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Understanding the particles は, も, and が

I wanted to share this awesome, short guide that I found, created by the ever reliable Tae Kim. I will give a small previous here. But, please follow the link for the full explanation. I want to make sure that I am not taking traffic away from their website.

Outline Defining grammatical functions with particles The 「は」 topic particle The 「も」 inclusive topic particle The 「が」 identifier particle

I am already pretty good with the particle も. But, I really struggle when it comes to choosing between whether I should use は and が. Fortunately, Tae Kim has provided a really great place to start understanding this process. I'm very grateful for this because native English speakers generally find one of the most challenging situations when differentiating between particles. (And as a native English speaker, I am sadly not an exception. It is very hard for me too.)

...We can make a topic using the 「は」 and 「も」 particle.

But what if we don’t know what the topic is? What if I wanted to ask, “Who is the student?” What I need is some kind of identifier because I don’t know who the student is. If I used the topic particle, the question would become, “Is who the student?” and that doesn’t make any sense because “who” is not an actual person.

This is where the 「が」 particle comes into play. It is also referred to as the subject particle but I hate that name since "subject" means something completely different in English grammar. Instead, I move to call it the identifier particle because the particle indicates that the speaker wants to identify something unspecified.

Click here to continue reading. There you will find sentence examples and more explanations.

January 24, 2018



I've been trying to learn Japanese with the help of apps like Duolingo and LingoDeer and from this I made notes.

  • は You often use は as the normal particle to indicate the topic (hence topic marker) 私は学生です

  • がyou use が as the subject marker (secondary in a sentence), or of you want to put emphasis on the something. You also use it when you say that you like something. When everybody say that they work you can say "I am a student": 私が学生です, to stand out from the other people. Or you can say 電車が好きです(I like trains)

  • も you use when you want to say "also". 彼も学生ですか (Is he also a student?)

  • を (pronounced as "o") is what you use for a verb with some exceptions ご飯を食べます (I'm eating rice)

  • に is one of those exceptions, you use that to indicate movement, location or time and purpose 東京に行きます (I go to Tokyo)

  • へ (pronounced as "e") is to give direction or goal 部屋へ来ます (Come to the room)

  • で location of action/vehicle (my mind is blank with coming up with an example for this one)

  • と "and", linking two noun 肉と野菜を食べます (I eat meat and vegetables)

If I'm wrong, please let me know.


Regarding で:

  1. (location) at; in; on
    • レストランで晩ご飯を食べます。(I eat dinner at the restaurant.)
    • 駅で彼女を待っています。(I’m waiting for her at the station.)
  2. (method) in; with
    • 英語でお願いします。(In English please.)
    • お箸で寿司を食べます。(I eat sushi with chopsticks.)



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