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  5. "にくは食べません。"


Translation:I do not eat meat.

June 10, 2017



Shouldn't it be にくを食べません。?


No, with は you're stating that you do not eat "meat in general".

With を you'd be stating that you're not eating "the meat" right now.


Thank you so much! Your explanation was really helpful



w(a) for "always"


w(o) for "on this occasion"?


If only it were that simple, but for this occasion, that's correct. は pronounced 'wa' (because historically the kana had that sound but pronunciation altered everywhere else) is the 'topic marker'; it introduces something as being what is generally being talked about, including allowing changing the topic from what was just being talked about.

が is usually called the 'subject marker'; it specifically identifies something as the thing doing the verb. Including selecting that thing from amongst several possible options introduced as the topic.

を is generally called the 'object marker' or 'direct object marker'; it identifies the thing the verb is acting on, and only applies to transitive verbs. It's pronounced 'o' for a similar reason to the topic marker; the kana is actually 'wo' but there is no 'wo' sound in modern Japanese.

So, Xは means "As for X", basically. Xが is "X (as opposed to anything else)". Xを is "done to X".

In the example here, you can read にくは as "Regarding meat", and parse the entire sentence more naturally as "I don't eat meat" (as in, meat, in general, not a specific piece of meat). にくを in place of the above would make the sentence translate most naturally as "I'm not going to eat the meat".


This is honestly a lifesaver


Thank you for the thorough explanation!


I cannot give this comment enough love. You may have actually made particles make some lick of sense. I'll still have to memorize it, but this gives me a place to start. Thank you!!! <3


If you know any french it's the same difference between "je ne mange pas de la viande" vs "je ne mange pas la viande" i don't know how many people that will help but it's how i memorise it


Haha thank it s helpfull for me ;)




Can that also apply to the positive form? If I wanted to let someone know that in general "I eat meat," could I say "にくは食べます。” ?


Certainly. The non-past tense is used for habitual actions and future actions.

So 「肉は食べます」 can be translated as "I eat meat." or "I will eat meat.", depending on context.


「肉は食べます」は概して文章だけです。「I will eat meat」の意味は今の先に起こります。


That's exactly the question I wanted to ask. Thanks a mil!


Oh wow, I've been taking Japanese for three years now and I had no idea that は was used for those sentences. Thanks!


What do you mean by "in general". Does it mean that the statement means 'I don't eat meat (at all)'

I'm not a native english speaker btw


Yes. But I disagree with this explaination. Either particle can be used to make general (or specific) statements.

The difference between between the two structures is largely a matter of emphasis.


You're right and wrong... The は makes it into a generalized statement, but with を it would equate to being in the near future (most often as an immediate action).

パンを食べます → I will eat bread. パンは食べます → I eat bread.

The sentences are essentially laid out in the same manner as when you would say that you breathe:

I will take a breath. I breathe... regularly.

However, with that all being said, it is true that a lot of Japanese sentence meaning are dependent upon which parts are emphasized, but that's true of any language.


(For some reason I can't reply to your comment...) The tense does come from the verb endings, but the meaning of the sentence changes depending on the particles used. Ex: I walked [to] the dog. I walked [on] the dog. I walked [for] the dog.

All three are past tense, but they have completely different meanings. The particles used changed the meaning of each sentence.

Using は wouldn't eliminate it from being a future action, but it is more of a "I don't really do this type of thing..." kind of feel. は marks the topic of your sentences, but makes it more of a generalized statement meaning that "I do/do not [make it a practice to] verb," if used directly before the verb. To be more specific about when someone does something, they use を to say that they WILL do something, typically with the implication of the action being in the immediate future. The を marks a direct object that will be acted upon, whether it be right now, sometime in the past or a few minutes in the future.

If anyone wants more info, look it up in A Basic Dictionary of Japanese Grammar by The Japan Times (it's a yellow book). That's a fantastic resource for all the basic grammar that anyone needs in order to hold comfortable conversation with people.


Doesn't the tense come from the verb, not from the particles?

Both sentences have verbs in the non-past form, so either one could mean a habitual action or a future action. I don't see how using は would eliminate the possibility of this sentence describing a future action.

Maybe I'm missing something obvious.


but を is an object marker isint it?


This is literally finally the best explanation ive heard this entire time. Thank you!


out of all the explanations ive seem about this this is the only comment that was clear so ty


は and を(or が) never, never, never imply whether an object is specific or general, as in I do not eat meat in general vs I do not eat that specific piece of meat. (I think the spreading rumor starts here...)

