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  5. "田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます。"

"田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます。"

Translation:Professor Tanaka can speak Japanese and English.

June 8, 2017

199 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daitenshi1

There is nothing in this sentence that would indicate Tanaka-sensei is a woman.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gasezefe

There is nothing to indicate that tanaka is a man either, so both should be accepted


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AllenSturd

Why should a title be used at all? There is no さん.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2297

The honorific used is 先生 ("sensei"), which usually translates as "teacher" or "professor".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XanderMay

So wouldnt that mean we should use the word teacher nor Mr?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
  • 2297

No, unless you address your teachers as "Teacher Smith" instead of "Mr Smith". Translation is about usage, not word-for-word substitution.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ceretopseer

I like that, "Translation is usage, ..."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ceretopseer

Translated literally, yes. But. In English we commonly call teachers by Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss Surname e.g. Mr Tanaka.


[deactivated user]

    You would use san as Mr. for perhaps your neighbor and sensei for your teacher


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hylic

    Aparently duolingo considers 'professor' to be correct.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Well yes, because we don't use "teacher" as an honorific in English. It's just that in Japanese, "sensei" can be an honorific or a job title, like "professor" or "doctor".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sealiony

    either Mr or Ms works. this is a correct localization of the phrase. if someone is a teacher in english, we denote that by calling them Mr/Ms X. the gender here was not important.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoreMus98

    Duolingo staff please add some grammar, otherwise it gets way too confusing


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Asynt1

    While they don't have all of the grammar, they do have some in each section. When you click on a lesson, there's a lightbulb icon, which explains some if the grammer in the lesson


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Schizo_Rhino

    Can I use は instead of が as an indicator(?) I can't seem to grasp the difference. How would the meaning change if we change the indicators?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shellax

    I like to think of it in terms of implications. 田中先生 [on the topic of Tanaka-sensei] 日本語と英語 [on the subject of Japanese and English] はなせます [can speak/ability to speak]


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HoroTanuki

    I'm more confused with why we don't use を as an direct object particle here regarding the languages. I know some verbs use が and some use を but how do you know which one uses what?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    In this case, because the verb is in its potential form, が is used instead of を. The direct object particle doesn't work for any ability to do something because nothing is actually being spoken by Mr. Tanaka; he has the ability to speak even if he isn't speaking. Consider the following two examples, which mean the exact same thing:

    • 田中先生は日本語と英語話せます。
    • 田中先生は日本語と英語話すことできます。

    The second sentence uses a slightly more advanced grammar structure, but suffice it to say, できます means "to be able to do" (the potential form of します), and verb+こと is one way to normalize/noun-ify verbs in Japanese. The second sentence translates more literally as "As for Mr. Tanaka, speaking Japanese and English is something he is able to do."


    Another common way to differentiate between using を vs が is to recognize whether a verb is transitive or intransitive. The difference isn't always clear in English, but Japanese is quite overt about it. Likewise, Japanese is pretty strict about which particle to use with which form. Since transitive verbs require a direct object, を must be used; and because intransitive verbs don't have a direct object, が must be used.

    For example, the verb "to cool down" in English can be transitive or intransitive depending on how it's used, but in Japanese, the transitive form is 冷やす (ひやす) while the intransitive form is 冷える (ひえる). So we can come up with the following sentences:

    • スープ冷やしました。(すーぷをひやしました) "I cooled the soup down." (Transitive)
    • スープ冷えました。(すーぷがひえました) "The soup cooled down (on its own)." (Intransitive)

    This next part is getting fairly advanced, but because を must be used with transitive verbs, が is still free to indicate the agent (subject) doing the verb. To indicate the agent for intransitive verbs, が can't be used (because technically, the subject is the object itself), so で is used, indicating the means by which something is done.

    • スープ冷やしました。(かぜがすーぷをひやしました) "The wind cooled the soup down." (Transitive)
    • スープ冷えました。(かぜですーぷがひえました) "The soup cooled down because of the wind." (Intransitive)

    I hope this helps, rather than confusing you more f(^_^;


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    が is used here with 話せます - the potential form of はなします. が is used with potential forms of verbs.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JanGeisler2

    Why is hanasemasu used instead of hanashimasu?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sora_Japan

    Because there is 'can' in English sentence.

    can speak.話せます。or 話すことができます。

    speak.話します。


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lilmndesdes

    So what does 「せ」 and 「し」 do? They just change the meaning of the verb?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    Hmm, せ and し indicate different grammatical tenses of the verb.

