How to Use Japanese Particles から(kara), まで(made), だけ(dake), and しか(shika) in Your Sentences

  • November 20, 2017 / Lily Cernak

In May 2017, we posted an article on Japanese particles and their purposes. That article provided a general summary of the differences between the particles は(wa), が(ga), で(de), に(ni), と(to), も(mo), へ(e), を(wo), の(no), から(kara), まで(made), より(yori), よ(yo), ね(ne), や(ya), and か(ka). For this article we will discuss the Japanese particles から(kara), まで(made), だけ(dake) and しか(shika). This will be the last in the series (for now). 

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Though most particles are quite multifaceted and should not necessarily be thought of in terms of strict categories, we are dividing them into very general categories for the sake of keeping each particle article from becoming too lengthy.

  1. の (no), よ(yo), ね(ne), and か(ka) are all found at the ends of sentences (among other places)
  2. で(de), に(ni), and へ(e) are all used when expressing either where something takes place or motion towards a place (among other things)
  3. は(wa), が(ga), も(mo) are all particles that accompany topics or subjects (among other things)
  4. を(wo), と(to) and より(yori) are all particles that accompany non-topic/non-subject nouns.
  5. から(kara), まで(made), だけ(dake) and しか(shika) are all two-syllable particles with somewhat narrow purposes.

Japanese particle: Kara から

USAGE OF KARA PARTICLE

1.To indicate “from”

When placed directly after a noun or time phrase, から kara is “from”:

アメリカから来ました。

Amerika kara kimashita.

I come from America.

お姉さんからジャケットを借りました。

Onee-san kara jaketto o karimashita.

I borrowed a jacket from my big sister/an older girl.

来月から冬休みです。

Raigetsu kara fuyuyasumi desu.

From/starting next month, it is winter vacation.

2. to indicate “because”

When placed directly after a verb or i-adjective, から kara is “because.” It can also be used as “because” with na-adjectives and nouns, but only if paired with です desu (or だ da, the short form/casual version of です desu):

かわちゃんが勉強しているから、静かにしてください。

Kawa-chan ga benkyou shiteiru kara, shizuka ni shite kudasai.

Kawa-chan is studying, so please be quiet.

かわちゃんが好きから、一緒に勉強したいです。

Kawa-chan ga suki da kara, issho ni benkyou shitai desu.

I like Kawa-chan, so I want to study together.

かわちゃんがやさしいから、友達になりたいです。

Kawa-chan ga yasashii kara, tomodachi ni naritai desu.

Kawa-chan is nice, so I want to become friends.


When using から kara as “because,” the verb does not need to be a particular tense or politeness level. The first sentence above could also be written:

かわちゃんが勉強していますから、静かにしてください。

Kawa-chan ga benkyou shiteimasu kara, shizuka ni shite kudasai.


Both sentences translate to the same English sentence, but the latter uses -Masu Form for “studying” and so is more polite.

Also, から kara can come at the end of a sentence rather than in the middle of it, as long as it is still at the end of the phrase that is the “reason” part of the sentence:

静かにしてください。かわちゃんが勉強しているから

Shizuka ni shite kudasai. Kawa-chan ga benkyou shiteiru kara.

Please be quiet. Kawa-chan is studying.


Generally speaking, the politeness level of the final verb or copula in your sentence will determine how polite your sentence is. Having short/casual form verbs or copulas in the interior of your sentence does not necessarily make the sentence casual. In fact, when in doubt, it is better to use short/casual forms in the interior of your sentence even when speaking formally to avoid giving your sentence a peculiar sound.

3. to indicate “after”

When the verb preceding から kara is a -Te Form verb, から kara means “after” rather than “because.” For example:

勉強してから、テレビを見ます。

Benkyou shite kara, terebi o mimasu.

After studying, I will watch TV.

