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  5. "I eat rice."

"I eat rice."


July 6, 2017



Why を instead は?


The rice is eaten, not eating.


I guess "ha"(sorry, I do not have Japanese keyboard) is indicating the topic, and "wo", indicating the object.


how are you doing Japanese lessons without a keyboard lol


You don't type anything in japanese characters in the lessons. What are you talking about?


You can type in Japanese characters though


Bro, I'm typing in japanese since the 2nd lesson, why aren't you all typing in japanese??


However, for this situation, it should be は instead of を. Even though it's a direct object, if you were to use は it would be "I eat rice (in general)," but when using を, it would mean "I will eat rice (in the near future)."


i just try it and got wrong for write ご飯は食べます


But the other sentence, I don't eat rice used は instead of を. Why the difference with this sentence?


ごはん食べません isn’t wrong, but in most cases it’s more natural to use -は with the negation. It places the focus of what you’re negating on the noun: “I’m not eating rice (but I do eat other things).”

Compare this to “I don’t eat rice (I just cook it),” where the focus would be on the verb (and presumably it would be more natural to use -を here to prevent the noun from being in the focus).


The emphasis when using は would be on the noun, but if you're using を in this sentence it would mean not that you "don't eat rice," but rather that you won't in this situation. ごはんは食べます > In general (as for...), rice I eat. ごはんは食べません > In general (as for...), rice I don't eat. ごはんを食べます > I'm going to eat rice (either in a second or sometime soon) ごはんを食べません > I'm not going to eat rice (right now or in the immediate future, even though there's the chance of it later).

There's a stark distinction to be made between the use of は as an emphasis/topic marker and the use of を as an object marker. The way Duolingo has this set up, it seems as though they have no distinction between "in general" and "specific instances."


Because は replaces を or が in negative sentences. Read the tips next time


Something marked with は is not always the subject in the English equivalent of the sentence (if it were ごはん that would be a different story). は is possible as AbunPang pointed out.


But wouldn't you need to specify the subject then, if the rice is not the subject? Or would 1. person still be seen as the subject of the sentence?


But they clearly use は in either similar sentences like the "meat and fish one". 肉と魚は食べません。


As mentioned a few times already in this same comment chain
は usually replaces を in negative sentences to stress the negation/show contrast.
肉と魚は食べません - I do not eat meat or fish [As for meat and fish] [I do not eat]

Replacing を with は in a positive sentence is grammatically fine but it adds contrast to it
ご飯を食べます - I eat rice - this is a pretty neutral sentence saying you eat rice
ご飯は食べます - I eat rice (as for rice, I eat it) - has an implication that there are other things that you don't eat that you are contrasting "rice" with. It puts more emphasis on the verb "eat".


I will try explaining what I think is correct. I would recommend everyone having a problem with は and を to read the course information that will come up when clicking the lightbulb icon of this lesson.

は and を both are object markers. When talking about a topic in general は is used to point out that the word which has this hiragana after it is the topic that you are talking about.

を (action received and topic) When this word which is the topic, also RECEIVES ACTION you use を instead.

は (no action received, just topic) When you are NEGATING THE ACTION, there is no action implied, because you are denying it in your sentence, this is why we go back to the general topic marker は for negated actions.

I hope this will clear stuff up for someone.


I would like to clear some things up for you if you don't mind. While you are generally correct and you will find that this logic applies rather well for Duo sentences, there is more to it in general.

は and を both are object markers

In this case the only object marker is を。「は」is a contextual particle, this is not a grammatical case, it doesn't mark a "be-er", "do-er", "objects", nothing in particular. は is used for context, and it marks a topic (this is the best translation).

は can mark anything I mentioned above, but it does it with the objective of giving context, it doesn't show you anything about the logical structure of a sentence. When this particle happen to mark the same noun as を should be marking, the は supersedes it, this is often done to use the contrastive property of は。

When talking about a topic in general は is used to point out that the word which has this hiragana after it is the topic that you are talking about.

Not sure if I read your sentence correctly. But anyways, the particle always marks the word to the left, in this case if you say ご飯は、the は particle marks ご飯 as the topic.

