How do I use 上?

In the lessons, we learned the vocabulary word 上 which uses the kun reading "うえ”.
Another vocabulary word was 上る。
I’m confused as to when do we read it as うえ or のぼる。

わたしがやねに上りましょう。 -> Here it’s used as のぼり (not even のぼる)
I can go up to the roof.

上のひょうをみてください。-> Here it’s used as うえ
Please look at the chart above.

Can anyone explain the usages of these? :slight_smile:



You should pay a bit more attention to the grammatical nature of the words your learn!
上る is a a verb. In the example, its conjugated as 上りましょう (basically, the “let’s” form).
上 is a noun that can be used as adjective, too, like most nouns in japanese. Here, its used to say, literally, “the chart of above”.

There is plenty more to write about grammar, but that’s the big difference here.


Hey thanks so much. I haven’t learned about this type of conjugation yet so this makes sense now.

1 Like

Things change and morph to fit the context and desired emotional context of the statement being made in Japanese, at least from what I’ve learned thus far. “Look up” compared to “Up there” compared to “Up yours!” makes it something new to train my brain to understand as it’s all just ‘Up’ to me, but, it helps to be aware of it and see it as something fun about the language and grammar. IML7O of course.

1 Like

I like that these types of questions are asked (And answered) on these forums. Obviously forums are a great place to look for complex and advanced advice but it’s good to have basic things covered, this is the kind of thing I struggle with.


I think you can break it down further, ie the 上りpart of 上りましょう I think acts like a noun, ie “climbing”. Take 山登り (mountain climbing, pronounced やまのぼり、Japanese seems to have a thing where kun’yomi readings that are identical and have near identical meanings but different nuances have different kanji).

This is why it’s important to learn grammar and kanji at the same time, so you can see in context why they’re different. The の following the 上 in the second sentence is an attribution particle, so the ひょう I would assume is 表 and if you were reading the sentence with full kanji it would appear as 上の表 where the “above” is an attribution of the word that follows and makes it more clear that の is a particle, therefore meaning 上 is to be read as a standalone word (namely うえ).

Like if I said 机の上に、even if you don’t know the first word, the second you can read as うえ because you would know that に is a particle. Whereas if I said 山を上った、you would know that った is the plain past conjugation of a godan る verb and know it is read やまをのぼった。kanji alone is not enough.

Just a note that the particle used with のぼる (EDIT: for the meaning which the example in the OP asked about) is に, not を.

EDIT: added clarification based on the below conversation

@Leebo I think を is used to indicate “through” or “across” or “towards” or that kind of thing though, isn’t it? Like a transition marker? It’s literally one of the examples from my grammar textbook…

1 Like

Ah, yes, they don’t mean the same thing in that case, but true, it’s not impossible.

を would imply that you were walking up Mt. Fuji but maybe you didn’t go all the way to the top, just that you were moving up it at some point.

If you made it to the top, に expresses that.

EDIT: And personally, I would argue that that’s closer to what someone means in English when they say “I climbed Mt. Fuji.” Just walking a part of a mountain would be more like “I went mountain climbing on Mt. Fuji” or something, to me.


The phrase we used (jokingly) in my undergrad was “When in doubt, に it out.” It’s just so dang versatile.


The particle wasn’t even the example I was showing and since it is valid grammar I don’t see what the problem is? That it doesn’t have the exact meaning of a translation I didn’t supply because I was talking about recognising godan verb conjugation? I think the expression I want here is 針小棒大 haha.

It’s not… a problem or something. It’s just that を上る is not really the meaning that the 上る example in the question was about. It is grammatically accurate to use it for the other meaning, but since it changes things enough (you can’t insert it into the OP example) I just wanted to point it out.

Sorry for the oversimplified initial reply.


I was honestly more concerned that there was a tangible difference between the two 上る and 登る、but it did get me thinking as to why I subconsciously went with を over に (since I am aware of both particles and their different usages, but i dont think i was choosing carefully here and maybe I should have thought about it more). And being conscious of the grammar you’re using is probably not a bad thing, I’m not mad about being corrected or being made to clarify. If anything it just reinforces my original point; grammar matters.

Probably because in English the verb “to climb” takes on a direct object. It’s an easy enough mistake to make.

At no point did I think that 上る takes a direct object, nor was I using を to provide it one, as I showed with the above photo from my grammar study material. I probably automatically used を over に because I’ve read this sentence a lot reviewing my work, and didn’t think about the nuance of transition vs destination when writing a tiny grammatical example to explain something completely unrelated…

Haha my classmates and I have jokingly said this too.

Thanks for this discussion guys. A lot of interesting insight.

Sure, this example was probably just fresh in your mind. I wasn’t trying to undermine your skills btw, it’s just a probable explanation for a potential mixup (which is perfectly comprehensible!)

But saying that you used the particle を without intending to provide a direct object for the verb in question seems contradictory :wink:

The usage he was talking about isn’t a direct object marker.

1 Like

I see, I was completely wrong then :sweat_smile: Gives me something to look into tonight :blush: