Currently learning Japanese from Rosetta stone, and so far, whenever a verb is acting on something, I've always seen the particle を used - eg:


Now the program has thrown に into the mix - eg:


So my question: is the particle を only for inanimate objects? In the sentence above, could I use を after 奥{おく}さん since she's the direct object of the action, or is に the only answer because the direct object is an animate being? Would I ever use に in the other sentence, like 彼{かれ}は本{ほん}読{よ}んでいます?

Or is this just one of those "That's just the way it is, just roll with it" kind of quirks with the language?

  • ha, yeah, sorry. Rosetta Stone tends to clump things together; otoko no ko is written as otokonoko, while otoko no hito is properly spaced. Reading in hiragana has helped figure things out a bit :)
    – Greg
    Jul 31 '15 at 23:39
  • 1
    Feel free to use hiragana instead!
    – Earthliŋ
    Jul 31 '15 at 23:40
  • How do you write in hiragana? Is there a browser extension for it?
    – Greg
    Jul 31 '15 at 23:41
  • @Greg You just need Japanese support on your computer. How to do that depends on your OS―you can look up how to do that, and if you have problems, you can ask on SuperUser. The browser will support it fine once you've got your OS set up properly :-) In the meantime, I edited the question to contain kana (and kanji with furigana), but if you'd like to edit it, please feel free!
    – user1478
    Jul 31 '15 at 23:50
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    @snailboat Many thanks again. That's all I need as far as how to type in hiragana; I can easily google for step by step instructions. As for the post, as long as it's in hiragana/katakana, I can work out any answers people give, and it'll help train my eyes to read it the more often I see it (kanji's still a long way off for me, lol)
    – Greg
    Jul 31 '15 at 23:54

It is not the animacy of the object that determines the particle choice: It is the transitivity of the verb that does.

「ほんよむ」(to read a book):

「よむ」 in this phrase is a transitive verb; therefore, 「を」 is used.

「おとこなぐる」(to smack a dude):

「を」 is used for the same reason as above. That 「おとこ」 is animate has nothng to do with it.

「おくさんキスする」(to kiss one's wife):

「キスする」 is an intransitive verb; therefoe, 「に」 is used.

「しゃしんキスする」(to kiss a photo):

「しゃしん」 is inanimate, but the particle to be used is still 「に」.

What I have said above would hold true well over 95% of the time. There are exceptions, however, regarding the correct use of 「を」 with intransitive verbs. In order not to confuse OP, who is clearly a beginner, I will not discuss the matter in detail.

For anyone intermediate or above, I am naturally referring to phrases such as 「空{そら}飛{と}ぶ」,「森{もり}走{はし}る」, etc., which are correct.

  • Did some googling on Japanese transitive vs non-transitive verbs, and I'd just like to be clear about two things: 1) Almost (or every) verb has a transitive and non-transitive form 2) For 95% of cases, を is used for the transitive, and に is used for the non-transitive. Would these 2 points be correct? EDIT: And how do I insert line breaks in these comments? Didn't mean for this to be one long paragraph
    – Greg
    Aug 1 '15 at 2:10
  • @Greg Comments are meant to be short and don't support line breaks. But we all read long comments, so our eyes get used to them. (In other words, your comment is perfectly readable.)
    – Earthliŋ
    Aug 1 '15 at 2:53
  • @Greg If by "transitive and non-transitive form" you mean verbs like 続ける + 続く, then no, the intransitive one doesn't take に to give it the behavior of the transitive one. (I may have misunderstood your question though).
    – Blavius
    Aug 1 '15 at 18:11

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