Grammar: What’s the difference in these sentences?

Can someone please tell me what the difference is and why one should be used over the other for the following sentence:



I know that を is a particle used to show the object of the sentence and の is used to show possession or such but why is one of these natural in this type of sentence and the other isn’t? For reference, the first sentence is the one みんなの日本語 advises is the natural way to say it and the second one is wrong, I just don’t know why.

Self studying so unable to ask my tutor as I don’t have one, and I’ve no native speaking friends so cannot ask them either. Thanks in advance.


As you say, を marks an object, which means it’s something that is acted upon. In other words, it needs a verb to come after it. 勉強 by itself is a noun, not a verb, so the sentence is grammatically incorrect. However you can make it a verb by adding する.
日本語を勉強 incorrect
日本語を勉強する correct.

If you wanted to you could make the above statement with を grammatically correct by using a grammar pattern you will learn later, like this:
Here we are using the “stem form” of the verb plus 行く or 来る. Examples: 食べに行く。買いに行く。


Ah,ok. That makes sense 勉強 - study of something, 勉強する - to study something. So when used with に行きます it needs to either be in verb form to use を or needs to use の with the noun form.

Thank you, I couldn’t figure that out but wasn’t thinking of verb/ noun forms. Now you’ve explained that, it’s obvious why one is right and the other wrong.


Is the full sentence really from MNN? Sounds like you started a pilgrim towards Japan or something and still quite unnatural.

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The top sentence “ 日本へ日本語の勉強にきました” is. It’s an answer to one of the questions in chapter 13, 問題 section, question 5 - 4.

You need to complete the particles in that sentence correctly as へ/の/に. I just wanted to know why it was の rather than を.

I don’t make up the sentences, they are just used for teaching correct placement of particles, or correct form of verbs/ tenses. Try looking at any native language teaching book for equivalent to Japanese n5/n4 in any language, most if not all of the sentences are unnatural sounding because when you’re used to native content, you realise that native speakers and truly fluent speakers do not speak with textbook sentences.

Yeah, but this sentence is particularly bizarre to me… I would expect something like 日本へ行くために (if へ was truly required). I’m not even sure the version you wrote / grabbed from the book is grammatically correct…

EDIT: @Catdq Can you post a picture of the question and any surrounding context from the book?

Are you satisfied with fjordsalmon’s answer above for that or do you need more clarification?


Or – if coming to Japan was meant to help with studying Japanese – 日本語の勉強のため(に). I personally think the version with the する verb is more natural:

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I rarely see に being used with nouns alone to indicate purpose. Maybe I’ve just forgotten something…

EDIT: Nah, it seems it was just something I’d never learnt. The Meikyou Dictionary (明鏡国語辞典) confirms it as possible usage with kanji compounds of Chinese origin that refer to an action, like 勉強. Verb masu-stems aren’t the only possibility after all. My bad then. But yeah, so, you have to use の because in that sentence, 勉強 is acting as a noun, not a verb, so using を makes no sense.


I learned that it’s also acceptable to leave out the し-stem. For example:
But I think you need to differentiate between written and spoken language here. Sentence 1 is what you are required to write in the JLPT. Sentence 2 sounds significantly more natural in conversation though. So my spoken-Japanese/corrected version would be: 日本に日本語を勉強に来ました。

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I was satisfied with the original answer given but for clarification, here’s both the original question and the answer from みんなの日本語 初級1

For clarification, the answer only shows the particles in the order they should be in the sentence if it was filled out correctly.


No worries, I’m still very much a beginner so I’m just trying to learn what I can until I’m good enough to read more native level content so I can then start absorbing that to find natural grammar use and such.

My reason for using MNN is because I tried Japanese from Zero, Genki and Cure Dolly (among others) but none really helped me to internalize anything I was learning and I struggled with really simple stuff but I found immersion helped me immensely to the point I can now read and understand the gist if not the full meaning of n5 and lower n4 level stuff. I’m reviewing the first MNN book before going onto the second but this particle usage confused me because I had only seen it used with を and する/ します forms. I think I understand the usage now though. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I know spoken language can cut corners removing certain particles and word endings but had never seen の used in this kind of way before but then again, I’m still a beginner so there’s a lot I haven’t seen and don’t understand with Japanese. I think from the original reply, I now understand why it was の and not を that was to be used.

I’m just reviewing stuff I’ve previously studied but couldn’t figure out why my answer was incorrect with を, now I know so I’m unlikely to make that same mistake again.