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  5. "日本語がはなせます。"


Translation:I can speak Japanese.

June 6, 2017



At this point you can pretty much say I'm fluent, yes


Comments like this are exactly why I check out the comments section for every sentence, even if I'm not looking for help with something in a sentence. Good resources are buried everywhere.


That's very useful, but teaching that は and が mean "is/are" seems pretty inaccurate.


¿What do they really mean, then? Practicing here, I've started to relate them with the "to be" verb.


Japanese sentence structure is subject+object+verb. です means is/am/are. は/が are "postpositions" which are used to denote the role of the previous word/phrase in the sentence. は/が cannot mean is/am/are in any circumstances.


Someone tough me that は was basically "About...". Like, わたしはフランスじんです can be seen as "About me, I'm French." And for the が, it's like a little arrow coming from the verb to say "Hey ! this word is my grammatical subject!". は is the theme of the sentence, while が is the subject of the verb, and some verbs' subjects aren't the one doing them (e.g, "to like" in Japanese is similar to "gustar" in Spanish, the subject of the verb is the liked thing). Hope I helped a little ^^



が is subject marker and は is topic marker, and は supersedes が if the subject is also a topic. I don't think the course contributors equate these two in the whole Japanese course, but in fact in Japanese there are a lot of times we need to choose whether to use は or が.

I usually give out 2 links for the appropriate usage to は/が. First one for beginners, and second one for advanced.


I was wandering why it wasnt hanashimasu so i did a quick search~

hanaSHImasu = to speak, do speak hanaSEmasu = can speak, to be able to speak

There are 2 phrases that might cause confusion:

  1. Nihongo o hanaSHImasu ka? Do you speak Japanese?

  2. Nihongo ga hanaSEmasu ka? Can you speak Japanese?

Oh good god this is gonna be fun.... XD


There are a LOT of conjugations for verbs in Japanese. I find it weird how Duolingo just threw hanaSEmasu without much explanation. 話せます(hanaSEmasu) is the Potential form of 話します(hanaSHImasu) which is Present Indicative form. It takes a while to learn and is definitely confusing, but eventually you catch on.


There are a lot, but there are very few irregular verbs (only two or three very frequently used), so the rules apply nearly universally. Compare to French, which has many dozens of irregular verbs, or English, which has hundreds.


I don't hear the ga sound pronounced?


Im also beginner but what i know so far. Check Forvo.com, and some words with GA, GE, GI, etc. Some japanese say GA some say NGA. It is more like dialect, depend from region and age. More info : https://gengojeff.com/2013/06/16/japanese-nasal/


Pay close attention, it is there


yeah it is pronounced as "na" instead of "ga" i think this also roots in making a language smoother like the french do a lot


Ga in particular is pronounced differently depending on the syllable that precedes it. Sometimes it sounds like ga nga or na. Since I don't really remember the rules, I'll let someone else explain them, you can pick them up through practice, or you can research them (a quick search by me didn't yield good results). It has more to do with the shape of the mouth or placement of the tongue naturally changing the sound slightly, so if you always try to say ga, you should be fine. Also there is a popular dialect that often pronounces it nga, apparently.


for example - nihonGoGa would not feel right and fluent when speaking - but i also am just beginning to learn


I believe that's correct, similar to how the particle for は is pronounced like わ, and the particle を is pronounced like お.


Is the ka being pronounced as na? Is that correct?


It does sound like it (but really I just want the notification if someone answers this well)


I think it's important for people to know ALL Japanese verbs forms to understand clearly each sentence.

All Japanese verbs has 2 basic forms (let's take "hanasu (speak)" as example):

-Informal: Hanasu

-Formal (polite): Hanashimasu

When doing the potential form, we have here even two forms:

-Informal potential: Hanaseru

-Formal potential (polite): Hanasemasu

So it's normal to say "Nihongo ga hanasemasu" in a formal speech.

Anyway I leave here a link explaining the reason why we don't use the particle "o" while using the potential verb form but the particle "ga" or "wa" for those who didn't understand it yet: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/potential.html .




Wouldn't this be "Japanese can speak"? I thought が indicated the subject of a sentence, shouldn't を be used instead?


Verbs that take the particle を, can also take the particle が when in their potential form. When you use the particle が it puts more emphasis on the word before the particle. I.E 日本語が話せます= I can speak Japanese (as opposed to Korean). I believe that できる (the potential form of する) takes が almost all of the time


Different between Desu and Masu です ます


です for nouns and ます for verbs


What exactely does ます mean?


