0

Is は a particle in こんにちは and こんばんは?

4

Yes. This は is the same as the topic marker は.

These expressions were originally the start of a greeting, as in, [今日]{こんにち}はお[元気]{げんき}でしょうか ("You're feeling well today?") or [今晩]{こんばん}はいかがですか ("How are you this evening?"), etc. Over time, through regular and frequent use, the opening portions came to be used independently as simplified greetings.

According to Shogakukan's [国語]{こくご}[大]{だい}[辞典]{じてん} entry for [今日]{こんにち}は:

(「今日は…」と続けた挨拶語の下略されたもの)
 (omitting the portion of the greeting continuing on after "konnichi wa...")

  • 3
    I think it might be worth drawing a distinction between “is a particle” and “was originally a particle”, because IMO these words are fully lexicalized and は is not serving the function a particle normally would... – Darius Jahandarie Sep 13 '19 at 20:02
  • 1
    Perhaps I'm being too picky, but If that's the case, then the answer of the question should be "No, despite it used to be originally." – jarmanso7 Sep 13 '19 at 20:13
  • @DariusJahandarie, though lexicalized to the point that these phrases can be used independently, the latter at least can also be used in fuller contexts as originally composed. Google searches for 今晩は + some other following term show no dearth of such usage, such as 今晩は寒くて. Daijirin also parses this as a particle: 〔「は」は助詞。「今日は御機嫌いかがですか」などの下を略した形〕 And if は is not a particle, what is it? I'd counter-claim that it's still the particle は, just that it functions differently in this specific lexicalized context. :) – Eiríkr Útlendi Sep 13 '19 at 21:07
  • “And if は is not a particle, what is it?” < I would say it’s a kana... just like the う in ありがとう. – Darius Jahandarie Sep 13 '19 at 22:05
  • 1
    When analyzing things synchronically, what is most relevant is the mental model of the native speakers using it. If you want to create a complex model to say that there are multiple uses of the particle は, including a sentence-ending one that doesn’t invoke a feeling of something being missing/inferred, go ahead, but somehow that doesn’t feel right compared to こんにちは just being an expression that is made up of those sounds and no further... – Darius Jahandarie Sep 13 '19 at 22:08

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