    As you can see in Sora's earlier comment, 話します and 話せます both use the same kanji (話). Both actually come from the same root verb, 話す which means "to speak".

    ます is the polite present tense version of the verb, so it also means "to speak".

    ます is the polite potential tense version of the verb which we don't have in English, but we make use of the helping verb "can", so it means "can speak".

    Other verb forms exist which can be constructed from the same root verb, using different set rules. For example, polite past tense = 話まし, causative tense = 話させる, conditional tense = 話せば, etc.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Your information is good, but my one little nit-pick would be that I wouldn't call it a tense. Tense is what places a verb in time: past, present, future. I'd call it a mood, like indicative vs subjunctive vs conditional vs potential.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sora_Japan

    The English teacher taught us past form of verb when I was a student. "It's very easy. Add 'ed' the end of the verb." Next he said 'unfortunately some words are not belonging to this rule, so you have to memorized them. About fifty words only.' So we were repeating like singing songs, without thinking. "do did done, eat ate eaten". No problem. Approximately 50 words only. only. only. only!? I don't know the theory yet. But enough to me. He was right, I think.

    (though sometimes I forget them yet.:I)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    @ JoshuaLore9

    "Mood" is the technical term and derives from "modality".

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tense%E2%80%93aspect%E2%80%93mood


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    I hear what you're saying, and I'm definitely not a linguistics expert, but "mood" sounds a bit strange to me too. Perhaps I'll stick to calling them "forms" from now on :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HoroTanuki

    Conditional is also good to know, 話せば "if [I] speak", and it's also often used in certain phrases, for example - "どうすればいい?" = "What should I do?" (it literally means "if I do what, it's okay", so the meaning is like "what would be the okay thing for me to do")


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sundaymars

    Rules for creating potential form

    For ru-verbs: Replace the 「る」 with 「られる」. Example: 見る → 見られる

    For u-verbs: Change the last character from a / u / vowel sound to the equivalent / e / vowel sound and add 「る」. Example: 遊ぶ → 遊べ → 遊べる

    Exceptions: 「する」 becomes 「できる」 「くる」 becomes 「こられる」

    ※Remember that all potential verbs become ru-verbs.

    (source) http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/potential


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    Not all verbs ending in ~る are "ru verbs". I think it is easier to identify them as godan and ichidan verbs. ichidan verbs are not as common as godan verbs - most Japanese verbs are godan verbs. ichidan verbs often end in ~いる or ~える and their endings attach directly to the stem - they don't have bases like godan verbs do eg. 見る - to see, dictionary form み - the stem + ます verb ending-->みます みて (stem + te) 食べる - to eat, dictionary form たべ - the stem + ます verb ending --->食べます 食べて(stem + te) *you can also make the potential form of みる by adding え to get 見える - can see

    する and くる are irregular verbs.

    godan verbs are all the verbs - they are conjugated by adding the stem to the 1 of 7 bases depending on what you want the verb to do and then the verb ending. The first 5 bases correlate with the rank and file order of kana - あ、い、う、え、お、か、き、く、け、こ etc depending on the verb. Some examples - およぐ - to swim (stem + base 3) およ が ない (stem + base 1 + plain form present active negative verb ending) - I don't swim およ ぎ ます (stem + base 2+ polite form present active verb ending) - I swim およ げ ます (stem + base 3 - indicates potential + polite present active verb ending) - I can swim およ ご う (stem + base 5 + plain form present active verb ending) Let's swim およ いで・いだ (stem + bases 6 - te form for polite commands and the forming the polite progressive form of a verb and 7 Past active plain form) - Swim (a polite command) and I swam, respectively

    あそぶ- to play (stem + base 3) あそ ば ない (stem + base 1 + plain form present active negative verb ending) - I don't play あそ び ます あそ  べ ます (stem + base 3 - indicates potential + polite present active verb ending) - I can play あそ ぼ う (stem + base 5 + plain form present active verb ending) Let's play あそ んで・んだ (stem + bases 6 - te form for polite commands and the forming the polite progressive form of a verb and 7 Past active plain form) - Play (a polite command) and I played, respectively

    はなす (stem + base 3) - to speak/I speak はな さ ない (stem + base 1 + plain form present active negative verb ending) - I don't speak はな し ます (stem + base 2+ polite form present active verb ending) - I speak はな せ ます (stem + base 3 - indicates potential + polite present active verb ending) - I can speak はな そ う (stem + base 5 + plain form present active verb ending) Let's speak/talk はな して・した (stem + bases 6 - te form for polite commands and the forming the polite progressive form of a verb and 7 Past active plain form) - Speak (a polite command) and I spoke, respectively

