"Maria and John can speak Japanese."


June 8, 2017



What role does が play here?

June 8, 2017


は and が are both subject particles, but は is more of a grammatical subject and が is more of a topic marker. The subject verb part of the sentence is "the people speak". What do they speak? The が indicates the answer to that question.

December 28, 2017


This is not true. は is the topic marker (but sometimes also replaces the subject or object marker) and が is the subject marker.

December 24, 2018


funny how everyone upvoted a totally wrong explanation

June 6, 2019


Thanks so much.

December 13, 2018


so i can speak japanese would be 日本語がなせます

January 21, 2019


日本語がはなせます, don't forget the は!

February 3, 2019


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"

August 16, 2018


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

June 19, 2017


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”.

November 25, 2017


This is the best reply and makes more sense. Have a lingot please.

December 1, 2018


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.

August 12, 2017


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

December 28, 2017


I am also curious to find out this. When can we use the subject marker for a direct object like in this example?

September 9, 2017


Are You THE Kevin Smith? As in Dogma and Mallrats Kevin Smith?

June 8, 2018


I think also, it shoud be を.

April 12, 2018


I feel like this app should explain more stuff

October 2, 2018


0-100 in a lesson or 2.

December 5, 2018



June 10, 2017


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." ^^

July 5, 2017


What is that kanji preceeding せ/し?

July 23, 2017


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.

January 18, 2018


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

June 13, 2018


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

May 11, 2019



November 3, 2017


It's pronounced "go" and means language

March 22, 2018


語 is what you're thinking of. It looks extremely similar to 話 but they are different.

July 5, 2018


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

June 10, 2017


Wow that was just awfully surprising hard now.

September 9, 2017


Isn't this rude? No san.

March 22, 2018


マリアとジョンは日本語は話せる。 What do I do when the correct choice is NOT in the array of possible selections? 話 wasn't in the list of possibilities Yes I did report to but maybe I am missing something?

November 15, 2017


I have the same problem. 話 is not in the list here, so it's impossible for me to finish T_T

December 12, 2017


Exactly. I'm glad you guys had the same problem. I was wondering what I'd missed.

February 9, 2018


I'm running into the same thing. It's giving the correct answer as "マリアとジョンが日本語は話せます。", but the "は話せます" portion of the sentence is not available for selection. It rejects the use of the hiragana for "hanaseimasu" as incorrect by saying I've used the wrong word even though that's how the entire lesson had us learning it. Anyone at Duolingo tracking this?

January 31, 2018


Has anyone solved this yet

March 5, 2018


I can't finish this one as well. Expected answer is not offered.

December 14, 2017


話 as expected of the alliteration of はな is simply the kanji form of to speak, or talk. We don't apply normal ひらがな if the form of kanji can be used instead.

November 22, 2017


that missing character is a kanji that stands for hana. they use the kirigana, not the kanji

May 27, 2018


This needs さん

May 24, 2018


Thanks to all the pople that helps here

July 16, 2018


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.

April 5, 2019


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。?

June 23, 2018

[deactivated user]

    Right, I'm out! I've got this far by using half a dozen other apps to study the writing systems. There's no explanation for any of the grammar in Japanese. At least the German, French and Russian modules have hint boxes from time to time. I am sick of flying blind into a language I had absolutely no prior knowledge of, and getting zero support for my money. Subscription cancelled as of this afternoon. サヨナラ

    January 24, 2019


    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

    June 3, 2019


    ジョ is pronounced "Jyo/Jo" while ジヨ is "Jiyo" (so for "John", the smaller one is correct). The same goes for any consonant+i character paired with ャュョ/ゃゅょ, so look out for them.

    You just have to type "jo" or "jyo" (or ja = じゃ, sho = しょ, nyu = ニュ & so on) for it to automatically input the smaller form.

    June 6, 2019


    Can someone explain はなせ to me?

    August 30, 2017


    “はなせる“ is the potential form of “はなす”, meaning “can speak, speak-able”. “はなせます” is just the polite form of “はなせる”.

    November 25, 2017



    July 2, 2018


    Whats the word for "speak"?

    July 13, 2018



    July 13, 2018


    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?

    August 23, 2018



    January 2, 2019


    I am unable to understand this particular sentence (as in what are the proper words)

    April 15, 2019


    I always forget the が DX

    April 23, 2019


    I got rejected because I postfixed John and Maria with さん. Hmm ok

    May 15, 2019


    Personally, I find it hard to figure out where and how to put placement of words into my writting.
    Translating it word for word gives me: "Maria and John Japanese speak can."

    It's confusing.....

    June 1, 2019


    Why is it asking me to type in Japanese? I don't have a Japanese keyboard.

    June 7, 2019


    There should be an option on the bottom of the screen that says "Use Word Bank" to switch to multiple choice options. Also you could look up online how to set up your computer/phone to type in Japanese using roumaji. You do not need a Japanese keyboard to do so.

    June 7, 2019


    The correct answer I get doesnt have this.

    December 12, 2017


    I don't see the kanji for "speak" as one of the options offered for choice. Have I missed something?

    February 9, 2018


    Wa, ga... Aaaa. Hard.

    January 8, 2019


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

    January 24, 2019


    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?

    March 28, 2019


    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?

    April 25, 2019


    Marked my answer wrong but my answer was the same...

    June 6, 2019


    I thought I had the same issue, but if you scour your answer you will most likely find a slight error. Look out for the small ョ in ジョン. I have had it auto correct to ジヨン multiple times. (I'm assuming your using a keyboard not the word bubbles)

    June 7, 2019


    Make up your damn minds. は or が PICK ONE

    January 30, 2019


    lol ez

    June 19, 2018
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