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

The Purpose of は in マリアさんは中国出身です。

So I tried putting this as a comment on a sentence but I don't think anybody will see that so here I am, really confused. So I'm curious if anybody can help explain to me what the purpose of は in this context. I mean I understand マリアさん means Mrs. Maria, 中国 means China, 出身 means from and です means is which I thought would translate to "Mrs. Maria is from China" alone. But then this extra は, which Duo says means from, is there. Can anyone explain to me the purpose of this character in the sentence?

June 22, 2019

6 Comments


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

While in English we rely on word order to determine what function each word in a sentence has, in Japanese the word order can be fairly loose and instead rely on things called particles in order to mark each role.
は (pronounced "wa" when a particle) is a topic marker. It marks the broader topic of a discussion. When you see it you can think of it as "On the topic of...".
In many cases if the topic is understood through the context of the conversation already then it can be dropped entirely. You'll see this a lot where sentences will only have the verb/object part of the sentence and the 私は (watashi wa - on the topic of myself) is not said, only implied.

Particles are important, as mixing them up can completely alter the meaning of a sentence.
Japanesepod101 has a great lesson video as well as a cheatsheet for learning the particles. Tofugu also has a nice guide.

June 22, 2019

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

は is a topic marking particle. It tell us the sentence is talking about Maria. Particles are confusing at first but once you get the hang of it, sentences will make 1000x more sense!

June 22, 2019

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

I sure hope so. XD Currently they're really tripping me up. XD Same with kanji. Memorizing how to say each symbol in all of its situations has been extremely difficult.

June 22, 2019

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

It's a particle. Check out ha, o, ni, de and other particles on google. You're going to see it often!

June 22, 2019

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

Oh God there's so many of them. XD Thanks Neo. Now to... try and memorize these.

June 22, 2019

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

The particle は follows the topic the speaker wants to talk about. Therefore, は is often called topic marking particle. It is often used in a sentence pattern like, AはBです, which means A is B.

June 22, 2019
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