The use of と

I understand that と means “with” and “and”. How can you tell the difference? Thank you in advance!

I’m sure someone will give a fuller response (if not, I can in about a day), but here’s a brief consideration:

と has an “inclusive” property about it.

If you say “I will have toast and butter,” that is inclusive of both items.

If you say “I will have toast with butter,” that is also inclusive of both items.

You will also find と can mean “if” in certain cases, and it also gets used for marking quotes.

(Had I more time, I’d provide actual Japanese sentence examples.)

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Hold on to your butts everyone Leebo is replying…


と means “and” in lists of nouns. パンとバター (bread and butter)
と means “with” in something like あなたといっしょに行く (go with you)

Those should be fairly easy to distinguish

Bread with butter, as in, the butter is spread on the bread, would not be と, I don’t think. I mean… it wouldn’t be misunderstood or anything. But I don’t think a Japanese person would come up with that phrasing.
バターをぬったパン or something, literally “buttered bread” would be the way to describe the final product.


Btw, the と particle can have more meanings than ‘with’ and ‘and’. You can’t really translate it in isolation, you have to look at the sentence context to understand what function it’s serving.
Here’s a couple of overviews:

I don’t want to overwhelm you with information, but it’s something to be aware of.


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