Combining two particles
This is a sample lesson that comes from Phase One, Unit 158. Click here to see the lesson on NativShark.
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We cover a lot of particles in our Phase One lessons. We learn the differences between は and が, and between に and で. We see how の can be used in questions, in feminine language, and when forming noun phrases. We see how から can mean both because and from, how まで can mean “(up) to” or “until.” We cover the use of reported speech with と, か, and も. The list goes on…
Even with all of that, however, we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to learning particles, which are a vital element of Japanese sentences.
In short, getting a deep, intuitive understanding of all the particles in the Japanese language will take time. As long as we keep learning them bit by bit, we’ll get there eventually.
Particles can, at times, appear next to each other. For example, に and は can appear together as には; の and が can appear together as のが; and so on.
We cannot fit all of the variations in nuances and usage rules for two-particle combos in a single lesson. As such, we’ll just be looking at a handful of common two-particle combos that you will certainly encounter in your studies.
Adding は after particles
To start, let's take a look at the combo には in the following sentence:
By saying には instead of just に, the speaker is hinting that she will tell people other than Chris.
Inserting は can add this nuance because は is commonly used to show contrast between things. The speaker is contrasting the fact that she won’t tell Chris with the (unspoken) fact that they’ll tell other people.
In English, a similar effect can be achieved with word stress: “I’m not gonna tell you.”
Here is an example with で and は appearing together as では:
らしい, the meaning of which is expressed with the word “apparently” in the English translation, is a “hearsay marker.” It is used when reporting information that was obtained from somewhere else. らしい is examined in more depth in Phase Two.
We could say this sentence without the second は:
By including the は, however, and saying では instead, we are giving off the nuance that the band is perhaps not popular here. That is, we are contrasting the popularity of the band abroad with the popularity of the band here.
If the band is popular here, and we want to express that it’s also popular abroad, then we would put も after で, saying でも：
Although でも is usually learned as a set meaning also, too, even, and so on, it can also be thought of as a combination of the particles で and も, like in the above example.
Using particles after の
Since の can appear at the end of noun phrases — and since particles typically come after nouns — it makes sense that の appears at the front of several two-particle combos.
For example, in the following sentence, の is coming at the end of a noun phrase meaning “the cheapest one.” Since this noun phrase is being offered up as the topic of the conversation, it is followed by は, thus forming the double-particle combo のは：
In an awkward, semi-literal translation of the above sentence, we could say, “As for the cheapest one, which is it?”
In the sentence below, “eating sushi” is a noun phrase ending in の. Since this is being pointed out as a thing that the speaker likes (to do), it is being followed by が, thus forming the particle combo のが：
In a more casual setting, there is a good chance that 私は, as well as the particles を and が, would be dropped in the above sentence.
Using は, が, and も in Particle Combos
When は, が, and も appear in a two-particle combo, they will typically be the second of the two particles.
に, で, and の, on the other hand, will often be the first particle in whatever particle-combo they appear in.
Some common combos:
These are not “rules,” so to speak. For example, に and で sometimes come after の, giving us のに and ので, both of which are examined in Phase Two lessons.
As I said earlier in the lesson, we won’t be able to use every possible two-particle combination overnight. Let’s take our time getting used to them and develop our ability to insert them into our own sentences gradually.
Finally, to end our lesson, let’s look at one more example with には:
…and one more example with では: