1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. "I do not eat bread."

"I do not eat bread."


June 2, 2017



It should be をafter bread not は because bread is an object right? It gets は correct and there si no を as option


を is often replaced by は in negative sentences, especially if it comes after a string of positive sentences. For example, if you were to say, "I eat rice. I also eat udon. I don't eat bread," it would translate as, "ごはんを食べます。うどんも食べます。パンは食べません。” (I don't know if the Duolingo course has already taught も as a particle at this point but hopefully the meaning is still clear)


How do you know when to use をand when to use は?


When it comes down to food をis used to indicate you won't have it right now whereas は would indicate you won't have it at all.

To break it down: (ごはんはたべません。) This means you don't eat rice in general. (ごはんをたべません。) This means you won't eat rice right now. (Because maybe because you're just hungry for it.)

を also refers to the object before the noun in the sentence.

Hope this helps.


Many other people have said that, in the positive form, は vs. を would be the difference between eating bread (in this case) in general, and eating a specific instance of bread.

How is this same distinction made in the negative form?


That's helpful, but would you also be able to explain why this is the case, or is it just a special rule to memorize?


Listen up. 2 simple rules.

  • When you Describe sth, use は (wa). パンはしろです (pan wa shiro desu; the bread is white)
  • When you Subject sth, use を (wo). (A.k.a When sth is the object of a verb you use を). パンを食べます (pan wo tabe masu; I eat bread)


The english translations I gave are NOT the correct way of visualising it!

Rather read it:

  • Bread, regarding it, is white. (は means 'regarding which')
  • Bread, the object, is what I eat. (を means 'the object')


When you say you don't eat bread, is 'bread', the object? Technically, but you're not Subjecting it to anything. Therefore, you're just Describing it..."bread, regarding it, is what I don't eat"!

Therefore は!


But is it only when you don't want it right now or is it also when you dont eat it in a permanent way (because you're vegan, because you dont like the taste of it, etc)?


It can be both. Context will usually give you enough to decide which is meant. I think generally speaking the former would be the more common interpretation; you're probably more likely to give reasons or extra information if you fall into the latter category.


The sentence is right, indeed. The word は marks the topic of a sentence. When the topic is the object of the verb (e.g. 'I eat bread'), the object を is omitted. That may differ from many European languages with declensions, where one must always use accusative for objects.


So this has been discussed at length in any food declaration exercise for Duolingo. It's complicated, and I'm still learning, but what I can best ascertain is as follows: は is used even if food is the subject when you're talking about your opinion of the food, because the subject is really then you (私); so for i don't eat bread, the subject is your willingness to consume the bread, therefore は is the particle. Let's say you're saying "that is bread" or even "I eat bread," it's more understandable to use を because the statement is primarily focused on bread as the subject instead of a belief or behavior you're expressing. There's obviously a bit of crossover there, and it might just be that preference of subject is given to you when expressing a negative state because it's more forcefully about you than about the object? But that's how I've tried to remember it.


Fun fact パン is a loan word from Portuguese if I'm not mistaken.


From the portuguese word Pão - bread


I would think it would be from the Spanish word "pan," meaning bread.


From what got from comments in another question. は is to say this object and only this object. を is to say this object among other things. を is mainly used for positive phrases. パンを食べます I eat bread (I may also eat other things.) パンは食べます I eat bread (and only bread.) So パンは食べません is like; I don't eat bread (but other things I may eat.) I don't know if a を version of ません would work.


Well, that's a reasonably good way to think about it, but "only" has a specific Japanese word too, だけ.

So if you really wanted to say you eat only bread, it would be パンだけを食べます.


You would normally use を as an object marker when describing what the verb is being done to.


The sentence here is "I do not eat bread." Since the correct answer is "ぱんはたべません" does that mean "bread" is not the object of the sentence? That doesn't make sense.


From what I understand, 'wa' here is indicating that 'bread' is the topic of discussion. 'Bread' can still be object of the sentence, but 'wa' overrides 'wo'. In this case, the sentence would be something like: "In regards to bread, (I) don't eat (it)."

You see? Both 'I' and 'It' (subject and object, respectively) are omitted. A certain word can be both topic and object of a given sentence. In this case, the word is 'bread'.

Alternatively, you can think of the particle selection as stressing different parts of the sentence.

Using 'wa' stresses what you are doing, the action: "In regards to bread, (I) DON'T EAT (It)." You won't eat it ever (for example, if you dislike it).

In negative sentences It's usually more important to state that you WON'T eat something (the topic) than to say that a certain word is the object. Think of it as secondary.


Shouldn't パンは食べないです be accepted?


Does the ん here make an "ng" sound, or am i hearing it wrong?


I'm just a beginner, but according to the "Genki" textbook I'm also studying from that symbol can make an 'n' sound, 'm' sound, or 'ng' sound depending on the word and what follows it.


