"マリアとジョンは日本語がはなせます。"

Translation:Maria and John can speak Japanese.

6/8/2017, 11:10:43 AM

160 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/GuyNamedDavid

と (to) is a particle used to separate items of a complete list. Its English equivalent is "and", as well as commas in longer lists.

6/13/2017, 5:22:28 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/kai19154

It also means "with" if I'm not mistaken o3o

6/18/2017, 6:44:47 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/TinmanJuggernaut

Yes. 私と means with me. However it may be a different part of a sentence than used here.

6/20/2017, 5:59:00 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/VictorPate7

It's like わたしと

8/15/2017, 5:06:22 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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Yes, 私 is the kanji for わたし.

8/15/2017, 8:59:59 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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@KodaParde

"Watashi / わたし / 私" is "I".

The "wa / は" is a grammar particle that marks the topic of the sentence.

Thus "watashi wa" is "As for me..."

2/25/2018, 10:29:12 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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FelipeKail.an, I can't reply directly to you so hopefully you get the notification of this comment.

I was taught that 私 literally means (or etymologically derives from) "private".

9/8/2017, 3:21:57 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/ne1D3

Also if, but conditionals are a whole 'nother thing.

7/5/2017, 12:31:17 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/echoAwoo

Ah, like Spanish, where 'si' means yes and if

8/20/2017, 8:19:59 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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Like any language that has homonyms.

8/20/2017, 9:02:47 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/clnoy
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Rae.F

Close enough, though. The accent mark just means that syllable gets stressed. The pronunciation is otherwise the same.

Can't reply to the other one, so I'll reply here.

Accents on Spanish monosyllables are just diacritics. They mark a different etymology and a different meaning, hence a different word. It's not really about stress.

But anyway, yes, they're indeed homophones.

12/9/2017, 9:49:31 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/NorberakLe

"Accents on Spanish monosyllables are just diacritics. They mark a different etymology and a different meaning, hence a different word. It's not really about stress."

In the case of Spanish "si" and "sí" it is also about stress.

2/17/2018, 1:52:50 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/ariel.zamb
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En realidad son distintas: Yes = sí If = si El acento marca la diferencia

12/8/2017, 8:54:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/GlaucoAbil
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It marks the difference AND the stress

12/26/2018, 9:07:20 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Karinakamichi

What's the difference between と and も?

9/12/2018, 10:17:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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と is "and". It connects noun phrases:
neko to inu -- a cat and a dog.
Note that it does not connect verbs or clauses. There is a special conjugation for this, the て-form:
https://kawakawalearningstudio.com/all/exactly-te-form-japanese/

も is a grammar particle that translates as "also" or "too".
http://www.punipunijapan.com/grammar-lesson-6-particle-%E3%82%82-mo/

9/12/2018, 10:56:22 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Karinakamichi

Thanks!

9/13/2018, 4:06:43 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Remiallar
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I don't understand what they want us to do here, there were no previous explanation for this particle.

6/12/2017, 11:47:27 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/salmakerrai

Year It would be great if they add grammar lessons

8/31/2017, 5:53:43 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Gareth289721

I suppose its the natural learning approach, like an infant hearing something for the first time. You just accept it, use it and eventually understand it without a prior explanation.

10/25/2018, 6:35:07 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/vtopphol
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The problem is that infants learn that way because it's the only way they can learn. Besides, the only thing that infants excel at when learning languages is pronunciation. Adults can learn a language much faster than an infant, because we already have a reference language to connect everything to. It seems like children learn faster, but that is only because they have a much smaller vocabulary to begin with, and would not have to learn that many words to be considered proficient. In reality, adults and adolescents have the edge when it comes to learning vocabulary fast. It only seems slow because we compare ourselves to our proficiency in our native tongue.

https://www.theclassroom.com/young-adults-learning-second-language-6635123.html

10/25/2018, 7:59:54 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/PStrotman

Usually new words are highlighted and explained if you tap them. I don't recall if that was the case here though.

