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が And を

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が And を

Postby ケビンテジン » Sun 02.03.2013 6:59 pm

how come the phrase "I speak Japanese " , Japanese is not the direct object of the verb hanasu? Instead ga is used. Ga also marks the subject. But it's confusing to me. Because isn't hanasu an action/transitive verb? Why isn't wo used? It's frustrating because I finally thought I was understanding the direct object particle wo. It's more confusing to me because in that sentence I CAN ask myself, "What do I speak?" .. "Japanese." Yet Japanese is not the direct object of the action verb hanasu "to speak". I'm very confused. Could you guys help me clarify this please?
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Re: が And を

Postby bunalz3 » Sun 02.03.2013 11:45 pm

I believe it should be:

1. (Watashi wa) Nihongo wo hanashimasu.
I speak Japanese.
Hanashimasu here is transitive verb, so it follows "wo".

2. (Watashi wa) Nihongo ga hanasemasu.
I can speak Japanese.
Hanasemasu in this case is a potential verb which must follow "ga".

On the other hand, if it's "Nihongo ga hanashimasu", then it could mean The Japanese language speaks which doesn't make sense at all—anything that comes before the particle "ga" indicates that it is the one doing the action, given the verb is a transitive one.

Another example (taken from A Dictionary of Japanese Particles):

(Watashi wa) Sakana wo tabemasu = I eat fish.
Watashi wo sakana ga tabemasu = The fish eats me = Sakana ga watashi wo tabemasu.

FYI: The passive form "Hanasaremasu" also follows "ga":
Koko de nihongo ga hanasaremasu.
Japanese is spoken here.

There is no intransitive as it won't make sense.
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Re: が And を

Postby SomeCallMeChris » Mon 02.04.2013 12:06 am

I'm confused by your question. I find this in my dictionary:
http://dic.yahoo.co.jp/detail?p=%E8%A9% ... =0&dtype=3
He speaks German fluently.

Of course, this usage is essentially restricted to simple declarations that someone does use a foreign language, give or take a few adjectives or adverbs. In most cases, を marks the topic of conversation if it appears at all, and if the language being spoken is mentioned, it is marked with で.

Probably you are thinking of 話せる, which is an intransitive form, and so the language that is speakable takes が. The one who can speak might take に・は・には depending on the exact sentence and context.

It is a general rule that potential forms are intransitive. Grammatically the sentences seem more like 'Japanese is speakable by me,' 'The road is drivable by car,' 'The new computer is buyable only by rich people.'

However, I say that only as an indication of how to think about the grammar; the tone is horribly unnatural. The natural translation of あの新しいコンピュータが金持ちだけに買えます is more like, "Only a rich person could buy the new computer."
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