"I do not buy chairs."
As far as I understand it it's a question of what is in the focus of negation. If you say いすを買いません, that could be understood as "I am not buying chairs (but somebody else is)" because the implied subject would be interpreted as the topic. But if you say いすはかいません, that means "I am not buying chairs (but I may be buying other things)".
Oh man the difference seems so subtle and confusing. Would be nice to have a more focused lesson on this
I agree, a focused lesson on topicalisation would be a good idea. But I guess even so it would be of limited value as long as the web version isn’t available yet, because we can’t access the tips on mobile platforms.
What largely needs to be understood, and is not taught through a simple app like Duolingo, is sentence structure.
From reading past discussions on when to use が vs は I found that you must decipher what the context is. Japanese, (and most languages), is very context dependent. Duolingo doesnt explain anything, because thats not what this app is for.
So, in this, because we are translating "I do not buy chairs" you need to understand the subject of the sentence is not the chairs, it is you.
In this case, わたし (私) is left out because in Japanese you leave out what is already explained (context!). We know you are speaking about yourself because you were probably asked, "are you going to buy the chairs?"
Therefore, as the subject is not the chairs, the correct particle is は. As for the exact reason it is は not が, is because が is used for adjectives describing the object, I believe.
Can anyone confirm this?
context would certainly be helpful.
は is declaring chairs as the topic (distinct from the grammatical subject) of the sentence. one situation this could apply to would be if the person is listing various furniture items they're buying and someone asks about chairs, specifically. "chairs? as far as chairs are concerned, I'm not buying them."
in contrast, maybe if the person asked, "geez, you're buying so much... what aren't you buying?" in that case が would be appropriate as it answers the question and marks いす as the answer. in other words, it's specifically the grammatical subject of the sentence.
を might be just an offhand declaration about this person's disdain for buying chairs. as in "Joey doesn't share food." "I don't buy chairs."
Very good explanetion, though you can't say が in this case because いす is the object of the sentence. this is also why you can say を as an offhand declaration as you say. が on the other hand is used only for a subject. は is indeed a topic marker.
That's an excellent point -- いす would not be the grammatical subject in that case. I hadn't even caught that.
in my mind, i was thinking of <<いすがかいません。>> in the sense where かいません is almost being used as an adjective (Chairs are not bought), such as would be the case in <<いすが好きじゃない。>> However, 好き is an adjective and かう is not. What I'm describing would probably require a passive construction, but i haven't learned that yet.
That leads me to wonder -- if I were hearing someone describe a list of things they bought and I wanted to say.. "holy smokes... what don't you buy?" <<何が買いませんか。>> -- how would one answer that question? Would <<いすをかいません。>> be right in that case? it feels like answering that question would call for a が somewhere but your point about the grammatical subject is also true... it's throwing me off.
Using the Hepburn romaji system, particles are romanized differently.
Isnt を used to mark direct object I. E. Object upon which an action is directly(transitive ) taking place.
The action of not buying is not an action in true sense, is it? So we cannot use を here, can we?
Also most of the sentences dealing with negative action that I have come across always seem to use either は/が.
Am I correct?
I typed in ’椅子は買いません’ but it kept showing up as incorrect. Is it acceptable to say it this way?
There is nothing wrong with the statement, and it is the exact same いすはかいません, but correctly spattered with kanji. Duolingo sometimes does not accept kanji that have not been explicitly taught.
I think if they had put "わたし" in the sentence bank, it would remove some context confusion and have a more accurate translation
椅子は買いません nor 椅子はかいません are accepted, despite correct. Also since this is out of context, i believe the topic marker は is inappropriate.