All About Particles

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General Information

All About Particles: A Handbook of Japanee Function Words is a reference book by Naoko Chino, and is published by Kodansha. The ISBN is 4-7700-2781-8, and the cover price (in the United States) is $16.00.

Words From the Book

Back Cover

Light enough to carry around, slim enough to fit into the corner of a shoulder bag, concise enough to take one quickly to the crux of the matter. The perfect reference for beginning to intermediate students.

Front Flap

All students of Japanese, whether they have studied physics or not, know the word “particle,” and they realize that particles, like English propositions, require a special effort to master. Thus the high evaluation of the previous edition of this small handbook, which provides all the information students need in a scant 149 pages, is not surprising.

All About Particles covers over 70 particles, the most common ones along with the less frequent. They are shown to have some 800 usages — sufficient to keep most students hard at work for a good many years. The book can be approached as a textbook and studied religiously from the beginning to the end. It is as a reference book, however, that All About Particles shines: light enough to carry around, slim enough to fit into the corner of a shoulder bag, concise enough to take one quickly to the crux of the matter, combining the best of several worlds and priced to be affordable.

No wonder, then, that All About Particles, in its previous incarnation as part of the Power Japanese series, sold over 40,000 copies worldwide. Wherever students of Japanese congregate, there is bound to be a copy of All About Particles around.

My Thoughts

Whenever I encounter a particle I’m unsure of, or one I’ve never seen before, I know I can easily locate it within All About Particles. The index, barely more than three pages, lists both Japanese particles and related English grammar terms (such as “potential form of verbs”) in English alphabetic order, grouping terms together by the first letter of the word. Each item in the index includes the number for all pages the word is talked about on, putting the numbers in bold if those pages contain an entry on the word or topic (rather than a mention).

The book’s size and weight are small enough to carry around, and the text size is large enough to be comfortably readable, without being too large or too small.

Both kana and romaji are used, making the book accessible to anyone still learning kana who wants to also start learning particles by reading sample sentences.

If you’re trying to learn many particles, Sue A. Kawashima’s A Dictionary of Japanese Particles may be better suited. For a general reference, I continually turn to All About Particles. Neither book is a replacement for the other, but All About Particles should have a wider general use due to being designed for reference.