View topic - My explanation of Wa and Ga
(I added a few things.)
I've never really had any difficulty in understanding the difference between the two - but then I may have a completely a**-backwards conception of them.
This is the way I see them:
Ha/Wa indicates a topic, an item for discussion that may or may not bear any close syntactical relationship with any other word in the sentence.
Watashi ha eiga wo mite iru - Me (separate) or As for me, I am watching a movie. (The subject of this sentence is not mentioned. We can infer that Watashi is the subject; but Watashi Ha does not necessarily mark the subject. It marks the topic. The subject of this sentence is watashi ga.)
Watashi ha ringo ga hoshii da - Me (separate) or As for me, an apple is desirable. (The topic is watashi, but the subject is ringo. The subject is the opposite of a predicate. It performs the action of the verb upon the predicate - whether the predicate be in copulation with the subject (i.e. the same case) or it be a direct or indirect object.)
Ga always indicates the actual subject of the verb. If you see ga, then you know that the noun or noun phrase with which it is associated bears a significant, more 'palpable' syntactical relationship - as it were - with the verb and the rest of the words of the clause in which it resides.
Watashi ga eiga o mite iru - (Plainly stating new information without contrast, emphasis, or reference to some prior question or comment) I am watching a movie.
Ringo ga hoshii da - (Plainly stating new information or a universal truth) Apples are desirable
(They also have some other uses which I won't get into now. I am merely trying to explain their more essential and disputed features.)
The topic marker Ha/Wa is highly reminiscent of the Latin Dative of Reference or the Ethical Dative, which describes for whom something is true or towards what something tends, or for whom something is done.
The Dative of Reference exists in English, too; although, it is not called the Dative... probably:
To me this is stupid. - 'To me' modifies the sense of the sentence as a whole and is NOT the indirect object of the verb. This is very similar to what ha/wa does.
To me you are a jerk. - 'You are a jerk' alone is more universal - it is more of an absolute truth. "To me" conscribes for whom this is a truth - which is what Ha/Wa does, but conscribes more than just for whom. It can conscribe the truthfulness of the primary clause to an entire other clause existing within the same sentence, or it can conscribe the truthfulness to a thing, or even an adverbial prepositional phrase.
This Dative of Reference or Ethical Dative corresponds as well to "Where I am concerned," "As for me," and "With respect to me" - phrases with which you should be well familiar, if you have put any effort whatsoever into learning the difference between wa/ha and ga.
Ni di me non pvlchrvm paterentvr, omnia bona agerem. Dixit: Cvr se deos liqvisse? Qvid se faceret? Di se fecissent foediorem qvam qvem canis ipse videre posset. Qvaeram a qvovis, vel diabolo, vt bellvs a se fiam modo ne malam vitam vivam. Dico, si aliter egissent, fvtvrvm fvisse vt bene viverem. - me
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You also might want to check out the は vs が post in this forum. It has all the rules and rarer times that you use them.
Ippatsu // Japanesetesting.com
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