6/16/2017, 6:11:34 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Whiskers381

と as a particle has not seen uses before this slide in this lession and it wasnt hilighted for me. Luckly im also useing genki べんき

7/21/2017, 1:57:11 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/kai19154

You could tap them here

6/18/2017, 6:45:18 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/IAmEki
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The two names don't have honorifics here. Is that how it usually is when you list several people like this?

6/28/2017, 10:33:32 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

No, even in lists, you can use honorifics if you wish. I don't know why Duo is so inconsistent with their usage.

To me, the lack of honorifics suggests that the speaker is close friends with John and Maria, but because of the ます, they are perhaps speaking about them to someone who they aren't so close to.

7/15/2017, 1:39:18 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/RitaNwosa

I am also confused by this

7/1/2017, 3:31:21 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Aelianos
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I know that if you're saying you're own name, you don't use an honorific. If you're talking to someone like your boss or a co-worker or a stranger, than I think you definately do.

But, if you're talking to someone outside your group about people in your group, I think you would not include honorifics with the people of your group. Like in this example, if you worked with maria and john you would say to your client. "Hello, henry-san. Maria and John will finish doing this business stuff with you."

Again, I don't know how right I am, but I heard that somewhere

7/21/2017, 6:21:03 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Foxbrush
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It's typically dependant on familiarity and formality. Duo may be trying to not bog down the sentences, but typically when you're speaking, you should add the さん (-san) honorific at the end. There are other honorifics, both more and less formal, but さん should be your default.

11/29/2017, 10:52:34 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/involvr

Isn't は supposed to be pronounced as 'ha'? Why does it sound like 'wa' here?

6/24/2017, 11:13:31 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/RobertGeor19

The particle. は ha pronounced wa is this sentence because it is identifying the topic in the sentence.

Its good to learn about all particles as it is very useful

6/25/2017, 12:59:11 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sam753958

So は comes after the topic? Because John and Mary are the topic?

6/27/2017, 1:05:13 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Raztastic
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はい, particles follow the words they identify. Other particles include the subject 「が」, object 「を」 (pronounced お), direction/time 「に」, destination/direction 「へ」, possessive 「の」, "also/too" 「も」, "and" 「と」 (used between items in a list when the full list is known), "and" 「や」 (used when you don't know the full list), and question 「か」. It takes a bit of time to memorize, but so does every other aspect of 日本語, so I recommend finding a cheat sheet on google.

8/7/2017, 1:23:24 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Alenbi
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So if i undersand well.

1/ Here we use は to dientify "Maria and John" as the subject?

2/ Why don't we use はい?

Thanks in advance for your help and your answer to help me improving my japanese skills

7/6/2018, 1:31:53 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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As a grammar particle, は is pronounced "wa". It's pronounced "ha" when it's part of a word.

はい ("hai") means "yes". It is unrelated to the particle.

は ("wa") is the topic-marker. が ("ga") is the subject-marker.

マリア と ジョン = Maria and John
は (topic)
日本語 = Japanese language
が (subject)
はなます = can speak

Roughly, "As for Maria and John, Japanese can be spoken." Except it's not in the passive voice at all. This is just the only way to render it in English sensibly while still retaining the structure of the Japanese.

As for why it uses the subject marker and not the direct object marker を ("o"), that's because the verb is in the potential form as highlighted above, therefore technically there is no action to be received. If it were in the straight-up indicative form, then it would look like this:

マリア と ジョン は 日本語 を はなます

As for Maria and John, they speak Japanese.

7/6/2018, 3:16:02 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Alenbi
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Thanks Rae.F

7/6/2018, 3:28:04 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/ne1D3

Blame historical kana usage, it used to be a lot worse.

7/5/2017, 12:31:52 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Kenskaii

What is "ga" for?

6/24/2017, 1:25:35 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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Ga is the subject particle. Ha (pronounced wa) is the topic particle.

