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What are は or に called?

Hello everyone!
I wasn't sure if は (wa) was called an particle or something else, and could someone please help me translate its meaning in French? My friend, who's really interested in learning Japanese, is confused by the 3 writing systems (hiragana, katakana and kanji) and she always forgets that in Japanese, verbs are at the end of sentences. I would like to know how I could explain to her what are particles (if that's what they're called).
Thank you and have a nice day!
posted by Dorayakiko

Comments 5

  • SlushBrain

    Here's a link explaining what particles are'

    Also by は do you mean the alphabet "Ha" in Hiragana?
  • mog86uk
    は (wa) and に are called particles.

    Strict definition for 'particle' 助詞【じょし】= A word which does not inflect and cannot stand on its own.


    By 'does not inflect', I mean it doesn't change for anything -- unlike verbs, which 'inflect' for things like past tense:

    食べる (taberu) = eat
    食べた (tabeta) = ate

    食べる inflects to 食べた for past tense. Particles do not inflect at all for anything (like how nouns do not inflect in Japanese either).


    By 'cannot stand on its own', I mean it has to be attached to the end of a word or phrase. You can't just say は (wa) or に on its own. Particles add meaning (extra information / context) to the word/phrase they are attached to, but they don't have any meaning for them to be used on their own.


    For translating in french, I can't help you much with that. However, this french language wikipedia page for Japanese particles looks good:

  • mog86uk
    Another way to understand what particles are is to look at the meaning of the kanji symbols:

    助【じょ】= Help; rescue; assist.
    詞【し】= Part of speech; words; poetry.

    助詞【じょし】'joshi' (particle) = a helper word, an assisting part-of-speech.

    It's something which only helps and assists with the meaning of other words. Instead of saying it in English, 'particle', or French, 'particule' -- you could just say it in Japanese, 'joshi'? ^^
  • Dorayakiko
    Thanks !! I never thought about 'joshi' before!
    And I didn't mean the "Ha" in Hiragana.
  • Tinker
    Here is the french equivalent of the link SlushBrain posted : http://www.guidetojapanese.org/french/particles.html

    I strongly recommend this translation if she wants a french resource. Translation is generally good. From my own experience, I'll say that the translation quality drops a bit in the last chapters but never gets horrible. I use it and really like it.