"てがみは書きますか?"

Translation:Do you write letters?

June 6, 2017

40 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Maeldryn

I think the better answer that I'm beginning to see is that はdoes not mark the subject. Instead it marks the topic of the sentence. It would be the equivalent of 'about blank'. So "About movies, do you watch (them) ?" is 「映画 (えいが) は 見ます か。」So therefore a more smooth sentence in English "Do you write letters?" is 「手紙 は 書きます か。」 The object marking particle を isn't used because the object is inferred and therefore left out. After all, it looks quite redundant to write 「手紙 は 手紙 を 書きます か。 」 " About letters, do you write letters?"

-post is long, but I hope it helps.

(edit) - 手紙 is てがみ or letter in kanji. Thanks @mariodez and @anonamoose52. - (/edit)

June 10, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ShawnGates6

Correct, は marks the topic not the subject. が Is used to mark the subject. And yes, you can have both in the same sentence.

June 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AndresMata4

but what happens if you "extend " the sentence to include あなた?wouldn't it be あなたはてがみ(を/が)かきますか?

June 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Maeldryn

I think you might be a little fuzzy on the use of particles は、が、 and を. But your sentence is almost correct. From what I understand of Japanese, your sentence should flow as "あなた(は/が)てがみをかきます. If you wanted to make 'letter' the topic and still use 'you' as the subject of the sentence (though it would be a little redundant), then I think the sentence would be divided differently. てがみは… あなた が かきますか?Something like that.

June 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Nivkotzer
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Great help, thanks! :)

June 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/LoriK22

Can someone explain why は is used here instead of を? I would think that てがみ would still be the direct object here

June 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/JulianDomanski

I think its because it's talking about letters in general. So "on the subject of letters, do you write them?" instead of "I write a/this letter". 手紙を書きます Would be if you'd actually written a letter.

June 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/KevinAjose

If thats is so, The correct answer is gramtically wrong in english "Do you write a letter?" → "Do you write letters?"

June 9, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Maeldryn

Japanese doesn't actually distinguish plural from singular very much. There are words for plural like 'these' and 'those' but they aren't used very often. And unlike in English where plural forms are conjugated (typically by adding 's'), I'm told that Japanese doesn't conjugate plural forms of words. So the translation is very context dependent on whether there are letters or just one letter. Therefore the question can be loosely translated either way.

I think what Julian ment is that because letter(s) are the topic, it uses a different particle then を(the particle for objects). Instead it uses the は (topic marking particle) to show that the conversation topic has changed to letters.

June 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/melk_
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I wrote 'are you writing a letter' and it was marked correct

June 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Tara_han

Hello Clippy! XD

June 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/FonzieSquirrel

No, "Do you write a letter?" asks if someone is writing any letter in general, thus you use は.

July 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/RobbPorter

I don't think that makes sense in English. "Did you write a letter?". "Do you write letters?". "Are you going to write a letter?". "Should i write a letter?". Not "Do you write a letter?".

September 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/tx91791
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These are just example sentences used to teach/learn. It would be wastefull to always use context. "I send her a package every month"...That's nice. Do you write a letter?" = Perfectly good English. (Although maybe still missing some context)

January 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Maeldryn

は (the topic marking particle) can override を (the object particle), but only if は was being used to intentionally change or bring up the topic of letters. There are other uses of the は.

Look at this site for a comprehensive understanding of は and が. (The more you know...) http://nihonshock.com/2010/02/particles-the-difference-between-wa-and-ga/

July 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/mariodez
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If 手 is "hand" what's 紙 ? Something like "handmade"? Or "handwritten"?

July 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/mariodez
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Is it also related to おりがみ?

July 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/anonamoose52

Yes, 紙 is paper in both. 手紙 (letter) is Hand Paper. 折り紙 (origami) is Paper Folding

July 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Sid338035

Fun fact: the same word 手紙 actually means toilet paper in chinese

October 9, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Aki-kun
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If it's used alone, 紙(かみ) is usually translated as paper.

November 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AdamScott794079
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Is this abc or dear sir letters?

July 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Maeldryn

"Dear sir." That kind.

July 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ZelieZazou
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手紙は書きますか?

July 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ngochung72
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Why "the letter" is wrong? And "a letter" right? When I ask someone about the letter that I've told he/she to write before, how can do it?

September 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Newton_Alex

"Can you write letters?" is not accepted as an answer.

February 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/V2Blast
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Because that's not what the Japanese sentence says. The verb is in the simple nonpast form, not the potential form.

March 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Manu869612

Hai. Violet Evergarden desu.

April 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Shaun510462

How do you know if a question is directed to a person other than yourself or to yourself?

August 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/V2Blast
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Usually you'd just have to determine it from context. In this question, the speaker is probably not asking someone else whether the speaker will write a letter.

November 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/panino1
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Why is "Shall I write a letter?" an incorrect translation?

August 18, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Maeldryn

Not sure.... I suspect that there is a different phrase to make a suggestion. If you had changed your question to say "Shall we write a letter?" then I would point out the correct translation for that would be 手紙は書きませんか?As it is however, I don't know what the answer to your question is. I'd like to see an answer myself.

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ASleepingRock

I would say the Japanese sentence for your sentence would be along the lines of "(わたしは)手紙を書きましょうか", but it would change depending on context/why I am saying it.

The verb 書くin its base form without any conjugations means "to write". So the sentence here with just parts would read "(implied noun) about letters write?" (or in the common tongue, "does (noun) write letters?). When the word "shall" comes in, it adds meaning that was not there in the question, the change being reflected as "SHOULD (noun) write letters". The sentence then isn't asking about if X simply writes letters, but if it's a good idea whether or not X writes letters...

A bit confusing and long winded, but I hope it helped. There probably are other, better reasons out there と思う.

July 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/cs12b006
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Why is "Do you write a letter" wrong? Sorry my English is bad, it might be worse than my Japanese.

March 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ASleepingRock

Because letter is marked by the particle は, which means it is not talking about one letter but rather letters in general. "Do you write a letter?" means that you only wrote one letter.

July 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/DhoniSFA
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how about "do you write letter" it is also marked wrong

July 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ASleepingRock

"letter" in your sentence should be plural with 's'. Try "Do you write letters?".

August 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/DoraKim1

I wrote my answer as "Do you write letter" shouldnt it say its correct? :(

July 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Weeaboo_3452

No, I read manga

February 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Simon536686

I've reported this one as "doesn't sound correct", but in reality it doesn't even play in my browser. I had to press the "play slowly" symbol to hear it.

February 18, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Servio666

Letters? LETTERS? I don't see the kanji or kana 字 ANYWHERE BRUH. Tf!

March 4, 2019
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