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particle が

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particle が

Postby tanuki » Wed 10.12.2005 7:21 pm


I'm learning basic Japanese grammar and I've read that the particle が marks the subject and を marks the direct object.

However, I see this phrase and I don't understand:


Why is が used, if "Japanese" is the object? I mean, I'm the one who speaks the language, so I'm the subject and Japanese is the object. I would have written it with を instead.

Could you please help me? Thanks a lot in advance! Bye!
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RE: particle が

Postby nprz » Wed 10.12.2005 7:49 pm

Most of the time, when you change a verb into the possessive form (can speak rather than will speak), the object particle changes to が
Instead of you said it the more formal way, it will not change. 日本語を話すことができます。

Perhaps it changes because できる will take the が particle, and saying 話せる is like a short cut for できる.
When I get home I will look in my grammar book to see if it offers any better reasons.
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RE: particle が

Postby Kates » Wed 10.12.2005 8:56 pm

You pretty much have it, nprz. Potential verbs typically take "ga" as a particle, however sometimes "wo" can be used. "Nihongo wo hanasemasu" is not incorrect--though perhaps there is a different kind of sense to it, verus "Nihongo ga hanasemasu."
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RE: particle が

Postby nprz » Thu 10.13.2005 12:22 am

I looked at my grammar book and it says the を particle is not used with the potential form of the verb.
On the other hand, you could ask any Japanese person and they will tell you that you can do it either way.
I am sure this is just another case where Japanese professors will say 三階 is sangai (and say don't use sankai) eventhough 99% of Japanese will say sankai.

Just a heads up that you will see it both ways, it just depends on who is writing it.
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