ん's sound experiences a lot of something called assimilation. That's when one sound takes on the qualities of other nearby sounds. ん's sound does it approximately like this:

  • 'n' in normal circumstances - tongue touching toward the front of your mouth roof, with air coming out of your nose (air coming out of your nose = a "nasal" sound)

  • 'm' before b, p, and m sounds - because these sounds use your lips, and a nasal using the lips is an m sound

  • 'ng' before g and k - because these sounds have the back of the tongue up touching the roof of your mouth, and a nasal in this position is the ng sound!


パンは食べません。 why not パンは食べん。?


That is because ません is a polite negative and ん in the context of this sentence is nothing.


That's correct. In standard Japanese, which is ostensibly what this course is teaching.

However, 食べん is a colloquial negative which should be used with caution (as it is a fairly crass/curt way of speaking). Alternatively, it could be interpreted as a spoken form of the Kansai dialect (食べへん), where the へ gets shortened to imperceptibility.

I agree that it shouldn't be accepted though, because it isn't standard Japanese, but just in case anyone was curious :)


Can someone let me know how to change this to an imperative "I can not eat something", or is it the same thing. I'm thinking in the context of a severe food allergy.


"I can not eat something" isn't an imperative; an imperative is a command to someone to do or not do something, e.g. "Eat the bread".

In the context of a food allergy, you could use a few different forms (some of which you'll learn later in this course).

  • パンは食べてはいけません。The -てはいけません structure means "not allowed to verb", so you're saying "bread isn't something (you) are allowed to eat".
  • パンは食べられません。The polite potential form of the verb 食べる is 食べられます, so using the negative form implies an inability to eat bread.
  • パンのアレルギーです。This simply says "I have a bread allergy" (context can make things pretty clear).

Side note: you could use パンは食べません, but that doesn't necessarily imply a food allergy. The connotation of this sentence is that you are making a choice/decision to not eat bread.


Your definition of imperative is flawed.

im·per·a·tive Dictionary result for imperative /əmˈperədiv/ adjective adjective: imperative

<pre>1. of vital importance; crucial. "immediate action was imperative" synonyms: vitally important, of vital importance, all-important, vital, crucial, critical, essential, of the essence, a matter of life and death, of great consequence, necessary, indispensable, exigent, pressing, urgent; More </pre>

I appreciate the rest of the info, thanks.


Nope, your understanding of grammatical terminology is incomplete.

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary, imperative (im.per.a.tive | \im--'per-ə-tiv, -ˈpe-rə-)

1 a: of, relating to, or constituting the grammatical mood that expresses the will to influence the behavior of another

b: expressive of a command, entreaty, or exhortation

From Wikipedia,

The imperative mood is a grammatical mood that forms a command or request.

An example of a verb used on the imperative mood is the English sentence "Please be quiet".


when do I use は and when do I use を? By scrolling an inch, I have found only contradicting answers.


を denotes a subject. When you say you don't eat bread, you're Not subjecting it to eating. Therefore (in Japanese) it is Not a subject. Therefore you Can't use を


Small correction: 'wo' particle denotes an object that is subjected to an action. Bread is not subjected to eating (in negative sentences), so you treat it only as the topic of discussion (using 'wa' particle).

Sorry for rōmaji, I'm on my phone.


Not quite the right tip for asking but..... If です and ます are for formal, so how to say ません (I mean, how to say "not") in informal?


です is easy - informal form is always じゃない or ではない (the former being much more common in speech).

Other verbs are a bit trickier. They all end with ない, but you can't always simply replace the ません with ない - there are a bunch of rules for conjugating Japanese verbs (I suggest looking them up if you're interested).

In brief, there are three categories of verbs (which you sort of have to just memorize which verbs are in which category): 一段 ("one-step"), 五段 ("five-step"), and 変格 ("irregular").

食べません is an 一段 verb, so to change from 食べません to informal negative, you take the verb stem 食べ and add ない to it: 食べません -> 食べ -> 食べない.

For a 五段 verb, like 遊びません【あそびません "to not play"】, you take the verb stem 遊び, shift it to the "a" base (often also called "base 1") 遊ば, then add ない: 遊びません -> 遊び -> 遊ば -> 遊ばない

Irregular verbs need to be memorized, but luckily there's only three:

  • しません -> しない (root verb: する to do)
  • 行きません -> 行かない (root verb: 行く【いく】"to go")
  • 来ません【ません】->来ない【ない】 (root verb: 来る【る】"to come")


Does 食べない work as a more natural way? Or is this more like saying "I don't eat bread at all"


「食べない」works but it's more casual/ less formal than 「食べません」. If you want to say "not at all", you can add ぜんぜん or まったく, like;

  1. パンはぜんぜんたべません。(たべない)
  2. パンはまったくたべない。(たべません)


This is kinda hokey. I usually hear を instead. I know its grammatically acceptable, just also unusual.

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.