Monday, September 2, 2019

と Particle

WIP : this article is incomplete and might change in the unforeseeable future.

In Japanese, the to と particle has various functions.

Parallel Marker

The to と particle is a parallel marker that translates to "and" in English. Basically, if you have a noun or noun phrase, to can combine it with another noun or noun phrase by putting to と between them.

  • neko to inu

    Cats and dogs.
  • koumori no hane to hebi no o
    Wing of a bat and tail of a snake.
  • kakko-ii oujisama to kirei na ohimesama
    A cool prince and a pretty princess.
  • semeru-gawa to mamoru-gawa
    The attacking-side and the defending-side.
  • {benkyou suru} seito to {benkyou shinai} seito
    Students [that] {study} and students [that] {don't study}.
  • ao-oni to aka-oni
    The blue oni and the red oni.
  • Ookami to Koushinryou
    Wolf and Spice.
    (official title: Spice and Wolf.)
  • Kimi to Boku.
    You and I.

When you have nouns qualified by relative clauses in parallel, an argument of the second clause can be omitted if it's recoverable from the first clause. Observe:

  • {manga wo yomu} hito to {yomanai} hito
    People [who] {read manga} and people [who] {don't read [manga]}.

In the sentence above, the first relative clause, manga wo yomu, contains the direct object manga, but the second clause, yomanai, omits the direct object argument.

The same thing happens with other arguments. For example, in the relativized double-subject constructions below, the small subject is omitted in the second relative clause.

  • {yuurei ga mieru} hito to {mienai} hito
    People [who] {can see ghosts} and people [who] {can't see [ghosts]}.
    • sono hito wa yuurei ga mienai
      About that person: ghosts aren't see-able.
      That person can't see ghosts.
  • {okane no aru} hito to {nai} hito
    People [who] {have money} and people [who] {don't have [money]}.

An important note: although it translates to "and" in English, the parallel marker isn't the same thing as the English word "and." All it does is join two or more things—well, nouns and noun phrases, specifically—in a list.

For example, if you have three items, you would join them using two to と particles, but in English you would only use "and" once.

  • aka to midori to ao

    Red, green, and blue.
  • Baka to Tesuto to Shoukanjuu
    Idiots, Tests, and Summoned Beasts.

The to と particle isn't the only parallel marker. There are particles that translate to "and," but that are used in different situations.

  • erufu ya dowaafu
    Elves and dwarfs, and things like that. (fantasy creatures.)
    • ya や lists things non-exhaustively, meaning it lists the main examples of what you're talking about, and it's implied you haven't included everything. The to と particle, by contrasts, is exhaustive.

It also doesn't match the function of the conjunctive "and" in English. This one usually translates from the te-form of verbs.

  • pan wo katte taberu
    To buy bread, and eat it.
    To buy and eat bread.

The main function of the parallel marker is to create a bigger noun out of two or more smaller nouns. That's simply because you can't mark two nouns in a single clause with the same case, or, less exactly: with the same particle.

For example, you can't mark two different nouns in a single clause with the wo を particle, which marks the accusative case (direct object).

  • banana wo taberu
    To eat a banana.
  • ringo wo taberu
    To eat an apple.
  • *banana wo ringo wo taberu
    (this is ungrammatical.)
  • {banana to ringo} wo taberu
    To eat {a banana and an apple}.
    • {ringo to banana} wo - a {noun phrase} marked with the accusative case.

Another example:

  • {ken to tate} wo motte tatakau
    To hold {a sword and a shield}, and fight.
  • {shujinkou to hiroin} ga sekai wo sukuu
    {The main-character and the heroine} save the world.

Noun phrases formed through parallelism, just like any other noun phrase, can become adjectives if they're marked by the no の particle. (see: no-adjectives.)

  • {umi to sora} no iro
    The color of {the sea and the sky}.
    • {umi to sora} no - a genitivized {noun phrase}.

Since no-adjectives qualifying nouns form noun phrases, sometimes it's ambiguous whether the parallel phrase is genitivized or if one of the parallel noun phrases contain a genitivization.

  • {Tarou to Hanako} no musuko
    The son of {Tarou and Hanako}.
  • Tarou to {Hanako no musuko}

    Tarou and {the son of Hanako}.
    Tarou and {Hanako's son}.

The phrase above can be interpreted in two different ways. Depending on context, only one will make sense.

When a parallel phrase is genitivized, you can end up with a "between" instead of "of" in the translation.