6/27/2017, 9:46:54 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/CraigLeade

So is the topic a phrase and subject a noun? Or is it more complicated?

7/13/2017, 10:10:26 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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Topic vs subject has nothing to do with how simple or complex the noun phrase is. It's about the grammatical role it plays in the sentence. You can take "Maria and John can speak Japanese" and emphasize various parts of it, like so:

Speaking of Maria and John, they can speak Japanese.
Speaking of Japanese, Maria and John can speak it.

7/13/2017, 10:23:08 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilsa772619

What's "masu" for?

6/23/2017, 8:52:17 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/ne1D3

Polite conjugation. Like です, but for verbs.

7/5/2017, 12:32:57 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Hunter360864

I'm just trying to figure out what that sentence actually says...

7/13/2017, 7:49:45 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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マリア = Maria
と = and
ジョン = John
は (grammar particle)
日本語 = Japanese language
が (grammar particle)
はなせます = can speak

7/13/2017, 7:52:57 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Aki-kun
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と is also a particle here. Although it indeed can be translated as "and" in this context.

11/3/2017, 6:49:42 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Owlspotting
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The "masu" is also a grammatical particle

9/5/2017, 1:17:51 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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No, it's part of the verb conjugation.

9/5/2017, 1:31:20 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Owlspotting
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It's a politeness marker, right? Is that part of the verb conjugation? (If so, my bad for assuming it wasn't)

9/5/2017, 12:28:27 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

You're kind of both right actually :)

ます forms, in and of themselves, are verb conjugations and politeness markers. The three examples Rae gave are actually the polite declarative, polite negative, and polite hortative. You indicate politeness by choosing to use these ます forms instead of the plain/casual forms.

As an example, the plain forms of Rae's examples for the verb "to speak" would be はなす, はなさない, and はなそう, respectively, and for "to eat" they would be たべる, たべない, and たべよう, respectively. Those of you who recognize ichidan and godan verbs will notice why I chose those two verbs, but when you're studying ます forms, there's no need to think about ichidan vs godan, since the conjugations are the same.

This is a bit of a tangent, but there's a reason ます forms are usually taught first, besides "it's better to be on the safe side when it comes to politeness". The reason being that ます conjugations are quite straightforward and easy to identify.

Going back to the verb used in this exercise, はなせます, you would have to say it's the "polite positive potential form" to fully describe the conjugation.

はなす (plain positive declarative) 》 はなせる (plain positive potential) 》 はなせます (polite positive potential)

9/12/2017, 11:43:34 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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No, it's just ordinary present tense. I'm sure Duo will get into verbs later in the tree.

-masu is the simple declarative (I do x.)
-masen is the negative (He doesn't do x.)
-mashou is the hortative (Let's do x!)

There's more, but that's what I remember off the top of my head. It's been a few years since those two semesters of Japanese.

9/5/2017, 2:43:33 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Defominvous
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Why 日本語が and not 日本語を?

11/20/2017, 6:22:29 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

Because the verb is in its potential form. We're just saying that Maria and John can speak Japanese, but we are not referring to any Japanese actually being spoken by them. That's why を doesn't work with the potential form, because it is the "direct object" particle, marking something actually being acted on by the verb.

As for the use of が, it acts as a target marker for preferences and ability, i.e. 好き, できる, etc., so it can work with the potential form of a verb.

12/11/2017, 9:55:29 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Ishana92
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What purpose does ga serve here? Because "japanese (language)" in this sentence is not subject, unless my grammar lessons are wrong.

7/10/2017, 11:55:45 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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No, "Maria and John" is the subject. "Japanese (language)" is the topic.

7/11/2017, 12:09:27 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Ishana92
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i would agree with that but then the sentence has japanese marked with ga as subject and maria nad john with wa as topic. Now, i get why maria and john are topic, but how/why is ga used for japanese? Shouldn't it at least be some sort of object (direct or indirect)?