は is used solely for bringing up the topic to make a contrast to other food. 肉は食べません - as for meat, I do not eat. (But I do eat some other stuff) vs 肉を食べません - I do not eat meat. (plain sentence, no contrast to other stuff)

There is an excellent discussion to this via this link

As for speaking about a general meat or specific meat, Japanese often use "その" to represent a specific object that has been discussed before.

肉を食べません (I do not eat meat in general) vs その肉を食べません (I do not eat that specific meat)


The fact that we are talking about 肉 is clarifying information. The new information is 食べません.


How would you say that you don't eat meat (in general) vs you won't eat meat (this time)? What's the difference?

When you said that the を means you "do not eat meat," that's saying that, in general, you don't eat meat (as in, you're a vegetarian of sorts). That's a little different than what all my Japanese friends and my Japanese professor told me. When you use を, it means that you "will not (in the immediate future/in a specific instance). When you use は, just as you said, it means you "don't eat meat (in general), but you eat other things."


"Wo" would be valid if it said it in a certain contex that implies a specific peice of meat, this is because "wa" is a general topic particle and "wo" is an objectifying particle, so if your talking about a specifc object wo is more appropriate but if you are talking about a general subject wa would be the correct particle, so they were right to use "wa" becajse nothing in the phrase implied a specifc object and it was more or less a generalized statement.


I must be out of it today. I almost put "I do not eat cat"


So this person won't eat: Vegetables, meat, bread, rice or drink green tea. Jee, what do you eat?




I was thinking on those kanji!


I think they should've used Kanji here. It would have made things easier!


I wrote the answer like this yet it was considered wrong. I reported it in hopes they submit this variation as acceptable.


I tried this too and it is still not accepted.


One of the possible responses using the random words provided by DuoLingo

学生をたべません. "I do not eat students."

Actually, this is true. I very rarely eat students. >.<

Too many calories.


Ha! I'm a vegan so this is most relevant


Just be aware that many Japanese people do not classify fish and "meat" together. So you would need to also let them know that fish was off the menu, if you are vegetarian or vegan.

If you are wondering why fish are not meat, it very likely relates back to Buddist religious restrictions regarding meat. By placing fish in a seperate class, people could eat it even when other meats were not allowed.


it's a very common schema everywhere else too


Just one note for this lesson - Japanese finds it extremely rude if you right away reject their meal with those sentences. It's a lot better if you reject it with saying ちょっと。。。and then continue with that.


ちょっと would mean something like ”excuse me"? Could you provide an example?


No, chotto literally means "a little" or "slightly". It can be used to describe a small physical quantity or small amount of time, among other things. When used with a negative verb it means something like "very" or "not a little" or "not slightly".

"In a jiffy" or "In a short amount of time" 「ちょっと見る」
To take a glance (at).

Beyond this direct usage, it is commonly used for polite rejections in Japanese. For example:

Person 1: 土曜日に食べませんか?
"Want to go out to eat on Saturday?"

Person 2: えと, 土曜日はちょっと。。。
"Ummm, Saturday is a little ... "

The rest of the sentence is left hanging but the implication is that Saturday doesn't work for some reason ... it is a little inconvenient or a little too busy or whatever. Rather than making an outright rejection, "No, I'm busy on Saturday." or even "No I don't want to."

In this case, if you are served a meat dish by your host, but you are a vegetarian, you might say "えと, にくはちょっと。。。(As for meat, it is a little ... umm ...) then ask if they have a vegetable option, rather than bluntly stating 肉は食べません (As for meat, I do not eat it.)


Hey can someone explain when the sentence is "i do not eat _ " and when the sentence id "i do eat _ " . Im strugling with that at the moment.

Thanks in advance


〜ます is polite positive and 〜ません is polite negative.

I eat meat.

I do not eat meat.

I can speak English.

英語は話せません。 I cannot speak English.


It should use the を instead of は、 because it is a transitive verb


No, は can be correct here. It makes にくthe subject instead of the object. This usage emphasizes that にく in particular is something that the speaker does not eat while leaving open the possibility of eating something else.


I put "I do not eat meet". It's so tricky...


Most important phrase. Came here to learn this!


When it is negative we use 'ha' instead of 'wo'


In order to emphasise the negative and because it is speaking about meat in general.
With を it would be referring to a certain (piece of) meat (for instance one that is in front of you right now).


I added "the" before "meat" but it ended false. Does it make much difference?


Aye, it actually does. This sentence is 肉は "as for meat", 食べません "it is not eaten", with "by me" implied.

Edit: to expand on that a little, your translation implies a specific piece of meat that is not being eaten (for whatever reason), for which the Japanese sentence would become 肉を食べません。


Quick question. The questions about eating have audio pronunciation that differ from the audio when you click on the separate characters. "Eat" 食べ ..is this pronounced like "ta be" ? Thank you! ありがと !