  • {Ten to Chi} no sa
    The distance of {Heaven and Earth}.
    A distance between {Heaven and Earth}.
  • {ningen to akuma} no keiyaku
    A contract between {a human and a demon}.
  • {kudamono to yasai} no chigai
    The difference between {fruits and vegetables}.

Comitative Case Marker

The to と particle marks the comitative case, which is "with" whom you're doing something.

  • Tarou ga Hanako to asobu
    Tarou plays with Hanako.

Once again, the to と particle doesn't mean "with." It just happens to translate to "with" when it marks with whom you're doing something. One confusing case, for example, is that the de で particle marks the instrumental case: "with" what you do something.

  • Tarou ga geemu de asobu
    Tarou plays with a game.

Generally speaking, to と marks people and animals, since doing something "with" someone means the noun marked must have agency of its own to collaborate in the action. Meanwhile, de で marks inanimate things, instruments, tools, and so on.

More specifically, this function is closely related to the parallel marking function. There are various verbs that can be said as "A and B do something" and "A does something with B." For example:

  1. {Tarou to Hanako} ga hanshite-iru
    {Tarou and Hanako} are talking.
  2. Tarou ga Hanako to hanashite-iru
    Tarou is talking with Hanako.

Above, we have the "talking" action. When someone talks, there has to be someone to listen to them talking, someone whom they talk with, so it's a two-person action. Hence, the comitative case can be used: it means someone is accompanying the subject in a given action.

Note however, that the example 1 can be interpreted in two different ways:

  1. Deep-case marking.
    Tarou and Hanako are talking "with" each other.
  2. Parallel marking.
    Tarou and Hanako are talking.

In the first case, example 2 and example 1 mean the same thing. Since the noun phrase marked as the subject effectively has the same meaning as the comitative case marker, it's like if the to と inside Tarou to Hanako acted as the comitative case marker instead.

In the second case, we're simply applying a predicate (are talking) to a subject (Tarou and Hanako) which constitute of two people in parallel: Tarou, and Hanako. In other words: Tarou is talking, and Hanako is talking, too. But they aren't necessarily talking to each other.

  • {Tarou to Hanako} ga asonde-iru
    {Tarou and Hanako} are playing. Are having fun.

Likewise, the sentence above can mean that Tarou and Hanako are having fun together, or that they're having fun separately, in parallel.

So the comitative case can end up inside the subject noun phrase.

  • AがBとV
    A does V with by B. (comitative case.)
  • AとBがV
    A with B do V, together. (deep-case.)
    A and B do V, in parallel. (parallel marker.)

The opposite, however, is invalid: we can't take a sentence that has A and B in parallel and mark B with the comitative case instead. For example(Kotani, 2001, pp. 228-229):

  • {Tarou to Hanako} ga wakai
    {Tarou and Hanako} are young.
  • *Tarou ga Hanako to wakai
    *Tarou is young with Hanako. (???)

Similarly, you can end up with a sentence that's grammatical but doesn't make sense:

  • Tarou wa {{Amerika to Kanada} ni itta} koto aru
    Tarou has {gone to {American and Canada}} before.
  • ?Tarou wa {Amerika ga Kanada to itta} koto aru
    Tarou has {America went with Canada} before. (what?)
  • {Tarou ga Hanako to itta} kuni
    The country [that] {Tarou went with Hanako}. (now this does make sense.)

It's also possible for the comitative case marker to mark a noun phrase containing the parallel marker.

  • Tarou ga Hanako to eiga wo mi ni itta
    Tarou went see the movie with Hanako.
  • boku ga {papa to mama} to eiga wo mi ni itta
    I went see the movie with {[my] dad and [my] mom}.

Although the comitative case means "with," it doesn't necessarily mean "together with" in the allied sense. It simply means one agent accompanies another agent (the subject) in an action. For example:

  • Chikyuujin to Kaseijin ga tatakatte-iru
    Earthlings and Martians are fighting with each other.
    Earthlings and Martians are fighting against each other.
  • Chikyuujin ga Kaseijin to tatakatte-iru
    Earthlings are fighting with Martians.
    Earthlings are fighting against Martians.

In the sentences above, the verb tatakau takes a to と marked adversary: with whom you're fighting, in the sense of AGAINST whom you're fighting.

With verbs like these, the construction to issho ni と一緒に is used to say "together with" instead.

