"I do not eat meat."
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.
The subject is implied as 'I'. The topic is 'meat'.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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) -> 飲まない (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(^_^;
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 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
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。