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  5. "I do not eat meat."

"I do not eat meat."


May 28, 2017



What's the difference between the particles は and を in this lesson? They seem to be used interchangeably in these sorts of sentences.


を: Object marker.

は: Topic marker. If one needs the object as a topic, を + は = は for most cases (just as de + el = del in Spanish).


But here the topic is "I", not the "meat". I don't eat meat. Not "The meat is being eaten by me"

  1. は is not a subject marker. It only marks topic. Meanwhile, topic and subject are different. The topic can be subject, or object, or adverbial, or something else. '肉はおいしいです' (the meat is delicious) and '肉はたべません' ([I do] not eat meat) are both correct; the two 'meat's are both topics, but in the former, the 'meat' is subject, and in the latter, the 'meat' is object.

  2. The subject is implied as 'I'. The topic is 'meat'.

  3. The subject is omitted in the sentence. That is a feature of the Japanese language. The feature is to be understood instead of preset as in cases of European languages.

  4. Finally, the sentence in question is verbally 'Meat - TOPIC - eat - POLITENESS - NEG. ' There is no passive voice; from the context or meanings one infers that the 'meat' is object of 'eat', not its subject.


Though in the Far East we do have the (almost) same concepts of subjects, objects, verbs, tenses etc., in our languages we do not always have all the rules working in the same way as Latin / German / Russian / English / French does. Among these Asian languages, Japanese is one that is easier to learn because it has explicit case markers; but the markers do not work exactly as cases in European languages.


In this same lesson, there is a sentence "I do not eat fish" that is "さかなを食べません". Why is one を while the other is は? They appear to be the same sentence structure.


Sakana wa tabemasu " talking about fish, i will eat it." "Sakana wo tabemasu." I will eat fish. The particle wa has more than one function. In this case the particle wa is the topic. The whole sentence is "watashi ga sakana wa tabemasu." Talking about fish I am the one who will eat it." The particle wa just uses fish as a topic. "Watashi ga sakana wo tabemasu." I am the one who will eat fish.


sorry, it's actually I eat fish ”さかなを食べます”


Wouldn't '肉を食べません' work as well, giving the context?


I think so. One would be I do not eat meat (... at all) [を]. The other is closer to I am not eating meat (...for this meal / right now) [ほ]


I've been teaching myself Japanese for years, off and on. However, this is still confusing to me. Thank you for explaining. Can someone explain this in another way?

What about 肉をください。


を just shows the word behind it is an object like food or something like that and 肉をください is saying please give me some meat.


In this sentence, we often accent on 'please give me' / 'can I have', instead of 'meat'. This sentence for a request needs no topic --- it is not necessary to appear in each sentence. The topic can be as well understood as the blabla in 'It is blabla that ...', though the ~は structure is more common than its English counterpart.


'de+el' is not = to 'del' in spanish


Del Taco. Of the taco. De = of. El = the. Del = of the. Get gud.


Having been looking through some of these forums i think the reason is that you would use ha(wa) in a negative statement. I could be wrong but thats what I've heard


は - topic marker (I don't eat fish at all) を - object marker (I am not eating fish) (It's not a literal translation, I am just explaing the meanibg behind it).


Please could someone explain to me the difference between...




I reckon that, since Japanese has no concept of stress, subtle differences in meaning could be conveyed by employing different particles, as if one of them might be the answer to "what do you not eat?" whereas another one may be used to answer the question "who doesn't eat meat?" If so, are all the sentences above correct? What is the difference between them?


肉は食べません Implies that although I don't eat meat, I eat something else.

肉を食べません A simple sentense saying I do not eat meat. But we tend to use the first one more often.

肉が食べません Never correct. 肉 is an object so cannot use が.


肉が食べません can be translated to "The meat doesn't eat." Although it's a nonsensical sentence, it does show what the function of が is ;)


These examples are super helpful for explaining the difference, thank you!


Thank you for clearing this up.


I enjoyed your use of the word "reckon" - it's rare!


How do you say "I don't want to eat meat (now)" as opposed to "I don't eat meat (ever)" ?

  1. 今(いま)は肉(にく)が食(た)べたくありません。

  2. 普段(ふだん)は肉(にく)を食(た)べません。 / or you can say 菜食主義者(さいしょくしゅぎしゃ)です (I am a vegetarian.)


In your previous comment you said that its incorrect to use 肉が食べ.... But you've just typed it in this comment. Can you explain, please?


食べます I eat meat.

食べたいです I want to eat meat.

When using たい to represent the wish to do something, the particle を has to be replaced with が (old school teaching, while people start to use を with たい these days)


Just as a note, when using the 〜たい(want to 〜) form, rarely, if ever, will you hear anyone use 〜たくありません。As far as I know, it's not grammatical, but I'm still learning. However, in all the resources I have, I found that the way to make it more polite is to conjugate it the same way as i-adjectives and add the です at the end: ほしいです、ほしくないです、ほしかったです、ほしくなかったです。 The 〜たい ending is, in itself, an i-adjective, so it follows the same formal conjugative rule.


The negative form of an い adjective is ~くない. The polite form of this negative form has two variants: ~くないです or ~くありません. You need to understand the negative form of ある is ない, but negative form of あります is ありません. That's why ~くありません is completely grammatical.


食べる is a verb meaning "to eat", it has a subject (the one eating) and an object (the thing being eaten).

