[aDoIJG] Grammatical Terms 💮 A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar

Grammatical Terms

A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar :white_flower: Home Thread

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I am excited to eventually start this, but will definitely be late, as I’m still catching up on the previous volume… Could we have a poll option for “I’m still reading the book but I haven’t reached this part yet”? :sweat_smile:

Thank you for running the club, by the way!


There’s no need to worry about spoilers, you know. :stuck_out_tongue:


I know, but in this case, I’d rather finish reading the base book, first, because many of the entries will likely build on grammar that is in the first volume :sweat_smile:

Oh I had missed that the thread was up! Can you post the link in the home thread?
And thanks a lot for taking over :slight_smile:


@fallynleaf I went to change the poll this morning, and I got a message saying I couldn’t change it after five minutes. :frowning: My bad. I’ll definitely add it next week. Glad to have you with us!

@Akashelia Yes, thank you for the reminder. Happy to help.

Edit: Just learning some forum etiquette over here, don’t mind me condensing replies. :slight_smile:


For me, this section was a tad slow. If you’ve previously read the Beginner volume, it’s essentially the same thing. However, I find this section to be a good reference while going through the main dictionary entries if something isn’t clicking. And then if that fails, there’s always google.


I found it a nice easy warmup for the new volume. As you say, there’s nothing really new or surprising in it.


So nice that the romaji is gone for this edition :star_struck:


Looking at the List of Symbols on page [12], it notes that “the degree of unacceptability is indicated by the number of question marks, three being the highest”.

I read the entire first volume and did not realize they were operating on a Michelin scale of wrong dfjkgh :sob:

Also, looking at the Grammatical Terms, the entry for Double Particle says: “The first particle is usually a case particle and the second is an adverbial particle such as は ‘topic/contrast marker’, も ‘also, even’, and しか ‘only’ or the possessive particle の.” But the grammatical terms never define “case particle” or “adverbial particle”…


i never noticed this as I was skimming through but that is like, bonkers

は can be many things, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it called a 副助詞, unless these authors are operating on a higher level of linguistics than I am capable of comprehending :laughing: I think it’s usually considered a 係助詞

Here’s more about the way japanese speakers divide up the particles (eng tables match up with the jp wikipedia page, but there’s more info on the jp page)


The Dictionary doesn’t call it a 副助詞, though – it calls it an adverbial particle. In general it does not follow the terms or necessarily the analysis of traditional Japanese grammar.

Shibatani’s The languages of Japan also talks about case particles and adverbial particles, and classifies は as an adverbial particle, which it says is following analysis set out in An Historical Grammar of Japanese by George Samson in 1928. So this isn’t something the authors of the dictionary made up themselves.

Samson’s book is on the Internet Archive; the bit about particles is on 223. The basic division is between particles which only affect the word they’re connected to (が に の と を へ まで より) which he labels case particles; particles which are not essential to the formation of the sentence but change its overall meaning (almost everything else), which he labels adverbial particles; and the particles which link two sentences (ば ど とも) which he labels conjunctive particles.


That is true! although modern linguistics is much more likely to try to make those be identical. If an english linguist talking about an adverbial particle means something different from what a japanese linguist means by 副助詞, then there’s going to be a lot of easily avoidable miscommunication

I’ve seen は analyzed variously as: a case particle, a clitic, a special kind of syntax marker only used in topic-comment languages, and a particle to mark a kind of information, but I don’t think I’ve seen another modern mention of it being treated as an adverbial particle by these author’s definition. None of those except the case particle analysis existed in the 1920s, but definitely would’ve been available to the authors of the dojg series in the 80s.

は even fails to be an adverbial particle by their own description that “any adverbial particle can follow any case particle”, since が is counted as a case particle. To me, this analysis reads like “well, we have to put it somewhere, and it can’t go with が, so it has to go in the other bucket”. I also can’t say I’ve ever seen another text use this substantive class. To be sure, the treatment of nouns and noun-like things in japanese is contentious linguistically, even today, but this description feels particularly dated.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t super matter? at least for the language learners, but it is really funny that the authors of this textbook would group them this way with absolutely no further explanation


Shibatani is modern (1990).


should’ve phrased that better, *other than shibatani

Looking through some of my other books, I also came across another analysis calling both は and が “phrasal particles”, which I think tries to get at a syntactic/functional analysis. Although, they don’t provide any argument for why that would be the case, similarly, the japanese linguistics textbook I have on hand refers to は and が as both being case particles with no further elaboration on why japanese would have a case that doesn’t exist in the languages they use to illustrate what a case is for the reader.