  • Chikyuujin ga {Kaseijin to issho ni} Mokuseijin to tatakau
    Earthlings, {together with Martians}, fight with Jupiterians.
    Earthlings {and Martians} fight against Jupiterians.

Another example:

  • shujinkou ga furyou to kenka suru
    The main-character fight against a delinquent. (they're enemies.)
  • shujinkou ga {furyou to issho ni} kenka suru
    The main-character, {together with a delinquent}, fights. (they're allies.)

This word, issho 一緒, is nothing more than a noun meaning "one group" or something like that. However, it's used with a lot of grammar to give it the "together" meaning.

  • Hanako wa kareshi to issho datta
    Hanako was together with her boyfriend.
    • datta - past predicative copula.
  • Hanako wa {kareshi to issho ni} eiga wo mita
    Hanako, {together with [her] boyfriend}, saw a movie.
  • ore wo {Kaseijin to issho ni} suru na!
    Don't make me "{together with Martians}"!
    Don't put me in the same group as Martians!
    Don't take me for the same as a Martian!
    • Used when a character compares the speaker to someone they don't like, specially by a bad feature. For example:
    • Tarou's grades are horrible, but maybe you should study a bit more too.
    • What?! Don't put me in the same group as Tarou! My grades are just fine!

Not all verbs that take the comitative to と in Japanese translate to "with" in English. Specially not polysemous verbs. For example:

  • {Tarou to Hanako} ga tsuki-atte-iru
    {Tarou and Hanako} are dating.
  • Tarou ga Hanako to tsuki-atte-iru
    Tarou is dating Hanako.

The verb tsuki-au 付き合う means literally "hanging around with someone," in the sense of accompanying someone in an activity. Naturally, it takes the to と particle. However, this verb has a second meaning: "to date someone," since when two people are dating they're usually hanging around with each other.

Some other examples:

  • boku to keiyaku shite, mahou shoujo ni natte yo!
    Make a contract with me, and become a magical girl!
  • dare to hanashite-iru no?
    With whom are [you] talking?
    Whom are [you] talking with?
  • Yotsuba to!
    With Yotsuba!
    Yotsuba and!
    • Official title: Yotsuba&.
    • Although a final to と is generally the case-marking particle, in the case of Yotsuba to it's the parallel marker, as evidenced by the titles of its first three chapters, as follows:
    • Yotsuba to Hikkoshi
      Yotsuba and Moving. (from one home to another.)
    • Yotsuba to Aisatsu
      Yotsuba and Greetings.
    • Yotsuba to Chikyuu-ondan-ka
      Yotsuba and Global Warming.
  • {shujinkou ga hiroin to kekkon suru} anime wa mezurashii
    Anime [in which] {the main-character marries with the heroine} are rare.
あいつと打てる? あ うーん あの子は・・・
Manga: Hikaru no Go ヒカルの碁 (Chapter 2, はるかな高み)
  • Context: Hikaru is looking for an adversary.
  • aitsu to uteru?
    Can [I] [play] with [him]?
    • utsu 打つ
      To hit.
      To play. (a game like Go, in which you hit stones on a board.)
  • gata.. ガタ・・
    *chair feet hitting the floor as he gets up.* (onomatopoeia.)
  • a, uun, ano ko wa...
    あ うーん あの子は・・・
    Ah, err, that kid [is]...


Some verbs of comparison take the comitative to と particle to say what you're comparing something "with." These verbs generally translate to English in more complicated ways.

For example, chigau 違う, "to differ," gets a "from" instead of "with.," or changes to "is different" in more natural translations.

  • {kudamono to yasai} ga chigau
    {Fruits and vegetables} differ from each other.
  • kudamono ga yasai to chigau
    Fruits differ with vegetables.
    Fruits are different from vegetables.

Some verbs can translate to "to" instead of "from."

  • Tarou ga {ringo to orenji} wo kurabeta
    Tarou compared {apples and oranges}.
    Tarou compared {apples with oranges}.
    Tarou compared {apples to oranges}.

Since it works with "is different," it makes sense that the same applies with "is the same."

  • {{jibun to onaji} shumi wo motsu} hito
    A person [who] {has a hobby [that] {is identical with myself.}}.
    Someone with a hobby [that] {is the same as mine.}.
    Someone who has the same hobby that I have.
  • yuumeijin to nite-iru
    To resemble a famous-person.
    To look like a famous-person.

Note that to と is only used comparatively this way with certain verbs and words.

