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の Particle (Genitive)

の Particle (Genitive)

の Particle (Genitive) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: ‘s / Of / In / At / For / By / From


  • Noun の Noun
    • E.g. わたしほん [My book]
    • E.g. 自由じゆう女神めがみ [The Statue of Liberty]
  • (Noun + Particle) + の Noun
    • E.g. 日本にほんでの仕事しごと [A job in Japan]
    • E.g. メアリーへのプレゼント [A present for Mary]


  • の is the genitive case-marking particle. It connects two nouns phrases into one larger noun phrase based on some possessive or attributive relationship (i.e. “X possesses Y” or “X is an attribute of Y“). In many cases, the meaning of の is directly analogous to ” ‘s “ as in “John’s hat” or to the preposition “Of”, as in “The Statue of Liberty”. But keep in mind that there are other usages of の that are not directly analogous to English. A thorough list of relationships that can be expressed with の (Genitive) is provided at the bottom of this page.
    • E.g. となりのトトロ [My Neighbor Totoro] This Ghibli movie title has no direct English equivalent, but it means something to the effect of “Next door’s Totoro”. The の particle conveys the idea that となり [Next door] is an attribute of Totoro.
    • E.g. 魔法まほう宅急便たっきゅうびん [Kiki’s Delivery Service] This Ghibli movie title has a more literal English equivalent (i.e. “The Witch’s Delivery Service”). There is a possessive relationship between Kiki and the delivery service.
  • In the expression Noun 1 の Noun 2, Noun 2 is the main noun and Noun 1 is the modifier. For example, in the sentence クリスの靴下くつしたきだ [I like Chris’s socks.], the speaker is saying that he likes the socks, which happen to belong to Chris. In other words, 靴下くつした [Socks] is the main noun under discussion, and the noun クリス [Chris] provides relevant information and context about 靴下くつした.
  • Although の (Genitive) typically connects two nouns directly, Noun 1 can sometimes take a case-marking particle such as , , から, , まで, , だけ, or ため in addition to の (Genitive). Such structures tend to create attributive prepositional phrases such as “An X for Y“, “An X to Y, “An X at Y“, et cetera. However, the particles , , , and can NOT be used alongside の (Genitive).
    • E.g. 8からパーティーにきました。[From 8 o’clock, I headed to the party.] This example expresses that the speaker went to the party at 8, but it does not imply anything about when the party starts.
    • E.g. 8からのパーティーにきました。 [I went to the party, which started at 8.] The の particle in this example indicates that 8 is an attribute of the party itself. In other words, the party itself starts at 8, and the time at which the speaker leaves for the party is unknown.
    • E.g. 先生せんせいとのはな [A discussion with the teacher] In this example, the prepositional phrase “With the teacher” is a noteworthy attribute of the discussion.
    • E.g. 来週らいしゅうまでの予定よてい [Plans until next week] In this example, the prepositional phrase “Until next week” is a noteworthy attribute of the plans.
    • E.g. 日本にほんへのたび [A trip to Japan] In this example, the prepositional phrase “To Japan” is a noteworthy attribute of the trip.
  • Because Noun 1 の Noun 2 is itself a noun phrase, it can either modify or be modified by another noun phrase using the の particle (i.e. AのBのC). Note that the rightmost noun is always the main noun, and everything to the left serves to describe the main noun.
    • E.g. わたし先生せんせいほん [My teacher’s book] In this case there is a possessive relationship between the teacher and the book, and there is a sort of possessive relationship between the speaker and the teacher.
    • E.g. 日本語にほんご先生せんせい田中たなか先生せんせい [The Japanese teacher Tanaka-sensei] In this case there is an attributive relationship between “Japanese” and “teacher“, and there is an appositive relationship between “Tanaka-sensei” and “Japanese teacher“. In other words, both “Tanaka-sensei” and “Japanese teacher” refer to the same person in different ways.
  • In Noun 1 の Noun 2, Noun 2 can sometimes be omitted if it is very clear from context what the speaker is referring to.
    • E.g. A: だれほんですか。B: わたしの(ほん)です。[A: Whose book is this? B: It’s mine!] It’s clear from context that the book is the topic of discussion, so speaker B does not need to specify that he or she is referring to the book.
    • E.g. このレストランの(ステーキ)はよくありません。[This restaurant’s is not so good.] Without context, this sentence doesn’t make sense. But if we’ve already established steak as the topic of discussion, it’s clear that the speaker is referring to this restaurant’s steak, and it can optionally be omitted.
  • Here is a list of relationship types that can be expressed with の:
    • (1) A is the owner / possessor of B:
      • E.g. わたしほん [My book]
      • E.g. 学校がっこう名前なまえ [The school’s name]
    • (2) A is the location where B exists:
      • E.g. 日本にほんてら [The temples in Japan / Japan’s temples]
      • E.g. えき電話でんわ [The telephone in the station / The station’s telephone]
    • (3) B is about A / B has to do with A:
      • E.g. 美術びじゅつほん [A book about art]
      • E.g. 日本語にほんご試験しけん [A test on Japanese]
    • (4) A is a specific type of B / A is a subset of B:
      • E.g.さくらはなびら[A cherry blossom]
      • E.g. もも [A peach tree]
      • E.g. バスの切符 きっぷ [A bus ticket]
      • E.g. 風邪かぜくすり[Cold medicine]
      • E.g. 日本語にほんご先生せんせい [A Japanese teacher]
      • E.g. 音楽おんがく学生がくせい [A music student]
      • E.g. カラーの写真しゃしん [A color picture]
      • E.g. きぬのドレス [A silk dress]
      • E.g. レンガのいえ [A brick house]
    • (5) A is the creator of B:
      • E.g. ピカソの [A Picasso painting]
      • E.g. ベートーベンの音楽おんがく [Beethoven’s music]
      • E.g. フォードのくるま [A Ford car]
    • (6) An appositive phrase (i.e. both nouns refer to the same person or thing):
      • E.g. 友達ともだち大木おおきさん [My friend Mr. Oki]
      • E.g. 医者いしゃ森田もりたさん [The doctor Morita-san]
    • (7) A relative position, where A is an object and B is a position noun:
      • E.g. 屋根やねうえ [The roof’s top]
      • E.g. ぼくのそば [My side]
      • E.g. うみした [The sea’s bottom]

Example Sentences:

これは先生せんせいほんだ。[This is the teacher’s book.]

これは友達ともだちからの手紙てがみだ。[This is a letter from a friend.]

WILD Examples:

The name of this song is はじめてチュウ [First kiss]
Listen to this line from 0:30: 今夜こんや星空ほしぞらしたきりはれれたように [Tonight underneath the starry sky, it’s as if the fog has cleared up]

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