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The particle (w)o: を

The particle ''o'' (or rather "wo") has an essential function, which is really important for the beginners in Japanese: the indication of the direct object complement.

The direct object complement is the thing or the person on whom the action of the subject is being done.

It's also one of the easiest to "understand" .


Sake o nomimasu = I drink sake.
Pan o taberu = I eat bread.
Benkyô o suru = I study.

Be careful, don't confuse "o", the "particle", with the "o" that is sometimes added before a word to make it more "polite"...


O-cha o nomimasu = I drink tea.

The o "gives a quality'' to the tea… We can find that "o" in front of many words considered "noble" and often, it is almost automatically in front of some words... So we almost always say ''o-hashi'' when speaking about "hashi" (chopsticks).
This "o" is really the particle that indicates where the direct object complement is. (What do I drink ? => tea.)

At this level, the distinction between "o" and "wo" is very relevant because the "o" of "politeness" is written with the hiragana ''お'', while the particle "o" is in fact the hiragana ''を'', formerly "wo ". So it is only when speaking that the confusion is possible...When you write, do not forget this rule or you might not be understood!

In our example, we will then write:

Ocha wo nomimasu.

Note that the "o" of politeness may be right next or not to the word that it "describes" when we write using romaji (in the case of "ocha", we write the ''o'' right next to ''cha'', as you can not imagine to use the word " cha "alone.) In the Japanese writing, there is never any case of spaces anyway...
Author: Duncan

Translator: Othman