Particle① – “は (wa)” and “が(ga)”

Hi, Leo Sensei dayo!

Let’s study particle “は(wa)” and “が(ga)” in this session. Both are very very very important and you should learn at first. Both have similar meaning but should be used in different situation.

 

“は(wa)”

This is very important and frequently used because this relates to subject.

Particle “は(wa)” mainly has two meanings, subject and contrast.

 

① Subject

Particle “wa” marks a topic of a sentence. A word or phrase preceding “wa” is specific subject, something already mentioned before or obvious from the context or universally accepted facts.

Ex a)

Japanese:メリアさん不動産(ふどうさん)の会社(かいしゃ)で働(はたら)いています。

(Melia san wa fudousan no kaisya de hataraite imasu)

In this sentence  “wa” shows ” Melia san” preceding “wa” is specific subject. This sentence means in English that “Melia works for property company.”

 

Ex b)

南極(なんきょく)とても寒(さむ)いです。

(Nankyoku wa totemo samui desu)

In this sentence “wa” shows ” Nankyoku” preceding “wa” is universally accepted facts. This sentence means in English that “South pole is very cold.”

 

② Contrast

The particle “wa” also shows the contrast of a word or phrase marked by “wa” with something else.

Ex c)

いつも遅刻(ちこく)しないが、きょう遅刻(ちこく)した。

(Itsumo chikoku shinai ga kyou wa chikoku shita)

This sentence means in English that “I am not usually late but I am late today.” Maybe something happened to him or her…  This “wa” shows today is not unusual day compared with other day.

 

“が(ga)”

Particle “が(ga)” mainly has two meanings, subject and subject in a subordinate sentence.

 

① Subject

Particle “ga” marks the subject of a sentence like “は(wa)”. In case the subject has a constractive element, its subject-marker, “ga” can be replaced by “wa”. And when a WH-word(who, when, which etc) is the subject of a sentence, it is always follwed by the particle “ga” and in the response to the question, the subject is also marked by “ga”.

Ex d)

きょう私(わたし)の誕生日(たんじょうび)です。

(Kyou ga watashi no tanjyoubi desu)

You can replace “ga” by “wa” in this sentence. Today is my birthday not tomorrow, not yesterday….it is a constractive element. This sentence means in English that “Today is my birthday.”

 

Ex e)

誰(だれ)明日(あす)のミーティングに参加(さんか)しますか? Caroline参加(さんか)します。

(dare ga asuno meeting ni sanka shimasu ka? Caroline ga sanka shimasu)

You can not replace “ga” by “wa” in this sentence. In the first sentence, this subject is WH-word, who. In the second sentence, this sentence is the response to the question. This sentence means in English that “Who will join the meeting tomorrow? Caroline will join.”

 

② Subject in a subordinate sentence

The subject in a subordinate sentence is marked by “ga” if it is not the same as the subject of the main sentence.

Ex f)

私(わたし)仕事(しごと)をしているとき、Tissyは寝(ね)ていました。

(watashi ga shigoto wo siteiru toki Tissy wa neteimashita)

The subject in a subordinate(watashi ga shigoto wo siteiru toki) sentence is marked by “ga” and subject of the main sentence is not same. This sentence means in English that “When I was working, Tissy was sleeping.”

 

What is the difference between “は(wa)” and “が(ga)”?

Both “は(wa)” and “が(ga)” show subjects in sentence. However, there is clear difference. A word or phrase preceding “ga“ is the subject of a sentence which is introduced as a new information in the conversation or context. It puts a focus on the elements preceding “ga”. In example d, when using “ga”, talker wants to emphasize “TODAY is my birthday”. Someone around him or her may think birthday is tomorrow. Then he or she wants to say “NO, TODAY is my birthday” and today is new information for this someone.

 

Points

Particle “は(wa)” mainly has two meanings, subject and contrast.

Particle “が(ga)” mainly has two meanings, subject and subject in a subordinate sentence.

 

If you want to study more about “Subject”, check this page.

So much for this session! Bye!!

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