To compare things in general, the yori より particle is used instead.

  • banana wa ringo yori oishii
    Bananas are tasty compared to apples.
    Bananas are tastier than apples.


The to と particle can act as a conjunction when it comes after a sentence in non-past tense, like a verb in the predicative form. This is also known as the conditional to, and there are three different ways it's used:

  1. If or when something happens, something else happens.
  2. When I did something, I observer something else happening.
  3. Every time something happens something else happens.

The only difference between 1 and 2 is whether the verb of the main clause is in the past tense or not. For example:

  • me ga au to sentou ga hajimaru
    If [your] eyes meet, the battle starts.
    [Your] eyes meet, and then: the battle will start.
  • me ga au to sentou ga hajimatta
    [Your] eyes meet, and then: the battle has started.
    Right after [your] eyes met, the battle started.
    • How Pokémon works.

The two sentences above describe the same sequence of events: X happens, and then, Y happens. However, in the first sentence, the verb of the matrix, hajimaru, is in non-past, "begins," "will begin," while in the second, it's in the past form, hajimatta, "has begun."

Since it "has begun" already the even has already been realized, so it already happened. Meanwhile, the non-past form means it hasn't been realized yet, so we are talking about a hypothetical case. Another example:

  • furi-kaeru to yuurei ga iru kamoshirenai
    If [I] look over [my] shoulder, maybe there will be a ghost.
  • furi-kaeru to yuurei ga ita
    [I] look over [my] shoulder, and then: there was a ghost.

The only difference between 3 and the others is whether the event happens only once or is recurring.

  • mai-asa okiru to gyuunyuu wo nomu
    Every morning, when [I] wake up, [I] drink milk.

The to と particle can't come after a clause in the past tense. In this case, the ~tara ~たら form is used instead.

  • motto benkyou shitetara,
    motto ii gakkou ni iketa kamoshirenai

    If [I] had studied more, maybe [I] would've been able to go to a better school.
  • gakkou ni ittara dare-mo inakatta
    When [I] went to school, there wasn't anybody [there].

Some other examples:

  • benkyou suru to umaku naru
    If [you] study, [you'll] become good.
    [You'll] become good if [you] study.
  • sou kangaeru to kantan desu ne
    If [you] think that way, it's simple, isn't it?
  • kusuri wo nomu to nemuku naru
    When [I] drink the medicine, [I] become sleepy.
    [I] become sleepy if [I] drink the medicine. When I drink the medicine. Every time I drink the medicine. Etc.
  • hashiru to tsukareru
    When [I] run, [I] get tired.
    [I] get tired if [I] run.
  • reizouko ni irenai to kusatte-shimau
    If [you] don't put [it] in the freezer, [it] will rot.
    • reizouko ni irenai - a negative sentence.
  • baka ni sareru to okoru
    If [he] gets made fun of, [he] gets mad.
    [He] gets mad when [he's] taken for an idiot.
    • baka ni sareru - passive voice.
    • baka ni suru
      To make an idiot out of [someone].
      To take [someone] for an idiot.
      To make fun of [someone].
  • tatakawaseru to keiken-chi ga fueru
    If [you] make [them] fight, the experience points increase.

Quoting Particle

The to と particle can also be used in quotations, specially with verbs that take literal sentences as arguments. In this case, sometimes the Japanese quotation marks can be used, but they aren't strictly necessary. For example:

  • Tarou wa "hai" to itta
    Tarou said "yes."
  • Tarou wa hai to itta
    Tarou said yes.

This quoting particle is used in various ways around the language. It can be used to mark one's thoughts or reasoning:

  • konkai wa kore ni tsuite setsumei shiyou to omoimasu
    This time, [I'll] explain about this, is what [I] think.
    • ~you to omoimasu - this phrase is generally used to say what someone feels about doing, what they propose to be done.
  • muri da to kangaete-ita
    [I] was thinking that: it's impossible.
    [I] used to think that it was impossible.
    • muri da 無理だ
      It's impossible.
  • ore ga yatta to kan-chigai shite-iru
    [He's] wrongly thinking that: I did [it].
    • In other words: I didn't do it, but he's thinking that I did it.
    • kan-chigai suru
      To guess something wrong.
      To perceive something wrongly.
      To mistakenly think something is true.

Verbs like "said" and "thought" are often used in the passive form when talking about trivia or hearsay. For example:

  • Eberesuto wa sekai de ichiban takai yama to iwarete-iru
    It's said that: the Everest is the tallest mountain in the world.

