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  5. "I do not wash my clothes."

"I do not wash my clothes."


June 10, 2017



OK I finally realized why I don't wash my clothes. It is because I take off my clothes in all seasons in other exercises, so there are no dirty clothes to wash!


The mystery has been solved!


Yes, and you keep buying new ones each season. No need to wash your clothes if you never wear the same outfit twice


は marks the subject. Shouldnt this be をto mark the object?


は marks the theme, which isn't necessarily the predicate's subject. In fact, here it happens to be the object. It could also carry a を instead, in which case it would have a bit less of a focus.


Think of は as "as for..."

It's helped quite a few of my students.

So this would be "as for clothes, do not wash" the "I" would be implied based on context.


2 years and nobody actually answered this.

KeithWong9 corrected me below on how this really works, for anyone reading this, read his comments which is really useful.


Whether it is positive or negative (洗います/洗いません), 服 is the direct object. So gramatically the particle を is needed to describe the role of 服: 服を洗います or 服を洗いません.

は is to bring up the topic, as already discussed above, and it is added after a phrase (unlike を which is after a noun equivalent). In this case, the は is added after 服を becoming 服をは. In modern Japanese, は supesedes を, so it becomes 服は. So 服は is 服を+the indicator to mark 服を as the topic.

は can supesede also が, so 服は can be either from 服を or 服が depending on situation.


that make sense, I will edit my comment out so people don't get the wrong idea about how this particle works. Thanks for the explanation, it really cleared out a lot of doubt I had.

I originally got my explanation from a discord group, but it was over simplified, so I might have gotten the wrong idea.


I was wondering the same. My intuition is that you can talk "about" the clothes (since は indicates the topic of the sentence, not necessarily the grammatical subject, which is が) implying that it's you who does not wash them.


As I understand it after crossing multiple sources (I am not a native speaker nor a teacher):

「は」is a topic marker, the closest English translation is "as for"

「って」is another famous topic marker, closer to "speaking of" only used in spoken language.

Now, any of the four usual particles 「が・を・に・で」, can be transformed to a topic marker, but only 「が」 and 「を」 can disappear completely:





Once a topic is established, it is implied for the next following sentences.




I learned to wash clothes as "せんたくをする”。what is the difference?


あらい is more versatile as you can use it for washing various items (dishes, face, floor, ext.) せんたくをする is for laundry only.


I learned そうじ for cleaning. I was expecting そうじしません。what is the difference?


掃除(そうじ) is cleaning the house. Washing clothes is either 洗濯(せんたく) or 服(ふく)を洗(あら)います


That means literally "to do laundry". "Do my laundry" works in English too.






"Ha" is mostly used, when the sentence is negotiated (-masen/-janai/ etc)


Wo is a direct objrct marker


Aren't the clothes the object? I thought the reason we used は instead of を was because it was a negative sentence. Is that not the reason?


The use of は instead of を emphasizes "clothes" as the topic of the sentence: "As for [my] clothes, I do not wash them."


きみ の ふく は きたない です!


Is the sentence ''ふく洗いません'' wrong?


You need a particle after ふく, in this case a 'は' to mark the topic.


So based off what I know I'd break this down to:

ふくは(as for clothes) 洗いません。(they are not washing) ≈ Clothes are not washing.

Shouldn't this be something more like:

私は(as for me) ふくを(targetting the clothes) 洗いません。(is not washing) ≈ I'm not washing the clothes.


Wa - topic marker, "theme" or "as for..." Ga - subject marker, SOME times inerchangable with wa but implying something a bit different Wo - object marker, used when targetting a specific noun with a verb or an action

Both of aforementioned sencences are fine but the first one is much more casual... a lot is inferred in everyday Japanese and often some particles or topic are dropped cause it's understood anyways. It's usually okay to drop watashi as well (unless you wanna emphasize it) cause people would likely understand that you are talking about yourself. The second sentence is perfecltly correct gramatically but there's no need to be so specific when it comes to casual speech ... The sentence is randomly generated anyways, it's just for the purpose of the lesson. But I think it would be good if Duo specified if they require polite or casual speech from you and so on... :)


Sorry my comoposition broke when I posted it...looks quite messy...hope its still legible... Sorry :)


Good explanation. I feel like there would be value for them to lessons for formal and informal speech separately, as that's a pretty important aspect of the language.


You got these topic and particle right however I think your verb tense is off. -Masu and -masen are considered non-past and can talk about present or future actions but not progressive. So in this case the sentence 服は洗います Would either be: "I wash the clothes." or "I will wash my clothes' Progressive (washing) wouod require the -te/て form + iru/いる


Why is:


not right?


What level of proficiency will I have once I complete this course.I am very doubtful I would be able to construct individual sentences with symbols even after this course is over.


what's the difference between ないます and ません?


Sorry never heard of ないます. How did you hear that?


Correct, I agree. I've heard "nai desu" but "nai masu" does NOT make sense...


Why can't I write: 私の服は洗いません


Clothes are a direct object in this sentence, so why can it be marked as the topic of this sentence?


No specific reason. It is a feature of the language. Just like English you can put the object to the beginning: "As for clothes, I do not wash them."




I see this as "Don't wash clothes" If I am not there to see the context, then... how do I know it is "I" or "He" or "the clothes are not washed"?????????


"Don't wash clothes" is in imperative form so it would be 服を洗うな. "The clothes are not washed" is in passive form so it would be 服が洗われません. You won't know whether it is "I" or "He" from the Japanese sentence. The subject is omitted and this is how Japanese language works. You assume the subject is "I" for declarative sentences and "you" for questions or requests etc. using common sense.


While the subject is usually omitted in Japanese, an English statement needs a subject.
Omitting the subject in English changes the meaning of the sentence from a simple statement to a command. (Telling someone else to not wash). This would be 服を洗わないで・洗うな in Japanese.
Without any provided context, Duo assumes a two-person conversation, where statements default to the speaker "I" and questions to the target listener "you".
"I do not wash clothes" "Do you wash clothes?"

"The clothes are not washed" would be a different structure as well, with the clothes being the subject of the passive form 服は洗われません

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