Post-positions are like pre-positions, except that they come after the phrase. So imagine “at school” being written as “school at.” That’s what post-positions are.
Easy examples of post-positions are から (kara)、まで (made)、で (de). Kara means “from,” made means “until” or “up to,” and de means “at.” Yes, there are two de’s; but don’t worry, they’re easy to distinguish. The difference between de, indicating location, and ni, the dative particle indicating location, is that ni indicates that the action is somehow very important to the action. Once you see it a few times, it’ll make sense.
Conjunctions are words that connect phrases. “I brushed my teeth and went to bed.” “Would you like soup or a salad.” “I like you, though you scare me a little bit.”
The most famous conjunction is と (to): which is a parallel conjunction, meaning it connects two things of the same kind in the same way to the rest of the sentence. “I ate chicken and turkey.” There is another conjunction, also と (to), which is a conditional conjunction. “X to Y” can be “If X, Y”
The disjunctive conjunction is, A or B, is か (ka).
There are listing conjunctions, those being たり (tari) and し (shi), which tells us about a number of things occurring in a non-exhaustive way.
だって (datte) and けど (kedo) connect entire phrases. They have the semantic dimension of expression a certain amount of reservation.
There are verbal conjugations that are also conjunctive, which we’ll talk about once we get there.
Japanese’s conjunctions are often interpreted as suffixes; and that’s fine. We have treated them as suffixes, too, at times; and this is one of the many exciting things we get to deliberate about.
Functional Particles are a special set of particles that indication function, intent, or tone.
An example of a functional particle is と (to; and yes, there are many “to”‘s) , which is a quotative particle. It marks a quote.
There are various ending particles, meaning they come at the end of the sentence (which is after the verb):
か (ka): marks a question.
ね (ne): marks a doubt or a intends to soften the statement.
よ (yo): marks an exclamation or emphatic statement.
ぞ (zo): marks exhortation.
さ (sa): marks an explication.
の (no): marks a noun phrase/makes a verb phrase syntactically a noun phrase.
ん(n): marks a noun phrase/makes a verb phrase syntactically a noun phrase.
This is one of the bigger puzzles in Japanese: how to sort out the particles, post-positions, functional particles, and suffixes in such a way that they all share similar features and work in similar ways. This is definitely not the final say on the matter, but it’s enough to get your bearings.
In Part 6 we will talk about Verbs and Adjectives!