4. to indicate “and that’s why…”

から kara paired with だ da (as in the short form of です desu) can also be placed at the beginning of a sentence to mean something along the lines of “And that’s why…”.

Sometimes this is used simply to indicate that the previous sentence(s) was an explanation for the sentence that follows the だから da kara, but depending upon how much attitude it is spoken with, it can also become somewhat of an exclamation:

明日はテストがあります。だから、今日は勉強しなくちゃいけません。

Ashita wa tesuto ga arimasu. Dakara, kyou wa benkyou shinakucha ikemasen.

Tomorrow there is a test. So, today I have to study.

明日はテストがあります。だから、今日は勉強しなくちゃいけないと言っていましたよ!

Ashita wa tesuto ga arimasu. Dakara, kyou wa benkyou shinakucha ikenai to itte imashita yo!

Tomorrow there is a test. That’s why I told you, you have to study today!


Japanese Particle: Made まで

USAGE OF MADE PARTICLE

1.To indicate “until”

まで made is a pretty straightforward particle. In most circumstances, it simply means “until” (until a place or time). The place or time can be specific or vague:

このクラスは1時から3時までです。

Kono kurasu wa ichi ji kara san ji made desu.

This class is from 1:00 until 3:00.

上手く話せるまで、日本語を練習します。

Umaku hanaseru made, nihongo o renshuu shimasu.

I will practice Japanese until I can speak proficiently.

東京から広島まで、何時間かかりますか。

Tokyo kara Hiroshima made, nanjikan kakarimasu ka?

How many hours will it take from Tokyo to Hiroshima?

2. To indicate “by”

If the particle に ni is attached to the particle まで made, its meaning changes to “by” (as in before/by the time of):

宿題を明日までに提出しなくちゃいけません。

Shukudai o ashita made ni teishutsu shinakucha ikemasen.

I have to submit the homework by tomorrow.


Japanese Particle: Shika しか

USAGE OF SHIKA PARTICLE

1. To indicate “only”

しか shika means “only.” It is placed after nouns, must be paired with a negative verb or copula, and carries an implication that whatever quantity is being discussed is less than one might wish:

鉛筆を1本しか持っていません。

Enpitsu o ippon shika motteimasen.

I only have one pencil.

2. To indicate no choice

しか shika can also be placed between a dictionary form verb and ない nai (or the -Masu Form of ない nai, which is ありません arimasen) to mean “one has no choice but to [verb]” (more literally, “one only has [verb]”):

傘がないから、雨が止むのを待つしかありません。

Kasa ga nai kara, ame ga yamu no o matsu shika arimasen.

I don’t have an umbrella, so I have no choice but to wait for the rain to stop.


Japanese Particle: Dake だけ

USAGE OF DAKE PARTICLE

1.To indicate only

だけ dake also means “only.” Unlike しか shika, however, だけ dake has no negative nuance, and does not need to be used with a negative verb or copula.

鉛筆を1本だけ持っています。

Enpitsu o ippon dake motteimasu.

I only have one pencil.


This is a simple statement, without the air of complaint that the しか shika sentence above has.

だけ dake can also be paired with どれ dore (“which [of them]”) to mean “how much/what amount.” どれだけ dore dake can be used in question sentences, and in statement sentences:

毎日、どれだけ勉強しますか。

Mainichi, dore dake benkyou shimasu ka?

How much do you study every day?

かわちゃんはどれだけ日本語が分かりますか。

Kawa-chan wa dore dake nihongo ga wakarimasu ka?

How much Japanese does Kawa-chan understand?

どれだけ探しても、かぎが見つけられません。

Dore dake sagashite mo, kagi ga mitsukeraremasen.

No matter how much I search, I cannot find my keys.

That’s everything on Japanese particles から kara, まで made, だけ dake and しか shika for now! This article is also the last in our particle article series. If you have any questions about the particles discussed in this article, or if there are other particles that you want to know more about that we did not cover in any of our particle articles, leave us a comment below!

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