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Particles: Ni
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What are particles?

Particles are probably one of the most difficult and confusing aspects of Japanese sentences. A particle (joshi) is a word that shows the relationship of a word, a phrase, or a clause to the rest of the sentence. Some particles have English equivalents. Others have functions similar to English prepositions, but since they always follow the word or words they mark, they are post-positions. There are also particles that have a peculiar usage which is not found in English. Most particles are multi-functional. Click here to learn more about particles.

The Particle "Ni"

Indirect Object Marker

An indirect object usually precedes a direct object.

Yoku tomodachi ni 
tegami o kakimasu.
よく友達に手紙を書きます。
I often write letters 
to my friends.
Kare wa watashi ni hon o kuremashita.
彼は私に本をくれました。
He gave me a book.

Some Japanese verbs such as "au (to meet)" and "kiku (to ask)" take an indirect object, though their English counterparts do not.

Eki de tomodachi ni atta.
駅で友達に会った。
I met my friend at the station.

Location of Existence

"Ni" is typically used with verbs such as "iru (to exist)," "aru (to exist)" and "sumu (to live)." It translates into "at" or "in."

Isu no ue ni neko ga imasu.
いすの上に猫がいます。
There is a cat on the chair.
Ryoushin wa Osaka ni 
sunde imasu.
両親は大阪に住んでいます。
My parents live in Osaka. 

Direct Contract

"Ni" is used when a motion or action is directed at or onto an object or place.

Koko ni namae o 
kaite kudasai.
ここに名前を書いてください。
Please write your name here.
Kooto o hangaa ni kaketa.
コートをハンガーにかけた。
I hung a coat on the hanger.

Direction 

"Ni" can be translated as "to" when indicating a destination.

Rainen nihon ni ikimasu.
来年日本に行きます。
I'm going to Japan next year.
Kinou ginkou ni ikimashita.
昨日銀行に行きました。
I went to the bank yesterday.

Purpose

Eiga o mi ni itta. 
映画を見に行った。
I went to see a movie.
Hirugohan o tabe ni 
uchi ni kaetta.
昼ご飯を食べにうちに帰った。
I went home to eat lunch.

Specific Time 

"Ni" is used with various time expressions (year, month, day, and clock time) to indicate a specific point in time, and translates into "at," "on," or "in." However, the expressions of relative time such as today, tomorrow don't take the particle "ni."

Hachiji ni ie o demasu.
八時に家を出ます。
I leave home at eight o'clock.
Gogatsu mikka ni umaremashita.
五月三日に生まれました。
I was born on May 3rd.

Source

"Ni" indicates an agent or a source in passive or causative verbs. It translates into "by" or "from".

Haha ni shikarareta.
母にしかられた。
I was scolded by my mother. 
Tomu ni eigo o oshietemoratta.
トムに英語を教えてもらった。
I was taught English by Tom.

Notion of Per

"Ni" is used with frequency expressions such as per hour, per day, per person, etc.

Ichijikan ni juu-doru
haratte kuremasu.
一時間に十ドル払ってくれます。
They pay us 
ten dollars per hour.
Isshukan ni sanjuu-jikan hatarakimasu.
一週間に三十時間働きます。
I work 30 hours per week.

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