It adds to the end of a verb in renyou form (in this exercise はなす→はなせ) to express politeness to the listener.


Desu is like the English copula to be. This a pen - kore wa pen desu. Use it whenever you want to say or ask what something is. Masu gets attached to a verb to say that you are doing. Shoukuji (w)o tabemasu - I am eating a/the meal. Shimasu is to do version and can be added to nouns that can be done. Tenisu (w)o shimasu. However desu is never attached to a verb or verbstem tabedesu would wrong.


Does the kanji go (after ni hon) indicates that we are talking about the language?


I'm not quite sure but I do know that "go" represents a language. Take this sentence as an example -- 日本 is Japan, whereas 日本語 is Japanese (the language). Someone please correct me if I am wrong.


I believe that's correct


This is right. 語 after a country's name is the language of it. Like for 中国 (China) andドイツ (Germany) the languages are 中国語 (Chinese) and ドイツ語 (German).


Para los que hablan español, acá una explicación de un nativo: https://www.espaiwabisabi.com/particulas-wa-y-ga/


Can someone break this down please?


日本語 japanese

が particle representing previous noun is a subject.

話せます(はなせます) polite form of 話せる, which is a potential form of 話す which means to speak.

Potential form means "the state representing the ability of doing an action."


日 (4 strokes)

day, sun, Japan, counter for days

••Reading•• ▪Kun: ひ(Hi)、 -び (-bi)、 - か(-ka)

▪On: ニチ (Nichi)、 ジツ(jitsu)

▪Japanese names: あ(a)、 あき(aki) 、 いる(iru)、 く(ku)、 くさ(kusa)、 こう(kou)、 す(su)、 たち(tachi)、 に(ni)、 にっ(ni-)、 へ (he)

••Words Starting with 日••

▪日曜《にちよう/Nichiyou》: Sunday

▪日記《にっき/Nikki》: Dairy; journal

▪日常《にちじょう/Nichijou》: Daily; ordinary; routine

••Words Ending with 日••




▪火曜日《かようび/Kayoubi》: Tuesday




▪土曜日《どようび/ Doyoubi》:Saturday





▪一昨日《おととい/Ototoi》:The day before yesterday


I honestly learned this as 日本語で話せます because you speak "in" Japanese.


This is interesting. 日本語で話せる means that you can say something in Japanese, for example a sentence, a message etc. On the other hand, I (can) speak Japanese is in general an ability to communicate.


日本語が話せます。with more Kanji


It is important to point out that はなせます is the potential form (can [VERB]) of the verb 話す(はな.す, and in this form the direct object takes the particle が. It is difficult from a grammar point of view if this is not properly explained.


Whats the difference between ます and です?


です is the (polite) copula and roughly translates to "to be". You'll see it in sentences equating something with something else. "A = B"

Kanji・Hiragana・Romaji・Description・English Translation

寿司が好きです・すしがすきです・sushi ga suki desu・Sushi = likeable・"I like sushi"
今日は木曜日です・きょうはもくようびです・kyou wa mokuyoubi desu・Today = Thursday・"Today is Thursday"
今は一時です・いまはいちじです・ima wa ichiji desu・(it now) = 1:00・"It is 1:00 now"
公園は静かです・こうえんはしずかです・kouen wa shizuka desu・Park = Quiet・"The park is quiet"

ます is the polite present/future conjugation verb ending.

Kanji・Hiragana・Romaji・Translation・Dictionary form

食べます・たべます・tabemasu(I, you, he, she, they) (will) "eat"informal present/future dictionary form: 食べる taberu
飲みます・のみます・nomimasu(will) "drink"from 飲む nomu
ます・shimasu(will) doする suru
話します・はなします・hanashimasu(will) speak話す hanasu
話せます・はなせます・hanasemasu(will) can speak話せる hanaseru

*Note that if the plain form doesn't end in iru/eru (such as taberu, becoming tabe + masu, and hanaseru becoming hanasemasu); the last kana changes to its い form before masu is added (nomu becomes nomi + masu, hanasu becomes hanashimasu)


So why isn't this sentence "日本語がはなせる", if that's 'can', where 'はなせます' is 'will'?


ます can be either present or future as Japanese doesn't distinguish between the two; it is 'will' but it is also just a general 'does action'.

