N5 Grammar – Using を, から, and まで

Welcome everyone, this is Mac with another N5 Grammar Lesson from JLPT Boot Camp. Last episode, we learned how to talk about making changes and changes that happened. Today, we are going over some more of the key particles you need to know for the N5. We are going to look at a few, very short exchanges. Let’s give it a try.

Conversation 1 (0:23)

Yu is asking about Matt’s day. They are friends, so they will be speaking casually.

Yu:    きのう しごとは どうだった。
           Kinou     shigotowa   doudatta.
           How was work yesterday?

Matt: いそがしかった。でも、2に しごとを た。
             Isogashikatta.       Demo, nijini     shigotowo deta.
             (It) was busy. But, (I) left work at 2.

Breaking that down, Yu asks きのう, yesterday, しごと, work, は, the topic marking particle, どう, how, and finally だった, the casual past copula. All together, she is asking “how was work yesterday?”.

Matt responds with つまらなかった, was boring. In the next sentence, he continues でも, but, 2時, 2 o’clock, に, a particle used to mark a time or location, and finally 出た, past casual form of 出る, to leave or depart. So all together, he is saying “it was boring. But, (I) left work at 2”. Sounds nice!

So, you might think that the を particle is just for marking the object of a sentence. But, Matt used the を particle to mark where an action began. He departed work. The emphasis here is on the starting point. The rule to remember for this is that if you can make a sentence that doesn’t have ‘from’ in it, you can use を in this sense. For example, “I exited the building” (たてものを 出ました。) or “I left the house” (いえを 出ました。) are both sentences that can use the を particle, but “I traveled from Tokyo to Kyoto by train” is not.

Let’s give it a try. Can you say “(I) got off the train” in Japanese? “To get off” in polite Japanese is おりる.

電車でんしゃを おりました。
Denshawo orimashita.
(I) got off the train.

Good work!

Conversation 2 (2:45)

Let’s go back to Matt talking about his day.

Yu:    2に。それから なにを したの。
               Nijini.     Sorekara   naniwo  shitano.
              2 o’clock? After that, what did you do?

Matt:   こうえんの なかを あるいた。それから カフェに った。
               Kouenno     nakawo  aruita.        Sorekara     kafueni      itta.
              (I) walked through the park. After that, (I) went to the cafe

Breaking that down, Yu says 2時, 2 o’clock, に, a particle used to mark a time or location. Next sentence, she says それから, from then, 何, what, を, the object marking particle, した, the casual past form of する, and finally の, the casual question marking particle. All together, she says “2 o’clock? After that, what did you do?”.

Matt responds with こうえんの, park’s, 中, inside, を, the object marking particle, and あるいた, the casual past form of あるく, to walk. Next sentence, それから, after that, カフェ, cafe, に, a particle used to mark a location or time, and finally 行った, the past casual form of 行く, to go. All together, he is saying “(I) walked through the park. After that, (I) went to the cafe”.

Matt showed us another use of the particle を. We can use it to mark a space that something or someone moves through, across, in, on, or along usually on their way to somewhere else.

Let’s give this a try. Can you say “I crossed the bridge” in polite Japanese? The word “bridge” in Japanese is はし, and “to cross” is わたる.

わたしは はしを わたりました。
Watashiwa hashiwo watarimashita.
I crossed the bridge.

Exactly! You are traveling across the bridge, so we need the を particle.

Conversation 3 (5:08)

Yu is asking some questions about Matt’s day.

Yu:   あのちいさいカフェ。
                    Anochiisaikafue.
                   That small cafe?

Matt:        そう。コーヒーを んだ。
                    Sou.     Koohiiwo       nonda.
                   Yeah. (I) drank a coffee. 

Breaking that down, Yu says あの, that, 小さい, small, and finally カフェ, cafe. All together, she is saying “That small cafe?”. You might be wondering why she used あの. This is because she is referring to a place that both of them know about. Maybe they went there before, maybe they walked past it, or talked about it. In some way, they can both understand the specific cafe that is being talked about.

