Japanese Grammar

Objects of Japanese Verbs with Particles: を, に, and と

Objects of Japanese Verbs

Last time, you learned how to make subjects of Japanese verbs with the particles が and は: あめる (new information) and ゆきらない (contrast). In this lesson, you will learn how to make objects of Japanese verbs by using the particles: を, に, and と.

How to Set Objects with the Particle を, に, and と

Table of Contents
What Is a Complete Sentence Like?
The particle を
The particle に
The particle と

Unlike intransitive verbs like “はしる: to run” and “あるく: to walk,” transitive verbs like “べる: to eat” and “む: to drink” have to have objects. When you make objects of Japanese verbs, you need to select a suitable particle among from を, に, and, と. Each function is different. Let’s go over them one by one. 

What Is a Complete Sentence Like?

As you already know, sentences without subjects are very common in Japanese. In addition to that, objects can be omitted when the context is clear. Take a look at the following examples.

う / います。
[I will] meet [him/her].
*Said when someone asked you “Will you meet your teacher?”
べる / べます。
[I will] eat [it].
*Said when someone asked you “Will you eat this fruit?” 

These are very natural expressions in Japanese. Now, do you remember how to conjugate them? Let’s make them the negative form as a review.

わない / いません。
[I will] not meet [him/her].
べない / べません。
[I will] not eat [it].

Particles Will Be Determined Based on What the Objects Are

In English, with the sentences: “I will eat apple” and “I will meet my mother,” “apple” and “mother” can be just categorized into objects. However, you cannot use the same particle for those objects in Japanese. Let’s break down objects in Japanese grammar.

The Particle を

を is pronounced as お and placed after objects. In Japanese, the sentence order should be like this: Topic + Subject + Object + Verb. Although omissions may cause confusion, the basic order will remain the same.

Direct Object
[わたしは / が] ほん む / みます
[Topic / Subject] Direct Object Verb
[I will] read a book.

The first function of を is to express direct objects. This usage is very simple. Here are more examples.

くるまあらう / あらいます)。
[I will] wash the car.
まどける / けます)。
[I will] open the window.
うたうたう / うたいます)。
[I will] sing a song.
ほんる / ります)。
[I will] sell books.
かばんく / きます)。
[I will] put [my] bag down.
いえう / います)。
[I will] buy a house.
Location to Leave
[わたしは / が] いえ る / ます
[Topic / Subject] Location to Leave Verb
[I will] leave [my] house.

The second function is to express where you leave. The locations can be not only actual locations, but also organizations as well. Some intransitive verbs can appear with を in this context, which you will learn in another lesson.

バスりる / ります)。
[I will] get off the bus.
ほんしゅっぱつ(する / します)。
[I will] depart from Japan.
大学だいがくそつぎょう(する / します)。
[I will] graduate from the university.
ごと(やめる / やめます)。
[I will] quit [my] job.
アルバイトやすむ / やすみます)。
[I will] be absent from [my] part-time job.
Location to Pass
[わたしは / が] 階段かいだん のぼる / のぼります
[Topic / Subject] Location to Pass Verb
[I will] go up the stairs.

The third function is to express where you pass through. The is applicable not only actual locations, but also situations of locations and time as well.

はしわたる / わたります)。
[I will] cross the bridge.
カフェとおる / とおります)。
[I will] pass a café.
こうてんがる / がります)。
[I will] turn at the crossroad.
むしそらぶ / びます)。
The insect [will] fly in the sky.
あめなかはしる / はしります)。
[I will] run in the rain.
しあわせなかんごす / ごします)。
[I will] have a good time.
Direction of Action
[わたしは / が] うえ る / ます
[Topic / Subject] Direction of Action Verb
[I will] look up.

The last function is to express the direction of actions. を can be directly attached with words which mean directions itself like “きた: north” and “した: below.” If you would like to say “direction of …”, you need to put …のほう as the following examples show.

みぎく / きます)。
[I will] turn right.
学校がっこうほうる / ます)。
[I will] look in the direction of the school.


The Particle に

に has a lot of functions. Here, we will show you only the ones related to verbs. You will learn the rest in other lessons.

Direction of Motion
[わたしは / が] きた く / きます
[Topic / Subject] Direction of Motion Verb
[I will] go toward the north.

The first function is to express the direction of motions. Just like the particle に, when you use words which don’t directly mean directions, you need to use …のほう as well.

