Translation:I eat bread.
I don't understand why を is used here when speaking in a general sense about bread. In other questions when the sentence was "I don't eat bread" は is used and people explained that it was because the sentence is speaking in general, not about specific bread. So why isn't は used here?
I'm a year late answering you but hopefully this can help the next person.
を is used to indicate what's receiving the action of a verb. This means that this particle indicates something is happening. In this sentence, bread is being eaten. Or rather, bread is receiving the action of eating. Try thinking about it like this: "Bread を (receives the action of) eating (by me)." Whether it's me, you or our friend doing the eating has to be inferred from context, but it usually defaults to "me."
To really see this in effect, try negating it. パンを食べません. In English... ish: "Bread を (receives the action of) NOT eating (by me)."
But we tend to say, "I am not eating bread." Either way, there's still an action being performed--well, being not-performed--and something is still the recipient of that action.
は (and I'm simplifying here) indicates what the whole sentence is focusing on.
パンは食べません. In this sentence you can see that we're focusing on bread. I don't like to translate は as "As for x," but in this case it works. "As for bread, I don't eat it." You're not performing an action and bread isn't receiving an action; you're sharing information about bread, which you've established as the current topic of conversation.
so... shouldn't the sentence be 'I am eating bread' instead of 'I eat bread' ? The former means that the action of eating is being performed and therefore something is receiving it. The latter means that yeah I eat bread in general, perhaps I'll have some tomorrow, but right now no bread is receiving the action of eating by me, I merely shared information about bread. If I got your explanation right then Duolingo should use present simple with は and present continuous with を, is this the right way to look at it?
This is because kanji generally have multiple readings. "Shoku" is the on'yomi of this character, which is derived from Chinese. Here, it is pronounced using a kun'yomi, which is a kanji reading used to fit Japanese words. The kanji 食 is making the "ta" sound in the verb "tabemasu." It would be read as "shoku" in other words, such as 和食 (washoku).
Homonyms mainly, also a carryover from Chinese. Functionally think of it as the difference between water and hydro- or aqua- one is a standalone from while the other is use for compounds. In Kagayaku's example the first character can be read as nagi, yawa, or nado on it's own, but in compounds it's just wa. Some kanji have multiple onyomi too, depending on what combination it's used in (mostly for historical reasons, for example the 日 in 日本 is only read as ni there. In other compounds it's usually hi or bi, and this is why Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn as a foreigner.
I'm still a bit uncertain on the wo/wa issue. Would this be saying "currently, I am eating bread" or "in general, I eat bread"? And, to take it further, if you are saying "in general, I eat bread" would you essentially be saying you like eating bread, or does it imply you eat bread and nothing else?
How so? Presumably, because in English, we add the word "do" as a way of stressing something that may be in doubt, eg. in reply to "Don't you like wheat products?"
Is there a specific word or clause to use in Japanese so as to emphasise your sentence in the face of uncertainty/contradiction, etc.?
Grammaticaly speaking, を does not signify the subject, but the direct object. That is the complement to a transitive verb, verbs you can ask a question to. "I eat", ok, but what do you eat? It's easier when you turn the object into the subject: the bread is eaten. When the now subject is being modified by the verb, it is a direct object.
は is used to mark the topic, not necessarily the subject either. (It's horrible that in english the word "subject" can have these two meanings: what you talk about and what is doing the action, it makes it harder to explain)
But if you were saying something like "this bread is good", bread would be a は, because it doesn't have anything being done to it, it is just the thing you are talking about.
I hope this was clear xD
Wo is when someone is doing something and ha/ga is when its being done by something else usually unknown. Like for example 上げる to raise You could say 私が犬を上げる Means i give the dog or i raise the dog but 上がる like 犬は上がる means the dog is raised and theres no specific person doing it
Is this sentence about actually eating bread, as in I'm eating it now, or is it about not eating bread in general, as in I don't eat bread because I'm gluten intolerant? I guess the question is, is this sentence "I am currently not eating bread" or "I cannot/don't eat bread in general"? Is there a difference? Because in English it could be contextual.
If it is not explict in the sentence as わたし or かれ or whatever, the only way of knowing is by context. In a conversation that would be obvious, but since we only have the isolated sentences here, any answer should be accepted. They are not, though, because the japanese course is not complete yet (we can help with that by reporting answers that should be accepted). But for now, just assume in simple statements like this you should say "I", and in questions you should say "you". "He, she, we, they" are usually stated.
To say you are currently doing something in japanese you need the て form, which will be taught here in further lessons, plus iru/imasu (casual/polite). That would be パンを食べています. This is how you can especify that an action is happening in the present, since 食べます can be used for both present and future.
Because we had just had several questions talking about what I didn't eat, I couldn't resist responding to this naturally with "I do eat bread," which was marked wrong.
Logically, of course, it means the same thing in English.
But do the Japanese use a special word, as we do - to emphasise the affirmative case?
You could say "Pan ni shimasu." which has the nuance of "I've decided on the bread." or you could say "Pan (w)o kudasai." "Bread, please." Remember when you say "I'm having bread." in English, it is an idiomatic use of the verb 'have', nothing to do with possession (I have a cat.) When you express something in an other language, you have to translate the sense, not the literal words, so that you say something which sounds natural.