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Help with が and は

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Help with が and は

Postby Ichigo Kurage » Sat 03.02.2013 7:46 am

(I'm sure lots of people have asked this question, but I can't find the questions, so I've decided to ask it myself.)
I absolutely have no idea why how, and when to use が and は. Please help.^^;
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Re: Help with が and は

Postby SomeCallMeChris » Sat 03.02.2013 1:30 pm

There are a lot of reasons to use one over the other, but, two useful guidelines.

When establishing contrast, use は
彼の帽子は赤ですが、僕の帽子は青です。
Even when it's not a pair of contrasting phrases, it can indicate contrast.

Notice that the point you're trying to convey (the 'point of emphasis') is the point of contrast, not the object being contrasted. In general, the point of emphasis is -after- the は and is -before- the が.

Self introduction -> 僕はクリスです。
Everyone can see that -I'm- there. The point that I'm trying convey is my name, so は.

Package delivery, "Package for Chris! Is there a Chris here?" -> 僕がクリスです。
The delivery man sees a bunch of people in the room, but needs to know which one is called 'Chris', so が.


Beyond such simple sentences I'm not really able to explain clearly, but something of that sense remains.
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Re: Help with が and は

Postby Ongakuka » Sat 03.02.2013 1:31 pm

You can go into varying levels of detail in this but I'll try to be concise. I think that the only way to truly understand them is to familiarize oneself through reading or listening to Japanese, but I think we deserve better explanations than what one tends to find in a textbook etc.

は is generally used to introduce a new topic, since it draws attention to what follows it:

私はジムです I'm Jim       (By the way Jim is not my name.)

が conversely, draws attention to what comes before it.

私がジムです I'M Jim (for example, when someone asks 'which of you is Jim?')

In standard sentences, a topic will be introduced with  は, and が may follow after. Generally speaking, は comes first.

私は猫が好きです。 'I like cats.'

In this sentence, は refers to 猫が好きです. が refers to 猫 (cats.)

As you will see in the TJP article on this subject, we do not need to repeat the topic marked by は. For example, when we are talking about ourselves in English, we must repeat the word 'I' for each sentence.

'I'm Jim. I live in Japan.'

In Japanese, this is not necessary (and would sound strange.)

私はジムです。日本に住んでいます。

I'll leave it at that unless you have any specific questions. Good luck!
なぜなら、おまえは・・・・・・人形だ
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Re: Help with が and は

Postby jimbreen » Sat 03.02.2013 6:41 pm

Ichigo Kurage wrote:(I'm sure lots of people have asked this question, but I can't find the questions, so I've decided to ask it myself.)
I absolutely have no idea why how, and when to use が and は. Please help.^^;


(a) Buy Jay Rubin's "Making Sense of Japanese".(*)
(b) read the chapter "Wa and Ga: the Answers to Unasked Questions".
(c) read it again
(d) ...

(*) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Rubin

Jim
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