    かえる (stem + base 3) - I return/go back かえ ら ない (stem + base 1 + plain form present active negative verb ending) - I don't return/go back かえ り ます (stem + base 2+ polite form present active verb ending) - I return/go back かえ れ ます (stem + base 3 - indicates potential + polite present active verb ending) - I can return/go back - personally, I have never used this form for かえる, but it is worth noting that although it looks like an ichidan verb it's actually godan so this rule should be valid - I would probably use かえられる for the potential form of かえる though. かえ ろ う (stem + base 5 + plain form present active verb ending) Let's return/go back かえ て・た (stem + bases 6 - te form for polite commands and the forming the polite progressive form of a verb and 7 Past active plain form) - Return/go back (a polite command) and I returned/went back, respectively


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mateu-san

    What's the difference between a topic and a subject?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    The subject is the grammatical subject. It's what is doing the verb.
    The topic is the discursive subject. It's what the sentence is talking about.

    Subject: Tom likes macaroni.
    Topic: As for macaroni, Tom likes it.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ImtiazBhasha

    I translated 先生 to "master" because that's what I used to call my Karate master - Sensei Suresh.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    It's the difference between a literal translation and an idiomatic translation. Although since there are contexts where that is used, it should be accepted.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DariusLapn

    I used "teacher", since that is often used here. Should be acceptable IMO.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    It shouldn't be accepted as a translation Darius, because we wouldn't say this in English. You need to find a way to convey the meaning of the Japanese in actual, natural sounding, spoken English, not blindly and literally force a translation of the Japanese that doesn't make sense in English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    Master is too archaic - people don't typically refer to someone as master in English unless they are a slave, servant or genie ; ). Although, master IS used as a title in NZ English (possibly elsewhere as well) for young boys - I'm not sure up to what age. Letters addressed to my sons are, for example, addressed to Master JJ or Master MJ etc.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/max._.idek

    why are both が and は used here? isn't が supposed to emphasize what was said directly before the が and は supposed to emphasize what is said right after?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    It's discursive topic vs. grammatical subject. If they happen to be the same noun phrase, then using が vs は is a matter of emphasis or not.

    Otherwise, が is for the subject and は is for the topic.

    田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます is essentially "As for Professor Tanaka, Japanese and English are languages he can speak."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/max._.idek

    i'm sorry but i dont really understand that can you elaborate please? thank you


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    In general, が marks the subject of the sentence and は marks the topic of the sentence.

    田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます breaks down as follows:

    田中先生 Tanaka-sensei
    (topic marker)
    日本語 Japanese language
    and
    英語 English language
    (subject marker)
    はなせます can speak

    Roughly: As for Professor Tanaka, Japanese and English can be spoken. (Except it's not in the passive voice. There is literally no other way to convey the Japanese syntax in English and still have it make sense in English.)

    The reason why "Japanese and English" take the subject marker and not the direct object marker is because "can speak" is the potential form, not the actual form, and therefore technically there is no action to be received.

    If it were はなします "speaks", then it would be

    田中先生[は/が]日本語と英語をはなします

    田中先生 Tanaka-sensei
    [は/が] (topic marker/subject marker)
    日本語 Japanese language
    and
    英語 English language
    (direct object marker)
    はなします speaks

    Roughly: As for Professor Tanaka, he speaks Japanese and English -or- Professor Tanaka speaks Japanese and English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OlnouBpR

    So is the は in はなします part of the word or is an indicator thingy?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    Yes, は in はなします is part of the word. It's part of how you pronounce the more common kanji version 話します.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Particles only come after a word or phrase, never before. So は at the start of a word is unambiguously part of the word and pronounced "ha".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LimeGreenTeknii

    Mrs. Tanaka? I thought Tanaka was a boy's name.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sora_Japan

    Tanaka is very popular family name (last name in your country) in Japan.

    I'm not sure that why somebody down voted. foreign name is difficult. (add)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JanisaChatte

    Can someone explain why "Tanaka is a teacher of Japanese and English" is wrong please ?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Sensei is just an honorific, and the verb is "can speak", not "is".

