Why you need to know about Japanese particles を(wo), と(to) AND より(yori)
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). Next, we will have を(wo), と(to) and より(yori).
Every Japanese particle has many purposes and uses, and we did not have the time in that article to cover the uses of each particle completely. So, we are doing a series of particle articles that go in-depth on the uses of three to five particles at a time. This article will be on を(wo), と(to), and より(yori), then next will be Kara, Made, Dake, and Shika.
Quick Article Resources for more particles
- How to use Japanese Particles の(no), よ(yo), ね(ne), and か(ka) in the ending sentence, click here.
- How to differentiate location particles で(de), に(ni), and へ(e), click here.
- What you need to know about Japanese particles は(wa), が(ga), も(mo), click here.
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.
- の (no), よ(yo), ね(ne), and か(ka) are all found at the ends of sentences (among other places)
- 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)
- は(wa), が(ga), も(mo) are all particles that accompany topics or subjects (among other things)
- を(wo), と(to) AND より(yori) are all particles that accompany non-topic/non-subject nouns.
How to use Japanese particles を(wo), と(to) and より(yori)
Japanese Particle Wo を
The particle Wo is one of the only places you will ever see the kana “wo” (を) used. There are several artists and fictional characters whose names contain a “wo” (such as Kaworu of the “Neon Genesis Evangelion” film/tv/comic series) but there are no commonly used words in the Japanese language that contain a “wo” (aside from the Wo particle).
The particle Wo is usually pronounced “o” in everyday conversation, but you will sometimes hear it pronounced “wo” for stylistic reasons (for example, the “wo” pronunciation is used quite often in songs). However, the Wo particle is always written with the kana “wo” (を) and not the kana “o” (お).
Sometimes (in this article, in fact!) the particle Wo is represented as O in romaji, but when writing Japanese sentences using kana this particle will always be written using the “wo” kana.
How to Use Wo particle
Using the Wo particle is quite straightforward: It is placed after the object(s) in a sentence. The object(s) in a sentence are people or things that the verb(s) in the sentence are doing something to.
かわちゃんは友達を抱きしめました。 Kawa-chan wa tomodachi o dakishimemashita
(Kawa-chan hugged her friend).
かわちゃんはテレビを見たり、おやつを食べたりしています。 Kawa-chan wa terebi o mitari, oyatsu o tabetari shite imasu
(Kawa-chan is watching tv and eating snacks).
When learning new verbs, it is a good idea to double check which particle(s) those verbs are typically used with. There are quite a few noun/verb pairs that seem as though they would be paired with Wo. But actually are typically paired with a different particle. (Also, some verbs can be paired with different particles, depending on the sentence).
When you first begin to study particle usage, it may take some time to get a feel for which verbs go with Wo and which do not.
Below are some examples of verbs that are not typically accompanied by a Wo:
かわちゃんは富士山に登りました。 Kawa-chan wa Fujisan ni noborimashita
(Kawa-chan climbed Mount Fuji).
かわちゃんは友達に会いました。 Kawa-chan wa tomodachi ni aimashita
(Kawa-chan met her friend).
かわちゃんは先生に相談しました。 Kawa-chan wa sensei ni soudan shimashita
(Kawa-chan consulted the teacher).
Japanese Particle To と
One of the first ways you are likely to learn To is as “and/with.”
How to Use To
1.To make a list
To can be used between two or more items to make a list, and can also be used after a person’s name to indicate that you were with that person:
かわちゃんとスーパーに行きました。 Kawa-chan to su-pa- ni ikimashita
(I went to the supermarket with Kawa-chan).
卵とパンを買いました。 Tamago to pan o kaimashita
(I bought eggs and bread).
2. To show a quotation
To can also be used to show that the sentence before it is a quotation. Sometimes this is a quotation as we usually think of quotations in English (he said…, she said…). Sometimes this is a “quotation” of one’s thoughts (I think that…). And sometimes this is a poetic or metaphorical “quotation” of something that is not sentient.
