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  5. Why is "彼女がパンツをはきます" wrong?


Why is "彼女がパンツをはきます" wrong?

I was strengthening the skill of clothes and it appears the phrase "She wears underwear." to write in Japanese.

I wrote "彼女がパンツをはきます", then Duo said it was wrong and the correct solution was "かのじょはパンツをはきます。"

Can anyone explain why, please? Thanks :)

December 26, 2017



It's the classic case of は and が. It's actually kind of hard to grasp the difference between the two and there is no easy way to explain it. It goes something like は is stating that the word prior is simply what we are talking about in general and everything after relates to it in some form. Where as が states that the following words directly apply to it.

That's not a very good explanation but, I don't really know how to put it in words. What duo is trying to say here is that you should use は for this sentence.

I highly recommend a book called "Making Sense of Japanese" it goes pretty in depth on this topic.


Ohh!! Thank you!! :D I will search for that book :)


The problem with Japanese grammar is that the way it is taught to English speakers is wrong because it was created by English speakers that want to force English grammar on it. To make matters worse, English grammar is wrong for English as it is based on French and Latin grammar and it is unnatural and incorrect even for English. For example the classic case of dangling prepositions. In French and Latin, you never end a sentence with a preposition. But in English, the word preposition is a misnomer because we do end sentences with "prepositions." Come along. Because I want to. These words modify the verb, as many English verbs are vague to the point of meaninglessness without them. Get up, get funky, get down, get out, all mean entirely different things. Without the preposition, you can't extract any meaning from the verb.

So when English grammarians began studying Japanese, they felt they needed to identify the subject, verb and object, because that's how European languages operate. But non-European languages don't operate that way.

Japanese sentences start with a verb. 行くis a complete sentence. From there you add to the beginning to modify the sentence. You can add a spacial modifier, since it is a spacial verb. 学校に行く。The particle に indicates direction toward. The English analogue in this case is "to." What you need to discern here, however, is that に does not mean "to." It is simply the word that applies in this case. に and "to" are not interchangeable. (Cat means ねこ, in that, they are interchangeable.) Particles in Japanese do not have equivalents in English, and vice versa.

は means "about" or "regarding." It marks what will be talked about, that is, the subject of the conversation. が marks the subject of the sentence. In English, subjectivity is marked by position. Sentence subjects are usually omitted in Japanese, but in English, omission of the subject renders the sentence "incomplete." This reflects different values and priorities. 春子さんは学校に行く means "about Haruko, (she) goes to school. This is the translation. The interpretation is Haruko goes to school. 春子が学校に行く means Haruko goes to school. This is both the translation and the interpretation is Haruko (not someone else) goes to school. When something that is normally omitted is stated, it is obviously done for emphasis in most cases. This is why English grammarians of Japanese call が the emphasis particle. But it is not necessarily so. 春子さんは猫が好きです。About Haruko, cats are loveable = Haruko likes cats. There is no emphasis.


Thank you! Actually, I'm a Portuguese native speaker (by the way, feel free to correct me), so most of my sources for studying Japanese is in Portuguese, but it's almost the same thing you said about English. I already knew the fact you told about "は" that it means something close to "about", yet I didn't know the other ones! You really helped me, thanks xD


not a Japanese expert...This is what I've learned so far.

が is the identifier particle, it emphasizes what's before it. In this case: 彼女. が is usually translated as: "the one" = "She is the one wearing underwear".

If you say 彼女がパンツをはきます it sounds like you are answering the question: 誰がパンツをはきますか (who is wearing underwear?) you identify that person with が..

When I was watching a movie and a character said: 私が嫌い since the main focus is before the が particle, it was translated as: "I hate myself"

は is the topic particle, it emphasizes what's after, in this case, the fact that she's wearing underwear. は can be translated as "As for" = "As for her, she is wearing underwear".

は is used to introduce a new topic. If you and your friend are in the library and you want to suggest a book you are holding in you hands, you say: この本は?= How about this book?

But if you say この本が? you are rather asking: is this the book ? [the one you are looking for]

Both sentences are correct. But は is better because there's no context, nor question being answered.


Wow xD Very interesting!! Thanksss

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