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  5. "I can speak English."

"I can speak English."

Translation:私は英語が話せます。

March 5, 2018

144 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maggiekarp_

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/litgram

Holy moly this is a comprehensive article! Thanks!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshSellsGuns

idk why you were downvoted for discussing the article lol.

Anyway, perhaps I misunderstood the article (this whole section is pretty confusing to me haha) but what I got from it was "“wa” marks the topic of the sentence; it tells us what we are talking about." which to me means it is new information. or at least, information that needs to be clarified (such as watashi wa, to clarify that it is yourself you are talking about in the event that you were previously talking about someone else). Background information is omitted, but implied, as you see in the handy chart they used to show how context plays in:

As I say in basically all of my comments, please correct me if i am wrong. My intent isn't to mislead or pretend to inform, but rather discuss to help clarify not only for who I am responding to, but myself as well.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DestinyCall

To prevent confusion, I'd like to explain what they mean when people say that が can be used for new information and は is NOT used for new information. This is an important distinction, but it is easy to get mixup if you over-think it.

A topic is always common information. Something familiar to both speaker and listener. If the listener does not know about something (new information), then it cannot be used as a topic for the conversation (yet). First, it would need to be introduced into the conversation somehow, either by contextual clues, or using a different topic, or by stating it directly as a new subject.

It might help to provide an example. Imagine you are talking to your coworker and you say, "I bumped into Jim from Accounting this morning. He just proposed to his girlfriend. Isn't it exciting?"

In this conversation, you could use "Jim" as a topic in the second sentence, when you are telling your friend about Jim's proposal, but it would not make sense to make Jim the topic of your first sentence. Unless Jim was brought up earlier in the conversation, to provide a context for using him as a topic.

"Speaking of Jim ... I bumped into him this morning."

Now that Jim has been brought up as the topic under discussion, the rest of the sentence is providing new information related to Jim. When you are ready to talk about something else, you just introduce a new topic. But again ... it must be common information. It doesn't make sense to throw out a topic that is completely unexpected. It would break the flow of conversation and confuse your listener. You would need to introduce a brand new subject using が or an existing topic instead.

It takes a while to get used to topics, but they really aren't that scary or strange. Just a different way of organizing the information.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshSellsGuns

And do you know why you can never get a simple, straightforward answer?
Because it’s the wrong question to ask.

cue sobbing

edit: article isn't actually so hard to get thru, even has a diagram or 2 to explain how the context plays in. Good read.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shade959858

I do not understand the article. I understand what they are saying about the English part, but I am not sure how that translates to Japanese uses of "wa" and "ga".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pahko_

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).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/akoakini

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。


[deactivated user]

    がmeans can and は is after the subject


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RabbitsHats

    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!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Seattle_Scott

    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.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/akoakini

    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。


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nonolu64

    If you finish the sentence with "か" That would mean that it is a question, however, it is not a question


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kevin121657

    が?Don't you mean か?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    They put the か in quotations "か", looks a little different from が


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nekot3

    Why wouldn't I be able to do the following? 僕の英語が話せます。? We just learned about boku in the previous lesson to mean "I or me/my" and I'm wondering if I am just wrong or if I need to report?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nekot3

    Nevermind, this means like "my english can speak" or something, don-t need to answer.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DestinyCall

    It should accept 僕 as an alternative to 私.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kevin121657

    The issue was he used 僕の instead of 僕は.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CakeLover6969

    It should be 'boku/watashi + WA' not NO


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Manwell18

    I had the same question. I understand that 僕 is only used for male speakers. While 私 is generic, gender neutral.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cryopneuma

    Eh, women can use "boku" too (i.e., tomboys), it just has a kiddish masculine connotation, hence why boys will "grow out of" using it and generally fall to either using "watashi" or "ore." There are some exceptions to this, though. For example, singers often opt to use "boku" instead of "watashi" because the syllable count is more convenient for inclusion in music.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/claykalin

    (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 :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ben813848

    I'm not sure if I'm reading this wrong, but it doesn't feel 100% correct.

    As far as I'm aware, it's not は or が that causes the sentence to mean "can", it's entirely using the potential form of 話す(hanasu) which becomes 話せる (hanaseru) or in "masu-form" becomes 話せます (hanasemasu). http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/potential

    This seems to be unrelated to whether one should use "wa" or "ga", where the resource linked by maggiekarp_ seems to give some decent insights: https://8020japanese.com/wa-vs-ga/


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DestinyCall

    You are correct.