Matt responds with そう, that’s right. And then, コーヒー, coffee, を, the object marking particle, and finally 飲んだ, the past casual form of 飲む, to drink. All together, he is saying “That’s right. (I) drank a coffee”. Seems like he had a relaxing afternoon.

In this last conversation, Matt used the most common and simplest use of the を particle – to mark the object of the sentence. There isn’t a lot you need to remember about this. It just simply marks the object. Let’s give it a quick try. Can you say “(I) saw a movie”. “Movie” in Japanese is えいが.

えいがを ました。
Ookikunarimashita.
(It) became big.

Exactly! The を particle marks the object, movie.

Conversation 4 (7:05)

And now, Matt wants to know about Yu.

Yu:   あなたは。
                    Anatawa.
                   (And) you?

Matt:        2時から 9時まで ペットショップで はたらいていたよ。
                    Nijikara    kyuujimade  pettoshoppude          hataraiteitayo.
                   (I) worked at the pet shop from 2 till 9. 

Breaking that down, Matt says あなた, you, and は, the topic marking particle, so he is basically asking “and you?”.

Yu responds with 2時, 2 o’clock, から, from, 9時, 9 o’clock, まで, until, ペットショップ, pet shop, で, particle used to mark where an action takes place, はたらいていた, past continuous casual form of はたらく, to work, and finally よ, a particle used for extra emphasis. All together, she is saying “from 2 until 9, (I) was working at the pet shop”.

Yu was using から to mark the starting point of her work shift and まで to mark the ending point of her work shift. Both of these particles can be used for time, places or amounts and emphasize movement between two different points.

Let’s give it a try with two examples. Can you say “(I) ran from school to home” in polite Japanese? Remember that “to run” in Japanese is はしる.

学校がっこうから いえまで はしりました。
Gakkoukara iemade     hashirimashita.
(I) ran from school to home.

That’s right. In this sentence we are emphasizing the movement from the school to the house, so から and まで are the most natural.

How about one more. Can you say “(I) read until page 54” in polite Japanese?

54ページまで みました。
Gojuyonpeejimade yomimashita.
(I) read until page 54.

Great! Now, you might be wondering if this includes page 54 or not. And, at least for the test, it does. Depending on who you ask, the word ‘until’ in English may or may not include the end point mentioned, but in Japanese it does.

Conversation 5 (9:43)

Let’s go back to Matt and Yu one last time.

Yu:   いまから、どこへ 行くの。
                    Imakara, dokohe  ikuno.
                   From now, where are (you) going?

Matt:        としょかんへ 行く。
                    Toshokanhe       iku.
                   (I’m) going to the library.

Yu:   べんきょうを するの。
                    Benkyouwo       suruno.
                   Are (you) studying?

Matt:        そうだよ。
                    Soudayo.
                   Yeah, that’s right. 

Yu:   じゃまた、がんばってね。
                    Jyamata, ganbattene.
                   Well, good luck.

Breaking that down, 今, now, どこ, where, に, a particle used to mark a location or time, 行く, go, and finally の, the casual question marker. She is asking “now, where are going?”.

Matt responds with としょかん, library, へ, toward, and finally 行く, go. All together he is saying “(I) am heading to the library”.

Yu responds with べんきょうをする, studying, and finally の, the casual question marking particle. All together she is asking “(are you) studying?”.

Matt responds with は~い, yes.

And Yu says じゃまた, later, がんばって, good luck / do your best, and finally ね, a particle used to request confirmation. So all together, she is saying “later, do your best, yeah?”.

Matt was using the へ particle, which is very similar to the に particle which can mark a location someone is moving toward. The difference is that the へ particle emphasizes the direction of movement more. It’s commonly used with directions like 右 (right), 左 (left) or 北 (north), 南 (south).

Let’s give it a quick try. Can you say “I walked toward the park” in polite Japanese?