7/11/2017, 1:35:14 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

You're right, Rae seems to have gotten to two mixed up (understandably; it's a pretty confusing concept f(^_^;).

As for the use of が, someone (sorry I don't remember their name, so I can't properly give credit) mentioned in another question that が also acts as a target marker for preferences and ability, i.e. 好き, できる, etc.

In this case, 話します(はなします)is the regular polite form of the verb, meaning it takes the を particle, 日本語を話します(= I will speak Japanese). 話せます(話せます)is the polite potential form, meaning "to possess the ability to speak". Since が is the target marker for ability, 私は日本語が話せます literally translates to "As for me (私は), Japanese is (日本語が) what I have the ability to speak (話せます)".

7/15/2017, 2:07:41 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Ishana92
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Thank you for the explanation

7/15/2017, 2:13:44 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/felixCastrillon

Joshua, as for that very last sentence you made there, is that a common sentence in Japanese? Or would you say that is too polite?

4/5/2018, 7:09:59 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

You mean 私は日本語が話せます? It depends on the situation, but in general, it's not that it's too polite, but rather the 私は is very commonly left out, so keeping it will sound a little formal or unnatural.

As a foreigner, I imagine that you're using this sentence to tell a Japanese person that you are in fact able to speak Japanese. Again, it depends on the exact situation, but something like 日本語は大丈夫 (だいじょうぶ) です ("(Speaking) Japanese is okay (for me)") seems far more natural to me.

The other likely scenario is a self-introduction, but then you're probably doing to whole thing in Japanese, so saying this seems redundant.

If you're simply answering someone who asked if you can speak Japanese, then context saves you a lot of trouble. Simply はい or はい、話せます will suffice.

4/19/2018, 4:16:21 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/elocin46741

still don't understand what's the difference between は and が ……

8/11/2017, 4:43:47 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Emile110
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Topic is about information about context and new information. It is the contextual subject, the wa Subject in the grammatical role in the sentence, is the one who 'does' the verb, the ga. That is why wa and ga get mixed up. This link renders a good explanation: https://8020japanese.com/wa-vs-ga/

8/11/2017, 7:42:27 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Lorenzo_LL

"mas" is used when wanting to be poliet? Is that correct?

11/24/2017, 7:12:25 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

Yes and no. ます, or more specifically the ます form of a verb, or です are used to be "cordial" or "well-mannered" with people you aren't close to, e.g. not friends or family. It is consider polite, in so far as it is more polite than using the plain form with strangers.

There are other ways to be even more polite than ます, but using them correctly comes down to understanding subtle social dynamics, which is definitely beyond beginners, and the scope of this course.

12/16/2017, 12:41:08 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/kellsbellsmeow

I am seeking insight on honorifics. With singular subjects, Duo has used them, but not in this case. Is there a reason or resource anyone has found that makes this more understandable?

12/13/2017, 4:59:09 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

Even in lists, you can use honorifics if you wish. I don't know why Duo is so inconsistent with their usage.

To me, the lack of honorifics suggests that the speaker is close friends with John and Maria, but because of the ます, they are perhaps speaking about them to someone who they aren't so close to.

Alternatively, adding honorifics for both Maria and John to this sentence would simply make it too long for Duo to handle.

12/23/2017, 9:55:20 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/blobfish201

I got confused with the "は" because up until now, I learned that it means "is". Can someone please tell me why the "は£ is there? Thanks.

4/6/2018, 11:11:58 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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は does not mean "is". That would be です. は is a particle that marks the topic of the sentence.

4/6/2018, 9:50:45 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/TimothyFor603804

Anyone else feel like they can easily translate but if they had to say these or use these sentences they wouldn't remember how to?

1/8/2019, 6:07:20 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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That's normal. Comprehension ability always comes before production ability because comprehension is more passive and production is active.