    The particles are different because the potential form is intransitive, not because が means "can".

    話す is a transitive godan verb. Changing it to the potential form 話せる essentially turns it into an INtransitive ichidan verb. It conjugates differently and follows intransitive grammar rules whic include using が to mark the language that can be spoken, instead of を.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsuj1g1r1

    Your responses are always so helpful, DestinyCall. Reading your comments here is going to make learning Japanese so much more fun!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kevin121657

    From my understanding of that, it is not ga that makes it Can. It is the conjugation of hanashimasu to hanasemasu that makes it can. (Hanasu = to speak, Hanaseru = Can speak)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ender0703

    how about "私は英語が話せます"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pahko_

    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).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rebecca459329

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


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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。"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BeikokuKitsune

    What is the context and/or differences between 僕(ぼく)& 私(わたし)? Is this a formal and informal type deal? Or respectful and causual type deal?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cryopneuma

    "Boku" is boy-ish, "watashi" is polite and gender-neutral. There are many other ways to refer to oneself, too. For example, "atashi" is extremely feminine/girly, and like "boku" can be considered kind of kiddy. A major thing to recognize is that in Japanese, there is not only several layers of politeness, but also male speech and female speech. Once you understand that, you start looking for it, and it becomes easier to understand what's being said.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Seattle_Scott

    Why not accept the るform of the verb? 英語が話せる?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tim613889

    英語が話せる is informal, but correct.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnPMChappell

    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。


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Konim96

    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.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GhBar

    Man this comment needs to be at the top.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnPMChappell

    You're right, I wasn't paying attention to the sentence, apparently. Pretend I wrote what you did :) What I wrote applies to regular transitive verb "speak".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kevin121657

    No, it is 話せる. 話す is plain form of 話します not 話せます


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnPMChappell

    Correct, I was not paying attention, apparently.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Malia_Cardona

    im confused i did this last week and it said boku wa eigo hanasemasu but now its eigo ga hanasemasu


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scisso

    僕 and 私 is usually omitted, since Japanese heavily relies on context, and it's pretty obvious that you are talking about yourself.

    Either answer you gave can work, they are fine.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaatinsuTomasu

    I don´t get it, why is 英語 succeded by が if it's not the subject of the sentence? English doesn't speak anything, it's spoken


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    The potential form of a verb is not transitive, meaning it cannot take a direct object. Verbs that are intransitive take が instead. "English can be spoken"
    The action of speaking isn't actually being done, you're just describing the ability to do an action. It's like describing English as having the attribute of being speakable, making it the subject.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaatinsuTomasu

    Ok, I think I got it, I will take a deeper look later about this potential form that I hadn’t learned about it before, but I guess it’s when the verbs are next to “can” if I got it right


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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)?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chimbeway

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


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsuj1g1r1

    If you were to use wa, you'd be saying "As far as English is concerned, I can speak it." But using ga with an implied "watashi wa" means "As far as I am concerned, I can speak English." It depends whether the topic of the conversation is English or yourself. And see DestinyCall's comment above about how the potential makes the verb intransitive.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/akoakini

    this is called the 可能型 かのうけい、form of the verb that states possibility or ability


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sicilechanson

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


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/stephen_zissou

    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.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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。"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LilyTrujillo67

    I don't like using 'はなせます’ I prefer using 'はなします’. Why was my answer wrong, I used proper grammar. My Japanese teacher that I used to have taught it to me this way, she's from Japan.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DestinyCall

    話せます is the potential form of 話します. It is the difference between saying "I speak Japanese" and "I can speak Japanese."

    はなせます emphasizes that you have the ability to speak. It is something you are able to do.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsuj1g1r1

    If we were to use 話します, would we need to use をinstead of が?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mark393107

    why can't "Boku no" lead this sentence and still be correct?

    I thought "boku no" was a rough translation for "I".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsuj1g1r1

    It means "my," not "I."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ben813848

    To add to tsuj1g1r1's comment: "Boku (僕)" is a specifically masculine way of saying "watashi (私)", although I believe it's less polite. Using "no (の)", if used the way you suggest would indicate possession; i.e. "僕の英語" would mean "My English language". You could write, ”僕は英語が話せます”, specifying yourself as the "topic" of the sentence, ("As for me, (I) speak English" -- literally) but depending on context this may be unnecessary.

    https://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/74/how-should-i-select-what-first-person-pronoun-to-use


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DestinyCall

    To further clarify, 僕 and 私 are both personal pronouns that translate to something similar to "I" in English. But I would not say that boku is a masculine watashi. Their meaning and usage is similar, but they have different etymologies in Japanese. They are not two forms of the same word.

