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Pimsleur woes

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Pimsleur woes

Postby poorstudent1 » Thu 09.28.2006 10:57 pm

Just wondering if someone might be able to clear this up for me.
I've studied japanese for a little while now, but just started the Pimsleur lessons.
I just got to lesson 14 when they introduce:

Here is how to ask "is there any beer?"

Now, shouldn't は that be a が?

Thanks in advance.
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RE: Pimsleur woes

Postby chikara » Thu 09.28.2006 11:17 pm

No, why?

Using は,

as for beer, does it exist?

using が,

is the thing that exists beer?
Last edited by chikara on Thu 09.28.2006 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Pimsleur woes

Postby magma » Fri 09.29.2006 2:45 am

I am in complete agreement with my esteemed colleague.

Somewhat less literally:

ビ<擬b]は[/b]ありますか。"Beer--is there any?"
ビ<擬b]が[/b]ありますか。"Is there any beer?"

Both questions are asking for the exact same information. They differ in two ways: implied contrast, and emphasis.

Here is how to ask "is there any beer?"

Now, shouldn't は that be a が?

That depends on what you want to emphasize:

Is there any beer? -- use が

Is there any beer? -- use は

I hope that's easy to understand, because the implied contrast part is a bit trickier to explain.

ビ<擬b]が[/b]ありますか is the most straightforward way to ask "is there any beer?"

ビ<擬b]は[/b]ありますか implies a contrast, the nature of which depends on what was just under discussion. If you were having a conversation about various types of alcoholic beverages, than this sentence could mean, "(All other alcoholic beverages aside), as for beer, is there any?" But if you were talking about the various things your family wanted to pack on your camping trip, than it could be, "(Aside from all the other things we're bringing on this trip), as for beer, do we have any?" Note how the question is the same in both cases, it's only the implied contrast in parenthesis that changes.

Unfortunately, the only way to really understand what this is all about is to study は and が in detail and understand what they actually do. I've read many books about this, and by far the clearest, most readable, and most in-depth explanation I've ever seen is in Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You by Jay Rubin, available for purchase on this very site for only $12.00! An excellent addition to any Japanese student's library. (No, Clay is not paying me to say that).
Last edited by magma on Fri 09.29.2006 4:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Pimsleur woes

Postby tanuki » Fri 09.29.2006 2:18 pm

Ohhhh! That looks like a very nice book! I'll add that to my "to get" list. Thanks for the tip!
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RE: Pimsleur woes

Postby poorstudent1 » Fri 09.29.2006 4:19 pm

Many thanks for the grammer lesson.
I see now the error of my ways.

chikara wrote:
No, why?

From my beginner courses I just assumed one always used ga when using arimasu or imasu. Upon further investigation I see how this is actually deeper than I thought.
I think I may also scope out Mr. Rubin's book you mentioned, as it seems to get to the root of it.

Thanks again,
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