1/8/2019, 11:23:39 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/vtopphol
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You're not the only one. It needs to be practiced as well.

1/8/2019, 5:36:53 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/mjh98

Does anyone know a simple way to explain the part of the sentence "はなせます"?

7/12/2017, 4:19:08 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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The base verb "to speak" is "hanasu". The conjugation "speak" is "hanashimasu". It seems that "hanasemasu" is "can speak".

7/12/2017, 2:55:45 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/gabelesma
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so which is the right one? "hanashimasu" or "hanasemasu"?

10/18/2018, 9:30:53 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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The prompt is "can speak", therefore the correct translation is "hanasemasu".

10/18/2018, 9:49:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/gabelesma
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どうもありがとうございます!

10/25/2018, 9:26:03 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Cindya2635

Why isnt it "can maria and john speak japanese".

7/20/2017, 6:36:41 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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Questions have the か particle at the end of the sentence.

7/20/2017, 6:51:55 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/jesse922038

Whats the difference between と and も?

8/1/2017, 6:38:58 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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と is literally just "and". It's used inside noun phrases like peanut butter and jelly, or Eric and Christine.

も translates as "also", but it's more of a subject/topic particle.

8/1/2017, 5:05:30 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/avaschmys
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So what's after the "ha" is the topic?

9/5/2017, 4:02:01 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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It's spelled "ha" but when it's the topic marker it's pronounced "wa". And as a grammar particle, it comes after the phrase it marks.

マリアとジョン -- As for Maria and John (topic)
日本語 -- the Japanese language (subject)
はなせます -- can be spoken (verb)

Although it's not actually in the passive voice. That's just the least twisted way to translate it more or less literally into English.

9/5/2017, 4:28:05 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/avaschmys
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Thanks!

9/6/2017, 11:41:24 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/GabrielDin804923

What does the "ha" means?

9/9/2017, 1:43:00 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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In this context, it's pronounced "wa" and it's a grammar particle that marks the topic of the sentence (which is not always the same thing as the subject -- the subject particle is が).

9/10/2017, 12:59:21 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/livelovewriter

Am I wrong that I would normally say 話します instead of 話せます?Can someone please explain the difference?

10/25/2017, 11:46:30 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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話します - speak/speaks
話せます - can speak

10/25/2017, 11:47:53 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Juand_Senju

"Can" is not suppose to be できる ?

10/26/2017, 3:54:39 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

できる is the potential form of する, so any phrases which use する can be conjugated to "can ~" that way. However, する is an irregular verb because it changes so much (and so differently from other verbs) when you conjugate it.

If you really wanted to use できる (which involves a more complicated grammar structure), you would have to change the verb from 話せます hanasemasu, which is simply the potential form of "to speak", to 話すことができる/できます hanasu koto ga dekiru/dekimasu, roughly "the act of speaking, I am able to do".

11/16/2017, 9:40:29 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/dannyboi93
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Pimsleur's japanese states か (ka) means 'and' aswell like in

...びいるかお酒...

Now I'm getting this is completely wrong - any idea why they might have said this?

11/28/2017, 6:39:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

It can be translated as "and" in some situations, but I think it tends to be more similar to "or".

Expanding on your example, if the full sentence read:

ビールかお酒か、アルコールは飲みません。(びーるかおさけか、あるこーるはのみません)

A possible translation could be "I don't drink any alcohol like beer and sake" but an equally valid alternative is "Whether it's beer or sake, I don't drink any alcohol".

As you can see, か can be used to delineate items in a list, but using it over と emphasizes that the items are only options or examples, and imply that there are many more alternatives. On the other hand, と is a simple inclusion of the items, and suggests that only these particular items are relevant to the conversation.

You may have come across や as well, as an alternative to と, and it is similar to か in that it suggests that there are other relevant items which have gone unmentioned, but it doesn't have the same implication that the listed items are merely examples.

