the figures of the people climbing it.

11. Indicates the object of verbs and adjectives of necessity (hitsuyi da, iru).

Watashi wa okane ga iru.
I need money.

Kōtsū no anzen no tame, kibishii kisoku ga hitsuyō desu.
Strict rules are needed for traffic safety.

Note: Wa (#1, no. 4) replaces ga when a contrast is being made:

Watashi wa, okane wa iru ga, mono wa iranai.
I need money, but I don’t need things.

12. Indicates the object of adjectives of desire (hoshii and the -tai form of verbs). Compare the use of o (#18, no. 5) with the -garu and -tai forms of verbs.

Jikan to okane ga hoshii.
I want time and money.

Tsumetai mono ga nomitai.
I want something cold to drink.

Note: Wa (#1, no. 4) replaces ga when a contrast is being made:

Tsumetai mono wa nomitai ga, atatakai mono wa irimasen.
I’d like to drink something cold, but not anything hot.

13. Indicates the object of verbs and adjectives of emotion (suki da, kirai da, ureshii, kanashii, kowai, shinpai suru, etc.). Compare the use of o (#18, no. 5) with verbs in the -tai and -garu forms.

Watashi wa Mōtsuaruto ga daisuki desu.
I love Mozart.

Jon-san wa nattō ga kirai desu.
John doesn’t like fermented soybeans.

Aki ni naru to taifū ga shinpai desu.
In the fall, typhoons are a worry [a problem].

Hanako wa konna subarashii purezento o kureta-n desu yo. Sono kimochi ga ureshii desu.
Hanako gave me this wonderful present. I’m so pleased by her thoughtfulness.

Note: Wa (#1, no. 4) can be substituted for ga to create a contrast:

Jimu-san wa nattō wa kirai da ga, surume wa daisuki desu.
Jim doesn’t like fermented soybeans, but he loves dried cuttlefish.

14. Indicates the object of adjectives of ability (jozu na, heta na, tokui na, kiyo na, etc.).

Atarashii shushō wa, haiku ga jōzu da sō desu.
The new prime minister is said to be good at haiku.

Ogawa-san wa gogaku ga tokui de, Furansu-go mo Itaria-go mo dekimasu.
Ogawa is good at languages; she can speak both French and Italian.

Note: Wa (#1, no. 4) replaces ga when a contrast is intended:

Atarashii shushō wa, haiku wa jōzu desu ga, seiji wa māmā desu.
The new prime minister is good at haiku, but his politics are just so-so.

II. Used between clauses (and sometimes at the end of sentences), usually with the meaning “but.”

1. Used between two clauses to indicate that they are opposed in meaning (cf. 11-3, below): “but, although.”

Konogoro hiru wa atatakai-n desu ga, yoru wa samuku narima-shita.
Lately, the days are warm, but the nights have turned cold. / It’s warm during the daytime these days, but cold at night.

Watashi no ie kara supa wa chikai-n desu ga, eki wa tōi-n desu.
The supermarket is close to my house, but the train station is far away.

2. Indicates that a given subject has two different qualities: “but, although.”

Sakura no hana wa kirei da ga, kaori ga nai.
Cherry blossoms are pretty, but they have no fragrance.

Konō eiga wa omoshiroi ga, nagasugimasu ne.
This movie is interesting, but it’s just too long.

3. Connects two clauses without any adversative implication (cf. 11-1, above): “and.”

Tani-san wa atama ga ii ga, Yokota-san mo ii desu.
Tani is intelligent, and so is Yokota.

Kino Fuji-san o hajimete mimashita ga, kirei deshita.
I saw Mt. Fuji for the first time yesterday, and it was beautiful.

4. Indicates a preliminary remark.

Note: This type of sentence is often terminated after ga, at which point the interlocutor, sensing what it is to follow, takes up the thread of conversation.

Watashi, Hirono to mōshimasu ga, goshujin wa irasshaimasu ka.
My name is Hirono. Is your husband home?

Senjitsu onegai shita koto desu ga, do narimashita deshō ka.
About the request I made several days ago, how has it turned out [has there been any progress)?

5. Used at the end of the sentence.

Note: These usages are essentially the same as those in 11-4, above, except that the second clause isn’t stated outright (Words in brackets show only one of various imaginable contexts.)

a) Implies an unstated meaning that is in contrast to the one stated: “Well, yes, but.”

おっしゃることはもっともです ……
Ossharu koto wa mottomo desu ga
What you say is quite right, but … [it’s difficult to implement now].

b) Softens a refusal: “I am sorry, but …”

部長は今会議中でございます ……
Buchō wa ima kaigi-chū de gozaimasu ga
The division chief is in a meeting now … [so you’ll have to wait to see him].

6. When used at the end of a sentence or clause and preceded by to ii, indicates that the speaker wants the event to come out as stated. Context determines whether or not the wish is actually realizable: “it would be nice if; it would have been nice if.”

Rainen gaikoku e ryokō dekiru to ii ga, dame no yo desu.
It would be nice if I could make a trip abroad next year, but it seems as though I can’t [seems impossible].

