Japanese Grammar Research: Particles: の “no” Nominalization

For a detailed Japanese grammar update today, I’ve been working through All About Particles by Naoko Chino for the second time, taking notes about Japanese particles.

japanese grammar particles study practice
Taking notes from All About Particles

てにをは tenioha (Japanese particles) are the super important glue of Japanese sentence structure that point out the “who’s doing what” or “what’s being done”. These have the ability to completely change the meaning of a sentence, even though they’re typically only a syllable or two long.

Japanese particles are rules-aplenty, as each particle can have a number of different uses depending on your scenario. While I’m focusing on teaching you heroes the basics, every other resource I come across seems to have additional information about each particle, and research can snowball quickly. Like a new rule or two that you or I MAY have used before in speaking Japanese, but have never thought of the actual “why” or specified a rule behind it.

One such example is the Japanese particle の no, and realizing what the word “nominalization” meant.

The Japanese Nominalizer, の no

We use the HECK out of the particle の no all over in Japanese. Three quick and completely random の no uses that pop into my head are:

  • It indicates possession:
    ケンけん (ken no ken)
    = Ken’s sword
  • It indicates position or location:
    むらなか宿屋やどやがある (mura no naka ni yadoya ga aru)
    = There is an inn inside the village.
  • It indicates questions in a softer way than the more common question-marking particle, か ka:
    本当ほんとうたたか? (hontou ni tatakau no?)
    = You’re really going to fight?

As language learners, we memorize patterns. Sometimes we don’t understand HOW the pattern works, we just know THAT it works, which is 100% acceptable. Half the time, in my book, I’ll probably ask you heroes to just memorize things, and MAYBE I’ll explain myself if I think it’ll help you out.

Which brings me to my HOW for の no. To say “I like *○○” in Japanese, for example, “I like playing games”, I was taught to use
「ゲームするのがきです。」
= gēmu suru no ga suki desu.

*Random tidbit: 「○○」 (maru maru) equates to our English “blank”.

I knew the THAT part, but only until recently did I discover that by using の no, I was taking another part of speech (the verb) and converting it to a noun, and that’s called nominalization. Similar to how we, in English, put an “-ing” at the back of our verbs to say “I like playING games” (correct), rather than “I like play games” (incorrect).

And now for an in-game example of nominalization at work.

megaman x command mission japanese language
Marino from MegaMan X Command Mission

「おたからをいただくがお仕事しごとなのさ」
= otakara o itadaku no ga oshigoto nano sa
= Obtaining treasure is my job.

Again, knowing the HOW is not always important if you can still form sentences in an efficient, easy-to-remember way. But this is just one grammar aspect of Japanese that I found to be interesting during my research.

And I hope now, when you’re making your own sentences, you imagine Marino telling Cinnamon she likes “obtainING treasure” with the nominalizing powers of no.

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