I'm pretty confused about the particle and I hope to receive some clarification.



In the first sentence, the particle is used to indicate the target, which is . So I know the sentence means "He gave me the book."

However, the particle is used to indicate the source in the second sentence, so it means "I was scolded by my mother."

So my question is, how can I tell if the particle is indicating a target or a source? Do I have to solely rely on context? Or am I having a major misunderstanding of the particle itself here?

  • 叱られる is the passive form of the verb 叱る. guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/causepass Apr 2, 2016 at 13:29
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    @strawberryjam So does the に particle only indicates the source when a passive verb is used? Or does it also apply to causative verbs...?
    – Lin
    Apr 2, 2016 at 14:47
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    That's a different question altogether. It's too broad to explain in 1 answer as well. I suggest reviewing past questions on this topic: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/particle-ni Apr 2, 2016 at 14:57
  • @strawberryjam I see, thanks for the advice. It looks like the に particle is a lot more ambiguous than I thought.
    – Lin
    Apr 2, 2016 at 15:22
  • You have to judge it from context.
    – user4092
    Jun 8, 2016 at 10:34

1 Answer 1


If you are using a passive verb (a verb that ends in られる), に is generally used as the Source. If it's a verb that is not passive (such as 行く), に would be the target/destination particle. Context clues help as well. It makes sense to eat a McDonald's hamburger (マックを食べる) than to be eaten by one (マックに食べられる).

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    マク -> 普通は、「マック」ですかね・・ (関西では「マクド」ですけど)
    – chocolate
    Jun 8, 2016 at 8:09
  • Right, so in America we eat "McDonalds", but that sounds funny in japanese. When I say マク in this case, I am referring to a hamburger, or "Big mac". Jun 8, 2016 at 14:46
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    Hmm? Sorry I don't really understand what you're trying to say, I just thought the マク in your post was a typo; we Japanese usually call McDonald's as マック in Kanto, マクド in Kansai, we don't call it マク, and we also often say マックを食べる in Kanto or マクドを食べる in Kansai to mean "eat a McDonald's hamburger."
    – chocolate
    Jun 8, 2016 at 15:05
  • Oh i see. Ill edit my answer to clear up the confusion. Thank you very much! Jun 8, 2016 at 15:07
  • Can you say マクドに食べに行きます?
    – debrucey
    Jun 8, 2016 at 15:53

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