is a particle that has several different roles in Japanese, with the most common being as a 副助詞（ふくじょし） (adverbial particle). や
is used similarly to と
as ‘and’, but rather than listing specific things in a group, it lists ‘things like (A)’.
is always used to group nouns, and simply comes directly after them.
This super market has things like fruit and bento’s.
Things like planes and ships are big.
To compare how と
are different, imagine that there is a bowl of fruit. In this bowl there are apples, oranges, and peaches. If と
is used to list the apples and oranges, it would give the listener the impression that there are no peaches. This is called an ‘exhaustive’ list, meaning that all possibilities should be listed. However, if や
is used, the listener would know that there are other things in the bowl apart from the apples and oranges. In this way, や
is a better choice when you want to say ‘and’, but don’t want to limit the group that you are listing.
Last night at the party, I drank beer and wine. (Only beer and wine)
Last night at the party, I drank things like beer and wine. (There were other things, but it was mainly beer and wine)
や cannot be used after verb phrases. This is done with たり, or とか.