:Home/Japanese Grammar/Possession and Position using the Japanese Grammar Particle NO (の)

Learn Japanese Grammar – The Japanese Particle NO (の)

Japanese Particle NO

The Japanese Particle NO (の) is used to indicate possession, and to link nouns together into a hierarchy.  For example, I will show you how to say “Keiko’s dog” in Japanese.  If you think about those two words for a minute, you will notice that “Keiko” and “dog” are both nouns.  In English, we use an apostrophe to show that the dog belongs to Keiko. The Japanese particle の will generally accomplish the same thing, as I will show you below!

The Particle NO (の) to indicate possession:

Example Sound  
けいこさん いぬ
Keiko-san no inu
Keiko‘s dog
Keiko no inu keikosan no inu  
boku no ashi
my leg
Boku no ashi boku no ashi  
I want to start off by really stressing that shows us the relationship between two nouns.  Some textbooks refer to it as a “modifier” because the first noun modifies the second noun, giving us more detail.  In our last two examples, we are describing who owns the “dog” and the “leg”.  Possession is only one form of noun modification though.  It can also show us what an object is made of, where it’s from, etc.  OMG, things are getting crazy now – right?  I will be referring to this as a “hierarchy of information”.  

The Particle NO (の) can express a hierarchy of information.

I want to show you how something can belong to a category or type rather than a person.  Start with the broad side of the scope and narrow in to the detail.

General noun      Specific noun

Let’s use a country as our category/type to describe something or someone:

Example Sound  
Nihon no Kuruma
A Japanese car
Nihon no kuruma nihon no kuruma  
カナダ だいがくせい
Canada no daigakusei
A Canadian university student
Canada no daigakusei Canada no daigakusei  
This isn’t any different than what we did to indicate possession in our first section.  Remember “Keiko no inu”?  Keiko was the general noun and “inu” was the specific noun.  It’s the same idea!  Another way we can use this “general” to “specific” relationship is with position.  Let’s talk about that next!

The Particle NO (の) indicates a relative position:

The Particle NO (の) can be used to indicate where something is in relation to something else.  Let’s demonstrate these with real examples!

Hiragana + Romaji English Example Sound
no shita


isu no shita
Under the chair)


 isu no shita isu no shita
no ue
-on top of-  


tsukue no ue
on top of
the desk


 tsukue no ue tsukue no ue
no migi
-on the right of-  


わたしの みぎ
watashi no migi
to my right


watashi no migi watashi no migi
no mae
-in front of-  


うまの まえ
uma no mae
in front of
the horse


uma no mae uma no mae
no naka
-inside of-  


はこの なか
hako no naka
inside of
the box


hako no naka hako no naka
no saki
-ahead of / past-  


しんごうの さき
shingou no saki
past the traffic light


shingou no saki shingou no saki
no ushiro


がっこうの うしろ
Gakkou no ushiro
behind the school


Gakkou no ushiro Gakkou no ushiro
no chikaku


えきの ちかく
eki no chikaku
close to
the station


eki no chikaku eki no chikaku
no mukou
-the other side of-  


はしの むこう
hashi no mukou
on the other side
of the bridge


hashi no mukou hashi no mukou
A to B no aida
-between A and B  


ぎんこうと びょういんの あいだ
ginkou to byouin no aida
between the bank and the hospital


ginkou to byouin no aida ginkou to byouin no aida
We can practice の in a real Japanese conversation via Skype.  Book a lesson with me today:
How to Build a basic Japanese sentence with WA and DESU Japanese KSAD Pattern
How to Build a basic Japanese sentence with WA and DESU Japanese Grammar Index Japanese KSAD Pattern