"Maria is from China."
That shouldn't matter in the course. This is a course, not speaking to someone in Japan. The context is completely different. I'm going to translate exactly what it tells me to, not have to guess which answer is more correct. That makes any lesson pretty annoying, and this is no exception.
@Dan, this course prepares you to speak to a person in Japan. I know that it is hard to learn Japanese. If one tries to translate directly from one language system to another completely different language system, one must expect and accept some frustration. Our progress will be worth it!
@NikhilB16 Yes, san is also 3. And yes, only context will indicate which meaning it has. Just as in English, only context will tell us whether "hide" is the verb "to hide" or the animal skin "hide," whether "I read this book" is past tense or present tense, and countless other examples. So far, every language I've studied has these tricky words -- I guess it's just something humans can't avoid!
When I'm presented with the symbols that I'm supposed to use to construct the sentence, 出身 is not one of the options made available for me. In fact, the first time I recall seeing 出身 in this course was when the feedback indicated I got the sentence wrong and should have used 出身. No clear indication is being made that 出身 and しゆっしん are equivalent. I suppose that's why this course is still in beta.
Yes and no. The sentence would still be grammatically correct with both は and が but they would have slightly different meanings. The difference between は and が is a bit of a difficult topic for beginner learners but は is the topic particle while が is a subject particle. If you don't clearly understand the difference between these two I would suggest looking them up on Tae Kim or Nihonshock websites. They can explain it a lot better than anyone can here in a comment.
マリアさんは中国出身です。This is telling you important information about Maria - where she is from. This would answer the question, "Where is Maria from?" マリアさんが中国出身です。This is telling you that Maria is the one from China, as opposed to someone else. This would answer the question, "Who is from China?"
I have the same question, but I discovered from another Japanese resource that the kanji 出身 means shusshin. Of course it would help a great deal if there were either a tile with 出身 as a choice or we had already been taught that this kanji and it's hiragana equivalent, (there is a tile for the hiragana shusshin). There are a number of solutions that have problems like this, so be prepared to get those wrong as well.
I think that から and しゅっしん (the pronunciation of the kanji seen) differ slightly in meaning. The latter, especially when written with kanji, indicates a place of origin, while the former is closer to "came from". The difference is that you can come from somewhere you're not from.
As far as I know, some sort of descriptor (like さん、ちゃん、くん、さま or 先生）is generally needed for some basic politeness in Japanese, no matter, if the first or last name is used. さん is used differently than Mr. or Mrs., but it is usually translated as such, as it has a similar function.
So if I hide the subject, like "america shiyusshin desu", it's about me. But if I say the subject, like "maria wa america shiyusshin desu", then it's her?
I mean, I talking about the "desu". Seems like the verb "to be". So, if I hide the subject it means that I'm talking about myself?
Since Japanese doesn't have a very strict word order, things called particles are used in order to let you know what function each word serves in a sentence.
は is the topic particle; it is placed after the topic of a sentence. When you see it you can generally think of it as "On the topic of..."
In this sentence Maria is the topic so "On the topic of Maria - she is from China"
If the topic is understood from context it can often be dropped from the sentence. In response to "Where is Maria from?" You can remove the topic and simply say 中国しゅっしんです - "(she) is from China", since it is already clear from context you are talking about Maria.
は is the topic particle and marks the topic of a sentence. When a topic is already understood through context it is typically omitted. Japanese doesn't have a strict word order so the use of particles like は are used in order to determine what role each word serves in a sentence. Changing particles around can alter the nuance or even completely change the meaning of a sentence.
Here "Maria" is marked as the topic, introducing Maria as what the following conversation will be about. If Maria was already brought up earlier the name could be left out and 中国しゅっしんです would still be a complete sentence with 'Maria' being implied. In casual conversation you may see the 'wa' part replaced with a comma/slight pause between the topic and the new information about the topic.
They have different meanings
出身 means "origin", it is the place that a person comes from, where they have ties to. This can be their country, their hometown, their school.
中国出身 - "China-origin", to be from China
This talks about the place a person is from and associates themself with.
人 means "person", it is used in these intro sentences as a suffix for a person's nationality.
中国人 - "China-person", to be Chinese
This talks about the person
You can be from America but be Chinese. Or from Japan but be American. Or graduate from and have strong ties to a certain school but that school is not your nationality.
Maria is from China (but not necessarily Chinese), and Honda is Japanese (but not necessarily from Japan)