Japanese Lesson 11 – Only a particle “no” is OK for making possessive case in Japanese

Possessive case is a method to modify a noun.
It expresses the owner or a range of possession of the noun.

In Japanese, particle “no” is used in most cases expressing possessive case.
It is easy. So let’s learn now.

Possessive case of personal pronoun

In English, subject of the first person is “I” and the possessive pronoun is “my”.
In the same manner, subject of the second person is “you” and the possessive pronoun is “your”.
Like this, there are different words for possessive pronoun in English.

But, possessive case in Japanese is very simple.
You only have to put a particle “no” after pronoun. (About Japanese pronoun, see the page of Lesson-7.)

Possessive case of personal pronoun

Modified noun is put after above words.
Let’s modify a noun “book” (“hon” in Japanese).

my book = watashi no hon
your book = anata no hon
her book = kanojo no hon
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When you use pronoun in Japanese, it is OK that you treat pronoun like a kind of noun.

Possessive case of demonstrative pronoun

You can make the possessive case of demonstrative pronoun in the same way.

Possessive case of demonstrative pronoun

Let’s modify a noun “price” (“nedan” in Japanese).

the price of this thing = kore no nedan
the price of the things you have = sorera no nedan
the price of that thing over there = are no nedan
(Above English sentences are expressed for showing real meaning.)

Demonstrative pronoun modifies a thing or an abstract noun meaning property of things in most cases.
It almost never modify noun of person.

Very important demonstratives

There are very important demonstratives.
In English, they are “this” and “that” in the phrases such as “this book” and “that book”.

Japanese has three words.

Possessive case of demonstrative pronoun 2

kono, sono, anoAs you are aware, the first syllable of all demonstrative word is always “ko”, “so” or “a”.
That is very systematic.
And these three words are made by joining the syllable and “no”.

In addition, these words are used both singularly and plurally.
In Japanese, the differentiation between singular and plural is not so important grammatically.
(There is not plural form of noun in Japanese.)
These words point the thing or things in a comprehensive way.

this book / these books = kono hon
the book / books you have = sono hon
the book / books over there = ano hon
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These words are often used instead of “demonstrative pronoun + ‘no'” showing in the previous section.
kore no nedankono nedan

As a matter of fact, both are similar sensuously.
But please know the meaning as described above.

Particle “no” connecting nouns

In above Japanese examples, it is OK to replace pronoun with noun.
In that case, it is the same as using “of” in English.

But like above examples, modified noun is put after the phrase with “no”.
Therefore, “X of Y” in English is translated as “Y no X” in Japanese.
In Japanese, all kinds of modification are done from front.

Let’s check examples.
(“cooking”, “beef” are “ryoori”, “gyuuniku” in Japanese.)

book of cooking = ryoori no hon
book of cooking of beef = gyuuniku no ryoori no hon
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You can use the modification from front as many as you want.
But too many modification makes the sentence confusing.

I think the following is the length of limit.
Probably it is still possible that Japanese people can understand it.
(“Tomodachi” is “friend” in English.)

kanojo no tomodachi no gyuuniku no ryoori no hon
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In English, I translate it simply.

her friend’s book of cooking of beef

Particle “no” expressing the owner

In English, there are the word meaning the owner of the personal pronoun.
For example, they are “mine”, “ours” as the first person and “yours” as the second person.

In Japanese, it is expressed as the form of “personal pronoun + ‘no’ + ‘mono'”.
“Mono” is a noun meaning “thing”.
And this “mono” is often omitted.
What an easy rule!

This book is hers.
Kono hon wa kanojo no mono desu.
Kono hon wa kanojo no desu.
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Instead of personal pronoun, individual name is also OK.
This book is Yumi’s.
Kono hon wa Yumi no desu.
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