Japanese Grammar Bank


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.

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


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:

私は宿題しますwatashi wa shukudai wo shimasuI will do homework
彼女は昼ご飯作り 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?”

  • In the first one, the verb is “to do”. What is the thing being done? Homework.
  • In the second, the verb is “made”. What was made? Lunch.

Object + 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.


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

始めるhajimeruTo begin, to start (something)
始まる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:

先生は授業始めるsensei wa jugyou wo hajimeruThe teacher will start the class
授業は始まる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.


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

To turn toward, to faceTo point, aimTo face

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

X 向くX wo mukuTo look at/turn towards X
XYに向けるX wo Y ni mukeruTo turn X towards Y
XはYに向かうX wa Y ni mukauX faces Y

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

  • In the first example, X, the object, is the thing being looked at or aimed at.
  • In the second example, the object X is the thing being turned to point in the direction of Y.
  • In the third example, the verb is intransitive, so there is no object.

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

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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 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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