Japanese particle combination: からの (kara no)

By | July 13, 2020

As you probably know, particles are little words that help give grammatical context to other words in Japanese and are critically important for proper grammar (and in some ways are similar to articles and prepositions in English). Particles can be used on their own, as well as in limited combinations with other particles, and in this article I’d like to go over the “からの” (kara no) combination, which is formed from the particles “kara” and “no”.

While both “kara” and “no” have a variety of uses, when used together in combination as “kara no” (never as “no kara”), they generally are limited to a smaller set of meanings. So first let’s go over the meanings of “kara” and “no” that are relevant to this discussion.

One of the primary meanings of “kara” is to express the direction something is coming from, either as the source of some action (“a present from a friend”) or the beginning of something (“a class that starts from today”). Fortunately, both of these uses match up with the English word “from”, so you can remember them that way. Let’s look at one full example with both Japanese and English:

  • 僕は友達からプレゼントをもらった。 (boku wa tomodachi kara purezento wo moratta.)
  • I received a present from a friend.

The “no” particle has a few common meanings, but the most relevant one to this discussion is to connect two words. This can be in a possessive sense (ex: “my book”) or in an adjectival (describing) sense (ex: “a Japanese college”). Let’s look at an example sentence with both of these usages:

  •  ゆうこ本を日本書店に送った。(Yuuko no hon wo nihon no shoten ni okutta).
  • I sent Yuko’s book to a Japanese bookstore.

Fortunately, when “kara” and “no” are combined, the meaning is generally the combination of the two meanings we just went over. In other words, we are talking about possession/description of something that came from something/someone or began from some point in time. Let’s look a simple example:

  • けんたはお父さんからの手紙を読みました。 (kenta wa otousan kara no tegami wo yomimashita.)
  • Kenta read a/the letter from his father.

Let’s look at another example that involves “from” in the sense of the beginning of something.

  • 今日からの生活が楽しみ。 (kyou kara no seikatsu ga tanoshimi)
  • I’m looking forward to my life from today.

Notice that in both cases there is really no word in English that is equivalent to the “no” when “kara no” is used. So that makes you wonder, why is the “no” needed at all?

The reason is that without the “no”, the “kara” becomes adverbial instead of adjectival. In other words, it applies to the nearest (or most applicable) verb, not the following word. So let’s see what happens when we remove the “no” from one of the above example sentences:

  • けんたはお父さんから手紙を読みました。 (kenta wa otousan kara tegami wo yomimashita.)

I’m not sure if this sentence makes any sense, because with the verb “read”, “from” is generally used in terms of reading from a certain place, or from a certain book. So it’s not really clear what reading “from” a person means.

Keep in mind that the above are common usages and not meant to be comprehensive. Another usage of “から” is in the form “だから” which means “because”, though it may help to think in terms of “from the reason of …”. It is possible to use からの with this phrase:

  • 「だから」の説明をしたいと思います。 (“dakara” no setsumei wo shitai to omoimasu)
  • I’d like to explain (the word) “dakara”.

Here, the から and the  の are separated by a right bracket, but if you were to hear this spoken it would sound like “…からの…”. It’s a somewhat contrived example, but I wanted to mention it just in case you come across something like this.

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