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  5. "That is water."

"That is water."


June 20, 2017



Nothing is "happening" to the water, so there's no need for a を that would connect it to a verb.

"That" (それ) is the topic of the sentence. And the only thing the sentence does, is define what the topic is exactly. Nothing is really happening to something specific in the sentence, except for... "being" in regards to the topic.

If something happens to the water (e.g. "I drink water" - (わたしは)水をのみます), then it becomes the object, as we know and are used to it, requiring a を.

I always feel like imagining a comma after は helps establish the topic and thus understand sentences a little better. Also, there's the "As for/Regarding this-and-that" technique.
"As for me は, I drink water."


I thought "that" was "あれ"


It depends on the context of where the object is. If it's near you, it's これ as in "core". If it's near the other person in the conversation, it's それ as in "seller", and あれ as in "aw man, that's far from both of us". Or at least, I believe that's accurate. Please feel free to correct me.


You're correct, but just to give people another way to remember them, i always think of これ/core as something I am currently holding (since core sounds kind of like current), and それ/sore as 'sorry, i cant reach it because it is near you, not me' (since sore sounds like sorry). Love your memory technique of あれ though!


Because あれ is used when something is far away, thats how i remember it because it sounds similar to the word 'away' so you use it when talking about something thats far あれ.


The question doesn't give any context so あれ should be correct as well as それ.

  • 1090

Yeah that's the way I remember it being taught. これ is by me, それ is by you, あれ isn't by either of us.


The only thing I would add is that something doesn't need to be far away from both of you (like really far away!) to necessarily be あれ. As long it's out of reach for both of you. That would be the minimum distance so to speak for something to be あれ.


Kind of similar to how we say over there as in "whats that over there?" Plus it sounds like the word away which makes it easy to remember its used for things あれ from us.


What about if the object is as near to me and the other person in the conversation?


I think これ because it’s near you.


I'm confused, I thought を was used for all direct objects (nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases) but you're saying only if something is happening to the direct object?


Yes, を is used for all direct objects. A direct object receives the action of the verb, which you could say means that something is "happening" to it.

です (desu) is not a verb (it's what's called a 'copula') but is very similar to the English verb "to be", which doesn't take a direct object. In the sentence "that is water", there is no direct object. "That" is the subject and "water" is the predicate nominative.


Concepts such as direct object, indirect object, and subject, may not translate directly into Japanese grammar.But, even in European languages, sentences like this, that use “to be” as a linking verb, treat both linked in noun phrases as subjects, i.e., they are in the nominative case. At least this is true for the European languages I have studied.


As the Duo Tips say: Object Particle The marker を is attached to things or people, and means that they are the target of the verb. Subjects are often omitted in Japanese sentences. Unlike English, the location of the verbs are usually at the end of the sentence. を was once pronounced wo, but now it’s the [o] sound.


Why can not use "それが水です。" here?


That's what I would like to know...

I think "それは水です" is a response to "What is that?", and the は takes emphasis away from それ. But "それが水です" would be a good response to "Which bottle is water?", because the が would emphasize that THAT one is water.

Duolingo struggles with context, but I think "それが水です" would translate to "That one is water", not "That is water".


why can't I write それ は お水 です ?


The thing is that お水 is not normally used (unless really want to be over polite, using お水 is unnecessarily polite in a lot of cases). On the other hand, some words needs the お almost all the times. For example, if we say おひや (ice water), dropping お is unnatural and お does not convey any politeness.

But grammatically I think それはお水です should be correct.


I am confused, it keeps changing the distance between それ and  これ i thought that they were for objects closer to you and could be considered "this" or "it". "それ" is closest, "これ" is farther "あれ" is farthest.


That is correct.
これ = this (close to you).
それ = that (far from you, but close to the person you're talking to).
あれ = that over there (far from both of you). ☺


ありがとうございます! I still struggle with these x-x


Now that is a clear way to put it! Thank you, you amazing person on the internet!


The idea of "this, "that" and "that over there" are not too different from English just different words. You will see this a lot in Japanese pronouns, the 'K' sound represents near you(the person speaking)

これ(Kore) {this}[pronoun] これは水ですKore wa mizu desu(This is water)

この(Kono){this}[adjective] この箱は黒いKono hako wa kuroi(This box is black)

ここ(Koko){here}[pronoun] 本がここですhon ga Koko desu(the book is Here)

secondly the 'S' sound represents near the person being spoken to. It helps to ask yourself: "Is what's being referred to in a position where the other person would say 'this'?"

それ(Sore) {that}[pronoun] それは水ですSore wa mizu desu(that is water)

その(Sono){that}[adjective] その箱は青いSono hako wa aoi(that box is blue)

そこ(Soko){there}[pronoun] 本がそこですhon ga Soko desu(the book is there)

next is the 'A' sound which represents things neither close to speaker nor the person being spoken to. It can be thought of as "that over there, away from us." It's also sometimes used for more abstract concepts that can't be logically positional.

あれ(Are) {that}[pronoun] あれは水ですAre wa mizu desu(that is water)

あの(Ano){that}[adjective] あの箱は黄色い**Ano hako wa kiiroi(that box is yellow)

あそこ(Asoko){there}[pronoun] 本があそこですhon ga Asoko desu(the book is over there)Please note this one is A+Soko: Asoko, not Ako

The last set that's good to know is the 'D' sound which basically means "which?"

どれ(Dore) {which}[pronoun] どれは水ですかDore wa mizu desu ka(which is water?) This also means "which one", used when the subject is understood.

どの(Dono){which one}[adjective] どの箱は赤いですかDono hako wa akai desu ka(which box is red?)