By adding To, a sentence can be turned into a quotation even if no verb for “said” or “thought” is used:
かわちゃんは「うそだ」と言っていました。Kawa-chan wa “uso da” to itte imashita
(Kawa-chan said “it’s a lie”).
かわちゃんは「うそだ」と思いました。Kawa-chan wa “uso da” to omoimashita
(Kawa-chan thought, “it’s a lie”).
かわちゃんは「うそだ」と笑いました。Kawa-chan wa “uso da” to waraimashita
(“It’s a lie,” Kawa-chan laughed).
かわちゃんは「うそだ」と分かっていました。Kawa-chan wa “uso da” to wakatte imashita
(Kawa-chan understood that it was a lie).
When To is used in quotation-style sentences, whatever is being quoted should be in short form, with the だ (da, the short form of “desu”) ending included if the last word of the quote is a noun or a na-adjective.
For more on To in quotation-style sentences, please check out our article on how to use “said” in Japanese.
3. To turn the symbolic word into an adverb
When To is placed at the end of a sound symbolic word (a Giongo or Gitaigo word), it can turn that sound symbolic word into an adverb.
For example, バタン (batan) is the sound of something shutting with a bang; if To is added to the end of “batan” it can then be used with a verb:
子供は窓をバタンと閉めました。Kodomo wa mado o batan to shimemashita
(The child shut the window with a bang).
For more on To and sound symbolic words, please check out our Japanese Onomatopoeia article.
3. To mean if/when
To can also be used to mean “if/when.” Japanese has many patterns for making conditional sentences; the To version is used for conditional sentences where the result always occurs if the condition occurs:
かわちゃんのそばにいると、うれしくなります。Kawa-chan no soba ni iru to, ureshiku narimasu
(When I am beside Kawa-chan, I become happy).
Japanese Particle Yori より
How to Use Yori
1. To show comparison between nouns
Yori is primarily found in comparison sentences. In comparison sentences, Yori can be thought of as meaning “more than,” and should be placed directly after the noun that has less of whatever attribute is being discussed than the noun(s) it is being compared to:
かわちゃんのほうがバッディー君より大きいです。 Kawa-chan no hou ga Buddy-kun yori ookii desu
(Kawa-chan is bigger than Buddy-kun; literally “Kawa-chan is, more than Buddy-kun, big”).
In many comparison sentences, especially when speaking casually, some sentence components (including Yori) may not need to be spoken:
かわちゃんのほうが大きいです。 Kawa-chan no hou ga ookii desu
(Kawa-chan is bigger; implying that in comparison with other things which are not being mentioned, Kawa-chan is bigger).
Yori can also be paired with question words (such as who or what) plus the particle Mo to make somewhat more extreme comparison sentences:
かわちゃんは誰よりも頭がいいです。 Kawa-chan wa dare yori mo atama ga ii desu (Kawa-chan is smarter than anyone).
何よりも、日本語を勉強するのが好きです。 Nani yori mo, nihongo o benkyou suru no ga suki desu (I like to study Japanese more than anything).
2. To show comparison between nouns and adjectives
Relatedly, Yori can be placed in front of certain adjectives to indicate a comparison between what is in your sentence and other things or states, and to indicate that the thing or state in your sentence is more/has more of whatever attribute is being discussed than is usual:
より良い天気の日に海に行きました。 Yori yoi tenki no hi ni umi ni ikimashita (I went to the beach on a day with better weather (better weather than usual/particularly good weather)).
2. To mean “from”
Lastly, Yori can be used to mean “from:”
心より感謝します。 Kokoro yori kansha shimasu
(I thank you from my heart).
Yori as “from” can be used in many (but not all) of the same places as the more common “from” particle, Kara (an article on Kara is coming soon!).
That’s everything on Wo, To, and Yori for now! If you have any questions about these particles, or if there are any uses of these particles that we neglected to go over in this article, please leave us a comment below!