Double Particle Madness

We've had a number of lessons on particles already:

Really, though, we've just scratched the surface. Getting a deep, intuitive understanding of all of the particles in Japanese takes quite a while.

Some view it as one of the most difficult parts of learning Japanese. I think they should just be learned bit by bit as you go. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't look at them early on.


Particle Combos

The only purpose of this lesson is to mention that particles can, at times, appear next to each other. Trying to explain all of the variations in nuances and usage rules for two-particle combos would make for a very long―and likely confusing―lesson.

To start, let's take a look at the combo には in the following sentence:

クリス に は おしえなーい。
I’m not gonna tell you (=Chris). (But I am gonna tell other people.)
Literally: “Chris + に + は + not teach.”
Note: By elongating the な sound of 教えない (おしえない), it sounds like the speaker is teasing Chris (=the listener).

By saying には instead of just に, the speaker is hinting that she will tell people other than Chris.

Or see the following sentence:

あの バンド は がいこく で は にんき らしい。
Apparently that band is popular abroad. (Although it’s not popular here.)
Literally: “that + band + は + foreign country + で + は + popular + らしい (=[hearsay marker]).”

We could say that sentence without the second は:

あの バンド は がいこく で にんき らしい。
Apparently that band is popular abroad.
Literally: “that + band + は + foreign country + で + popular + らしい (=[hearsay marker]).”

By including the は, however, we are giving the nuance that the band is perhaps not popular here. This is because は can also serve to contrast things.

We could also say:

あの バンド は がいこく で も にんき らしい。
Apparently that band is also popular abroad.
Literally: “that + band + は + foreign country + で + も + popular + らしい (=[hearsay marker]).”


Speaking of two-particle combos, we just saw some in our previous lesson on making nouns with の:

いちばん やすい の は どれ です か?
Which one is the cheapest?
Literally: “the most / number one + cheap + の + は + which + です + か?”

We also saw the rather stiff-sounding sentence:

わたし は おすし を たべる の が すき です。
I like to eat sushi.
Literally: "I + は + (o-)sushi + を + eat + の + が + liked + です."


When は、が、and も appear in a two-particle combo, they will typically be the second of the two particles.

に、で、and の, on the other hand, will often be the first particle in whatever particle-combo they appear in.

Some common combos:
- には
- では
- にも
- でも
- のは
- のが

Try not to be too frightened when you come across them.


Here are a couple more examples with には and では:

そこ に は すわらないで。
Don’t sit there. (But you can sit in other places.)
Literally: “there + に + は + don’t sit (and).”

いえ で は メガネ だ よ。
I wear glasses at home. (But not at other places.)
Literally: “house + で + は + glasses + だ + よ.”


That's all for this one.

I wouldn't worry about using particle combos too early in your studies. However, it helps to know that they exist and see the ways they can change the nuances of sentences.

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