へ Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: Towards / To

Construction: 

  • Noun + へ
    • E.g. 図書館としょかん [Towards the library]

Notes:

  • へ indicates a direction towards which some directional movement or action proceeds. It corresponds to the English prepositions “Towards” or “To“.
  • The particles へ, まで, and に (Direction) all convey the idea of direction, but there are some slight nuances among them.
    • X へ expresses the idea of “In the direction of X“. It doesn’t necessarily imply that the subject makes a beeline straight to X, but rather that the subject is generally heading in X’s direction. へ can also express a sense of metaphorical direction as in phrases such as 栄光えいこうへのみち [The path to glory] or when addressing someone in a letter (e.g. クリスへ [To Chris]).
      • E.g. わたし札幌さっぽろのうちへ飛行機ひこうきかえった。[I headed back to my home in Sapporo by plane.]
      • E.g. ちち手紙てがみしたが、まだ返事へんじがこない。[I wrote a letter to my father, but I haven’t received a reply yet.]
    • X まで expresses the idea of “Up to X“. It represents a finish line where some movement ceases. For example, you may see a road sign in Japan that says “ここまで30KM / H“, which means “The speed limit is 30 KM up to here“, or in other words “The 30 KM / H speed zone ends here.”
      • E.g. ここまでのみちわるかったでしょう。[The road up to here was no good.]
      • E.g. はるばる東京とうきょうまで来た。[I came to Tokyo from afar.]
    • X に (Direction) expresses the destination point of some movement or some point of direct contact. に (Direction) is more direct than へ (e.g. スターバックスにきます。[I’m going to Starbucks.] vs スターバックスへきます。[I’m heading towards Starbucks.]. However, in colloquial speech へ and に (Direction) are basically used interchangeably. One exception is that に (Direction) can not replace へ when followed by the の particle (e.g. ニューヨークへの便びんはもうありません。[There are no more flights to New York.])
      • E.g. つくえうえった。[I climbed onto the table.]
      • E.g. 東京とうきょうった。[I went to Tokyo.]
      • E.g. ふろはいる。[I get into a bathtub.)

Example Sentences:

わたし先週せんしゅう京都きょうと旅行りょこうにいった。[Last week I headed to Kyoto for vacation.]

地震じしんだったのでおそいでそとた。[Because there was an Earthquake, I quickly headed outside.]

プールへはいった。[I entered the pool.]

WILD Examples:

At 2:45, listen for this line: いまこのときまえすすめ、ゲームははじまる [Now, keep moving forward. The game is just starting.]
The chorus of this song begins as follows: らこんなむらいやだ、らこんなむらいやだ、東京とうきょうるだ [We can’t stand this village, we can’t stand this village, we’re leaving for Tokyo]
Listen to this line at 2:00: ありのままで、そらかぜにって [As I truly am, I will ride on the wind towards the sky]

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