Of course, this can be used with anything, including some stuff that would get you a [citation needed] on Wikipedia.

  • Chikyuu wa hiratai to omowarete-iru
    It's thought that: The Earth is flat.
    • dare ni?
      By whom [is it thought]?

One collocation featuring this function is to iu と言う, often spelled as toiu という. It's used in various ways depending on its conjugation. One of them is to say what something is called:

  • kore wa neko to iu-n-da
    This is called a cat.
    • Literally:
    • kore wa "neko" to iu
      This is said: "a cat."
    • In the sense of that's how you say it, that's how you refer to the thing.

This is similar to the verb yobu 呼ぶ, "to call."

  • kore wa {neko to yobareru} doubutsu
    This is an animal [that] {is called a cat.}

Also similarly: the polite verb moushimasu 申します.

  • watashi wa Tarou to moushimasu
    I'm called: Tarou.

The phrase toiu isn't always used to define things, sometimes it's used to introduce a new thing, or associate it to a relativized noun that categorizes it. For example:

  • {Chikyuu toiu} wakusei ga taiyou no mawari ni mawatte-iru
    A planet [that] {is called Earth} is revolving around of the sun.
    The Earth, which is a planet, is revolving around the sun.

In the sentence above, the word iu いう is the verb of the relative clause {Chikyuu to iu}, which qualifies the noun wakusei, "planet." In practice, the term wakusei is categorizing what a "Chikyuu" is supposed to be. The thing called Earth, which is a planet, and so on.

  • higashi niwa {Nihon toiu} kuni ga aru
    To the east, there's a country {called Japan}.
    To the east, Japan, which is a country, exists.

It can also be used to refer to what someone said in the form of {to iu} no というの, literally "the thing [that] {[you] said}."

環先輩がハーフというのも聞いた事ありませんし・・・ 確かに髪とか茶色いけどたぶんプールの入りすぎで タマちゃんハーフだよーー? フランスと日本のハーフちゃん~~~~
  • Context: someone said a bunch of stuff that Haruhi ハルヒ never heard about.
  • {Tamaki-senpai ga haafu to iu} no mo {kiita} koto arimasen shi...
    That {Tamaki-senpai is a "half,"} too, [I've] never {heard about}.
    [I've] never {heard about} {Tamaki-senpai being half-Japanese}, either.
  • tashika ni kami toka chairoi kedo tabun puuru no hairi-sugi de
    It's true [his] hair and [so on] is brown but [it's] probably because [he spent too long inside the pool].
    • Top signs a character doesn't have two Japanese parents:
      1. His hair is not black.
      2. His eyes aren't black, either.
    • puuru ni hairi-sugiru
      To enter the pool too much.
      To spend too long inside the pool.
    • de で particle - marks the cause of something.
  • Tama-chan φ haafu da yo----?
    Tama-chan is half-Japanese, [you didn't know]?
    • Tama-chan - Tamaki's nickname.
    • Honey-senpai uses ~chan with everything.
  • {Furansu to Nippon} no haafu-chan~~~~
    A {France and Japan's} "half"-chan.
    A person half-French and half-Japanese.
    • Since haafu ハーフ refers to a person, it can get a honorific suffix like ~chan ~ちゃん.

Another collocation is is to ieba といえば, the conditional ba-form of to iu. This one is generally used to say what comes to mind when something is said.

  • natsu to ieba umi
    If said "summer," sea.
    • In other words, the first thing you think about when someone says summer is the sea, the beach.

This particle has two variants: tte って, which is casual, and ttsu っつ, which is more like slurred word, generally used by delinquents, gyaru ギャル characters, etc.

  • ore da to itte-iru no da
    [I'm] saying: it's me.
  • ore da tte itteru-n-da
    (same meaning.)
  • ore da ttsu tte-n-da
    (same meaning.)


The to と particle sometimes functions like an adverbializer, creating random adverbs that modify the verb. There are various ways this happens, some of them probably being related to the quoting and conditional functions we've seen before.

For example, the the phrase to naru となる is used instead of ni naru になる, "to become," to emphasize it's an outcome. That is, it didn't smoothly become something, it ended up becoming so, when it could have ended up becoming something else instead. Observe:

  • isha ni naru
    To become a doctor.
  • shippai to naru
    To become a failure.