はなせる and はなせます have the same meaning "can speak"; the first is simply less formal, the masu form is more polite


given 話 kanji is already introduced, I can't see any reason for this not accepting 話せます. When done as an audio exercise, it's basically just an exercise of guessing how whether they chose kanji or kana for each word.


I d'know...as i understand it, Kanji isn't meant to be phonetic, so even if it'll make the right sound, it won't have the same meaning.

It'd be like spelling 'fish' P-H-Y-S-H; it's the right sounds, but that's not a real word.

At least, that's how I understand it; I admit that I could be wrong.


Hanaseru is the impolite form of hanasemasu, not hanasu. Hanasemasu is can speak, more like the ability to speak. The sentence is saying you have the ability to speak japanese.


Hanasu is just the infinitive, so it's fine


It is left out, they just don't say it, because it's clear, that "I" is meant.


Can someone explain which symbol is "can".


The -eru or -emasu means "can." Remove the ending u from hanasu and add -eru to form hanaseru/hanasemasu.


In lessons by NHK news, they told that all the "g-" sounds become nasals when not at the beginning of a word. Does this apply to particles like "ga"?


Is it just me or are the answers sometimes unable to read kanji? Because for this instance I wrote "日本語が話せます。" and it marked it wrong and gave me the exact same answer but the verb was written as はなせます instead... If this is intentional or not please tell me.


There should be an alternate answer for using the kanji of はなせ(話せ), for those who type out the characters instead of using the word bank.


The translation that it gives me is "i can speak japanese" but to indicate that u can would be できます。so the sentece for the translation would be 日本語 が話す ことができます. Right?


How would the sentence sound if someone put は instead of が? How would that be translated, just curious!


"I can speak Japanese," or "As for Japanese, I can speak."


Hi ! What's the difference between はなします and はなせます. Is that maybe "I speak" and "I can speak". I remember I learn the first one, but the second no. Thanks


はなします is the action of speaking (so I speak, I am going to speak, I will speak)

はなせます refers to the ability of speaking (both I speak and I can speak mean having the ability to speak)


Merci l'ami !


Is it not お? I'm confused.


Do you mean を ? I found a topic about this on internet. https://www.italki.com/question/27751

It seems depending on the verb. With some you'll use を, with others you'll use が. Japanese is tricky lol.


Could it be hanaseDESU or we only use masu with some verbs and for some others the -desu? ???


verb - use ます

noun - use です


is this saying more common than 日本語を話することがでかけます。


Why not "watashi nihongo ga hanasemasu"?


I think I forgot "wa". Can someone help me? Arigatou gozaimasu. :)


The "watashi wa" is implied. To include it isn't grammatically wrong, but it sounds a bit strange.


How do you know it is "I" in the sentence instead of he or she since they don't specific pronouns.


You have no way to know in Duolingo exercise, but in real life you would probably know it by context.


When we click the が particle it says it's the "subject particle", but the subject is not 日本語. The subject of the sentece is infered from context ("I").

I believe calling が "the subject particle" might not be appropriate or accurate. Can anyone more advanced comment on this? Ty


May be more appropriate to say it marks the target of hope or preference, but が is the (passive) subject of "be able to speak." See my other reply in this thread.


There is a subject and a topic, in this case the topic is implied to be yourself as in 私【わたし】は and the subject is the language you can speak 日本語【にほんご】が. You are the topic and not the subject because what's important in the sentence is what is being done and not who does it, in this case "being able to speak Japanese" is the information that need to be transferred as "Japanese" being the subject.

You can also use 私は日本語が話せます and declare the topic (I) and the subject (Japanese) and is grammatically correct but a little awkward in Japanese.


Can I say: "日本語ははなせます。 " replacing が for は?


Yes. Basically は makes 日本語 the topic of sentence.


So I could, without any problem, say 日本語がはなせます。 And there wouldn't be any problem? Might there be any subtle difference? Thanks in advance.


I can speak Japanese 日本語はなせます

As for Japanese. I can speak 日本語はなせます


Is there a way to construct this sentence using 'watashi wa' or is that usually not done in Japanese?


It is often the case to omit the subject and infer it by context. But to explicitly denote the subject, it would be わたしは 日本語が 話せます


Is it ok to omit が ? I thought が and は are placed after the subject but in this sentence the subject(私)is skipped. Please anwer, I'm so confused...