12/17/2017, 11:33:21 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/jmicher1

Why is "ga" used with the language name after the verb "speak"?? In English, we would think this is the object of speak, not the subject. And to make matters worse, they are also throwing in the "wa", topic particle here, with Maria and John, who, actually are the subject of the verb speak. Some explanation for this would be useful.

12/10/2017, 4:58:38 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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Correction to my earlier reply:

In Japanese, the grammar changes whether the verb is in the actual or potential form. Speaks vs can speak.

If it were "speaks", then Japanese would get the direct object mark. But it's "can speak", so Japanese gets the subject mark.

It's difficult to translate the Japanese sentence directly into English because our grammars are so different, but the closest would be this, despite being somewhat contrived:

As for Maria and John, Japanese is a language they can speak.

3/3/2018, 7:22:28 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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A lot of languages do what's called topicalization. It's kind of like saying "Japanese is a language Maria and John can speak".

12/10/2017, 5:01:55 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Eduardo443804

What does は really means or do in phrases ?

12/26/2017, 4:56:28 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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As just another syllable in a word, は is pronounced ha.

As a grammar particle, は is pronounced wa and it marks the discursive topic of the sentence (which is not necessarily the subject of the sentence).

Roughly, "[noun phrase] は" is "As for [noun phrase]".

が is the subject marker.

There is no neat and clean way to literally translate into English, because if we make "Japanese" the subject of the sentence, we need to either put it in passive voice or add some things in. But roughly, the Japanese sentence rendered in English would be something like:

As for Maria and John, Japanese can be spoken by them.
or
As for Maria and John, Japanese is a language they can speak.

12/26/2017, 5:21:46 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/LeePerry
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Should it not be hanashimasu instead of hanasemasu?

1/4/2018, 11:42:44 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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No, these are two different conjugations. As has been explained on this page before:

hanashimasu = they (do) speak
hanasemasu = they can speak

1/4/2018, 5:19:55 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/EduardoPac954096

Is it possible to have 2 topic indicators?

1/10/2018, 8:44:59 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

In practice, definitely yes. A somewhat common example of this is to have は follow the time clause and a separate topic word as well, in the same sentence.

Whether this is theoretically acceptable or not, I have no idea.

1/24/2018, 3:11:55 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/tom.sanislo
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Why is 日本語 not marked as object in this sentence?

3/3/2018, 6:58:16 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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Because the verb is in the potential form: hanasemasu: can speak. It would get the direct object mark if it were in the actual form: hanashimasu: speaks.

3/3/2018, 7:15:33 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SamashMora

So let me get this straight: Since maria and john are the subject of the sentence we use は And we use が for another subject, just not the main subject. Is this correct?

3/30/2018, 5:18:45 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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Yes and no. Sort of.

は marks the discursive topic of the sentence. The English equivalent would be, "As for Maria and John, they can speak Japanese."

Now you're asking why 日本語 isn't marked as the direct object with を. That's because the verb is in the potential form can speak, and so does not trigger the accusative because technically there is no action taking place. So it's roughly like "Japanese is a language they can speak", except it's not in the passive voice. English has no equivalent to this aspect of Japanese grammar.

3/30/2018, 5:46:23 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jane-Chan20th

は should be interchangeable with が, right? They just emphasize different parts of the sentance?

4/16/2018, 1:45:54 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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No, they're not interchangeable.

は marks the discursive topic.
が marks the grammatical subject.

Please read the rest of the comments on this page, if you can.

4/16/2018, 4:41:29 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Cameron399608

Why is it 日本語が instead of 日本語を?

6/25/2018, 2:58:01 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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Because the verb is in the potential form: can speak はなます

If it were in the indicative はなます then it would be the direct object.

6/25/2018, 3:09:22 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/gabelesma
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if the potential form doesn't have a direct object how should we generally determine which argument is a topic or a subject? is it possible to appear two subjects or two topics around a same verb?

