Japanese 101: Particles

Published on April 29th, 2010.

It’s been quite some time since I last wrote about the Japanese language, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been studying or exploring places for tools to assist me. Although I’ve mostly been on Smart.fm as of late, I’d like to put another app in the spotlight for once. The app I’m talking about is called Japanese 101: Particles and was developed by Harvey from JapanNewbie.

Particles is a very simple app, and as you might have realized, it lets you study and test your knowledge of the Japanese particles (e.g. で, は, に). Particles is probably something most students of Japanese make a lot of mistakes with, and you need a lot of practice to get them right. And for those who own an iPhone or an iPod Touch, that just got a little easier.

If you are studying Japanese in school, you’re probably getting tired of the bazillions of “fill in the blanks quizzes”, but fact is that they work, and with Particles this is basically what you do. However, this app offers more than that. Take a look at the screenshots below.

What you see above is the Study Mode where you can see all the particles you need to know for JLPT level 4 and 3. When you’ve selected the level you want to study you’re immediately greeted with a Japanese sentence with a gap for you to fill in with the appropriate particle. This sentence will also be read out loud by a native Japanese and you can repeat it how many times you want by clicking the icon in the lower right corner.

To check if your answer was right, you just tap on the sentence. You’ll also get to see the sentence in romaji and a translation of it. If you would like to know more about the particle itself, you can click the Notes button in the lower left corner. And to move on to the next sentence you use the arrows at the top right corner.

When you think you’ve got what it takes to clear a level, you go into the Quiz Mode, select it, and click on start. If you want to, you can select multiple levels and whether you want 2 or 4 possible answers.

In Quiz Mode you’ll not only have to show your knowledge in the particles themselves, you’ll also practice your listening comprehension since this time you’ll not be able to see the sentence. The sentence will be read out for you with a gap somewhere, and then you pick the particle you think fits in. Repeat the sentence how many times you want. If you selected the right particle the Japanese girl will say something like “Correct!” or “Well done!” and move on to the next question. If you select the wrong particle she’ll say something like “So close!” or “You gotta be kidding!” and the sentence will show up at the end of the test for you to study again.

And that’s basically all there is to this app, it’s very simple, but very useful for beginners. And while I do think that this app’s content is, to quote Harvey himself, “top notch”, there are a couple of (small) things that could use an update. First off, I’m not happy with the fact that romaji is used in the app, that should definitely be turned into kana since if you’re aiming for any JLPT test, you gotta know your kana. The second thing is the design of the app, this app could be really attractive if it got a design update. I especially think something should be done to the teal-colored header at the index page of the two different modes.

So to sum Particles up in a list of positives and negatives…

Positive ✓

  • Includes native Japanese audio.
  • Simple, straightforward, does what it’s supposed to do well.
  • Better than normal paper tests.
  • It’s fun!

Negative ✗

  • Romaji.
  • Design.

And finally, we have the price of the app of course, which is $5.99. Some might consider that expensive, personally I think that’s a fair price for an app like this that takes a lot of effort to make. And after all, $5.99 is probably less than what you spent on that Japanese pocket dictionary that probably just ended up somewhere in your drawer collecting dust. If you’re a beginner and especially if you’re self-studying, I think you’ll definitely find this app useful!

But of course, being the cool guy that I am, I managed to get a deal just for you guys. So this weekend (Friday to Sunday, Beijing time), the app will be $3.99 instead of $5.99! Click the icon below to see the app in the AppStore.

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  • ShiningStar

    Sounds great, I just bought it since I 100% trust your opinions, if you say its good then it’s good, will give it a try when it’s on my phone.

    Cheers.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Nice! Let me know what you think^^

  • ShiningStar

    Sounds great, I just bought it since I 100% trust your opinions, if you say its good then it’s good, will give it a try when it’s on my phone.

    Cheers.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Nice! Let me know what you think^^

  • http://www.japannewbie.com Harvey

    Hey thanks for the review Yonasu!

    Thanks for being so honest about the design. I have one update underway now that should be out in a few days that will add a few new features, and after that I’m going to deal with the dreaded ugly blue and teal thing.