そこ(Doko){where}[pronoun] 本がどこですかhon ga Doko desu ka(Where is the book?)


if i wanted to ask ''is that water'' would i say それは水ですか


Duolingo uses は and が interchangeably for the sentence 'That is water.' ie, ありは水です。 & ありが水です。Please tell me why ?


They can both mean "that is water", with a slight difference in nuance depending on if you use は or が. が would put more emphasis on それ.

About what you've written, "are" should be あれ.


i didnt get this wrong, but water isnt necessarily a living thing, so arent we supposed to use "ga" and "arimasu"?


です can be used with living and nonliving things. I think you're thinking about the difference between あります (arimasu - a nonliving thing exists) and います (imasu - a living thing exists).

水です。Mizu desu.

It's water. (Someone asked "what's in your bottle?")

水があります。 Mizu ga arimasu.

Water exists. / I have water. (You're going on a camping trip and you ask if there is drinking water at the campsite.)


I said それわ水 and it marked me wrong. Isn't it okay to not use ですlike casually?

  • 1090

Firstly, you can drop です although to still be grammatically correct, you'd replace it with だ in this instance.

But the much bigger error is you've used わ instead of は. While the particle は is pronounced "wa" in this instance, it's not correct to use わ instead.


Is word order important here? I wrote 水それはです and it counted as incorrect.


Yes, with the order you've used there is no particle marking water and telling us what it is doing in the sentence. Your version doesn't just have a word order issue, it is grammatically incorrect.


Is anyone else strugging with their mobile keyboard typing わ instead of what they use as wa?


は is the hiragana for "ha", but when it's used as a particle, it's pronounced "wa". We still have to type "ha" to get は, even though it's pronounced "wa".

はれ (hare) - regular noun that means "sunny"

はし (hashi) - regular noun that means "bridge"

はしはきれいです (hashi wa kirei desu) - "the bridge is pretty", where は (wa) is a particle that shows us the topic of the sentence (はし - bridge)

それはみずです (sore wa mizu desu) - "that is water", where the は (wa) is a particle that shows us the topic of the sentence (それ - that)


Can someone explain to me in relatively simple terms what the difference is between using が and は? There's a similar one to this but it uses が instead. Someone explained the difference on the other one but it was super confusing because I don't know a lot about linguistics so a lot of the terms used went right over my head


From PuniPuni Japanese:

Using the particle ga (が) as emphasis

★  Ga (が) can also be used to emphasize the subject or distinguish it from others. Compare the two following examples. The second one might come as a response to the question “Who is Sara?”


Example 1:


Watashi wa Sara desu.

I am Sara.


Example 2:


Watashi ga Sara desu.

I am (the one who is) Sara.

I think this usage would apply to this case as well. それは水です (sore wa mizu desu) seems to be a neutral statement saying "that is water". それが水です (sore ga mizu desu) seems to emphasize "that", saying "that, and not something else, is water".


why is です used in the sentence? What dose it do? What dose it mean?


です is what is called a copula, and it acts a lot like our English verb "to be". In the English sentence "that is water", the verb "is" links together "that" and "water", telling us "that = water". In a polite sentence, you can think of です as acting in the same way.

それは水です。(sore wa mizu desu)

それ = 水 ("sore" = "mizu" / "that" = "water")


Apparently Duo doesn't want only hiragana in this sentence. I wrote みず instead of 水 and got it wrong?


Three possibilities:

1) The hiragana just hasn't been keyed in for the answer and you can submit an error report saying "my answer should be accepted", but because this is an old sentence I don't think that this is the problem.

2) You had another typo in the sentence. It happens to me all the time, so this to me is very likely.

3) It was a "type what you hear" question. There are multiple correct ways to type the same thing in Japanese, but Duolingo wasn't originally set up to accept multiple answers for these kinds of questions, which has led to a lot of correct answers being rejected. This is also a possible reason みず wasn't accepted instead of 水.


Is "それが水です" used to distinguish between items whereas "それは水です" would be used if you were asked if a paticular item is water?


Yes, that is correct understanding - AがB - new information is A; whereas AはB - new information is B.


The です is unnecessary for a correct answer


There is a need of だ/です (to be) in order to complete the sentence. You can speak without it in conversation, but the sentence is not complete. i.e. これは水。 is like saying "This, water." in English.


Please when do we use 'は' and 'が' (wa and ga). I thought it was 'kore wa' and 'sore ga' but now I'm seeing 'sore wa'.


これ and それ just state the distance from the speaker, "this" near me speaking vs "that" near you listening

は and が slightly change the naunce of the sentence,

は is a topic particle, this marks old/known information that provides context for the statement you are about to make. What comes after it is then the new important information you want to stress. When you see it you can think of it as "On the topic of...", 'As for...."

が is the new information particle and marks the do-er or be-er of an action. This adds stress to what comes before it as new important information.

それは水です - This is water - [on the topic of this] it is water - "this" is old information, and "is water" is the new important info. This could answer the question "What is that?" where you want to state that it is "water" rather than milk or tea,

それが水です - This one is water - this one [is the one that is water] - "this" is new important information, this could answer the question "Which one is water?" where you want to emphasize "this one" rather than another one.


Ah nuts. I put を instead of は and the を makes it 'it's water' instead 'that is water'. The fact that i knew to put something there at all shows that Duolingo is working. Before, i knew my alphabet and a few words, but i couldnt have strung a sentence together like now.


Can someone tell me the diffrence between are and sore?


これ - this thing right here / next to me

それ - that thing next to you / the thing I'm pointing at

あれ - that thing all the way over there

It's a gradient of distance and you can't really translate it perfectly without any context. Duo usually translates これ as this thing, それ as that thing or the thing and あれ as that thing

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