Clearly, you want something to become a success, not a failure. The sentence above implies it could've become a success, but something happened, and it ended up as a failure instead. Similarly:

  • sensou ni naru
    To become war.
  • sensou to naru
    To end up becoming a war.
    • In other words, there might have been something that could have been done to avoid it, or maybe there was another choice, or maybe the diplomatic talks didn't work, anyways, it ended up becoming a war.

This to naru isn't used with na-adjectives or i-adjectives, only nouns, which suggests it's a case-marker. With adjectives, the adverbial form, or ren'youkei 連用形, is used instead.

  • *kirei to naru
    (wrong, kirei is a na-adjective.)
    • kirei ni naru
      To become pretty.
  • *samui to naru
    (wrong, samui is an i-adjective.)
    • samuku naru
      To become cold.

It's also used with the lexical causative verb suru する, "to make become." In particular, in the form of shiyou to suru しようとする, which translates to "to try to do."

  • nigeyou to shite-iru
    [He] is trying to escape.
    • nigeru 逃げる
      To escape. To run away.
    • nigeyou 逃げよう
      Let's escape.
    • Although ~ou is generally used to say "let's," it's more fundamentally used to say something might be happen in the future. If the listener agrees to escape, the action of "escaping" is realized in the future, when they do, in fact, escape. Likewise, ~ou to suru means you aren't asking anybody to realize the action, you're trying to realize it by yourself.

The to と particle also comes after onomatopoeia to turn them into adverbs. Since onomatopoeia are words representing sounds, this is very close to the quoting particle function.

  • neko ga nyaa to naita
    The cat made a sound: meow.
    The cat meowed.
    • naku 鳴く
      To make a sound. To cry. (animal, pokémon, etc.)
  • shinzou ga dokidoki to naru
    The heart makes a sound: thump thump.
    The heart beats loudly.
    • naru 鳴る
      To make a sound. (inanimate objects, body parts, etc.)
  • don to kabe wo tataku
    To hit the wall: making a "thud" sound.
    *Thud*—to hit the wall.
    • kabedon 壁ドン
      When a guy flirts with a girl by placing his hand on a wall behind her, or vice-versa. Countless variants exist.

Similarly, the to と particle can adverbialize after mimetic words.

  • pikapika to kagayaku
    To *sparkle-sparkle* shine.
    To shine sparkling.
  • guruguru to mawaru
    To *swirl-swirl* spin.
    To spin swirling.
  • betabeta to hari-tsuku
    To *sticky-sticky* glue-and-attach.
    To glue [on something] sticking to it.
見ろよ, ここに血のアトみたいに転々と・・・・・・
Manga: Hikaru no Go ヒカルの碁 (Chapter 1, 棋聖降臨)
  • miro yo
  • koko ni chi no ato mitai ni tenten to......
    In here, [something that] looks like blood marks [is stuck] in drops.
    • ato

      Something left behind by something else, usually as evidence.
      Tracks, traces, marks, scars, etc.
    • tenten to
      Scattered around as drops, dots, points.

Quotations, onomatopoeia, and mimetic words all work under the same conceptualization.

In Japanese, if you say "hai" to itta, "said 'yes'," then the quotation, the words said, come before the verb that means "to say." In other words, the quoting particle is doing nothing more than modifying how the verb took place: it's modifying the words spoken.

With the words "yes," he spoke. Similarly: with a *thud*, he hit the wall. With a swirling motion, it spun, with a sparkling state, it shone, and so on.

The same thing works with inanimate phonomimes (thud), animate phonomimes (meow), and phenomimes (sparkling) because they're all ideophones. And quotations are nothing more than onomatopoeia of spoken words that actually have meanings in them.

Note that while many onomatopoeia and mimetic words feature reduplication, that's not always the case.

  • bon'yari to omoi-dasu
    With vagueness, [I] remember.
    To remember vaguely.

Furthermore, mimetic words that feature reduplication can function as adverbs without the to と particle, but their simplex forms can not(Toratani, 2007, p.317).

  • hon ga batan to taoreta
    The book fell with a thud.
  • *hon ga batan taoreta
    (the simplex batan needs to.)
  • hon ga batabata to taoreta
    The books fell with thuds.
  • hon ga batabata taoreta
    (same meaning, the reduplication batabata doesn't need to.)

Some mimetic words feature an embedded to と particle.

