Object marker を o

8 December 2018 by wolfganghofmeier

Level: A1

The use of the object marker o is quite straightforward. It makes this part of grammar much easier than European accusative case endings or the rigid position of direct objects in English or Chinese sentences.


The cat sees the dog. .. Neko wa inu o mimasu. .. 猫は犬を見ます。


を follows 犬, so 犬 must be the direct object.


The cat gives the dog the ball. .. Neko wa inu ni bōru o ataemasu. .. 猫は犬にボールを与えます。


In this case, を follows ボール, so ボール must be the direct object.


犬 is followed by another marker or postposition, namely ボ, which makes 犬 the indirect object.


In English, the indirect object must come before the direct object because English does not have markers like Japanese or case endings like other European language. In English it is the position in the sentence that tells us which is the direct and which is the indirect object.


Let’s review of few other sentences containing the object marker を.


1) A coffee, please. .. Kō`hī o kudasai`. .. コーヒーをください。

ください is usually translated with please, but it actually means give me, so the sentence literally translates as: coffee give me, so coffee is obviously the object.

2) The cow eats grass. .. Ushi wa kusa o tabemasu. .. 牛は草食べます。

草 is the object.

3) I love to drink green tea. .. Ryoku cha o nomu no ga dai suki desu. .. 緑茶飲むのが大好きです。

Literally: green tea drinking loving it is


Unlike in English, an object can be put anywhere in the sentence because the object marker tells us what its grammatical function is.


4) I give money to the beggar. .. Kojiki ni okane o watashimasu. .. 乞食お金渡します。


The indirect object marker and the direct object marker have been highlighted.


乞食 is the indirect object, お金 is the direct object.


In this English translation, the preposition to is used to mark the indirect object. An alternate English translation would be: I give the beggar money. Now the word order tells us that beggar is the indirect object, money the direct object.


5 The speaker occasionally referred to his notes. .. Kōen-sha wa tokiori memo o sanshō shita. .. 講演者時折メモ参照した。


The topic marker and the object marker are in bold print. The object メモ is clear enough. memo is an English loan word and is written in katakana. In English, the speaker is the subject of the sentence, but in Japanese a topic marker is used which theoretically means that the speaker is grammatically detached from the sentence: The speaker, occasionally to the notes it is referred. However, this isn’t very convincing, one probably has to be Japanese to really understand the use of the topic marker and the subject marker .


Finally, note that is sometimes transcribed as wo. However, as an object marker it is always pronounced o.

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