Regardless, it seems that the dojg authors including the case vs adverbial distinction with no explanation on what those might be referring to makes even less sense than I thought it did a few hours ago :laughing: that’s not just a freebie you can toss in there

Looking through the basic volume again in their description of topic, they are definitely including parts of a topic specific pro-drop analysis, which makes it even less of a freebie!


In just five years, that year will be closer to the big post-war kana reform than to the present.


Hey, guess what? This actually came up in the wild!

From 推し短歌入門 (published October 26, 2023, so extremely modern):

For your instant lookup convenience:


AがBの意見に対して、何かを言い、Bが「…… Aもそんなこと言うんだね」と返しました。ここで、「他に誰を想像しているの!?」という反応を引き出す、それが「も」の力です。この「も」は助詞(詳しく言うと「副助詞」)といいます。


Jitendex defines 副助詞 as “adverbial particle (e.g. “bakari”, “nado”, “kurai”, “hodo”)”, and one of my new monolingual dictionaries (新明解国語辞典 第八版) defines it as follows:

〔日本語文法で〕ある語に付いてその語自身の意味に限定を加えることを示す助詞。口語では、は・も・さえ〔雅語では、さへ〕・ばかり・だけ・しか・くらい・など・ほど・までその他〔太字は、文語でも用いられるもの〕。文語では、こそ・ぞ・なむ・や・か・だに・すら・のみ その他。

So I feel like maybe we weren’t giving ADoJG enough credit, haha. I think their use of “adverbial particle” likely is referring to 副助詞, which does indeed appear to be a classification that is still used, though from the way it’s framed/described in this book (which clarifies the specific type of 助詞 that も is out of a seeming need to be pedantic, and then just uses 助詞 throughout the section without getting more specific), I doubt it’s very widely used (probably just by the same kinds of grammar freaks who’d use words like “verbal noun” in English).

Burst out laughing when I found this, honestly. Out of all the things from this dictionary to encounter in the wild…


Thanks for sharing! Loving the little peek into your 推し活 book😍


We have a case particle sighting as well!!

This is also from 推し短歌入門:

ガレー船とゲラの語源はgalleyとぞ 波の上なる労働を思ふ

澤村斉美『galley ガレー』


格助詞 = case-marking particle (e.g. “ga”, “no”, “wo”, “ni”) (from Jitendex), と in this example

(from 新明解国語辞典 第八版)


係助詞 = binding particle (e.g. “ha”, “mo”, “koso”, “shika”); linking particle; connecting particle (from Jitendex), ぞ in this example

(from 新明解国語辞典 第八版)


The tanka in the example is really fun to me, as someone with letterpress experience. Galleys (in the printing sense) rarely come up when I’m reading stuff in English, so I never expected to see them come up in Japanese! I’ve used galleys to store type as well as print proofs with carbon paper (you want to make sure your letters don’t have the wrong font mixed up in there, and that your p’s are not actually q’s (type is of course mirrored, so this is an easy mistake to make)).

It’s also fun to see how “galley” became ガレー in one case and ゲラ in the other.

I don’t think I’d seen ぞ used like this before, so I appreciated the tanka book defining とぞ, haha.

I went down a bit of a rabbit hole with my monolingual dictionaries and found the different particle uses for ぞ separated out into 副助, 係助, and 終助 in the entries:

From デジタル大辞泉:

① 疑問を表す語に付いて、不定の意を表す。「どこぞで休んでいくか」
② 「よく」「つい」などの副詞に付いて、上の語を強調する意を表す。「よくぞがまんしてくれた」「ついぞ見たことがない」
① 「ぞ」の付いた語・句を特に強く示す意を表す。
「梅の花折りかざしつつ諸人 (もろひと) の遊ぶを見れば都し―思 (も) ふ」〈万・八四三〉
② 上代、活用語の已然形に直接付き、中古以降は、その下に接続助詞「ば」を伴ったものに付いて、理由・原因を強調して示す意を表す。…からこそ。…からか。
「我 (あ) が待ちし秋は来たりぬ妹 (いも) と我 (あれ) と何事あれ―ひも解かずあらむ」〈万・二〇三六〉
③ 文末用法。
「ああしやごしや此 (こ) は嘲咲 (あざわら) ふ―」〈記・中・歌謡〉
㋑疑問の語とともに用いて、問いただす意を表す。→とぞ →もぞ
① 自分の判断・決意を自分に言い聞かせ、念を押す意を表す。「これは弱ったぞ」「うまくいったぞ」
② 自分の考えを強く主張し、念を押す意を表す。「そうはさせないぞ」「努力が肝心だぞ」
③ 推量の助動詞「う」「よう」、または名詞に付き、疑問の語と呼応して、反語・強調の意を表す。「そんな案をどうして承認できようぞ」「国民の声を聞かずしてなんの政治家ぞ」