When you are NEGATING THE ACTION, there is no action implied, because you are denying it in your sentence, this is why we go back to the general topic marker は for negated actions.

While this is a good logic, it doesn't work for all sentences, you can say「すしを食べません」"I will not eat sushi" which has a negative and you still have を there.

The は in negative sentences is used to stress the negation and make a soft contrast, but is not a hard rule. That stress come from a property of は that can be explained as "は is not important". Whenever you mark something with は、the important part is what you are saying about this thing marked as topic, not the topic itself. A listener hears 〇〇は and his mind goes "what about 〇〇?".

The contrast part is another function of は、when you use は and something else is expected you end up with a contrast. For example if you say「すしを食べません」"I will not eat sushi" this is a neutral sentence, but if you say「すしは食べません」then you are making a contrast and saying that you don't eat sushi in particular (but you might eat another kind of food). Using は in negative sentence sounds more natural and less direct for Japanese people because of this, that's why people say that is better to use は for general things.


That is also possible but it changes the nuance quite a bit. It's more like "as for the rice, I eat it". You're not just saying that you eat the rice, but also implicating that there is something else which you don't eat.


Why is 私 in this couldn't me just ご飯は食べます mean the same thing?


This is why it said I got it wrong. The beginning lessons taught that you didn't have to use watashi if context was clear that it was you who ate rice. I don't understand if I actually got it wrong or if it was just being really strict on what you should say.


I got it right without putting 私. Maybe it was for putting は instead of を?


Technically yes, as referring to yourself is often implied. I omitted 私は in my answer and it marked it as correct.


Why do some people get marked correct and others wrong? I used the exact structure as shown in the previous lesson, but this time it marked me wrong for not specifying 私


what does "ます" actually do for a sentence?


It’s an inflectional ending. 食べ- alone is just the verb stem, not a complete word. You need to say either 食べます (or 食べる if you’re talking to someone you do not need to show respect to).


If I'm talking about myself to someone I respect, then I use ます? But if I'm talking about myself to a friend I use る? I thought from another explanation that they went with the subject, which is me.


No, it has nothing to do with the subject. The-ます ending expresses respect towards the listener. Its function is somewhat similar to the t-v distinction that many European languages make in their pronouns: French tu vs. vous (these are where the term "t-v distinction" comes from), Spanish tú vs usted, Italian tu vs. lei, Welsh ti vs chi etc. Only in Japanese you have to put a special ending on the verb, which means you always have to mark politeness, regardless of whether or not the pronoun "you" appears in the sentence (and there are some cultural differences in the definition of "person of respect" of course).

Btw, the informal ending doesn't have to be -る; it's simply the plain verb as you would find it in the dictionary. So for example "I drink tea" in plain speech is: おちゃをのむ。 (のむ being the dictionary form of "to drink". With the -ます ending it becomes のみます).


In plain speech, do you still put the o before cha?


The word is Ocha (tea) the o is not a modifier of any sort.


(I mean the o in ocha)


Why is watashi suddenly required for this to be correct?


it talks about "this" "that" "which", etc. previously, but now it talks about you doing something: "I eat" "I play"


How do I remember.. ?



Son-gohan as dragon ball?


Why do you have to put in 私は? It's left out of every other lesson.


What's wrong with "ご飯は食べます。”? I understand I may need to use "を" instead but is the ”私は” necessary?


there is nothing wrong with ご飯は食べます but it implies another context. You are placing unnecessary stress on the ご飯は part since を is expected, by doing so, you are contrasting between ご飯 and other things. You usually use は with negative sentences because of their nature, like you might not eat cooked rice but you might eat something else?

ご飯を食べます "I eat rice"

ご飯は食べます "I eat rice (in contrast with other things I could be eating)"

ご飯は食べません "as for rice, I don't eat (it)"

the 私は can be skipped, and duo also accepts it without it.


The only information we have in this translation is "I eat rice." So even if what we're saying implies another context, how is it definitively wrong? Why is ご飯は食べます wrong? There's no context around WHY you're answering this question or making this statement.