    I’m glad you like the content and noticed the listening comprehension aspect of the quiz. That was a real point for me and I think it makes the app unique from all the others out there.

    Anyway, thanks for all the feedback! I’ll try to make this app even better with future updates!

    - Harvey

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Good to know :) The content is great, bit too easy for me but if someone asks me about particles I’ll definitely forward them to this app. I think it’s a lot better to practice particles like this than studying them theoretically first like you do in school.

      I’m generally happy when listening comprehension is added to the mix^^

  • http://www.japannewbie.com Harvey

    Hey thanks for the review Yonasu!

    Thanks for being so honest about the design. I have one update underway now that should be out in a few days that will add a few new features, and after that I’m going to deal with the dreaded ugly blue and teal thing.

    I’m glad you like the content and noticed the listening comprehension aspect of the quiz. That was a real point for me and I think it makes the app unique from all the others out there.

    Anyway, thanks for all the feedback! I’ll try to make this app even better with future updates!

    - Harvey

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Good to know :) The content is great, bit too easy for me but if someone asks me about particles I’ll definitely forward them to this app. I think it’s a lot better to practice particles like this than studying them theoretically first like you do in school.

      I’m generally happy when listening comprehension is added to the mix^^

  • ShiningStar

    Hey Jonas,
    Just tested the app for like 30minutes, I like the native sounds, I had no problems with the design.
    It’s for studying and not a painting so that’s fine.
    I was a bit disapointed by the amount of content for the price. I went through the quiz in a new minutes.
    I mean I bought many other Japan learning applications like:
    JPhrases, Japanese Idoms, JLPT N5, Smart.FM, Kotoba, KanaQuiz, WriteKana, タイピングHi, Kana Strokes, JDic, got a few app’s which I think are from the same maker since the loading screen looks same or very similar with the same (circle logo) overall I’m happy with his product, and it’s still recomended for people who aren’t familiar with partices.
    One thing that I had sometimes problems with hearing when the pissing particle was in the sentence. Intead of having a short break or silence I rater had some sort of “beep” sound while they say the particle, to make it clear where the particle is.
    When you take the Quiz you can’t see the whole sentence so some sound effect where the particle is would help identifying where the particle has to be. Or if not all agree with that prehapps it could be an option where we can turn this “beep” on and off, so that all are happy. ^_^ Making the app a bit cheaper will give more sales, just look at the most popular app’s most are bargains.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Yeah I guess a few more sentences wouldn’t hurt, but maybe we will get more in coming updates^^ I think adding a beep would make it a lot easier though, it’s prolly better if you need to listen carefully, but sure, there’s always room for options!

      As for the price, yeah, I guess lowering it a tad bit wouldn’t hurt, but at least I got you $2 off ;) I don’t generally care much as long as the app isn’t more than $6.

    • http://www.japannewbie.com Harvey

      Hi!

      Yeah we will be adding content regularly. I have about 25 more JLPT 3 sentences ready to go now, just gotta get that Omise bug fixed and I will release it. We have 25 more JLPT3 planned after that… and then I think I’ll make a “Bonus” category and just throw in questions not necessarily aimed at a specific JLPT level.

      I think we’re going to keep the “beep” option out. I gave it some thought today, but for example, if you hear someone say….

      “I’m going the store buy some fruit!” really fast in English, if your English is good you would instinctively feel that “to” was missing. It should be, “I’m going to the store to buy some fruit!” The goal with this App, as should be our goal with Japanese in general, is to get to the point where we just know what correct Japanese sounds like. All of these sentences without the particles were actually really hard for our voice actor (my wife…) to read because it’s so strange to leave out a particle in these cases. We had to re-record a few times because of fumbles.

      So yeah, even though it’s tough to hear the “gap” sometimes, with practice students should be able to hear the “awkwardness” of particle-less Japanese.

      勉強頑張れ!!!

      - Harvey

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      That’s good to know, and I agree that it’s important to be able to feel that awkwardness of leaving out particles. I think it’d be too easy with beeps.

      Are the new sentences free updates?