  • chotto matte
    To wait with-a-cho.
    To wait a bit.
  • jitto mite-iru
    To be looking with-a-ji.
    To stare intently.
Example of jiiii じ~~~~ stare. Source was altered for perfect loop.
Anime: Absolute Duo (Altered)

Some to と adverbs are taru たる adjectives.

Basically, there are naru なる adjectives, like shizuka-naru 静かなる, "quiet," whose adverbial forms end in ni に, like shizuka-ni 静かに, "quietly."

And there are taru たる adjectives, like doudou-taru 堂々たる, "dignified," whose adverbial forms end in to と, like doudou-to 堂々と, "in dignified manner."

  • doudou-taru kishi
    A dignified knight.
  • seisei-doudou-to tatakau
    To fight in just and dignified manner.

The to と particle is also used with adverbs to emphasize "how" someone did something. In this case, since the adverb is already an adverb to begin with, there's no need to use the to と particle, unless you want emphasis. For example:

  • iroiro tameshita
    Tried various things. Various ways.
  • iroiro to tameshita
    (same meaning, but there's emphasis on "various." For example, maybe it only worked after and only because you've tried various things.)
  • dandan tsuyoku naru
    To gradually become stronger.
    To become stronger step by step.
  • dandan to tsuyoku naru
    To become stronger with each step.
  • shikkari shite kudasai
    Please get a hold of [yourself].
    • shite is the te-form of suru, which, here, means to deliberately make yourself somehow. The adverb shikkari means "firmly" as in a firm grip, a firm hold. So make yourself firmly, get a hold of yourself.
  • shikkari to shite-iru
    [He's] getting a hold of [himself].
    • That is, shikkari, he is.


The to と particle is part of various particle compounds.

First, it can be topicalized by the wa は particle, in which case it's often used to define things.

  • Sarazanmai to wa ishiki kyouyuu
    Sarazanmai is the sharing of consciousness.

It can also be used with the contrastive wa は function.

  • Hanako wa Tarou to wa asobitakunai
    Hanako doesn't want to play with Tarou.
    • Implicature: she wants to play with other people, not Tarou.

At the end of sentences, this towa とは generally implies an omitted omowanakatta 思わなかった, "didn't think."

  • masaka koko made korareru to wa

    [I] didn't think that:
    [you] would be able to come here.
    • masaka - used when something is unlikely.
    • korareru - potential form of kuru, "to come."
    • This phrase is used by the bad guy when the protagonist somehow beats up every single one of the middle-level bosses and makes their way to the final boss throne room.

Since to と can take the wa は particle, it can also take the mo も particle.

  • Hanako wa Jirou to mo asobitakunai
    Hanako doesn't want to play also with Jirou.
    Hanako also doesn't want to play with Jirou.
    • She doesn't want to play with Tarou, and she doesn't want to play with Jirou, either.
  • sou to ieru
    [You] could say [it] that way.
    [You] could say that.
  • sou to wa ienai
    [You] couldn't say [it] that way.
    [You] couldn't say that.
    • Implicature: there's a way you can say it, and it isn't "that way."
  • sou to mo ieru
    [You] could also say [it] that way.
    [You] could also say that.

The to と particle can also combine with the ka か particle. In this case, toka とか is often a parallel marker that vaguely lists examples of something.

  • isekai dewa mahou toka aru
    In another world, there's magic and stuff like that.
  • isekai dewa mahou toka doragon toka aru
    In another world, there's magic, dragons, and stuff like that that.




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  1. Hi, first of all, thank you for all your hard work ご苦労さまでした, I love your this website, and it's basically my main source for Japanese grammar, thank you so much, a few days ago I read this whole article from start to finish, but today I found a phrase with the と particle and the の at the same time, and even though your explanation here was sooo good, I had a problem understanding the phrase, can you help me please? 愛香ちゃんとの静かな時間 ( 愛香ちゃん との 静かな時間 )

    1. Thank you for reading <3

      That と means "with." The time spent "with" her. Basically, you're using ~と to qualify the noun 時間, but と can't qualify nouns by coming before them the way adjectives and verbs are able to, so the の is necessary to turn it into a no-adjective which has this function. The same principle applies to への, e.g. in 未来への手紙, "a letter to the future," 未来へ says what sort of 手紙 it is, but へ can't come before nouns to qualify them, so の is inserted between them to turn ~へ into a no-adjective.

      By the way, 彼女との時間, "the time with her," could be paraphrased as 彼女と過ごした時間, "the time [I] spent with her" or 彼女と過ごす時間, "the time [i] spend with her."