"I can speak English."

Translation:英語がはなせます。

March 5, 2018

52 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/AnikinRemm

I just encountered a sentance that was "Can you speak English?" (英語ははなせますか?) but instead of a particle は this sentance uses が why is that?

March 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/maggiekarp_
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I'm confused too, but this article has helped me out a bit: https://8020japanese.com/wa-vs-ga/

April 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ArthurFields

Thank you!

April 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/litgram

Holy moly this is a comprehensive article! Thanks!

May 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/TheEveryGamer

Thanks for sharing that link!

June 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/awelottta

"In other words, 「は」 is used to redefine or clarify the contents of the context bubble, or part thereof.”

So I was thinking 「は」was used for emphasis, but it's actually somewhat "de-emphasizing." I.e., if it's followed by 「は」then it's not new/important information, but background information.

August 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/pahko_
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I'm still learning, but I think it might depend on context. If you're talking about the English language it's は, but if you were focusing more on languages you can speak in general, が would apply since it's just one of many, so to speak. I think が tends to be associated with stuff that is still sort of unidentified (sorry in advance if this is all wrong).

April 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/akoakini
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when は is use, it just focus on the subject english, like is english something speakable (to you), when が is used , the subject is implied, (私は)英語が話せます、and in this case the subject is (あなたは)英語が話せますか。

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Kara914582

がmeans can and は is after the subject

September 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/akoakini
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when は is use, it just focus on the subject english, like is english something speakable (to you), when が is used , the subject is implied, (私は)英語が話せます、and in this case the subject is (あなたは)英語が話せますか。

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Kara914582

がis for can and は is to show the subject

September 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Roji598962

I think because you are the subject は would be attached to and が is attached to what enhances the verb if that makes sense

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Roji598962

Either that or maybe you're not supposed to use は(pronounced wa) in front of a word that starts with は(pronounced ha)

April 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Seattle_scott
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Wa and Ga are extremely complex. There are entire books on it. I think in this case either should work. I'm honestly not sure about this one. It's insinuation is that you only speak English, or "I at least speak English".

I hope a native speaker chips in here.

April 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/RabbitsHats
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From my understanding, and this could be wrong, は is used if you were to say like "this is a PEN" - whereas が is used more-so to say "THIS is a pen" say if you were like holding one, and a kid was saying a cup is a pen, and you wanted to be like no-no THIS is a pen!

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/SzonjaMacg

I want to know too

March 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/claykalin
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(sorry I don't have a Japanese keyboard)

My school understanding is

Wa = is Ga = can

So nihongo wa hanashimasu = I speak Japanese (not a phrase that's really used I think)

And nihongo ga hanasemasu (note shi conjugates to se) = I can speak Japanese

Hope this helps :)

May 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Kiruii

I used "話せます" but it didn't accept it and said the correct answer was "はなせます". Is there a reason it doesn't accept the kanji?

August 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/pahko_
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No good reason, anyway. Report away.

August 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/stephen_zissou
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It accepted 話します for me today, 2018.10.14

October 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ender0703
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how about "私は英語が話せます"

July 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/pahko_
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Perfectly good, though in many cases you wouldn't need the 私は. Context and all that. In fact, using 私 or other pronouns too much can sometimes come across as a bit rude (or egotistical, in the case of 私).

August 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Rebecca459329

I think this is correct, (beyond google translate lol) it uses a different grammar rule.

August 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Warriorskittle

I think it's neat that it also accepts different forms of 私 in answers, like ”あたしは英語が話せます。"

March 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Ktakn

why do they use the ga particle instead of wa? isnt ga a particle of the subjet, it is I who speaks english...(so it should be ga)?

March 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Dragonchixx

Yes the particle が marks the subject of the sentence and the particle は marks the topic of the sentence.

When you ask a question, you should use は if the question word comes after the topic in the sentence.

When a question word appears at the beginning of the sentence, you should use the particle が

You should also use が for new information.

April 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Chimbeway

Ga denotes a subject, wa denotes a topic if my understanding is correct

April 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Seattle_scott
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Why not accept the るform of the verb? 英語が話せる?

April 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Tim613889
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英語が話せる is informal, but correct.

March 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnPMChappell
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It's not a -ru verb, the "plain" form is hanasu, not hanaSERU.

英語が話せます。 英語が話す。

August 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Konim96
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not quite right, it goes, 話す ‐ 話します。 話せる is a different form of the verb which means "can speak" and 話せます is just the formal variant. You can do this with every verb. 読む-読める (read - can read)  書く-書ける (write - can write) 食べる-食べられる (eat - can eat) these forms are called "potential" forms and they express ability.

September 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/GhBar
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Man this comment needs to be at the top.

January 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/litgram

Presumably because the verb has been conjugated. The る forms are similar to infinitives in English. So "to eat" is the same as "食べる" but you wouldn't say "I to eat breakfast" because the verb is conjugated to match the subject (I eat, you eat, she eats, we eat, they eat). Similarly, you wouldn't say "私は朝ごはんを食べる” .. you need to say "私は朝ごはんを食べます。”

May 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/akoakini
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OMG, sorry to tell you but this is definitely wrong, the ます form of the verb is used for being polite and formal. the るform that you are talking although there are not called that way but they are called the dictionary form or the 辞書形、じしょけい, the reason why they are called as such is because this is the form you can use if you want to look them up on a dictionary, and going back, the dictionary form is used to express casual informal convo, so mr. seattle is definetly correct but it not formal.

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/UsagiRu1

Hahaha it was a really funny mistake... Sorry

May 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/fuentesgeorge

Not "eigo o hanashimasu"?

