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I'm trying to understand when to use appropriate particles in a sentence, and keep up with vocab too! Please someone help.

customer: "そのぼうし[の, を, か, ね] ください"

"たけしさん [か, の, よ, or no particle] せんもんはれきしです"

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Welcome to JLU. This is a fairly basic general reference question. Can you edit your question to describe exactly what your confusion is with these particles? –  Ataraxia Oct 20 '12 at 2:37
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It's not so much a special usage of 「~ください」 but rather that 「ください」 is the imperative form of 「くださる」. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 20 '12 at 3:06
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Our colleagues have answered the question and I mean this with best intentions: the best way to get on top these particles is to buy a good beginner's text book (if you have not already), learn the basic sentence patterns and vocab, get a feel for the particle definitions, practice in real life and don't try to rush it. The meta site (see above) has a section on learning resources. –  Tim Oct 20 '12 at 3:09
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Thank you everyone for your knowledge. @ Tim, the only rush I have is to complete my homework; but I agree this site has a vast amount of resources to learn from. –  Joleana Oct 20 '12 at 3:14
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@silvermaple: You should just make your comment an answer. And I second Lang-8 for these sorts of problems. –  dotnetN00b Oct 20 '12 at 17:07
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1 Answer

"そのぼうし[の, を, か, ね] ください"

well for example the customers line of "excuse me, that shirt __ please, I'm hazy on which participle to put there.

Don't translate word-for-word. Better yet, try not to translate at all, as far as is possible. Japanese word order is very different to English word order, and the functions of the words differ too - some things that are verbs in English are adjectives in Japanese, and so on. Not to mention that English doesn't have case particles, so translating into English to figure out which particle to use is a really strange idea! Trust me - understand the Japanese sentences as they are and you will save yourself huge headaches later.

I'll explain this one in detail. ください can indeed mean "please". This is the reason you got tied up a little bit - the English word "please" isn't obviously any word that can take a noun at all. So how are you supposed to know which particle it's correct to attach to the noun that "please" takes, when "please" doesn't take a noun?! Of course, the answer is simply that English and Japanese are incredibly different things, and ください and "please" are incredibly different things. They just happen to be good translations of each other sometimes.

Ramble aside. You should examine the Japanese - the whole reason it comes to be translated as "please" is that it is actually the imperative form of くださる, meaning "to give" (usually "to me"; hence it can also mean "do (for me)"; and it's a so-called 'humble' word, so it has polite connotations). So, your translation should start "Give me...". Is it now obvious that そのぼうし ("that hat") is the direct object of your sentence? The correct particle is を.

"たけしさん [か, の, よ, or no particle] せんもんはれきしです"

Takeshi-san ... specialty: history.

This sentence is probably intended to mean "Takeshi-san's specialty is history". That is, the noun "Takeshi-san" is modifying "history" - we would normally think of this in English as a possessive. The Japanese particle that is going to do the job is の.

As a few rules of thumb: よ and ね will usually be found at the end of a sentence, and so will か (when it's a question marker); you don't usually find two nouns next two each other without a particle joining them (though you do in long names of organisations and so on); and a noun will normally need particles like を, で, に if it is somehow an object of a verb (unless that verb is する, and except in very casual speech). But don't let any of this think you're off the hook - learn it properly, or it will plague you for as long as you're learning Japanese!

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