が is the subject marker

を is the object marker

は is the topic marker; it is not a grammatical role but a conversational role; and the topic marker can be a lot of things, it can be the subject, or the subject, or even other things. And you can do phrases without an explicit topic.

Let's introduce two nouns, 魚 (さかな, fish) and 犬 (いぬ, dog).

Then we have:

魚を犬が食べる : a dog eats a fish

魚が犬を食べる : a fish eats a dog

and using the topic marker on first exemple :

魚を犬は食べる : as for dog, it eats fish

魚は犬が食べる : as for fish, dogs eats it

and on second one :

魚が犬は食べる : as for dog, fish eats it

魚は犬を食べる : as for fish, it eats dogs

now, very often, object, or subject, or even both, can be unspoken (implied). And we have sentences like 魚は食べる; in such case what is the grammatical role of 魚 ? It can't be said; but the context will tell.

In the case of 肉は食べません however, 肉 is a thing that lacks the ability to eat, so there isn't any ambiguity at all, it is the object (and also made the topic; of all things that could or not be eaten, we are talking of meat).

The subject however is not told; it will depend of the context. When the context is "translate into japanese 'I don't eat meat'", then you know that the subject is "I", the speaker. Otherwise, the context will tell. If I said such sentence while we are both looking at a cat eating vegetables, then most likely the subject is the cat for example.


I would very much like to know this. I've seen a lot of people explaining the は/を/が but they're all really confusing.


I missed the ん ):


私も! Would someone please tell us what is the ん function in that sentence?


~masu is the positive polite form of the verb. ~masen is the negative one.


Does anyone know how to say negative without politeness?


~nai is the informal negative verb suffix


It should be noted that it's not a simple suffix. That is to say, you cannot always exchange ません with ない because it depends on the class of verb you are trying to conjugate.

For example: ・食べません (polite) -> 食べない (plain) so far, so easy for ichidan verbs

・飲みます (polite) -> 飲ない (plain) a bit more complicated for godan verbs

・来ません (polite, pronounced kimasen) -> 来ない (plain, pronounced konai) luckily there are only 3 or 4 verbs which don't fall into the above two classes f(^_^;


This should come in handy


Shouldnt this work as well: O-Niku wa tabemasen. Is it wrong to use an honorific O in this case? Why does it work with Sake?


I think it should be fine to use the お honorific for にく, but it is less common (and somewhat feminine, I believe?)

I have no idea why it's more common/normal for some words to take the お honorific (such as 酒, 風呂, 水) but not others. I'd be curious to know if anyone has a good answer for it.


This is just a guess, but I think I'd heard that words that are native Japanese use the honorific お〜 while Chinese words use the ご〜 or nothing... I can't check up on that right now, so I'm not sure how accurate that is... :P


Why is は necessary?


A particle is necessary for complete sentence. は is not the only one accepted. を is also OK.


Would it be acceptable to use "肉では食べません"?


No. The extra で does not make sense. It would make the sentence mean: I do not eat with meat.


I've been wondering this for a while now, but if I wanted to say the whole sentence, including, "私は". Would I have to change one of the, "は", to a different particle, or are two of the same particle permitted in the same sentence?


私は肉は食べません is ok. The 1st は is for topic and the 2nd は is for stressing the negative.


肉はたべません is wrong?



sips vegan tea


edit: wait... what tea ISNT vegan?


This is false, according to some research it should be Niku o tabemasen (I do not eat meat)

Not, Niku wa tabemasen

... if you do that then it would mean (i do not eat meat but ~)

So if someone ask you "do you eat meat?" You would say Niku o tabemasen (I do not eat meat)

BUT if you wanna expand your answer then.. change the particle into wa and add something like this

Niku wa tabemasen demo sakana wa tabemasu (I do not eat meat but i eat fish)

Feel free to correct me.. im a learner myself


I don't think は is the right particle to use here. I've been learning Japanese for a few years now and I have never heard anyone use は in this sort of context. in fact, when i first started, my teacher made sure we DIDN'T use は in place of を in sentences like this.


When I first learnt Japanese, my teacher made sure we DID use は in place of を in sentences like this (は coupling with negative verb clause for stressing). I have been learning Japanese for a couple of decades now and I find usage like this all over Japan (written and conversation in all circumstances).


Which is more common though? The point is that they're teaching people how to communicate with the people in the way the language is developing toward. I'm hearing both, but more common seems to be the を in place of the は, or at least in the here Tokyo area... It really depends on the area of Japan as to which differences in grammar or verbage they use.


Also, if you've been learning Japanese for a few decades, why are you using Duolingo? No offence, but it seems that your proficiency would be above what you could learn from this app... Or is it that you're just helping others who are also learning the language...? Just a thought.


I learn other languages here in Duolingo, in return, I contribute what I know above other languages. Give and take.

Back to your question. Yes, both は and を are used depending on whether the speaker wants to make 肉 a topic or not. If there is a need to say "I don't eat meat, but there is something else I eat," then は should be used. If there is no such intention, then を is used. It also depends on whether this is a clause that is placed in a larger sentence, or only a simple standalone sentence. If it is only a part of a big sentence, then は has a less chance to be used, as there are more choices for the sentence's topic.

I think in verbal conversation, the most common choice is to drop the particle altogether. (When offered to eat some meat,) 肉食べないんです。ベジタリアンなんで。


Thanks for this discussion!


Meat tastes so good tho


Vegetarians and vegans exist tho


I put in the right answer and it said it was not correct


Duolingo does that sometimes. I usually just roll with it until it says I picked the correct answer

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