This is kind of a tangent and I probably went a bit too deep in the weeds, but honestly I am fully convinced now that these are indeed valid categories for the particles. The distinctions between the different categories (except for like sentence ending particles) are still a bit over my head, but maybe I’ll revisit this when we get around to the advanced volume haha and see if it’s a bit easier to grasp.


Ok, I think I’ve cracked the case (:wink:). I think I understand what a 格助詞 (case-marking particle) is.

Here’s from 新明解国語辞典 第八版 again:


I’m a bit confused by the “体言・体言に準ずる語” part, but I think it’s referring to an indeclinable nominal or a word that is equivalent to an indeclinable nominal?

It says a 格助詞 is one type of particle. It’s attached to an indeclinable nominal or a word that is equivalent to an indeclinable nominal, and indicates its relationship to a word that comes after it within the same sentence. Examples are: の・が・を・に・と・へ・より・から・にて・で.

I only know this because I’ve taken Latin, haha, but in grammar there is a concept called declensions. In languages that decline, the form of the word will change to express its syntactic function in the sentence. In Latin, it’s the end of the word. This is different from verb conjugation (that happens, too…), and it gives Latin a sort of magical quality that it shares somewhat with Japanese, which is that word order is a lot more flexible and you can rearrange things in a nonstandard order and still get the meaning across, whereas in English, changing the order of nouns and such changes the whole meaning of the sentence.

Here’s a Latin example:

Aemilia Marcum pulsat.
(Aemilia hits Marcus.)

Marcus Aemiliam pulsat.
(Marcus hits Aemilia.)

“Aemilia” and “Marcus” are in what’s called the nominative case, which indicates the subject. “Marcum” and “Aemiliam” are in the accusative case, which indicates the object. There are four more cases (see here). (Pretty sure this is why a 格助詞 is called a “case” particle in English.)

So even if the sentences were like this:

Marcum Aemilia pulsat.
(Aemilia hits Marcus.)

Aemiliam Marcus pulsat.
(Marcus hits Aemilia.)

The meaning would still be the same, because the end of the word contains information that tells you the grammatical position. It’s basically like Aemiliaが Marcusを verb, and Marcusが Aemiliaを verb.

English mostly does not decline. But we actually did retain it in a few words, he/him/his and she/her/hers being examples, where the word changes form based on its syntactical function in the sentence.

So basically, if I’m understanding this correctly, a case particle is a particle that basically serves to indicate the case of the word in a similar way to how in Latin, the end of the word would change to indicate the case. Like, looking at the above list: の・が・を・に・と・へ・より・から・にて・で, those are particles that indicate the relationship of mainly non-verbs (or verbs that have been nominalized) to other words in the sentence, often the verb at the end. So they do things like specify the subject or the object, or indicate “to” or “for” (this is the dative case in Latin) or “by”, “with”, or “from” (the ablative case in Latin).

Note that は is not a case-marking particle because it does not indicate any relationship to other words in the sentence. It doesn’t tell you if a word is the subject or object, for example, or assign a syntactic function to the word.

Let’s compare case particles to 副助詞 (adverbial particle). Here’s the definition I posted earlier, from 新明解国語辞典 第八版:

〔日本語文法で〕ある語に付いてその語自身の意味に限定を加えることを示す助詞。口語では、は・も・さえ〔雅語では、さへ〕・ばかり・だけ・しか・くらい・など・ほど・までその他〔太字は、文語でも用いられるもの〕。文語では、こそ・ぞ・なむ・や・か・だに・すら・のみ その他。

This definition is harder… I think it’s saying that a 副助詞 is a particle that is added to a word which indicates a restriction on the meaning of that word itself.

So unlike a case particle, it doesn’t indicate the word’s syntactical relationship to other words in the sentence, and just adds further information regarding the extent of the word itself.

I think, at least? :sweat_smile: Feel free to correct me on anything if any of this is wrong! I’m not super great at understanding super technical grammatical definitions in Japanese…

I realize probably no one cares about this subject and it’s really not that important, but it made my monolingual dictionary definitions for various particles make a lot more sense, so I thought I’d share my insights.