Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

An example would be: "watashi wa cake o(お) tabetai". What does the お do? I tried on google translate and it seems it gives pertenence to that thing..like it belongs either to you or me..but I still need actual clarification.

share|improve this question
    
I think what you mean is the so called direct object particle を (wo), which is pronounced like お. –  RadonBust Jul 15 at 18:03

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

There are three particles in Japanese which are typically spelled differently than they're pronounced:

  1. は (pronounced wa rather than ha)
  2. を (pronounced o rather than wo)
  3. へ (pronounced e rather than he)

Although you're hearing it correctly, in this case it is actually the particle を, marking a direct object:

(わたしは)ケーキを たべたい

This particle comes directly after the word or phrase it marks, like particles usually do in Japanese.


We have direct objects in English, too. But in English, we don't have a particle like を. Instead, we mark direct objects with word order:

I want to eat the cake.

Here, we can tell I is the subject, and the cake is the direct object. Why? Because of their location. If we switch them, the meaning changes completely:

The cake wants to eat me.

Japanese word order is much more free than in English, because the Japanese language has little words like を and doesn't have to rely on word order all the time.

share|improve this answer
    
thank you for your time :D –  MaG3Stican Jul 15 at 19:09
2  
We do mark pronouns as accusative (as actually comes up in your example ^_^) - 'I' translates to 私が or 私は, 'me' translates to 私を (and sometimes just 私). –  Sjiveru Jul 16 at 8:20
2  
@Sjiveru That's true! I deliberately avoided talking about the last remnants of the English case system, though, because I was trying to keep the answer simple, and because I think word order is a much stronger marker. "Me and him are going to the store later." "It was I who killed the man." And of course, the accusative-nominative contrast exists only for pronouns, so it doesn't help for our example of "the cake". –  snailboat Jul 16 at 8:27
    
Reasonable reasons for leaving it out! –  Sjiveru Jul 16 at 19:54

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.