Hayaku haru ga kuru to ii-n da ga
It would be nice if spring came soon. / I hope spring comes soon.

Kanojo ga dokushin da to ii-n da ga . . .
I hope she is single. / (Or, knowing that she is not) I wish she were single.

7. Used idiomatically after contrastive verbs or adjectives: “whether or not.”

a) After the forms of contrastive verbs or adjectives.

Watashi wa tasukarō ga shinō ga kamaimasen.
I don’t care whether I live [lit., am saved] or die.

Atsukarō ga samukarō ga watashi wa daijōbu desu.
I’m all right [it doesn’t bother me] whether it’s hot or cold.

b) After the and -mai forms of the same verb.

Watashi ga ikō ga ikumai ga, anata ni wa kankei nai koto desu.
Whether I go or not has nothing to do with you [is not your concern].

Tanaka-san ga shinjiyō ga shinjimai ga, boku wa hakkiri to yūfō o mimashita.
Whether Tanaka believes it or not, I clearly saw a UFO.

8. Used in the expression V + ga hayai ka: “as soon as, no sooner had.”

Mado o akeru ga hayai ka, neko ga tobikonde kita.
No sooner had the window been opened than the cat jumped in. / As soon as I opened the window the cat jumped in.

Yoko ni naru ga hayai ka, sugu nemutte shimatta.
No sooner had I lain down than I fell asleep. / I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

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

All About Japanese Particles: は (wa)

Note: Wa has several usages, but its basic function is to set off a topic (e.g., of conversation) from the rest of the sentence, which talks about the topic. Technically, wa does not indicate case (subject, object, etc.). However, in practical terms, it often (but not always) comes after the subject of the sentence. See also to wa (#7) and -te wa (#47).

1. Indicates that information is being presented about something that is already known or that has been identified.

Asoko ni akai hon ga arimasu ne. Are wa kanji no hon desu.
Over there is a red book, right. It’s a kanji book. / See the red book over there? That’s a kanji book.

Ano daigaku wa, Yotsuya-eki no chikaku ni arimasu.
That university it’s near Yotsuya Station. / That university is near Yotsuya Station.

2. Indicates a topic, which is then identified or explained.

Ashita wa nichiyobi desu.
As for tomorrow, it’s Sunday. / Tomorrow is Sunday.

Kujira wa sakana de wa arimasen.
As for the whale, it is not a fish. / The whale is not a fish.

Note: If ga replaces wa in these sentences, the noun which it follows is no longer being presented as a topic but as the subject of the predicate (see ga, #2, I-2). The switch from topic (wa) to definite subject (ga) lays stress on the latter. For example:


Asatte wa nichiyobi desu ne.
Chigaimasu. Ashita ga nichiyobi desu yo.

The day after tomorrow is Sunday, isn’t it.
You’re wrong there. Tomorrow is Sunday.

3. In the construction N + wa N + ga, wa indicates a topic (the first noun) about which an aspect or quality (the second noun) is explained.

wa hana ga nagai desu.
The elephant its nose is long. / Elephants have long noses.

Takemoto-san wa seikaku ga yasashii desu.
As for Takemoto, her personality is gentle. / Takemoto has a gentle nature.

4. Used to show contrast between two items or ideas, both of which are signified by wa.

Kanji wa muzukashii desu ga, Nihon-go no bunpo wa amari muzu-kashiku nai-n desu.
are difficult, but Japanese grammar is not very difficult.

Hokkaidō no fuyu wa samui desu ga, Tōkyō wa atatakai desu.
The Hokkaido winter is cold, but [the] Tokyo [winter] is warm. / It’s cold in Hokkaido in the winter, but warm in Tokyo.

Note: In some cases, only one item or idea is explicitly mentioned. For example, in the following sentence, the implication is that the person might go to a cheaper restaurant.

Takai kara, ano resutoran ni wa ikimasen.
Because it’s expensive, I won’t go to that restaurant. / I am not going to that restaurant because it’s too expensive.

Note: In its contrastive function, wa comes after other particles (e.g., ni wa, de wa). Two important exceptions are when it replaces ga and o, as in the next example.


Batā o kaimashita ka.
Māgarin wa kaimashita ga, batā wa kaimasendeshita.

Did you buy some butter? I bought some margarine, but I didn’t buy any butter. / I bought some margarine, but not any butter.

5. In the forms V-te wa iru (first example below) and V –masu base followed by wa and suru (second and third examples), wa indicates emphasis. See also -te wa (#47).

Konpyuta o motte wa imasu ga, mada tsukatte (wa) imasen.
I own a computer [I do own a computer], but I haven’t used it yet.

Ano hito o shitte wa imasu ga, amari hanashita koto wa arimasen.
I know him, but I haven’t spoken to him much.

Ocha wa nomimashita ga, jikan ga nakatta no de shokuji wa shi-masen deshita.
I had some tea, but since there wasn’t much time, I didn’t eat (have a meal).

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