N5 Grammar | How to Use の, the Possessive Particle

Welcome to this quick fire lesson on how to use の, the Japanese possessive particle.

Its usage is very simple and you’ll master it in no time.

The Japanese language uses several particles you need to learn in the early stages of your language learning journey, such as:

Check out our Introduction to Japanese Particles to get an overview of the 15 most important particles for beginners.

How to use の | Basic structure

How to use の | Describing a noun

How to use の | With other particles

How to use の | FAQ’s

Japanese Possessive Particle

How to use の | Basic Structure

When particle の (no) is added to a noun, it creates a relationship between those two nouns.

の (no) is the particle used to indicate ownership or association.

We add the particle の to show the possession of something. It is like adding ‘s to the end of a word, or saying his/her/their.

Let’s see some examples:

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
彼の帽子かれのぼうしkare no boushiHis hat
犬の毛いぬのけinu no keDog’s fur
だれの本ですかだれのほんですかdare no hon desukaWhose book is it?

Sometimes, the second noun (the “possessed” noun) can be omitted if it has already been established within the context. In response to that last sentence, for example, someone could say:

彼のですかれのですkare no desuit is his

It would be implied from the context that the speaker is talking about the book.

At other times, the “possessed” item might be stated in the sentence, but not directly attached to its “possessor”, like this:

この車は私のです。このくるまはわたし のです。kono kuruma wa watashi no desu.This car is mine.

How to use の | To describe a noun

The particle の does not always indicate possession.

In some instances, の can translate roughly to “of” or “from”, or can simply be describing the noun that comes next.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
イタリアの車いたりあのくるまitaria no kurumaAn Italian car (a car from Italy)
英語の勉強えいごのべんきょうeigo no benkyouThe study of English
金の時計きんのとけいkin no tokeiA golden watch
科学の授業かがくのじゅぎょうkagaku no jugyouScience class

And it can also be used to rename a noun.

友だちのエリンさんともだちのえりんさ んtomodachi no erin sanMy friend Erin

This example isn’t stating possession or that something is of, from, or about something. It is giving a name to the previously stated noun. This is similar to the appositive in English.

How to use の | With other particles

の can also be attached to certain other particles.

It has the same effect of describing the noun that comes after it.

社長との会話しゃちょうとのかい わshachou to no kaiwaa conversation with the manager

The meaning of particle と is unchanged; it still means “with” here in this context.

By adding particle の, we are able to describe the noun that comes next. Without this particle の to bind them, it would translate as, “a manager and a conversation,” not, “a conversation with the manager.”

It can be used like this with particle へ and で as well.

北へのバスきたへのばすkita he no basuthe bus going north
学校での会議がっこうでのかいぎgakkou de no kaigithe assembly at school

へ is showing direction, and で is showing the place where and action occurs, and by adding の, the phrase turns into a noun modifier that describes the thing that comes next.

There is no limit to how many modifiers we can chain together:

私の母の友だちの姉の夫わたしのははのともだちのあねのおっとwatashi no haha no tomodachi no ane no ottoMy mother’s friend’s sister’s husband

It is important though to remember that each の is acting to modify the next thing that comes after it.

Ultimately, it is the final noun in the chain that we are talking about.

In the above example, it is the husband. We are just describing which husband it is (my mother’s friend’s sister’s).


Here you go! That was easy, wasn’t it?

Feel free to use the comments section to practice and write your own sentences with the の particle.

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Turning Adjectives into Nouns in Japanese

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is の?

の is a possessive particle used in the Japanese language.

How to use の?

の is used to connect to nouns.

Noun + の + noun

Any sentence examples with の?

彼の帽子 | His hat

犬の毛 | Dog’s fur

だれの本ですか | Whose book is this?

What are the Japanese subject and object particles?

The Japanese subject particle is が, and object particle を.

You can learn more about each of them in our Japanese Grammar Bank.

Where can I have a look at ALL of the Japanese particles?

Check out our Introduction to Japanese Particles to get an overview of the 15 most important particles for beginners.

Where to study Japanese?

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