No, because this sentence (including the omitted 私は) has two subjects.

There can be multiple subjects in a sentence. This is the so-called は~が structure in Japanese. It is used to describe traits owned by someone or something.

私は背が高いです I have a trait that my back is high. => I am tall. Both 私 (I) and 背(Back) are subjects (same as the English sentence).

私は英語が話せます。 私 is the larger subject and 英語 is the smaller subject. "I have a trait that English is being able to be spoken"


What is 'i can speak a little japanese' in japanese?


日本語が 少(すこ)し 話せます


Isnt i cant not speak japanese the same as i don't speak japanese?


"can't not" is a double negative. It should be either "cannot/can not" or "can't"
"can" deals with the potential form of the verb and expresses an inability to speak. "Don't" is plain form and expresses not doing an action regardless of ability.


Since Japanese people don't use spaces I am not sure if はなせます is a single word or if it's 2 words or if it is a conjugated verb I don't see what is the root (assuming there is a root), can someone help me?


It is the conjugated potential form of 話す - hanasu - to speak (plain dictionary form)
話します - hanashimasu - to speak (polite -masu form)
話せる - hanaseru - to be able to speak (plain potential form)
話せます - hanasemasu - to be able to speak (polite -masu potential form)


What's the difference between 日本 and 日本語?


-語 means "The language of"


Which lesson featured 語 kanji introduction?


You're supposed to assume that "語" means "ご" just as you've learned that "生" is "せい" as in "学生" and "先生" if that's of any help. Please, do feel free to ask questions if any further clarity is needed.


what would the translation be if you used wa instead of ga


It stresses different parts of the sentence.
Wa: "(On the topic of) Japanese - I can speak it"
Ga: "Japanese (is the language) I can speak"


Would a more literal translation be 'Japanese is spoken'? 日本 means 'Japan' and 語 means language, and combined it means Japanese. が is a subject marker, therefore 日本語 is the subject, not me/私. 話せます or はなせます means to speak. If the sentence was full (including 私) would the sentence be '私は日本語が話せます' (meaning 'As for me, Japanese is spoken')? I know in English it would be more appropriate to say 'I speak Japanese' but if you were trying to give someone a more direct translation, would I be considered correct? Thanks.


It is a literal translation as I have discussed above but it is too literal to be called as a good translation.(And I don't really think a translation can be classified as "correct" or "incorrect." It should be how good or bad it is, and in terms of scale, not clear cut.)


Thanks! I always appreciate it when someone gives a good explanation.


I would like to know what does が is doing there.


It is the subject marker putting emphasis on Japanese being the language you can speak.
Wa: "(On the topic of) Japanese - I can speak it" Ga: "Japanese (is the language) I can speak"

Since the verb is in potential form and intransitive (does not take a direct object) you would not use を here, though in some cases it is becoming more common to. It changes the nuance a bit- putting more emphasis on the active effort put into being able to do something as opposed to a natural ability to do something. I'm not sure Duo accepts this though as it's not standard.


So my question is what is the actual use of 語?


語 means "word, speech, language"
It turns 日本 Japan
into 日本語 Japanese language


"GA" wasn't an option.


日本語は はなせます should also be correct. The correct answer does not necessary contain が.


If I'm not confident enough and say "I cannot", how do I said that?


I'm still so confused on this whole lesson


We cannot help you if you cannot express exactly what the confusion is.


Would anybody happen to know why instead of 'Nihon' (Japanese) it's 'Nihongo'?


日本 'nihon' just means "Japan"
日本語 'nihongo' is "Japanese"
The 語 'go' kanji means "speech, language"


I'm so confused... Why does が sound like な here?


Shouldn't を also work here instead of が?


を+verb in potential form is not standard Japanese so I would say no.


When are you supposed to put が in a sentence?


Please read the tips and notes accessible at the main page before beginning each lesson. They contain important grammar notes auch as the question you asked. が is used to indicate a subject or target of ability. It is replaced by は if he noun is promoted to a topic.


Hi and thanks for your answer to my previous question. I see you mention a Tips and Notes section on the main page. May I ask where exactly is this section? I am on the phone app version and can't find this anywhere...


It is like this https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/30761625/For-Tips-and-Notes-We-Need-Your-Input

I have this tips icon in my android app, although I have not received the Tree 2.0 yet.


I never noticed this "lightbulb" icon. Thank you very much

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