    田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます

    田中先生は = Tanaka-sensei / Mr. Tanaka / Prof. Tanaka
    日本語と英語が = English and Japanese
    はなせます = can speak


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DABurnside

    日本語と英語が = Japanese and English


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    That would be - 田中さんは 英語と日本語の先生です。


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Satja2

    What does はなせます mean exactly?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    It's been explained on this page before.

    はなせます is the potential form "can speak"
    はなします is the indicative form "speaks"

    https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/22994500 for more details.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WhatAPotato

    Is it just me, or do they talk way too fast? I can barely understand what they're saying, even with the slower version.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    I think that's just Japanese.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheBookKeeper06

    Is there a difference between か and と as 'and'? I learned that か means 'and' instead of と and I am wondering if that has to do with dialect or something. Please help!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    か can also mean 'or' - maybe that is what is causing confusion?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheBookKeeper06

    Yes, that is probably it. Thank you!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    I'm not sure where you learned that. と is "and" when joining noun phrases and か is the interrogative particle that goes at the end of sentences that are questions.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Max-182

    What is this がはなぜます? I understood the rest. Thanks in advance.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ariaflame

    はなせます or 話せます can speak


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Copying and pasting a question and answer from elsewhere on this page:

    Can someone tell me what means がはなせます. Evey word

    田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます
    As for Professor Tanaka, Japanese and English are languages he can speak.

    田中 先生
    Tanaka-sensei wa
    Tanaka (person's name)
    sensei (honorific used for teachers)
    wa (grammar particle used to mark the topic of the sentence)

    日本語 英語
    nihongo to eego ga
    nihongo (Japanese language)
    to (and)
    eego (English language)
    ga (grammar particle used to mark the subject of the sentence)

    はなます
    hanasemasu
    hana (the root of the verb, means "to speak")
    se (part of the conjugation that means "can" or "is able to")
    masu (part of the conjugation that makes is present tense and spoken politely)

    Why is it 日本語と英語, the subject marker and not 日本語と英語, the direct object marker?

    Because the verb はなます is in the potential form (can speak). If it were in the actual form, はなます (speaks) then it would take the direct object mark.

    田中先生は日本語と英語をはなします
    As for Professor Tanaka, he speaks Japanese and English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thrype

    I know that も is used for also, but I'm confused about と, could they be somewhat interchangable or is mo in the subject and to in the object?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    も is the subject (topic?) particle that translates as "also".

    と is not a particle. It is pretty much literally "and" (although it's only used between nouns. "verb and verb" is a matter of conjugation.)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    Actually, I think both も and と are particles, and can be used interchangeably when listing things, but も emphasizes the inclusion of each element in the list, whereas と simply lists them.

    In this example, 「田中先生は英語と日本語が話せます」simply lists the languages boring old Mr. Tanaka speaks, whereas「田中先生は英語も日本語も話せます」 stresses how awesome Mr. Tanaka is by being able to speak both English and Japanese.

    By the way, both particles also have other uses which are separate from each other.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    They're not interchangeable at all. They mean distinctly different things - your own examples clearly convey their different meanings. If they were interchangeable they'd mean the same thing.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    Ok, perhaps interchangeable isn't the right word, but both sentences do "mean" the same thing - it's just the emphasis that's different.

    I think I meant interchangeable in the sense that you can simply swap them out for each other without any changes to the sentence and it would still work grammatically. I don't remember, my comment is over a year old ┐('~`;)┌


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NicolasTHEZENAS

    I don't see in this sentence the verb can tho ? I thought できる/出来る was used for can.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    はなす is the verb "to speak"

    はなします is the verb "speak/speaks"

    はなせます is the verb "can speak"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DABurnside

    On the topic (は) of honorific titles (さんと先生, etc.), some years ago, there was an article in a Japanese newspaper about two neighbors who got into a brawl because one refused to use any honorific when he addressed the other. I don't remember the details, but the clear take-away was how important it is to be civil to each other, and that requires (among other things) using an honorific with names. Even children have one (chan, I think).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Children have at least two that I'm aware of. Younger children have "-chan" and older children/boys have "-kun".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LordOfTheAndain

    In general, boys tend to transfer from -chan (which has connotations of "cute") to -kun at an earlier age than girls do, but both do and one shouldn't think of -kun as specifically denoting boys (or of -chan as specifically denoting girls).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    I agree that it's important to get used to the idea of honorifics, but that story sounds rather exaggerated and certainly not the norm of how Japanese people view honorifics. If it's clear you don't have a complete grasp of the language, I wouldn't worry about having to fight off all the Japanese people you might offend ;)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jon263984

    Isn't there a difference between 'speak' and 'can speak' in Japanese? If do, the translation is slightly wrong.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Copied and pasted from the top of the page:

    "田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます。 "
    Translation: Mr. Tanaka can speak Japanese and English.

