は Particle in Japanese - All you need to know

Author Anna Baffa Volpe for article 'は Particle in Japanese - All you need to know'

Anna Baffa Volpe

5 min reading time

Updated on 7 January 2023

は Particle in Japanese - All you need to know

In this post we see one of the most used and common topics of Japanese grammar: the particle は (ha, read wa).

Particles are one of the most intriguing and interesting topics in the Japanese language. The term that identifies the particles is (じょ)():

  • help, assist
  • 詞 indicates a part of speech

The first joshi we are going to learn is .


How to form は

The particle は is read wa and written in hiragana with the character ha.

Particles are of various kinds, have various functions and also different positions within the sentence.

Let's see below the various grammatical structures that use the particle は:

Noun++Adjective

(ゆき)(しろ)い。

The snow is white.

Noun++Noun

()(めつ)(やいば)日本(にほん)(まん)()(さく)(ひん)だ。

Demon Slayer is a Japanese manga.

I also report this particular use of は in a form of prohibition which sees the verb in its te form joined with は and the verb いけない: てはいけない.

Verb[て]++いけない

()(しょ)(かん)では(おお)(ごえ)(はな)してはいけません。

In the library it is forbidden to speak aloud.

How and when to use は

is used to introduce and present a topic.

()(だい) is the topic that the particle は introduces.

For example, when we talk about the subject (まち) city, the particle は is placed after 町 and thus a sentence is formed which introduces the subject city and continues adding a quality, a characteristic:

この(まち)(ふる)い。

This city is ancient.

は can be considered a ()(じるし) mejirushi or マーカー mākā, a marker that highlights the subject keyword of the sentence

は: theme or topic of the sentence

As we have anticipated, the particle は is used to present the topic of the sentence.

The topic or theme constitutes the material for a conversation, the word that expresses it is followed by は:

(わたし)()(まえ)はリザだ。

My name is Lisa.

We find は in ()()(しょう)(かい) jiko shōkai: when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time

は and true statements

The particle は is used to state a fact that is true, an aspect that no one can deny and which is universally valid.

(とう)(きょう)日本(にほん)(しゅ)()です。

Tokyo is the capital of Japan.

We find the structure は and the copula だ in plain form or です in the polite form

エベレストはヒマラヤ(さん)(みゃく)にある(ひょう)(こう)8,848mの(やま)だ。

Everest is a mountain in the Himalayas, 8,848 meters high.

The word for truth is ()() and it is also a beautiful female name in Japan.

は and personal opinion

is also used to express the speaker's point of view, the personal and subjective opinion.

この()(しき)素敵(すてき)だ。

This panorama is enchanting.

(はな)() hanashite is the speaker; ()() kikite the interlocutor and (しゅ)(かん) shukan subjectivity, personal opinion

は and description of things

When we describe things, people or situations we find the particle は:

このバッグはとても(かる)いだ。

This bag is very light.

は and explanations, extracted from an article on the web

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は and yes or negative answers

is also present in direct questions that require answers with a yes or a no':

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Examples of the は particle

あの(じょ)(ゆう)(うた)上手(うま)いな。

That actress is a really good singer!

パワースポットという(こと)()は、(じつ)()(せい)(えい)()です。

Power spot is a Wasei Eigo term.

和製英語 Wasei eigo is a term used to indicate all Japanese words and linguistic constructions, born from the fusion with English , but which are used only in Japan and which are often not understood in English-speaking languages.

(ふく)()(かつ)(よう)しない(こと)()です。

Adverbs are words that don't decline.

We find the basic structure again: noun + は + noun + だ / です.

(ふく)()(こと)(よう)です。

Adverb is a word.

The previous example contains a relative clause, which in Japanese precedes the noun it refers to:

  • (かつ)(よう) しない (こと)(): a word that cannot be declined

(かつ)(よう) katsuyō, means inflection, declension, conjugation

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