Japanese particle combination: にも (ni mo)

By | June 22, 2020

In this blog I’ve written quite a few articles on Japanese grammar, particularly about particles, one of the tricker areas to master. In this article I’d like to talk about にも (ni mo), a commonly used particle combination.

Fortunately, a majority of the time にも can be understood by simply combining the meaning of these two particles. So before we go over a few examples of this combination I’d like to review the meaning of each particle.

も is one of the simpler particles in Japanese and is often used in the sense of “also”, such that the word it follows is the second or more instance of a certain category:

  • 僕はジュース好きだよ (Boku wa juusu mo suki da yo)
  • I also like juice.

By the way, in English the placement of the word “also” is a little more flexible, whereas in Japanese you have to put “mo” right after the word in question.

As for the に particle, it has a bunch of uses, but perhaps the most common are:

  • Expressing the location of existence (often with verbs ある or いる)
  • Expressing the direction or receiver of an action (ex: “I gave a book to her“)
  • Expressing the doer of a passive action (ex: “The item was bought by a young kid“)

Now let’s look at a simple example of にも used in a sentence:

  • ここにも車がある (koko ni mo kuruma ga aru)
  • There is also a car here.

Here we are using the first usage of に listed above: expressing the location of existence. This can be a bit confusing if you think about it in English since we generally use words like “is” or “are” to express existence, as opposed to Japanese where we use “aru” or “iru” (nonliving / living). In addition words like “there” are often used for correct grammar, even though they don’t really add anything to the sentence in terms of meaning.

In Japanese things are more straightforward. In the above example sentence the にも means there is a car here, but also a car somewhere else. Let’s do another example:

  • 友達にもプレゼントをあげた (tomodachi ni mo purezento wo ageta)
  • I also gave a present to a friend.

This is the second usage of に mentioned above, for the recipient of an action. The も here indicates that a present was given to a friend, but also to someone else (perhaps a family member).

  • 犬にも噛まれた (inu ni mo kamareta)
  • I was also bitten by a dog.

This is the third usage of に above: the doer of a passive action. Here the も means that someone was bitten not only by a dog, but by something else (possibly another animal).

Besides these straightforward usages there are few others that don’t work with the same logic. Here is one:

  • どこにも行きたくない (doko ni mo ikitakunai)
  • I don’t want to go anywhere.

This can be understood by remembering the grammar pattern “ + も”, which (when used with a negative verb) means none of the things in question. For example:

  • 誰もいない (dare mo inai)
  • Nobody is here.

Again, the English here is a little confusing because of how we express existence, but the Japanese is straightforward––no people are existing in the implied location.

Returning to the どこにも行きたくない example, the only difference is that we needed to add the particle に after the question word since どこ was used to express the direction of an action. Besides that, the grammar is the same as the previous example, in other words the speaker doesn’t want to go to any place.

Another example is the set phrase いかにも (ika ni mo). While this can be grammatically explained in terms of the question word followed by the particle combination にも, I recommend just memorizing it as meaning “to a large extent” or “truly”.

  • 彼はいかにも紳士らしいですね。 (kare wa ika ni mo shinshi rashii desu ne)
  • He looks truly like a gentleman.

あまりにも (“amari ni mo”) is another expression with “ni mo” and signifies an exaggerated version of あまり. However, whereas あまり is perhaps more often used with a negative verb,  あまりにも is usually used with a positive verb to mean something similar to いかにも.

  • あまりにも強すぎたので勝ちました。 (amari ni mo tsuyosugita no de kachimashita).
  • He/she/it was extremely strong and therefore won.

Finally, 今にも (ima ni mo) is another set phrase containing “ni mo”. It is used to express that something (often negative) seems like it will happen very soon.

  • 今にも爆発しそう (ima ni mo bakuhatsu shisou)
  • It seems like it will explode at any moment.

Finally, if you enjoyed this article, please consider checking out my recently published book of Japanese particle quizzes. Each question is followed by a detailed explanation about the correct and wrong answers.

[Picture of clownfish taken from Pexels.com]

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