ひがしかう / かいます)。
[I will] head to the east.
みぎがる / がります)。
[I will] turn right [at the corner] .
うみほうく / きます)。
[I will] go in the direction of the sea.

This may sound similar to the particle を (the direction of actions). The difference is in whether you will physically move or not. That is to say, when you use を (the direction of actions), your body, i.e. your feet, won’t move. When you use に (the direction of motions) , your body, i.e. your feet, will move.

Japanese particles: o (direction of action) vs. ni (direction of motions)

In this context, に is interchangeable with the particle へ. Note: when へ is used as a particle, you have to pronounce it as え.

ひがしかう / かいます)。
[I will] head to the east.
うみほうく / きます)。
[I will] go in the direction of the sea.
[わたしは / が] とうきょう く / きます
[Topic / Subject] Destination Verb
[I will] go to Tokyo.

The second function is to express destinations. In this context, に is interchangeable with the particle へ, too.

学校がっこうく / きます)。
[I will] go to school.
えきく / きます)。
[I will] arrive at the station.
いえへ る / ます)。
[Someone will] come to [my] house.
くにかえる / かえります)。
[I will] return my home country.
Target (Indirect Objects)
[わたしは / が] 数学すうがく おとうと おしえる / おしえます
[Topic / Subject] Direct Object Target Verb
[I will] teach mathematics to my younger brother.

The third function is to indicate targets (indirect objects). This is mostly used when you give or do something for someone. Regarding the sentence order, the を part and the に part can be replaced.

パソコンを先生せんせいわたす / わたします)。
[I will] hand over [my] PC to [my] teacher.
がみをおかあさんおくる / おくります)。
[I will] send a letter to [my] mother.
とうさんプレゼントを(う / います)。
[I will] buy a present for [my] father.
あねほんを(る / ります)。
[I will] sell the book to [my] elder sister.

The difficult point here is how to identify the proper particle between direct objects and targets (indirect objects), especially when there is only one object. Take a look at the following.

ども う / います)。
[I will] meet children.
先生せんせい 相談そうだんする / 相談そうだんします)。
[I will] consult with the teacher.
かた たたく / たたきます)。
[I will] tap [someone] on the shoulder.
いもうと しかる / しかります)。
[I will] scold [my] younger sister.

Some say that you need to judge it based on whether objects are direct or indirect. However, that border is not completely defined. Thus, you need to memorize the combinations with verbs respectively.

The Particle と

This is the last particle which you need to learn in the verb section. Take it easy. The usage is very simple.

Partner of Interaction
[わたしは / が] すずさん あそぶ / あそびます
[Topic / Subject] Partner of Interaction Verb
[I will] hang out with Suzuki-san.

The first function is to express partners of interaction. Some verbs can be used with both the particle に expressing targets and the particle と. The difference of the nuance will be whether it is interactive or one-sided actions like this:

むらさんはなす / はなします)。
[I will] tell Nomura-san.
むらさんと はなす / はなします)。
[I will] converse with Nomura-san.

Here are more examples. They require the particle と because “to marry” and “to quarrel” must be interactive actions.

彼女かのじょ結婚けっこん (する / します)。
[I will] get married to my girlfriend.
かれケンカ(する / します)。
[I will] quarrel with my boyfriend.

The particle と can be also used to express just partners.

ばやしさんえいを(る / ます)。
[I will] see a movie with Kobayashi-san.
彼女かのじょ学校がっこうに(く / きます)。
[I will] go to school with my girlfriend.
Object of Similarity / Difference
[わたしは / が] みんな ちがう / ちがいます
[Topic / Subject] Object of Difference Verb
[I] differ from everyone.

Another function is to indicate an object’s similarities or differences.This can be used with adjectives as well. In the following example, 同じ is an adjective, but can have an object.

わたしけんかれけんことなる / ことなります)。
My opinion differs from his.
わたしのノートはかれのノートおなじ(だ / です)。
My notebook is the same as his.


  1. The particle を can express;
    • Direct Object
    • Location to Leave
    • Location to Pass
    • Direction of Action
  2. The particle に can express;
    • Direction of Motion
    • Destination
    • Target (Indirect Object)
  3. The particle と can express;
    • Partner of Interaction
    • Object of Similarity or Difference

In this article, you have learned a lot about particles. You might get confused with the usages. Don’t worry. You have already completed 50% of the Japanese particles and, as you proceed with your learning, you will clear up any doubts you may have. From now on, you will learn the rest of the Japanese particles.

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