    The translation is correct.
    はなします = "speak/speaks"
    はなせます = "can speak"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Claire164478

    I wrote Mr teacher Tanaka can speak.... but it said it was incorrect and stated the answer was My teacher Tanaka can speak..... what part of that sentence is [my]? Like how does one show possession?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    So, in this case, possession is only implied. "My teacher Tanaka" is one possible translation of 田中先生, though this is only in rather specific contexts, and probably the closest correction Duo had to give you in its answer bank. "Mr teacher Tanaka" is incorrect, or at the very least, unnatural, English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vedika770762

    Why is wa and ha same?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    They're not.

    は is normally pronounced "ha" when it's part of an actual word. But when it's used as a grammar particle (the topic marker), it's pronounced "wa". It's just a historical quirk.

    わ is "wa" when it's part of an actual word.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HolyQuebec

    why is ''tanaka is a teacher that speaks english and japanese'' not accepted or not valid? The answer says its Tanaka, a teacher, can speak English and Japanese and I really don't get it


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    The answer is not "Tanaka, a teacher, ..." It's "Mr/Ms/Prof Tanaka".

    Sensei is just an honorific, and the verb is "can speak", not "does speak".

    田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます

    田中先生は = Tanaka-sensei / Mr. Tanaka / Prof. Tanaka
    日本語と英語 = Japanese and English
    はなます = can speak

    If it were "...speaks Japanese and English", then it would be

    日本語と英語 = Japanese and English
    はなます = speaks


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HaylieDzie

    Can someone tell me what means がはなせます. Evey word


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます
    As for Professor Tanaka, Japanese and English are languages he can speak.

    田中 先生
    Tanaka-sensei wa
    Tanaka (person's name)
    sensei (honorific used for teachers)
    wa (grammar particle used to mark the topic of the sentence)

    日本語 英語
    nihongo to eego ga
    nihongo (Japanese language)
    to (and)
    eego (English language)
    ga (grammar particle used to mark the subject of the sentence)

    はなます
    hanasemasu
    hana (the root of the verb, means "to speak")
    se (part of the conjugation that means "can" or "is able to")
    masu (part of the conjugation that makes is present tense and spoken politely)

    Why is it 日本語と英語, the subject marker and not 日本語と英語, the direct object marker?

    Because the verb はなます is in the potential form (can speak). If it were in the actual form, はなます (speaks) then it would take the direct object mark.

    田中先生は日本語と英語をはなします
    As for Professor Tanaka, he speaks Japanese and English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    はなせます is the potential form of the verb はなします and means 'can speak' (as opposed to just 'speak/does speak'). が follows what the subject of the sentence 田中先生 is able to speak.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/forgetful-frank

    Ok, two big questions: 1. Can anyone explain me why would be "日本語と英語が" the subject of the sentence instead of Tanaka (surprinsinly the topic). If I had to guess I would have said '日本語と英語' is the topic (は) and Tanaka the subject (が).

    1. What difference is (nuances and all) between the exercise phrase and: "田中先生は日本語と英語をはなせます。" That is, with the Direct Object particle (を).

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    This has been discussed on this page before, but in case your device just is not showing you any of the previous comments:



    The subject is the grammatical subject. It's what is doing the verb.
    The topic is the discursive subject. It's what the sentence is talking about.

    Subject: Tom likes macaroni.
    Topic: As for macaroni, Tom likes it.


    In general, が marks the subject of the sentence and は marks the topic of the sentence.

    田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます breaks down as follows:

    田中先生 Tanaka-sensei
    (topic marker)
    日本語 Japanese language
    and
    英語 English language
    (subject marker)
    はなせます can speak

    Roughly: As for Professor Tanaka, Japanese and English can be spoken. (Except it's not in the passive voice. There is literally no other way to convey the Japanese syntax in English and still have it make sense in English.)

    The reason why "Japanese and English" take the subject marker and not the direct object marker is because "can speak" is the potential form, not the actual form, and therefore technically there is no action to be received.

    If it were はなします "speaks", then it would be

    田中先生[は/が]日本語と英語をはなします

    田中先生 Tanaka-sensei
    [は/が] (topic marker/subject marker)
    日本語 Japanese language
    and
    英語 English language
    (direct object marker)
    はなします speaks

    Roughly: As for Professor Tanaka, he speaks Japanese and English -or- Professor Tanaka speaks Japanese and English.


    Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you actually do it. Saying I can swim is not the same as saying I swim.

    Also, the grammar in Japanese differs from the actual form to the potential form.

    日本語と英語 = Japanese and English [direct object]
    はなます = speaks

    日本語と英語 = Japanese and English [subject]
    はなます = can speak


    田中先生は日本語と英語がはなせます
    As for Professor Tanaka, Japanese and English are languages he can speak.

    田中 先生
    Tanaka-sensei wa
    Tanaka (person's name)
    sensei (honorific used for teachers)
    wa (grammar particle used to mark the topic of the sentence)

    日本語 英語
    nihongo to eego ga
    nihongo (Japanese language)
    to (and)
    eego (English language)
    ga (grammar particle used to mark the subject of the sentence)

    はなます
    hanasemasu
    hana (the root of the verb, means "to speak")
    se (part of the conjugation that means "can" or "is able to")
    masu (part of the conjugation that makes is present tense and spoken politely)

    Why is it 日本語と英語, the subject marker and not 日本語と英語, the direct object marker?

    Because the verb はなます is in the potential form (can speak). If it were in the actual form, はなます (speaks) then it would take the direct object mark.

    田中先生は日本語と英語をはなします
    As for Professor Tanaka, he speaks Japanese and English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/forgetful-frank

    Your reply is so good I'm gonna print it till I completely learn it


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CAVZ11

    Thanks! I just copy/printed this as well.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thestrange219150

    What does the と after 日本語 mean?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    と is "and", but only for joining noun phrases.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vl7lsC

    I wrote "Teacher Tanaka can speak both English and Japanese." And it sad that it's wrong and I should write professor instead of teacher"。


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Yes, that's right. We don't use "teacher" as an honorific in English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    It's not natural sounding English, that's why it is considered incorrect. I actually think this is one of those situations where using a Japanese word in the English sentence makes for a better translation - Tanaka-sensei can speak Japanese and English. This way it makes for a natural sounding English translation but it also helps convey the Japanese meaning better than translating 田中先生 as 'Mr Tanaka'.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    I completely agree with you. Off-topic question: The way you said "one of those situations" makes me think you generally don't approve of using Japanese words in translations, so I'm curious about what makes an acceptable exception. Do you think that the acceptability of Tanaka-sensei as a "natural sounding English translation" is due to Western pop culture familiarity with the concept of "sensei"? In a sense, it's kind of an English 外来語 (and I definitely want to use 外来語 instead of "loan word" :P)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    I say "one of those situations" because generally when you translate you translate the foreign language completely into the other language. But sometimes it doesn't work as there's no direct equivalent or there isn't an equivalent that works as in this instance. Generally I think it is most common to see foreign words adopted directly into English with names of food or dishes - sushi, teriyaki etc. Genkan has been another problematic word (for translating into English) and has been the topic of much conversation on here, nattou too.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    Interesting. What about phrases like よろしく? I know that's been a major cause for consternation here, and yet, no one has proposed that we "translate" the phrase as "yoroshiku".

    Yeah, food is really tricky to translate. My favorite food that needs to be adopted directly is probably オムライス; it comes from the English words "omelette" and "rice", but omu-rice is an entirely Japanese dish.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    I agree that there is not really any real equivalent in English for よろしく, however we can't just transfer foreign words into English use in every situation where there isn't a compatible equivalent. I think the difference in this instance is that through sports and media (movies, tv, anime etc) ie. martial arts (as well as other instances) there is an established basis and understanding of what sensei means - enough that if we transfer sensei through to English use as is the majority of people will understand. Unfortunately we just haven't had that history of exposure with よろしくand many other Japanese words or other foreign words for that matter.