May 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/pahko_
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There are actually two things in your answer that differ from the accepted one. RVJioWts commented on your use of 話します rather than 話せます (話 pronounced はな). They're based on the same verb, but 話します is speaking, and 話せます is the ability to speak (dictionary forms are 話す and 話せる).

The second issue is using を rather than が. When using potential form (what I referenced above), you use が, even if you'd use を if the verb were in normal form. The potential form turns it into an intransitive verb, so it doesn't take a direct object (what を signifies). To paraphrase Tae Kim's guide, it describes the state, not an action being taken.

August 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/RVJioWts

That would be "I speak English." This sentence is "I can speak English."

Obviously in English we use the two phrases interchangeably mostly, but there is a difference.

July 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/litgram

I'm curious why the spelling of the verb here looks like the imperative (hanase) instead of the regular masu form (hanashi), especially when it still ends with "masu". Is this a special exception for this verb or something?

May 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/RVJioWts

It's the polite version of potential form of the verb - はなせる. It means the ability to speak instead of the actual verb "speak."

July 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/akoakini
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this is called the 可能型 かのうけい、form of the verb that states possibility or ability

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/sicilechanson

Why is "British" in katakana but "English" in Kanji?

July 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/stephen_zissou
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My understanding: Britain (イギリス) is in Katakana because it’s a loanword from European language (England —> igirisu). “English” (the language) is 英語 which is in Kanji because it comes from the Chinese-based (onyomi) reading of those characters. “English” language is 英语 in Chinese too (I’m using the simplified form of the characters which I am more familiar with). In Chinese they are pronounced ying1 yu3 which became ei go in Japanese.

October 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Chloe697958

Why is it が and not を? And also why not just use はなします instead of はなせます? "英語をはなします。"

July 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/RVJioWts

はなせます is an intransitive verb, which means it doesn't have a direct object and thus doesn't use を. Think of it like a passive statement of your ability instead of an active statement of something you're actually doing: "I have the ability to speak English."

はなせます is used instead of はなします because the original sentence is, "I can speak English," not "I speak English." There is a difference between the two, even though we often use them interchangeably in casual English speech. はなせます is the potential form of the verb はなします; you're saying that you have the ability to speak, rather than that you're actively speaking.

July 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Frigorifico9
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I need an explanation on every word on the sentence. 英語 is english, ok, we use a different theme marker, ok I guess I'll learn how to use them, but what the heck is はなせます and why isn't there an explanation?

July 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/maggiekarp_
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The topic of conversation, は, is omitted here. (This happens a lot in conversation if the topic can be inferred from context.) The 'full' sentence would be (let's say the topic is "I") 私は英語が話せます。This would be like saying "As for me, I can speak English", ("I" is what is being talked about) whereas if you wrote (私が)英語は話せます it'd be more like "As for English, I can speak it" (English is the thing that's being talked about). はなせます (話せます) means "to be able to speak". Hope this was helpful!

July 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/younes.idr

Why not using を(英語を話せます)

November 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/BetLearns

What is the difference between は and が and why are they different when they are mostly used in the same context?

February 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/DestinyCall

が is the subject market. は is the topic marker.

が marks the grammatical subject of the sentence while は is used to mark the general topic under discussion. This might also be the subject, but it doesn't have to be.

Here is a simple example:

ジョンが学生です。
(Jon ga gakusei desu.)
John is a student.

John is the subject, marked by が. However, it is more common to see this kind of sentence written like this:

ジョンは学生です。
(Jon wa gakusei desu.)
As for John, (he) is a student.

Notice that subject of this sentence (he) is implied by the topic of ジョン, but not actually stated. This is important, because sometimes the topic isn't the same as the grammatical subject.

For example, look at this sentence:

ジョンは犬が好きです。
(Jon wa inu ga suki desu.)
"John likes dogs."

Okay .. what's going on here?

In the English translation, John is the subject and the dog is the object of the verb "to like". But that is NOT what is happening, grammatically, in the Japanese sentence. In Japanese, you express the sentiment of "liking" by using an adjective, 好き, which describes the thing that you like. So in the Japanese sentence, John is the topic, but John is NOT the subject. In Japanese, "dogs" are the subject. And this is very clear, because we can see that 犬 is marked by が.

A more literal translation would be "As for John, dogs are liked." The important point is that the particles tell you what is really going on in Japanese. You can't really trust the English translation to show you the real grammar, because a natural-sounding English translation probably isn't a literal translation of the Japanese sentence.

As for why Japanese has both a subject marker and a topic marker ... as you spend time learning Japanese, you will notice the language tends to avoid using pronouns whenever possible and that subjects get dropped a lot. And you will also notice that the less directly something is stated, the more polite it sounds. I think these things are related. Basically, it just sounds better to say "Speaking of John ... (he) is a student." Not as direct, avoids stating a subject, very natural. Instead of saying, "John is a student." (Using が). That might sound just fine in English, but it will probably sound unnatural in Japanese. Likewise, using personal pronouns like わたし and あなた is much less common in Japanese, compared with English's use of I/you/he/she/they/etc. Typically, these are left out.

You only really use が in certain circumstances when the subject MUST be directly stated and you should only use personal pronouns when they are unavoidable, too.

I hope that helps.

February 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Rebecca459329

the translation says "I speak english" - "Can speak" would be "hanasukoto ha dekimasu". I've reported. Source: real-life lessons

July 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/WessMan

I was told "ga" should not be used when talking about yourself

October 6, 2018
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