How to use the Japanese grammatical particle Wa

The Japanese grammar particle wa is one of the most confusing particles for most Japanese beginners. The particle wa is really a simple particle to indicate the subject of a sentence. Most of the time, the topic can also be the subject of the sentence.

Watashi wa ningen desu.

IM human.

Let’s take a look at the example above. Watashi means me and ningen means human. In this case, watashi is the topic and ningen is the topic. Since watashi and ningen refer to the same thing, the person who is human, the subject is the subject.

Ashita wa ikimasen.

I `m not going tomorrow.

In the second sentence, ashita means tomorrow and ikimasen means not to go. Ikimasen comes from the word iku which means to go. Please note that ashita and ikimasem are not related in any way. In this case, the subject is not the subject.

Correctly using the Japanese particle wa in a sentence is very important. Let’s take a closer look at more examples below:

Neko wa kawaii desu.

The cat is cute.

Kanojo wa watashi no koibito desu.

She is my lover.

Yudan wa taiteki desu yo.

Negligence is your worst enemy.

In the first example, neko means cat and kawaii means cute. In the second example, Kanojo means she or girlfriend. If you mean him or boyfriend, you can use kareshi. Koibito means lover. In the third example, Yudan means negligence or lack of preparation. Taiteki means great rival or powerful enemy.

Perhaps the easiest way to think of the Japanese wa particle is to think of it as “as for …”. Tabako wa yoku nai desu. As for the cigarette, it is bad. Tabako means cigarette and yoku nai means bad, not good. Literally translated it would mean: As for the cigarette, it is not good.

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