"Maria and John can speak Japanese."
I found this:
For anyone who has learned Spanish, は and が look a lot like the differences between "por" and "para." Depending on the situation, you would choose one over the other.
It looks like we are in situation 4, where both participles are used in the same sentence. It says:
“a は b が …” is a very common Japanese sentence structure. ‘a’ is the topic. ‘b’ is something related to ‘a’. (and the verb comes at the end of the sentence)
It does say that “a が b は …” works but is less common. At the time of me posting this, Duolingo does accept this formation, but suggests the other as "another correct solution"
So, basically the potential form is also functionally passive.
I find it helpful to think of the potential Japanese form as the suffix “-able“, so in this sentence: “As for Maria and John, Japanese is speakable”, this way you can clearly see that Japanese is the subject.
As a note: if the base form “話す/話します (hanasu/hanashimasu)” were used, then “Japanese” would be the object and “を“ would be used, e.g.: “マリアとジョンは日本語を話します”.
There's a difference between a grammatical subject and a topic, which is basically the difference between は and が. The grammatical subject of the verb is "Maria and John" and this is indicated by は. "Japanese" is the "topic" of the verb here. はなす is a verb that generally takes a topic instead of a direct object, because you don't act on the Japanese language by speaking it. It's similar with 好き. You don't act on something by liking it in the same way you act on something by, say, throwing it. I don't know how good an explanation this is, as I'm still learning, but I hope it helps
I've always thought it was unfortunate that linguistics uses the word "subject" for this concept, because in everyday speech, "subject" and "topic" are often interchangeable, which I've seen causing problems for learners like me and others over and over.
I personally prefer to be more literal with particles, rather than using bespoke linguistics terminology, e.g. to think of は as "regarding", が as "does" or "can do", and を as "done to", among others.
So... I put this as my answer: マリアとジヨンは日本語がはなせます. It is the same except my "yo" is bigger than the answer they have. this has been the same with some other sentences and words so far. What is the difference between ヨ and ョ? how do I get the smaller one? Its making me type it but I can't get the smaller one so it keeps calling it wrong... Thanks
You can get ょ by typing [letter]yo, such as kyo or jyo. The difference is じよ is jiyo, while じょ is jo. You can also just type lyo or xyo to get ょ by itself.
For っ, xtu and ltu both work, but for context, if it's じっこ, you can type jikko. (Idk if that's a word but that's how you can type it out)
Hey! You can actually see the correct answer and translation at the top, at least in the mobile app.
You've got the gist of it right. The mistake you made here is quite common; in じょん you have to make よ (yo) smaller, like this : ょ(よ). See the difference? The way you wrote it is pronounced Jiyon, but with じょん the じょ becomes Jo. Therefore じょん=Jon (John)
Also since John is a foreign name it's commonly written in Katakana: ジョン as you did for マリア (Maria)