    That being said, boku is more commonly used by men and it considered less formal than watashi. Watashi can be used by men or women and is considered fairly polite. When speaking more casually, male speakers might use boku instead (or the word 俺 (ore) which is even more casual and brusque.) In contrast, women will rarely use boku, even among close friends.

    Fun Fact - the literal meaning of 僕 is "manservant" and it was originally a term that was used by a master when directly addressing his servant.

    Fun Fact #2 - when talking to small children (especially boys), Japanese people will sometimes use the word 僕 as a second person pronoun, equivalent to the word "you". For obvious reasons, you cannot use this word in this fashion when addressing adults or people of higher social status. That would be incredibly rude.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mark393107

    why is a leading "Boku no" incorrect here ?_?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DestinyCall

    の is the possesive particle.

    僕の means "mine" or "my"

    Do you mean to say boku wa?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LittleHobbit13

    I used を considering English was the object of focus for the verb and it accepted it as a correct particle, but it offered the alternative of が. Can anyone provide a brief explanation to why が would be suggested for use in this structure?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsuj1g1r1

    With the potential form (the form of the verb that means something can be done), you treat the object as the subject. Based on what I learnt on here, your use of the particle を is actually incorrect


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ben813848

    を is typically used when there is a "direct object" as the focus of a verb. I've found this is normally used if the verb in question is "transitive" (takes objects) rather than "intransitive" (will not take objects).

    Looking up the root word in a dictionary, 話す(はなす)you'll find that it is listed as "transitive", so a sentence like this would be correct:

    "I will speak (converse in) Japanese"

    「私は日本語を話します」(わたしはにほんごはなします)

    However, the "potential form" of a verb, I believe, is always "intransitive". In this example, 話せる(はなせる)is the potential form of 話す (the conjugation varies depending on verb type). So you'd have to use が in the following sentence:

    "I can speak (converse in) Japanese"

    「私は日本語が話せます」(わたしはにほんごはなせます)

    Some verbs are "intransitive" right off the bat and should normally use が, while others are "transitive" and should use を, although there are exceptions (see resource 3). These resources might be helpful (take SE posts with limited responses with a grain of salt though). The first is distinguishing between "ichidan" (る) and "godan" (う) verbs, as the potential forms are different between verb types. The second gives example sentences that would take を. The third is an example case where を is used even for "intransitive" verbs. The last is just an article talking about "transitive" vs "intransitive" but in English


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MustaphaMu251609

    I used 英語和話せますand got marked as wrong. What am i doing wrong here?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DestinyCall

    This looks wrong - 和


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Albert_Boag

    英語がはなせます。 英語が話せます。 Why is this one wrong?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ehartz
    Mod
    • 683

    Both of them are correct, and both are keyed in as correct answers to this sentence. If your answer was marked wrong, please double check that you didn't make a typo.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PedroHenri13064

    Why can't i use 僕 in "I can speak english(英語がはせま。)"?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ehartz
    Mod
    • 683

    Please make sure that you didn't write 僕の英語が話せます. A lot of people have incorrectly suggested that, but that would mean "My can speak English" rather than "I can speak English." 僕は英語が話せます would be correct (and is an accepted answer).

    Also, the verb is はなせます, not はせま.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dane742639

    Can I also use watashi?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scisso

    Yes. 私 can be used anytime, but from what I know, females usually use it.

    僕 is more masculine and males often use this.

    There's also 俺, which I forgot what it's used for.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cryopneuma

    Excuse me, but what's the difference between hanase and hanashi? I thought "hanase" was more telling someone else to speak, while hanashi was the actual action.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    話せ Can be the informal imperative form of 話す (to speak) "Speak!!"