I have seen two examples without watashi. 'I eat an apple' and 'I drink tea' but here it's not correct?


ご飯を食べます should be accepted. Feel free to report it using the flag button if it’s not.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but for me は is more like a characteristic of the topic and を is an action to the topic (Forgive my english if i made a mistake with grammar or syntax)


When do you use desu and masu?


-です is used after nouns or adjectives. You can think of it as “am/are/is”. -ます is a verb ending. Both indicate polite speech (keigo 敬語, roughly equivalent to using polite “Sie/vous/Lei” in German/French/Italian, but social customs do vary somewhat). The verb ending also incorporates non-past (i.e. present or future) tense.

For the informal equivalent you can use either nothing or -だ for nouns and na-adjectives (no ending for -i adjectives though), and the dictionary form (the one that ends in -u) for verbs:

  • noun: 学生です “am/is/are a student/students” --> 学生(だ)
  • i-adjective: いいです “am/is/are good” --> いい
  • na-adjective: 好きです “am/is/are likable” (= [someone] likes…) --> すき(だ)
  • Ichidan (“ru”) verb: 食べます “see(s)” --> 食べる
  • Godan (“-u”) verb: 行きます “go(es)” --> 行く

I advise you use the polite forms unless the person you’re talking to is significantly younger. If you use polite form too much you might earn a bit of a chuckle, but that’s much, much better than offending people ;)


Why is "ご飯を食べます。" wrong? I think "私は" isn't necessary.


ご飯を食べます should be accepted – unless you were doing a “write what you hear” task, in which case you have to write exactly what is said.


it talks about "this" "that" "which", etc. previously, but now it talks about you doing something: "I eat" "I play"


Duolingo is confusing me. On some things like お茶を飲みます, it doesnt require 私わ, however in this question it does. Is it based kn formality? And if it is why csnt duo be more clear


Is there a reason its requiring 私は?isnt it correct to just say ご飯を食べます as the I is implied?


I remember ごはん with thinking in the Dragonball character


Yep, that’s one of the many food puns in DB character names ;) They started with Goku’s name (which happens to be one of the few that is not a pun; it’s simply 孫悟空 [そんごくう], the name of the mythical Monkey King that he is based off of (the Mandarin form is Sūn Wùkōng)), and then changed the last syllable to 飯 [はん], so it sounds like ご飯 “rice” (but they left the first character untouched, so Gohan’s name is spelt 悟飯 instead of ご飯 (or 御飯 if you want to be traditional)) in Kanji.


Why is it 食べます and not 食べて?


The -て form is not a sentence-final ending, instead it links the clause to a following one. It is rather unspecified though; often English “and” is a good first guess, but in the right context it can also correspond to “if”. Or it might simply link the main verb to a following auxiliary, so it remains untranslated. In any case, it needs something following.

There is one big exception: -て can also mark the plain (non-polite) imperative:

  • これを食べて。 (Eat this.)

This is because in this case it’s actually an abbreviation: There is an implied くれ “do!” (the plain equivalent to polite ください) after it.

For sentence endings (in the affirmative) you use either the -ます ending (when speaking politely), or the dictionary form of the verb (the one ending in -u; in this case 食べる) when not being polite.


I red all your commentes and i didn't understand why we use は orを after these words???


so why cant i use the kanji for gohan

why is "ごはんを食べます。" right but not "ご飯を食べます。” 


Its the same thing


How come sometimes you can leave out watashi wa? But other times you can't


Why doesn't ご飯を食べます work ?


Why do I have to write watashi wa first? Can't it just be gohan o tabe masu?


Yes either work. When you don't say 私は, it is still implied that you are talking about yourself.


Why do i have to write 私は here but not in any other sentence when talking about what I eat??


why is ご飯は食べます incorrect, but 私はご飯を食べます correct?


Using "を" is completely acceptable in this sentence, but it makes sense even without it.


-を is a particle that marks the preceding noun as the object.

The subject is just implied. In absence of context, you understand it to be “I” by default (but it could be somebody else if the speaker has been talking about another person before).