Yes, in this case it is "ta be". Part of the negative verb form "tabemasen" 食べません


why do you say just にく here instead of おにく?


Because honorifics are mostly only used in certain situations. Although this is "polite language" as evidenced by ません, you'd normally only use 御・お・ご in a situation where honorific & humble language were being used. Although, some foods, especially, have become essentially set phrases with the honorific attached; (cooked) rice is actually はん at the most basic etymological level, but the honorific ご has become pretty much permanently attached to make it 御飯・ごはん.

If you're curious, the kanji is 御 and the pronunciation is determined by whether it is a Japanese word or an imported Chinese word; お・ご. These days, the kanji is used a lot less, so you tend to see just the kana attached to the front of the kanji, and some words are mostly written only in kana.


How can I tell if it's we or I? Because i got it wrong for using I instead of we.


I think both should be accepted, report it.


If it uses わたしたち、-ましょう、or Base5 (Ex: taberu in Base5 is tabeyou), it means 'we.'


How would you say "Do not eat the meat"?


その肉を食べないで (I think)


Why don't I hear 食?


I put my phone down and it pressed all the buttons for me and I got it right


Does anyone else worry about saying it with the wrong kind of tone, and giving it a completely different meaning


God damn vegetarians


All of these people are talking about how the sentence is supoosed to work while im still stuck tryjng to figure out what it said


"I eat no meat" marked as incorrect. I'm not a native English speaker, but shouldn't it be correct?


"I eat no meat" is technically correct in the most grammatical sense, but by far the more common way to say it would be "I don't eat meat".


I don't think that is true. Grammatically, the negative is associated with the verb "to eat" not with the noun "meat". From a strictly grammatical sense, this is "Meat not eat." or "As for meat (I) do not/will not eat (it)." The subject and direct object are implied by context, but the key point is that it is the action (to eat vs to not eat) not the noun (meat vs no meat) which is being negated.


Little cultural sidenote: I found this extremely difficult in Kyoto! Even though Japanese cuisine consists almost soley out of vegetables, rice and fish, pretty much every food place struggles to actually serve vegetarian. Every night out with the vegetarian student was an adventure to say! (I mostly cooked at the dorm, screw that!)


There are several good vegetarian and macrobiotic restaurants in Kyoto, check Happycow next time :)


I typed 肉は instead of にくは, and I got it wrong.


Doesn't accept 肉は食べません, only にくは食べません.


Does not accept the kanji for meat. Too bad.


Why did it count 「肉は食べません」wrong?


How do i say this for a friend who is a vegetarian? "He does not eat meat"?


Japanese doesn't really use pronouns that much. So if you want to specify, you would say something like "As for John, (he) does not eat meat" ジョンは肉を食べません

Or if it is clear that you are taking about John, just 肉を食べません "(He) will not/does not eat meat". Or if it is clear that you are talking about John, but you want to emphasize that MEAT is the thing that he doesn't eat, you would use the same sentence as in this example. 肉は食べません "As for meat, (he) does not eat (it)."

The subject is implied by context. The default subject is the speaker, but if it makes sense for the subject to be someone other than the speaker, you don't have to change what you say, since the subject was never stated in the first place.

So nothing needs to change, as long as it is clear. If it is not clear, Japanese prefers introducing this information as a topic using は and continuing to leave the actual grammatical subject implied. Notice that in the final sentence, both the grammatical subject AND the object of the sentence are implied. Niku (meat) is the topic and tabemasen (will not eat) is the verb. But the subject marker and object marker are absent.


I wrote "肉は食べません" and it was marked as a wrong answer.


So if it was just Tabemasu, would it mean that "I eat meat," as opposed to Tabemasen?


Yes, that is right.

"(I) eat meat."


For those who are learning Chinese, it is not so difficult to understand such illogical expressions. The Chinese sentence in this case would be '肉不能食(吃)', literally meaning: 'The meat cannot eat'. In this, the subject is 肉 (niku, meat) and the real subject is only implied. Regardless of the context, the meaning of this sentence can be 'the meat is unsuitable for eating' in the general sense, 'I don't eat meat'—I am a vegetarian, or 'I will not eat THIS meat'. The logic for both Chinese and Japanese is quite different from the Western ones. The idea of GRAMMAR has been a new concept introduced to the Far East since around the 17th century. We shall always keep this in mind.


It should accept 肉は食べません


I dont think I would be doing duolingo if it weren't for the comment section. You guys are amazing. Thanks a lot.

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