HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JAPANESE PARTICLES, by Naoko Chino. Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd., 2005, 198 pp., 2,200 yen (paper).

There are 10 particles in the Japanese language that indicate time, 11 for connections between words, 12 for emphasis, and 14 that come at the end of a sentence to indicate a tone, or the speaker’s feelings. And those are just some of them. Needless to say mastering particle usage isn’t easy for students of the language; in fact, it’s so tricky that even Japanese themselves sometimes get it wrong.

In her book “All About Particles” (1991), Naoko Chino took learners of the language through all the particles, explaining each one by one. For her new book, “How to Tell the Difference Between Japanese Particles,” she takes a slightly different approach by grouping particles into 19 categories of function. Readers can compare and contrast them and therefore clarify their usage.

There are notes on each particle explaining their subtle differences, plus sample sentences written in Japanese, romaji and English. Although some examples of common mistakes would have been welcome addition, the multiple-choice quizzes at the end of each chapter often highlight easily made errors.

While it isn’t a reference book per se, it is a helpful aid for learners in need of a little practice, as well as beginners just starting to get a grip on these small but powerful words.

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