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
    SlushBrain
    http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/particlesintro

    Here's a link explaining what particles are'

    Also by は do you mean the alphabet "Ha" in Hiragana?
  • mog86uk
    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:

    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particule_en_japonais
  • Tinker
    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.

  • Dorayakiko
    Dorayakiko
    Thanks !! I never thought about 'joshi' before!
    And I didn't mean the "Ha" in Hiragana.
  • mog86uk
    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

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