わたしは こうえんへ あるきました。
Watashiwa  kouenhe      arukimashita.
I walked to the park.

Exactly! Pretty simple really.

You ready for a pop quiz? I’ll give you the English, can you translate it into Japanese?

Pop Quiz (12:05)

Can you tell me the following in Japanese?

I ate a sandwich. 

A quick hint – sandwich in Japanese is サンドイッチ.

Answer:

わたしは サンドイッチを べました。
Watashiwa    sandoicchiwo    tabemashita.

For “I ate a sandwich”, we would say “わたしは サンドイッチを 食べました” in polite Japanese. Going over that quickly, わたし, I, は, the topic marking particle, サンドイッチ, sandwich, を, the object marking particle, and finally 食べました, the past polite form of 食べる, to eat.

He is swimming through the pool.

Answer:

かれは プールを およいでいます。
Karewas puuruwo     oyoideimasu.

For “he is swimming through the pool”, we would say “かれは プールを およいでいます” in polite Japanese. Going over that quickly, かれ, he, は, the topic marking particle, プール, pool, を, the object marking particle, and finally およいでいます, is swimming.

He left the restaurant at 8.

Answer:

かれは 8に そのレストランを ました。
Karewa  hachijini  sonoresutoranwo      demashita.

For “he left the restaurant at 8”, we would say “かれは 8時に そのレストランを 出ました” in polite Japanese. Going over that quickly, かれ, he, は, the topic marking particle, 8時, 8 o’clock, に, a particle to mark a time or location, その, that or the, レストラン, restaurant, を, the object marking particle, and finally 出ました, the past polite form of 出る, to exit or depart.

The movie starts from 8.

A quick hint – to start in Japanese is はじまる.

Answer:

そのえいがは 8から はじまります。
Sonoeigawa      hachijikara hajimarimasu.

For “the movie starts from 8”, we would say “そのえいがは 8時から はじまります” in polite Japanese. Going over that quickly, その, that or the, えいが, movie, は, the topic marking particle, 8時, 8 o’clock, から, from, はじまります, the polite non-past form of はじまる, to start.

(I) rode the train until Osaka Station.

A quick hint – to ride in Japanese is のる.

Answer:

大阪駅おおさかえきまで 電車でんしゃに のりました。
Oosakaekimade denshani norimashita.

For “(I) rode the train until Osaka Station”, we would say “大阪駅まで 電車を のりました” in polite Japanese. Going over that quickly, 大阪駅, Osaka station, まで, until, 電車, train, を, the object marking particle, and finally のりました, the polite past form of のる, to ride.

And last one,

(I) went / headed right.

Answer:

みぎへ きました。
Migihe ikimashita.

For “(I) went / headed right”, we would say “右へ 行きました” in polite Japanese. Going over that, 右, right, へ, toward or to, 行きました, the polite past form of 行く, to go.

Review

Today, we went over the 3 main uses of the を particle – it can mark the object of the sentence, a starting point for an action, and a place that is being traveled through, along, over, or across.

We also talked about から, which also marks a starting point, but emphasizes that there is a starting and ending point. The ending point is usually marked with まで. In English, these can be translated as ‘from’ and ‘until’.

Finally, we talked about the へ particle, which can usually be used interchangeably with the に particle. But, there is more of an emphasis on the direction of movement.

That’s it for this episode. For notes and more practice with the grammar point, stop by the JLPT Boot Camp courses site. There you can find quizzes, study guides for this grammar point and every grammar point covered in the videos. You can also get all of your questions answered you might have. Just leave me a comment, and I’ll get back to you.

Cover of the JLPT N5 Study GuideThe JLPT Study Guide for the N5 is now available at Amazon. Packed with exercises to help you master all the grammar points needed for the test, this is a must have study guide for anyone preparing for the N5. It also has reading and listening strategies and practice exercises so you can hone those skills before the exam. Once you’ve finished the book, there are 3 practice tests to check your level and 100s of audio flashcards you can use anywhere to review what you learned.

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