What does ごはん stand for


(cooked) rice. Usually you would see it spelt with a kanji as ご飯


Is を being used as I?


No, を marks the direct object of the sentence. In other words, it indicates that the rice is being eaten. "I" is implied in this case.


What does "masu" mean? I guess, it mean nothing, like "desu", but can we say "desu" instead of "masu"? What difference between this words?


It’s basically just the verb ending equivalent of -です. -です attaches to nouns and adjectives, -ます to verbs.


Why is tabi in this sentence?


食べ- (tabe-) is the stem of the verb “to eat” (stem means it’s the part that provides the meaning “to eat”, but it’s not a complete word on its own; it needs an ending – in this case the polite ending -ます – to become a full word).


Why can't I say gohan wa tabemasu instead of watashiwa gohanwo tabemasu?


You can, but it presupposes that rice has come up before as a possible choice. It also implies that you are contrasting the rice against something else which you do eat.


Why is ご飯を私は食べます。wrong?


Not completely certain if it’s strictly incorrect but putting something else before the topic feels at the very least extremely odd to me. ご飯を私食べます should be fine though.


I don't know the difference between numi and tabe


飲む・のむ・Nomu・Drink (casual, dictionary form)
飲みます・のみます・Nomimasu・Drink (polite form)

食べる・たべる・Taberu・Eat (casual dictionary form)
食べます・たべます ・Tabemasu・Eat (polite form)


it literally just asked me what "o cha ha nomi masu" means. Which the answer was "i drink tea" (i imagine in the sense of "i often do, i like it" not in the sense "i drink it right now", because that would be "o nomi masu"). So if "o cha HA nomi masu" can mean "i drink tea" why cant "gohan wa tabe masu" mean "i eat rice" in that same way from the last exercise?


Both ご飯を食べます and ご飯は食べます should be accepted. If one of them is not, it was simply forgotten, so feel free to report it to the contributors using the flag button.

The difference is, if you say ご飯は, the rice is the topic of your sentence – the central thing you’re talking about. If you say ご飯を, it’s not the topic, which in this case would mean that probably the implied subject is the topic.

You can also think about this in terms of the implied question that is answered. The topic always has to be “old information”, meaning that if you think about the question that is answered, the topic has to be part of that question. So:

  • ご飯を食べます would answer questions like “What are you eating?” or “What are you doing?”
  • ご飯は食べます would answer the question “Do you eat rice (in general)?” or “Are you eating the rice (the specific one offered at this occasion)?”


Wait wouldn't this be "I am eating the rice" or something like that and not "I eat rice"


食べます is present/habitual "eat" and future "will eat"
"eating" is progressive and requires a different conjugation 食べています


Why is ご飯は食べます not an acceptable answer?


That should be accepted. Please use the flag button to report it next time it comes up.


を instead of は


を would be more neutral but は is fine if we assume a context where the speaker makes a comparison between different foods for example: 肉は食べません。しかしご飯は食べます。 “I don’t eat meat. But I eat rice.”


why do i need to add 食べ?


食べ is the stem of the verb meaning "eat" (full verb being 食べる or polite form 食べます)
It isn't a complete sentence if you don't have the verb.
私はご飯 would just be "I, rice"


Dulingo you taught that saying for example "gohan wa tabe mus" (no access to a japanese keyboard) means i eat apple but now your contrudicting it by saying i have to add watashi wa NOT OK FIX IT or if your not sure please consult a person who does speak japanese or better yet take a servuy of howm many people would agree to put watashi wa before the sentence BUT FIX IT


I don't get why "watashi wa" is specifically required here for the answer to be correct


Difference of 'Masen' and 'Masu'..


-ます is positive, -ません is negative. So:

  • 食べます “(subject) eats/is eating/will eat”
  • 食べません “(subject) doesn’t eat/isn’t eating/won’t eat”


Why can you not use gohan o tabe masu?


Why do I have to say watashiwa at the start? Most sentences are valid without specifying わたしは


Rice is こめ。


It is, but 米・こめ typically refers to grains of uncooked rice
ご飯 is cooked rice that you eat

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