10/18/2018, 9:33:40 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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マリアとジョン takes は because we're on the topic of Maria and John. 日本語 takes が because it is more properly the subject of the sentence.

Japanese syntax and grammar is very different from English. We can't really translate the Japanese sentence here with perfect faithfulness to the original construction. The closest we can come is "As for Maria and John, the Japanese language can be spoken". But the Japanese sentence is not in the passive voice.

10/18/2018, 10:00:00 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Tara80392

How is が after Japanese the subject if Japanese is actually the object here?

11/16/2018, 9:56:44 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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This has been discussed on this page before. But in case the comments are not showing up for you--

This is because the verb is the potential form はなせます, which we translate as "can speak". If it were はなします, or just "speak", then we'd need to mark 日本語 with を because then there is an actual action it is the recipient of.

マリアとジョンは日本語はなます
マリアとジョンは日本語はなます

Because the verb is in the potential form, it does not take a direct object. The closest English translation of this sentence is "As for Maria and John, Japanese is something they can speak."

11/16/2018, 4:46:20 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JGHunter
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I get an error with one of the options, "?を" appears as a box followed by を (wo), I don't know if the first character here displays properly for anyone else but it doesn't for me.

2/15/2019, 9:59:48 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/daniel-182rock

Could someone explain this phrase please? 日本語がはなせます

I know that 日本 means japan And i think that 語 means language.

However, i don't get this part がはなせます

Thanks in advance for your valuable help.

3/11/2019, 1:26:51 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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This sentence has been explained many times on this page already. Please read the other comments before posting.

3/11/2019, 1:51:42 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/BrandonRig1250

Omg the grammar nazis have never been so useful. Time to hit google so i can understand what i think i've learned...

3/12/2019, 7:13:21 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/p7CH3
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Why are は and が here?

3/16/2019, 3:50:06 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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This is explained in other comments on this page.

3/16/2019, 4:00:06 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/jaak869302

Why is there 'が' in the sentence?? I think "マリアとジョンは日本語がはなせます" is "Maria and John is japanese is can speak"

4/13/2018, 3:16:54 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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No. There is only one verb in this sentence.

In case you simply do not have access to the comments already on this page...

マリア = Maria
と = and (for joining nouns)
ジョン = John
は = topic marker
- No verb so far. At this point, the rough English equivalent is "As for Maria and John..."

日本 = Japan
語 = language
が = subject marker
- No verb so far. This is just "Japanese" (as in the language, not the adjective).

はなせます = can speak
(as opposed to はなします = speaks)
- Here's the verb.

"As for Maria and John, they can speak Japanese", or simply "Maria and John can speak Japanese." As you can see, English and Japanese have very different grammatical structures, so a precise translation would be awkward: "As for Maria and John, Japanese can be spoken by them" except it's not in the passive voice in Japanese.

Others have wondered why it's が the subject marker and not を the direct object marker. This is because the verb is the potential form はなせます, which we translate as "can speak". If it were はなします, or just "speak", then we'd need to mark 日本語 with を because then there is an actual action it is the recipient of.

マリアとジョンは日本語はなます
マリアとジョンは日本語はなます

4/13/2018, 9:21:50 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Matt561815

Mary should be accepted as Maria :(

3/10/2019, 3:43:44 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaLore9

Japanese tends to transliterate names by pronunciation, rather than spelling, so "Mary" would typically be メアリー, not マリア.

3/10/2019, 4:38:00 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Ravsii1

Where is the "and" word here? For me japanese sentence is: Maria John can speak Japanese

6/11/2017, 6:34:05 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/mjh98

The part meaning "and" is "と"(not completely sure though)

7/12/2017, 4:21:41 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Rae.F
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Yes, "noun と noun" is "noun and noun".

There's a different way to say "and" when it's "verb and verb". It actually affects the conjugation of the first verb. If memory serves, that's the て-form. I trust we'll learn about that later once we start getting into verbs.

7/12/2017, 2:59:19 PM
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