    But here it is actually the verb stem for the polite non-past ます conjugation of the potential form of the verb 話せる, The ability to speak. 話せます "Can speak" or "Will be able to speak"

    話し is the verb stem for the masu form of 話す, 話します "I speak" or "I will speak"

    話す - Hanasu - to speak
    話します - I (will) speak
    話しません - I (will/do) not speak

    話せる - Hanaseru - To be able to speak
    話せます - I can (will be able to) speak
    話せません - I cannot (will not be able to) speak

    as a side: 話 by itself can also be pronounced "hanashi" and is the noun "story, talk, conversation"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cryopneuma

    Thank you so much! That really clears things up and is chock full of useful information! :D (I love these sorts of answers to my questions!)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/momoocto

    i learnt from a japanese that が is used in important situations - but I don't know how this would be important ?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scisso

    は and が are really complex, and I think there is no way to provide a simple explanation.

    は is used mainly when the information you are speaking is already known, and emphasizes what comes AFTER it.

    が is used when presenting new information, and emphasizes what comes BEFORE it.

    In some cases, they are interchangeable. I'm not sure if they play more roles, but this is what I got from the comments here.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Keskelis

    What happened to being able to omit parts?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsuj1g1r1

    Which part do you want to omit? "English" or "can speak"? Because those are the only two parts in the Japanese sentence, and they both kind of provide essential information.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/QueenMatts

    how do u know when to put "ます" or "です"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    です is the copula roughly meaning the verb "to be". It is used in X=Y sentences linking two nouns or an adjective and a noun together.
    パンが甘いです - "pan ga amai desu" - Bread is sweet
    これはペンです - "kore wa pen desu" - This is a pen

    ます is the polite present/future verb conjugation. It cannot by used by itself.
    話します - Hanashimasu "I (will) speak"
    食べます - Tabemasu "I (will) eat"
    飲みます - Nomimasu "I (will) drink"
    and here: 話せます - Hanasemasu "I (am able to/will be able to) speak"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Omar489491

    Ia there a reason they use は after 私 instead of の?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scisso

    That would be like saying "English belongs to you" since の is a "possessive" particle, in which something belongs to something/someone. So の doesn't belong here.

    は is a topic particle, and emphasizes what comes after it.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nunu72231

    I can speak english. Can this be written in japanese without watashi wa? So only eigo ga hanase masu?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scisso

    Yes it can work either way.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidMelar12

    Ok i need help.

    Ive gotten this wrong to many times and don't know why.

    When I use watashi wa before in a question I got it wrong and said i was to use watashi no.

    But now that I used watashi no in this question "I can speak english." It says i got it wrong and should of used watashi wa.

    When and where and why do I use watashi wa and watashi no?

    Please explain.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cryopneuma

    In the Japanese sentence, the topic is yourself. (Using "wa" after "watashi.") Using "no" would make it possessive. "No" wouldn't make any sense in this sentence. "Watashi no neko wa totemo kawaii desu" is an example of using "no" correctly, as the speaker is talking about his or her cat. But "wa" comes after "neko" because the topic of the sentence isn't oneself, but the cat which belongs to oneself. Hope that clarifies things.

    Also, it's "should have used" not "should of used." This is a mistake brought about by phonetic learning, misinterpreting the contraction "could've" as "could of" (which, in spoken English, sounds the same) when this is not at all grammatically correct. "I could have done this." -> "I could've done this."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RubeusIgnis

    I've heard that が can be used to bring attention to the subject of the sentence, so if you hear a conversation about what languages people can speak, and decide to join in, could you say 私が英語が話せます? Or would it have to be 私が英語は話せます? Or something else?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    If you're joining in a conversation about languages in general you would probably want to mark yourself as the topic with は
    私は英語が話せます "On the topic of me, I can speak English", switching the focus from someone else to yourself and then emphasizing that English is the language that you can speak.

    Japanese also tends to go from the biggest to smallest in terms of detail, so you would start with the the topic (yourself) then the subject (english) and then the important thing that connects those two together (the ability to speak)

    If you want to make yourself the subject 英語は私が話せます it would be more like "On the topic of English, I can speak it" (not someone else; ME) Where maybe the conversation was already on English in general and you really want to stress that you are the one who is able to speak.

    DestinyCall goes into a bit more detail on the differences between は and が above in this thread. :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Laura880845

    Why do I need here the 私? I thought I don't have to use it. Why here?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    Other forms of "I" such as 僕 should be acceptable as well as completely omitting the "I" part entirely since it can be implied.

    If「僕は英語が話せます」and 「英語は話せます」aren't accepted yet you can hit the report button on the question to recommend your answer as another option. The contributors will go through reports and add new options if they are suitable. Note though they get thousands of reports, and not all of them valid, so it may take some time before it is reviewed.

