N5 Grammar | How to Use を, the Object Particle

Welcome to another Japanese lesson for beginners! Let’s have a look at how to use を, the object particle.

The object of a sentence is the thing that “receives” the verb, or in other words, is the thing acted on by the subject.

The object is followed by the particle を.

This is romanised as wo, but the w is not pronounced. It sounds like pronouncing the letter O.

How to use を | Finding the Object

How to use を | Transitive & Intransitive Verbs

How to use を | Case Study With “to look at”

How to use を | FAQ’s

Japanese Object Particle

How to Use を | Finding the Object

An easy way to determine the object of a sentence is to ask, “what is the subject (verb)ing?”

Let’s have a look at these sentences:

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
私は宿題をしますわたしはしゅくだい をしますwatashi wa shukudai wo shimasuI will do homework
彼女は昼ご飯を作り ましたかのじょはひるごは んをつくりましたkanojo wa hirugohan wo tsukurimashitaShe made lunch

In these sentences, we can look at the verb and ask, “what is the verb acting on?”

Each of these things are marked with the particle を.

These verbs also have something in common. They are transitive verbs, meaning they are verbs that act on the object.

NOTE | There are also intransitive verbs, and they do not act on an object in a sentence.

A sentence with an intransitive verb will not have an object in it marked with を.

How to Use を | Transitive & Intransitive Verbs

Let’s look at these two verbs for an example:

始めるはじめるhajimeruTo begin, to start (something)
始まるはじまるhajimaru(something) begins, starts

The first verb, 始める, is transitive, so there can be a direct object marked with particle を in the sentence.

On the other hand, 始まる is intransitive. There will not be an object specified:

先生は授業を始めるせんせいはじゅぎょ うをはじめるsensei wa jugyou wo hajimeruThe teacher will start the class
授業は始まるじゅぎょうははじま るjugyou wa hajimaruThe class will begin

Many verbs will have a transitive and an intransitive form like this. Over time it will become easy to spot the patterns and the differences.

How to Use を | With the Verbs “To Look At” (Case Study)

Let’s put all of this into practice, and have a look at three versions of the verb “to look at/to face”:

Verb 1Verb 2Verb 3
向く向ける向かう
むくむけるむかう
mukumukerumukau
To turn toward, to faceTo point, aim To face
TRANSITIVETRANSITIVEINTRANSITIVE

The way each of these verbs behave is different, even though their meaning is roughly the same.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
X を向くX をむくX wo mukuTo look at/turn towards X
XをYに向けるXをYにむけるX wo Y ni mukeruTo turn X towards Y
XはYに向かうXはYにむかうX wa Y ni mukauX faces Y

The first two verbs are transitive, so they can have an object with を.

NOTE // However, X is still facing in a direction, and that direction can be marked with particle に.


The best way to learn how to use and remember which verbs act on objects, and what kind of objects they act on, is to learn words in their context.

After all, speaking a language is about stringing together words to create meanings, and it is important that those words are strung together properly in order for it to make sense.

Don’t just memorise words and meanings. Memorise short phrases and sentences too!

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Turning Adjectives into Nouns in Japanese
Turning Adjectives Into Nouns is Easy!

HOW TO USE を – FAQ’s

What is を?

を is the Japanese object particle.

This is romanised as wo, but the w is not pronounced. It sounds like pronouncing the letter O.

How to use を?

を is added at the end of an object when the sentence has a transitive verb (verbs that act on the object).

A sentence with an intransitive verb will not have an object in it marked with を.

Any sentence examples using を?

先生は授業を始める | The teacher will start the class.

X を向く | To look at X.

私は宿題をします | I will so homework.

What are some other Japanese particles?

Japanese has several important particles to learn about:

– The object particle を

– The subject particle が

– The possessive particle の

– Locations particles で, に, and へ

You’ll see more as you move forward in your language learning.

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