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が and わ

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が and わ

Postby ripeporksta » Thu 08.07.2014 5:23 am

Hello, i have been studying japanese for 4-5months now so im just a beginner but im having trouble understanding the difference between "GA" and "WA" And when to use them. If someone could it would be appreciated.

Thanks

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Re: が and わ

Postby jimbreen » Fri 08.08.2014 8:05 pm

ripeporksta wrote:Hello, i have been studying japanese for 4-5months now so im just a beginner but im having trouble understanding the difference between "GA" and "WA" And when to use them. If someone could it would be appreciated.

(a) buy Jay Rubin's little book "Making Sense of Japanese";
(b) read the chapter "Wa and Ga: The Answers to Unasked Questions".

Rubin is/was a professor of Japanese at Harvard, and the main translator of Murakami. I suspect he knows what he's talking about.

Jim
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Re: が and わ

Postby Shiroisan » Mon 08.11.2014 1:38 am

It's は, not わ. わ means harmony.
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Re: が and わ

Postby SusuKacangSoya » Wed 08.20.2014 11:24 pm

Shiroisan wrote:It's は, not わ. わ means harmony.

And a whole lot of other things if you don't implement Kanji.

@OP It's "は", not "わ". Both are particles. I myself haven't learned too much about them (I got confused by them myself), but so far, as for what I've heard, "が" emphasizes the topic of the sentence, while "は" emphasizes the subject of the sentence.

e.g. "私が冬雨です", meaning something along the lines of "I (emphasized)* am Fuyuame**", whereas "私は冬雨です" emphasizes that I am a "冬雨".

*I hate how I can't double capitalize "I" to emphasize it
**My nickname has non-standard pronounciation


More sensibly, "彼が学生" means "HE is student". Which probably means that either (1) there is one student and specifically he is the student, or (2) somebody is emphasizing that he is the student (probably to clarify to somebody else) (e.g. if somebody was daydreaming and asked "Wait, WHO was the student?").

Whereas "彼は学生" emphasizes that he is a STUDENT. In case there was any confusion that he was not a student. Or to indicate that he isn't anything else; he is a STUDENT. Specifically a student.

(Anybody who found my reply wrong, please fix it. I'm not an expert on this and it'd be most certainly wonderful if somebody who is absolutely 100% sure on what is what replies)

*EDIT* I flipped and reversed what I said after reading this: http://www.japanese-language.aiyori.org/article1.html

*EDIT 2* Try imagining "彼が学生" with "Kare" said in a strong high-pitched way. And then imagine "彼は学生" with "Gakusei" said in a strong high-pitched way. Not sure about others, but for me "彼は学生" with "Kare" said in a strong high-pitched way sounds quite weird or unnatural to me.
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Re: が and わ

Postby Shiroisan » Thu 08.21.2014 8:51 pm

SusuKacangSoya, your example sentences were fine but your explanation was mistaken, and would quickly land you in trouble for more complex sentences.

SusuKacangSoya wrote:as for what I've heard, "が" emphasizes the topic of the sentence, while "は" emphasizes the subject of the sentence.



が only indicates the subject of a sentence, and has no relation to the topic. は denotes the topic. The thing you have to understand is, sometimes a sentence has no topic stated, sometimes the topic is implied, like when you said 彼が学生です。There is no topic stated there. That misunderstanding should become obvious to you once you create a sentence that has both は and が in it. However, you were correct in showing that が emphasizes what comes before it, and は emphasizes what comes after it.

彼が学生です。A potential implied topic of this sentence is underlined: "As for who here is a student, he is a student." What the implied topic actually is depends on the context.
We tend to omit the topic of a sentence in such cases because it would be redundant.


Things become more straightforward to understand when you have both particles in one sentence:

私は髪が長いです。

I am the topic of this sentence, and my hair is the subject. The length is not the subject of this sentence, rather it is a property of the subject of the sentence. Whether you are saying 彼が学生、髪が長い、or 彼が書いたのは, what follows the が in all of these sentences can be thought of as a "property" of the subject of the sentence.

I have noticed that several corners of the internet do not explain this at all, so people become confused when all the information they have is vague explanations of "emphasis". Pretending that emphasis is the main point rather than a grammatical byproduct is a mistake. They are basically avoiding explaining what the grammar point actually is, and instead they merely explain what it is like. Maybe it's their attempt at dumbing it down for their readers, but that's rather presumptuous to assume their audience wouldn't be able to comprehend the fundamentals when properly explained. :roll:
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