    When it comes to "Duo Japanese" often you just have to grit your teeth and use the clunky translations that you know that they will accept or you won't be able to finish lessons/"progress". It's important to remember that Duo is limited in what it can teach and how it can teach but also that it's free - all about perspective. But we can also type in Duo's accepted answers while reporting errors as we see them every time we encounter them - with everyone doing this things will change - eventually.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    @AnaLydiate I completely agree. Although, it's interesting that familiarity/exposure is what makes the difference; it makes you think we should start using Japanese words more so that people can get familiar with them XD

    Thanks for the discussion :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    It would certainly make things a lot easier if everyone understood Japanese! ; )


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sandy830075

    Deveria estar: teacher tanaka can speak japonese and englhis. inves disso está: PROFESSOR tanaka can speak japAnese and English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    El inglés no usa honoríficos de la misma manera. No utilizamos los honoríficos tanto como en japonés. "Teacher" no es un título o un honorífico.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jeanne303904

    Professor and teacher are the same right ?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    There is overlap, but they are not synonymous. Also, "professor" is an honorific and "teacher" is not.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    In many other languages they are but not in English. Teacher is more general but professor refers to a more specialised 'teacher' usually at university or tertiary level education specifically.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KanKanMikan

    why does english have kanji word but other language(country) all in katagana (besides chinese and korean and japanese obviously )


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBriggs11

    in Japanese culture, you would call them Tanaka Sensei,


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ariaflame

    Yes, but you wouldn't say it in English


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    There's no English equivalent for the Japanese as we don't use teacher as a title in English. Mr Tanaka falls short - doesn't convey the teacher aspect or the respect that using 先生 as a title/honorific in the Japanese does, and translating it instead as Professor Tanaka is too much - unlike many other languages teacher and professor are not interchangeable in English. In English Professor is much more specific - it refers to a 'teacher' at a university or tertiary education level.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Momo782837

    Why is "Teacher" incorrect? When in fact, 先生 means teacher while 教授 means professor.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    It's not that 先生 doesn't mean teacher. It's that teacher isn't used in English the way that it is used here in the Japanese which makes an accurate English translation of the Japanese problematic.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OnionMaster03

    Well, why I can't use teacher instead of Professor


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Because "teacher" is not an honorific in English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Midnight_Raine

    Apparently "Teacher Tanaka can speak Japanese and English" is not acceptable. Is there a reason for this?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    Teacher is not used as a title in English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    I use "Professor Tanaka"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    Professor and teacher are not interchangeable in English. Professor in English is a specific kind of teacher - University or tertiary education level.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maxi957442

    First, in Japanese teacher is an honorific, second, please read the explanation of each class, it's the lamp next to the key when you press the class, it helps you a lot.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LilyTrujillo67

    I don't know why, but the thought of using the word professor just makes me laugh so much. I'm really childish if I am thinking that. -_-|||


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chawee262

    Why I write "Teacher Tanaka can speak Japanese and English " , the program said wrong ?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    You don't use "Teacher Tanaka" in English. Try something more common in English like "Professor Tanaka" If you go down to the bottom of this page, this question has been asked and answered multiple times. ;)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    Teacher is used as a title like Mr or Mrs in Japanese but it is not used that way in English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Novakane492

    My answer: Professor Tanaka can speak Japanese and English Answer given: Professor Tanaka can speak Japanese and English.

    Can someone tell me what I did wrong? Am I really being knocked for not having a period?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    Did Duo mark it wrong? Because I never use a period and I'm marked right.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    No, but if you had an extra space somewhere that probably confused poor Duo.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    Oh, yeah. That's probably what happened. Sorry Duo.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    It makes no sense to me from a programming perspective. They set it up to ignore punctuation, but not extra spaces? That's a major oversight.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    It sure is. And they mark me right for typos too.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Well, they do allow for certain typos. That's just adding entries to the database.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Temp1e

    Is (To) like saying (and)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Yes, but only when connecting two noun phrases. There is a completely different way of conveying "and" when connecting to verbs.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    Yes, I believe it is.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ClydeCash

    why is sensei tanaka wrong.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    Your translating to English. "Sensei" is Japanese. ;)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EricPooley

    The use of Sensei as an honorific in English for a teacher of a Japanese related subject (Japanese language/History/Martial arts) is not uncommon.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaLore9

    I agree that those cases should be acceptable translations, but its use as an honorific generally follows the Japanese word order, i.e. "Tanaka Sensei", so I would still consider OP's "Sensei Tanaka" incorrect.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Because in Japanese, the honorific comes after the name, not before it.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RyanJohnso984083

    ”と”何いそれ?! Like what is the difference between と and が?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    と is "and" when you're joining noun phrases.

    が marks a noun phrase as the grammatical subject of the sentence. There is no equivalent in English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CletusElFe

    Can someone break this down pleas?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    If you read the other comments on this page, you will find a few full breakdowns.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    Professor Tanaka can speak Japanese and English


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Minegamezz

    What does "hanase" mean?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    はなせます is a potential form of the verb はなす which means 'can speak'.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    If you read the other comments on this page, you will see a full breakdown of the sentence.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RohanBlum

    I love this app but i can't seem to find anyone to practice my japanese with...