    To help with this before reporting always try to make absolute sure that it is a correct answer that isn't accepted and you don't simply have a typo elsewhere that is marking you incorrect as that is very common. I'm sure I've sent in a good number of reports with some accidental misspellings I completely missed. :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Puzzle36714

    In school I was taught hanaSHImasu. Should be explained why here it is hanaSEmasu


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/philosopher_fool

    Is this emphasizing the potential of speaking English? Like "I can speak English (if you need me to)?" - would it be the same to just say this for "I speak English" as in a response to what language to you speak


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gabf1701

    Is 「英語は話せます。」 really not an appropriate translation for this?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ChikinWingu

    Why is the "I" not left out? I thought it would be assumed in this case?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jack866516

    Could someone explain why ます is used in this sentence and many others? Is it just to be polite and make the sentence more proper (like the difference between "what's up?" And "how are you?")


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cryopneuma

    "Desu" is descriptive. ("Inu desu." = "It is a dog.") "Masu" expresses an action. ("Inu ga i masu." = "There is a dog." In this case, the verb is "i" expressing that the dog exists. Its existing, in this case, is a verb, being what the dog is doing. It's existing.)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    Adding on: ます is specifically the polite non-past conjugation of a verb. The casual (dictionary/non-conjugated) form of 話せます is 話せる


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AustinFree668206

    Can someone explain why "boku no" would not be used here? Thanks


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    "Boku no" means "My", as in "belonging to me" which wouldn't make sense here.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DevlinMorin

    I just want to know why English is going after watashi and before speak when in a different sentence that had to do with names, the word for name came after watashi and before the names.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsuj1g1r1

    In Japanese, the verb comes at the end: "I you love." And to say that something is owned by something else, you use the Japanese particle "no," which unlike "of" in English, has the thing that owns come before it, and the thing that is owned come after it. So "me-of-name," rather than "name-of-me." Maybe think of it as comparable to an apostrophe-S: "Me's name."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Eric294974

    When to use watashi and when to use boku? Seeing both as options was confusing.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    私 is more standard polite, 僕 is a bit more casual and mainly only used by men/boys. Both are acceptable here but when in doubt use 私


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WillowJohnson

    Can i walk up to a Japanese person and say "eigo ga hanase mas" will it be valid if i didnt use watashi wa?!?!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cryopneuma

    True, you don't need "watashi wa" but, um... I don't know why you'd go up to a random stranger to declare that you can speak English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnElowin

    why "僕の英語が話せます" is wrong?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    の is the possession/grouping particle that works similar to " 's " or "of"
    僕の英語 means "English of me" or "My English"
    So "I can speak my English"
    Which doesn't make sense, unless you personally have your own special dialect of English or something


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/UnknownBea6

    Is it not allowed to change Watashi (私) to Boku (僕)????


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aadithyaa2

    what is the difference between 僕 and 私


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cryopneuma

    Connotation. Watashi is very neutral, while "boku" sounds boy-ish. I explain this in more detail above.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AllMight1hero

    Quick question:

    What does the 僕 (boku) kanji represent?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Swisidniak

    僕 is a first person pronoun "I" primarily used by males
    If you mean as far as why it looks the way it does, its etymology is a bit interesting:
    https://www.tofugu.com/japanese/japanese-first-person-pronouns/#section-3
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/僕


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fuentesgeorge

    Not "eigo o hanashimasu"?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pahko_

    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.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kevin121657

    I think to emphasize the difference to make it less confusing. 話します can also be translated as "I will speak English." or "I am going to speak English."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnPMChappell

    Try "I am speaking English" vs "I am able to speak English".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frigorifico9

    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?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maggiekarp_

    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!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BetLearns

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


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KowaiMangl

    I typed it as 英語が話せいます is that wrong?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ehartz
    Mod
    • 683

    Yes. You included an unnecessary い. The correct way to write it is 話せます.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Harry643105

    Can English be both the subject (wo) and the topic (wa)?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnPMChappell

    を is the object marker particle, not subject. In this sentence the subject is indeed "English" as denoted by が, and the topic phrase is optional (and could be any of several without additional context) but is assumed to be referring to the speaker (僕は、私は).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MikeLary

    Boko no is a valid answer


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ehartz
    Mod
    • 683

    No it isn't but "Boku wa" (僕は) is. "Boku no" would mean "my," which means your sentence would say "My can speak English" rather than "I can speak English."

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