1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. "Trains are big."

"Trains are big."


August 5, 2017



Why is it wrong to use が?


Using が would be like if you were talking about a specific train- the train (right in front of us) is big. は is more like, on the subject of trains, they're big. With the ambiguity of Duolingo sentence, they probably should accept both.


I thought it was the other way around?


Wasn't the は is for topic?






Please why isn't it 電車たちは for trains?


たち is only used for plurals of people. In Japanese, for most nouns there isn't a difference between singulars and plurals. So 電車, when translated, could be "train" or it could be "trains".


dumb question, but how do you type in Japanese on a western keyboard (using the website on my computer. Haven't run into this type of question on my phone app yet).


either use the word selection or install a Japanese keyboard.


If you are on Windows, search on Google for a tutorial related to "installing japanese IME on Windows"


If 電車 is made up of the kanji for electricity (電 (でん)) and car (車 (くるま), then how would you talk about an electric car?


Usually 電気自動車「でんきじどうしゃ」- electric automobile, or 電気車「でんきしゃ」electric car




Why is this です and not ます? Wouldnt this translate to something like "The trains are big" instead of referring to all trains?


it's です because i-adjectives are already a predicate in the sentence. The です function in this case is not a grammatical one, is to change the sentence into a softer tone. This is an exception in the general grammar.

電車は大きい (casual); 電車は大きいです (more polite). ―"trains ar big".

電車は大きいだ would be ungrammatical given the redundancy. ―"trains are are big".

Also, you only use ~ます after a verb, in those cases the auxiliary ~ます is very similar to the です from this sentence, is there as a deferential ender, ~ます alone doesn't mean anything, it only means something with a verb.

効率を上げ (casual); 効率を上げます (more polite). ―"To increase efficiency".



How do i identifie singular & plural ??


Through context or by asking how many/how much.


So far in my meager lessons I've learned は as "the", or to indicate subject. So why is 電車は大きいです, not translated as "The train is big"? And leave は out to mean trains in general?


There are no articles in Japanese
は is the topic particle. The topic is sometimes the subject, but not always. This particle marks what the overall sentence will be talking about. It is contextual (old) information that is already known by the speaker. When you see it you can read it as "On the topic of..." or "As for..."
So "On the topic of trains, they are big" or "On the topic of the train, it is big". The exact translation would depend on context; the use of the topic particle just means that "train" is already understood through context, so it was either previously brought up in the conversation or is clearly understood already based on the setting (if you were at a train station or on a train).
If you wanted to be specific about what train you are referring to if it is unclear from context you could say この電車 this train、or その電車 that train

が is the new information particle, and more commonly referred to as a subject particle. It marks the do-er or be-er in a sentence. It puts an emphasis on the word that comes before it.
電車は大きいです - Trains are big [on the topic of trains - they are big] - Trains are known information, 'big' is new information. You are probably commenting on something already mentioned or is visible to the listener.
電車が大きいです - Trains are big [Trains (are the thing that are) - big] - Trains is new information. You are starting the conversation about trains without earlier context.


Why we used はinstead of が?

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.