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EricPooley

    On the duolingo website you can try to find an event near you (under ...MORE at the top of the page)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NiallNovalis

    Dialogue says 英語 first


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/circumbendibus

    There are some great explanations here about the difference between が and は. But it in the English sentence, "Professor Tanaka" is clearly the grammatical subject, not "Japanese and English". Is there some sense in which "subject" means something different in Japanese? Is it passive voice (or something analogous)? Though that wouldn't fit with "can speak". Should はなせ actually be more like "can be spoken by"? Or is there just something else in the grammar I'm completely missing?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    It's the difference between the grammatical subject (が) and the discursive topic (は). Please re-read the comments that explain the effect of the verb being in the potential form. It's not in the passive voice, but that's the only way we can talk about what the Japanese sentence really means because English doesn't work the same way.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/redglitterdragon

    Ok so what is the 'ga' for? I keep forgetting to add it.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Please read the other comments on this page. The entire sentence is broken down and analyzed in detail.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HawkstarCh

    What if the sentence become "......can't speak......" How does the sentence look like? Thanks for your time.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    はなせません


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenjaminAra2

    This one was hard


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AmaraFaye

    I keep getting marked incorrect for a correct submission


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CORYINJAPA

    I typed this accurately as the answer, and it was telling me I was incorrect.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VioletSapphire

    oh come on, just because o spelled profesor with two f's instead of one, I'm salty -_-


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    One f, two s's. Duo is very fickle. Sometimes it let's you get away with one or two errors, other times it allows no margin of error and its anyone's guess when duo will allow minor errors and when it won't.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mathman1024

    It would be amazing if Duolingo could incorporate a Japanese keyboard into the desktop version for questions that don't allow you to select the kanji/hiragana/katakana from a word bank.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    You can add other keyboards/languages on your computer by going into settings. I can't remember exactly how I did it but probably look under input or languages or keyboards in settings.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ariaflame

    That is between you and your OS. I can do that on both my Mac and the windows machine I occasionally use. はい?犬、猫、てブール


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaLydiate

    Ariaflame - テブル - て is hiragana and テブル is a borrowed word : )


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aneds

    Why is the "Ga" used in this sentence? What's the meaning of it?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    This sentence has been broken down in detail on this page multiple times.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Janneke307347

    Hey Duolingo, how about you introduce these things slowly and step by step because I was not ready to be slapped in the face like that


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CAVZ11

    Duo won't accept the correct verbatim answer it provides. Any ideas of how to get through this lesson?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    You should report the problem.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CAVZ11

    I did. Also, I selected the 'can't listen right now' or whatever it was called and it gave me a pass (to finish the lesson). Thanks!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Braley1146

    Cool. No problem.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GalahadWitchery

    Why are both particles here?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TravisGarr1

    Another bug report?

    Why isn't '田中先生は日本語と英語が話せます。' accepted?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ashton110118

    I always forget the が...


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vincentvin7

    How am I supposed to know that Tanaka is a Professor?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    先生 (sensei) roughly translates as "teacher". But they also use it as an honorific, which we do not, so the best translation here is "professor".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YuvalGolan4

    why isn't the word english spelt like this 英語語 - one for the sound and one to inducate it is a languege? or is it just merged in this case? please help! thank you


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Japanese and English are two very different languages that work very differently.

    英 - English
    語 - language

    Unless I'm just not understanding your question?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LloydCampb7

    I had the same answer but it said it was incorrect, WHY


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Are you sure you had the same answer? It would help if you could copy and paste what you entered so that we can help compare against the official answer.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/scaredallthetime

    First Boss: this sentence


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Landon915078

    I may have just been missing it, but is the "が" not spoken?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    It's supposed to be spoken. Either you missed it or the sound file is bad.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyNameIsNiu

    Why is「はなせます」accepted but not「話せます」? This is driving me crazy ...


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    They probably didn't add the kanji answer to the database because they haven't taught it to us yes, so they don't expect us to know it.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyNameIsNiu

    But it's been accepted in a different question. This happens very often during the whole course


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luke300907

    Well that's a mouth full


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    Hi lost. I'm Rae. Do you have any specific questions? Have you read the existing comments on this page?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ColtonFish6

    I dont get why the が is there. What does it mean and when do you use it?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
    • 2297

    It's the subject marker. For more details, please read the other comments on this page.

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