Particles #6: Use と, や, and も to Make Lists

Main Points

  • The particle と works like the conjunction "and" in English. Unlike in English, と is placed after every item in a list (except the last one).

  • The particle や works the same as と, except it indicates that the list is not exhaustive.

  • The particle も is very similar to と when listing items, but with extra emphasis on the items (in English, this is done through intonation by stressing the word "and").


Use と Between Items in an Exhaustive List

In many cases, when listing items, you will connect each item to the previous one with the particle と. In this way, you can think of と as being equivalent to "and." Whereas we only put the word "and" before the last item in English, と is placed before every item in the list but the first. This is illustrated in the example below.




I played golf last Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

However, と is not the only particle that corresponds to "and," as explained below.

Use や Between Items in a Non-exhaustive List

The particle や does the same job as と as described above. However, it communicates to the listener that there are more items on the list that you left out. In this way, using the particle や instead of と is similar to adding "...and so on" or "etc." to the end of a list in English.

You'll often see this particle coupled with など, which has a similar meaning as "etc."


動物園でゴリラ象 (など) を見える。

どうぶつえんでゴリラぞう (など) をみえる。

You can see gorillas and elephants, among other animals, at the zoo.

Use も for an exhaustive list of items when you want to add emphasis

In this case, も and と have nearly identical meanings, with a slight difference in nuance. You can use も to emphasize that what you're saying is surprising or interesting in some way.

In English, we often add this emphasis by using the expression "both A and B," or by stressing the word "and," as in "A, B, and C."



I went to both Italy and Greece.

This particle can also be translated as "or" in negative sentences.



Charlie Brown didn't get any presents or cards on his birthday.

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