I was doing some composition practice and struck upon writing the sentence, "I wrote on the blackboard in Japanese class."

This seemed straight forward enough:日本語のじゅぎょうで黒板...and that's when I wasn't sure what particle should come next. I came up with two ideas and professor google translate (I'm a self-learner prepping for my N5 exam having completed Genki I) conjured both options below as correct. However, I don't think either is exactly right.

Option A- 日本語のじゅぎょうで黒板に書きました。

Option B- 日本語のじゅぎょうで黒板のうえを書きました。

I've never seen the に particle used the way I proposed in option A. And I think noun 黒板のうえを is more directional as in "I wrote on top of the blackboard" which would be quite the trick. And I know for sure it can't be 黒板を because that would imply I wrote the black board, which would also be quite the trick.

Any thoughts on the most correct path forward?

  • 2
    The original sentence itself looks strange to me personally, is that how it is? It's a little strange that we don't know what was written on blackboard.
    – Skye-AT
    Jun 24 at 3:40

(*)黒板の[上]{うえ}を書きました is as incorrect as (*)黒板を書きました. You don’t write the top of the blackboard as much as you don’t write the blackboard. You write something on the blackboard, or on top of it. The sentence doesn’t say what you wrote. If it were not omitted, it would have taken the object-marker を, as in [名前]{なまえ}を書きました.

The correct particle for 黒板 is に.


You could add の[上]{うえ} but that’s not really necessary because if you write anything on the blackboard, it would obviously be on top of it, not below or beside. The sentence sounds more natural without it. If you say 黒板の上, it might be understood as above the blackboard.

This usage of に is similar to that in テーブル(の[上]{うえ})に本を[置]{お}きます. It indicates the target the action is directed towards. It could also be understood as indicating the position or place where something will be as a result of the action. In that sense, it is not much different from the に in [電車]{でんしゃ}に[乗]{の}ります.

  • Almost correct but 黒板の上 is I think only used for the literally "top" side facing the ceiling. While you can say 黒板上, most times we simply say 黒板に書く. Jun 24 at 4:49
  • @brokenlaptop: As I said, the sentence sounds more natural without の上. With it, it might be interpreted as “on top” or “above” depending on the context. The former is more common-sensical than the latter. But it’s so common-sensical that you don’t have to say it if you mean “on top”, and if you bother to say it, the chances of of it being interpreted as “above” will increase. It depends on the context. Anyways, edited for clarification.
    – aguijonazo
    Jun 24 at 5:17
  • My point is rather that 黒板の上【うえ】 always mean "upside", not "writing side" (unless it's a portable blackboard put on the table facing upward). ~上【じょう】 is more suitable in this respect, but neither feels very natural to describe the relationship between written text and the board in the background. Jun 24 at 6:02
  • @brokenlaptop: I respect your opinion but I disagree. When the verb is 書く, 黒板の上 could easily be understood as “the writing side”. It just sounds unnatural because it’s totally unnecessary in normal circumstances. I don’t see how 黒板上 is any less unnatural than 黒板の上. Both sound equally unnatural to me. If I had to choose one, I would choose 黒板の上.
    – aguijonazo
    Jun 24 at 7:28

OptB doesn't make sense at all while Opt A isn't perfect, either. It sounds a lot better if you rewrite OptA as


since the intial sentence doesn't have an object (writing what!?). Additionally, OptB would sound better if you rewrite it as


Yet, it still sounds a bit awkward since, again, it doesn't have an object.

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