We all have a Japanese dictionary either in paper or on some smartphone app. But do you have a Japanese particle dictionary? That’s right! There is a dictionary that is just for all the Japanese particles! It’s called “A Kodansha Dictionary: A Dictionary of Japanese Particles” (ISBN: 4-7700-2352-9) by Sue A. Kawashima, a Japanese language lecturer at Hunter College in New York City.
I am sure you have tangled with the seemingly endless mess that is Japanese particles. Particles (or 助詞 pronounced じょし in Japanese) are a key part of Japanese grammar. They are the small words like と, だけ, は, まで, に, へ, が, etc… that are used to distinguish the parts of speech of words in Japanese sentences. They tell us who does an action, on what object they do that action, motion towards a place, a limit of time, and in some cases even convey emotion. This Japanese particle dictionary explains over 100 particles! Each particle meaning is followed by numerous example sentences and their translations.
Who knew something like this existed? I’m glad it does though! This dictionary can really get you out of a jam when you are trying to translate a sentence where you understand the words but an obscure particle usage is getting in the way of your full comprehension.
I really like how this book is designed for all levels of Japanese learners. The example sentences are easy enough that you can focus on understanding the meaning of the particle being discussed without having to worry about the surrounding words. However, the more advanced learners will enjoy the fact that this book is very inclusive, covering just about every particle you might encounter in modern Japanese, and explains different shades of meaning that a particle may have in various different situations.
The publisher, Kodansha, is also the publisher of the “Power Japanese” series such as the interesting “Communicating with Ki” by Jeff Garrison and Kayoko Kimiya which explores over 200 Japanese idioms which all utilize the word “ki” (気 meaning “spirit”). Combine your mastery of Japanese particles and Japanese “ki” idioms, and there’s no stopping you!
If you have any gems such as this book about oddly specific Japanese grammar points, please let me know in the comments.