  • ShiningStar

    Hey Jonas,
    Just tested the app for like 30minutes, I like the native sounds, I had no problems with the design.
    It’s for studying and not a painting so that’s fine.
    I was a bit disapointed by the amount of content for the price. I went through the quiz in a new minutes.
    I mean I bought many other Japan learning applications like:
    JPhrases, Japanese Idoms, JLPT N5, Smart.FM, Kotoba, KanaQuiz, WriteKana, タイピングHi, Kana Strokes, JDic, got a few app’s which I think are from the same maker since the loading screen looks same or very similar with the same (circle logo) overall I’m happy with his product, and it’s still recomended for people who aren’t familiar with partices.
    One thing that I had sometimes problems with hearing when the pissing particle was in the sentence. Intead of having a short break or silence I rater had some sort of “beep” sound while they say the particle, to make it clear where the particle is.
    When you take the Quiz you can’t see the whole sentence so some sound effect where the particle is would help identifying where the particle has to be. Or if not all agree with that prehapps it could be an option where we can turn this “beep” on and off, so that all are happy. ^_^ Making the app a bit cheaper will give more sales, just look at the most popular app’s most are bargains.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Yeah I guess a few more sentences wouldn’t hurt, but maybe we will get more in coming updates^^ I think adding a beep would make it a lot easier though, it’s prolly better if you need to listen carefully, but sure, there’s always room for options!

      As for the price, yeah, I guess lowering it a tad bit wouldn’t hurt, but at least I got you $2 off ;) I don’t generally care much as long as the app isn’t more than $6.

    • http://www.japannewbie.com Harvey

      Hi!

      Yeah we will be adding content regularly. I have about 25 more JLPT 3 sentences ready to go now, just gotta get that Omise bug fixed and I will release it. We have 25 more JLPT3 planned after that… and then I think I’ll make a “Bonus” category and just throw in questions not necessarily aimed at a specific JLPT level.

      I think we’re going to keep the “beep” option out. I gave it some thought today, but for example, if you hear someone say….

      “I’m going the store buy some fruit!” really fast in English, if your English is good you would instinctively feel that “to” was missing. It should be, “I’m going to the store to buy some fruit!” The goal with this App, as should be our goal with Japanese in general, is to get to the point where we just know what correct Japanese sounds like. All of these sentences without the particles were actually really hard for our voice actor (my wife…) to read because it’s so strange to leave out a particle in these cases. We had to re-record a few times because of fumbles.

      So yeah, even though it’s tough to hear the “gap” sometimes, with practice students should be able to hear the “awkwardness” of particle-less Japanese.

      勉強頑張れ!!!

      - Harvey

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      That’s good to know, and I agree that it’s important to be able to feel that awkwardness of leaving out particles. I think it’d be too easy with beeps.

      Are the new sentences free updates?

  • http://www.yams.com MarkSpizer

    great post as usual!

  • http://www.yams.com MarkSpizer

    great post as usual!

  • http://www.japannewbie.com Harvey

    All updates are free!

    A new update that introduces a fill in the blank quiz, and adds more sentences will be coming out in most likely less than one week. Already submitted to Apple, just gotta wait for them to approve.

    My guess would be that it comes out Friday. And if not Friday, Tuesday!

  • http://www.japannewbie.com Harvey

    All updates are free!

    A new update that introduces a fill in the blank quiz, and adds more sentences will be coming out in most likely less than one week. Already submitted to Apple, just gotta wait for them to approve.

    My guess would be that it comes out Friday. And if not Friday, Tuesday!

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  • http://www.asianfashion4u.com wholesale japanese fashion

    Thanks for being so honest to share the experence of learning japanese.As you know,I’m a business,I often need to communicate with Japaneses.So thanks for your site!

    • http://twitter.com/yonasu yonasu

      Cool! You’re the owner of Asianfashion4u? That site is nice, although you don’t seem to have anything for men^^

  • http://www.asianfashion4u.com wholesale japanese fashion

    Thanks for being so honest to share the experence of learning japanese.As you know,I’m a business,I often need to communicate with Japaneses.So thanks for your site!

    • http://twitter.com/yonasu yonasu

      Cool! You’re the owner of Asianfashion4u? That site is nice, although you don’t seem to have anything for men^^