"Maria and John can speak Japanese."


June 8, 2017

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What role does が play here?


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"


'ga' can also be used as a object marker just like 'o'...


It's an identifier particle, Tae kim's guide can give you more detail about this particle or look for Japanese pod 101 in youtube


It shows the feature of (Japanese)日本語 in this case (Maria & John) which is that Japanese is speakable (はなせます).


Why が、 and not を? What is the difference?


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話します”.


I agree with Kevin. I know of this construct but I've had a hard time codifying it in my head so I'll always know why it is the way it is. This is a great way to think of it, so thank you, and I'll give you a lingot too. :)


I was taught to use 日本語をはなします.... I never even heard はなせます before duolingo...


話します is ”speak”. 話せます is ”can speak ”


が is the subject marker and をis the object marker which seems to be saying that the Japanese language is able to speak Maria and John. Obviously there's something going on but im not sure what.


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.




話せます is Potential form ("I can.") while 話します is Present Indicative form ("I do.") Basically the first one is saying "I can speak." While the second is saying "I speak." ^^


What is that kanji preceeding せ/し?


話 is the kanji for "speak", in this case (when followed by し/せ ます) it's pronounced はな.

Additional fact: The Kanji is also used in phone 電話 (でんわ), kinda cool because it relates with speaking.


Super cool because that kanji with a tail means electricity. So phone is electric speak.

  • 1215

Denwa: kanji for Den means electricity; kanji for Wa means conversation = phone


I think 話します means "to speak" while 話せます means "to be able to speak".


Japanese is so relaxing sometimes like i can just say 日本語はがなせます And just wack a か on the end and make it a question, or just stick our great friends 田中, マリア, or ジョン name on the front to change the person im talking about.


A question about は and が! So I think マリアとジョンは日本語がはなせます。would be an answer to "Which language can Maria and John speak?", right?

In response to "Who can speak Japanese?" could I say 日本語はマリアとジョンがはなせます。?

[deactivated user]

    So i can't write "マリアさんとじょんさん...". Why?


    I was wondering this myself, why aren't there honorifics? Though I will say this, your 'John' is in hiragana instead of katakana. It should be ”マリアさんとジョンさん…” Maybe it's not letting it go because of that?


    じょん is hiragana, ジョン is katakana. The latter is used for loanwords, like foreign names that didn't originate in Japan, such as John, America, or Maria.


    Wait, isn't it rude to drop the -さん after the names ??

    And should I add it after both names, or only for the last one ?


    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 type "jo" to get ショ, or just xyo (i think) for just ョ


    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)


    Couldn't it be 「マリアとジョンは日本語が話すできる」or something like that?


    You can say "can speak" (as in "know how to speak") two ways in casual language: 1) 話せる or 2) 話すことができる and in polite language: 1) 話せます or 2) 話すことができます. (These are used also for other meanings of "can speak" but there are more ways of expression for some of them.)


    Oh, just a side note! You can also say 日本語ができる (or 日本語ができます in polite language) and it means about the same as "can speak English" in English.


    So what would be the difference between “Maria and John can speak Japanese” and “Maria and John speak Japanese”?

    • 1613

    The first is マリアとジョンは日本語を話します and the second is マリアとジョンは日本語が話せます. The main change is し changing to せ, making "to speak" into "to be able to speak", and potential verbs don't take a direct object so を has to become が.


    Is "TO" Like saying "and" cuz im so lost. Maria "and" john?


    Yes, とis a word for "and."


    What would happen if I wanted to say that someone CAN'T speak a certain language? I imagine I'd have to change the end of 話せます somehow?

    • 1613

    Correct, it becomes 話せません


    How come there are two はs here?


    The first one is pronounced "wa", like in こんにち"は". the second one is pronounced "ha", like in "は"じめまして.


    One is the topic particle wa は, and the other one is the first hiragana of はなす (can also be written 話す, means 'to speak').


    Why do I get an "incorrect" when I'm using the correct characters? マリアとジヨンは日本語がはなせます


    The ョ in ジョン should be small. You can write it by typing either jo (will make ジョ) or xyo (will make a smallョ) or by getting a Japanese keyboard layout and learning how to use it.


    マリアとションは日本語が話せます why is this concidering wrong when it is the same as はなせ


    Is it wrong to use the kanji for it?


    I have the same issue, and I believe I've used both はなせ and 話せ in other lessons respectively and got it marked as right.


    Is there any difference between はなせ and 話せ?

    • 1613

    Nope, people shouldn't be getting marked wrong for it, it's just one has kanji


    so apparently 話せ is different to はなせ


    I put "マリアとじよんは日本語が話せます" and it was marked wrong, did i put something wrong?


    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)


    when do we use the 話せ?


    When do we use ます, です. What is the difference between those word? Could anyone help me? Thank you,


    What's the difference between はなせ and 話せ? Cuz the person pronounced them differently like hanasei and hanashi. Just a glitch? Or am I deaf.

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