Saturday, September 20, 2014

Japanese Grammar Tips ~The Particles~ (2)

In previous post, I wrote about the basic idea of Japanese particles and . I will tell you the answer of previous post's quiz at the end of this post. First of all, let me introduce tip(2).

(1) Xは = The theme of the sentence is X
 - We Usually use は to describe things. So <AB> is often translated as <A is B>
 - が is used to emphasize the subject. <AB> can also be translated as <B is A>.
 - When we answer the questions like "who is...?" or "what is...?", it is natural to use .
 - が has an exclusive meaning. If we say A, it implies that not B, C, or D, but A.
(2) が describes objectively what has happened
(3) When the subject changes in one sentence, we should use が
(4) Can't we repeat は in one sentence? 
(5) Some Japanese verbs used が to mark the direct object
(6) は can be attached to another particles
* (1) ~ (3) are the posts from lang-8

(2) が describes objectively what has happened
As I wrote in previous journal, shows the theme of the sentence. It is used to describe what something or someone is like, or what it is. On the other hand, when it comes to describe what is happening or what has happened, we usually use .

A black dog is sleeping in the park.
It may rain.
My brother came to my house yesterday.

Here, these don't have the exclusive meaning like tip(1). It just pointed the subject of the sentence. They can also be changed into , but then, the shade of meaning of the sentence will be different.

Speaking of the dog, it's sleeping in the park.
Speaking of the rain, it may fall.
Speaking of my brother, he came to my house yesterday.

Can you see the difference? Let's take a look at another example.
[1] 彼女ダイエットを始めた。
[2] 彼女ダイエットを始めた。
Both can be translated as "she started a diet". [1] just describes what happened, and [2] is, on the contrary, speaking about what she did. In other words, when we say <XY>, the point of the sentence is on Y. But if we say <XY>, then it means we focus on X.

[1] 彼女ダイエットを始めた → talking about WHAT HAPPENED
[2] 彼女ダイエットを始めた → talking about WHAT SHE DID

So, if you say <XY> , you are just a spectator who describes the situation objectively. Then, which particular should I use if I want to talk about myself or about you? Well, we usually omit the subject if it's the first of second person. Japanese people tends to drop the words if it's obvious between the speaker and the listener. But if I dare to write it, I would use .

I'm going to go home now.
Will you come to the party tomorrow?

It sounds natural to use when we talk about ourselves.
When you use , you must be just a spectator who describes the situation objectively. This is the point. You can't be the third person when we talk about yourself, can you? (Some people might say that he has another himself who watches his behavior... but who cares?) This is why we prefer using in this case.

So, in ordinary circumstances, I mean you are not the one who is watching yourself and describe objectively what you did, guess what these sentences imply:


In this case, tip(1) applies. These have the exclusive meanings. You are the one who will come to the party tomorrow? Not others but YOU?

Let's recap!
- When we describe "what happens" or "what has happened", we use .
- In this case, you are just a spectator who describes the situation objectively.
- If you use to describe happenings, then it focuses on "what someone/something did".
- When we talk about the actions of the first and the second person, tip(1) applies.

The previous post's <QUIZ> answer
[1] これ良い → This is good.
[2] これ良い → This is the one that is good.

The difference between them is:
[1] is talking about what it is like, and [2] is talking about which one is good.
Imagine you're going to buy a new laptop. There're many laptops in the shop, but you found the one which seems to be perfect for you. You picked it up and said これ良い!

<Today's QUIZ>
Picture this. You're walking at the park. It was a beautiful day. You found someone is sleeping on a bench when you passed it by. And surprisingly, it was your father!

Which sentence is more natural to describe what you saw at the park?
[1] 父公園のベンチで寝ている。
[2] 父公園のベンチで寝ている。

By the way, do you remember this picture? I drew it for the post <The Word Order>, in which I wrote about the word order in Japanese. =)

That's all for today! If you have any questions or comments, I'd be glad to hear that. Thank you for reading! Bye!


  1. Thank you for this post, it was really useful. and also thanks for answering my question on the last post.
    about the quiz, I guess the second one is right.
    but if I don't find my father "surprisingly" sleeping on the bench, and actually have been searching for him to find where he is, and finally find him there, then isn't はbetter in that sentence?

    1. You're awesome, arman!! You are right, nice examples :D
      I tried to explain as simple as possible, but it still seems to be complex! I'll post the next one before long. Please stay tuned! XD

  2. really thanks, but I'm not like that at all!
    yes, it's a complex topic but I think your explanation have been so good and I'll be looking forward to read the next posts to learn more things. thanks for your time.


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