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GoldCoinLover

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So again back to the basics for me. Trying to understand grammar perfectly before I go any further. As for the particle "ga", apparently it used more so to pick something out of multiple possbilities.

While, the topic particle "wa" is used to state the topic, and from there it can be left out for context purposes? Right?

So, I'm confused in this example. It's very simple and is from Kim Tae's website.


アリス) これ は  何?
ボブ) それ は  鉛筆。
アリス) あれ  も 鉛筆?
ボブ) あれ が  ペンだ。

アリス) 図書館 は  どこ?
ボブ) ここ は  図書館だ。
アリス) そこ が   図書館じゃない?
ボブ) そこじゃない。図書館 が  ここだ。

The first sentence "Kore wa nani?"
"As for this, it is what?"

What would then "kore ga nani?" mean?
Would it mean, What is this?
Maybe because "this" is emphaised with "ga".
I am confused.


Maybe the reply would be instead:
Sore ga empitsu.
"That is a pencil."
(Ga emphaises the object is a pencil, out of other options. But again I am wrong.)



Why is "ga" not used? We do not know what it is, so why wouldn't "ga" be used to state instead since we do not know what "this" is? That is confusing to me.

Another example.
More obvious to me to use ga.
kare ga dare?
Who is he?

We do not know who "he" is , so we use "ga" to specify who that person is out of other people, right?

He is Jim.

Jimu ga imasu.
Or,

Jima ga da.
(using the same more casual/rude speech as above)

So, if I got it right, topic marker "wa" just marks the topic. It brings up what the topic is about so we know the context, right? While "ga" specifies something out of many possibitlies.

Maybe, "is that your book?"
"Sore ga hon wo desu ka?"

Lit. "That book is..?"

'That book, is it yours?"

We omit "your" out of context?
I am probably completely wrong.




Thanks!
 

charusu

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I'm kind of new here so I'd be interested to see what one of the godfathers has to say (Glenn, Mike, Toritoribe).

I've been reading Yuki Johnson's 'Fundamentals of Japanese Grammar' (a freaking awesome book that gives deep discussions about these types of intricacies).

The discussion about 'wa' leads me to say this:

In the sentence "Kore wa nani [desu ka]?" you are (obviously) making 'kore' the topic of the sentence, it is 'kore' that is under discussion. It is not as if 'kore' is the subject that is performing or receiving an action (as might be marked by 'ga') - it is my understanding that when a predicate involves an interrogative (which it does here) 'ga' is not used.

The sentence "Kore ga empitsu [desu]" would be OK if you were just to randomly say it - like if nobody had asked what 'kore' is - like if you were a tour guide. But if you ask what it is 'wa' is appropriate in the response because it has been registered in discourse.

Hopefully one of the "big boys" will chime in and clarify this for the both of us!

:)
 

Areckx

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Don't overthink it. Basically, 「が」 is used for more direct subject comparisons, while 「は」 is used in more state/feeling situations with the subject.

Think like ser/estar in Spanish, but less concrete.

私が君は上手だよう

would be kinda like saying "you and I are correct" or "I think you are correct" or "You, in my viewpoint, as seen by me, relevant to me, are correct."

So don't worry about it. Just keep reading and don't be afraid to ask questions. There is no one right answer when translating, except for VERY specific kanji, but with grammar, most of the time you will have a feel for it the more you encounter it. SO KEEP READING JAPANESE and ask questions in English ONLY if you can't figure it out after seeing it several times and looking up in dictionaries on your own.
 

Glenn

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Areckx said:
私が君は上手だよう
would be kinda like saying "you and I are correct" or "I think you are correct" or "You, in my viewpoint, as seen by me, relevant to me, are correct."

上手 means "skilled" or "good (at...)", not "correct". 君が正しい would mean "you are correct", 君が正しいと思う would be "I think you are correct", and 君と僕が正しい would be "you and I are correct" (if it's a male speaker). I don't think the sentence you have makes much sense as it is. The ~は~が construction has some uses, but this, as far as I'm aware, is not one of them. And I guess you were just going for a drawn out version of よ with よう?

At any rate (I was holding out until Toritoribe came along), it looks to me like the first few examples in the OP are a bit off. For example:

アリス) これ は  何?
ボブ) それ は  鉛筆。
アリス) あれ  も 鉛筆?
ボブ) あれ が  ペンだ。

I think the second sentence should be れは鉛筆だ. And あれはペンだ makes more sense for the last sentence. The reason being that あれ has already been selected as the topic, and it is old, known, and unimportant information here. What's important is the answer -- ペン -- which is where the focus should lie. I'll wait to hear what Toritoribe has to say, though.
 

Mike Cash

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私が君は上手だよう

would be kinda like saying "you and I are correct" or "I think you are correct" or "You, in my viewpoint, as seen by me, relevant to me, are correct."

I can't understand how you get that out of 私が君は上手だよう, but neither can I understand how you got 私が君は上手だよう to begin with. 上手 doesn't mean "correct". The よう on the end is nonsensical, unless you meant it as と思う. Saying something like 私は君が上手だと思う would make sense (though still without the meaning of "correct"), but 私が君は上手だと思う would only make sense in a very limited context, such as expressing to someone that you think they are good at something, despite voiced opinions by others that the guy sucks at whatever is being talked about. Sort of like saying "I think you're good" and really strongly emphasizing the "I" part.

A simple (and very imperfect) way of thinking of this is to consider the wa/ga distinction as fulfilling a role that in English we tend to take care of by stressing/emphasizing certain words in a sentence.

Consider that in English the following are worded the same, yet have different connotations, due solely to stress:

"THAT smells good"
"That SMELLS good"
"That smells GOOD"

Imagine ga as emphasizing what comes before it and wa as emphasizing what comes after it. Keep that in mind and reexamine the Tae Kim examples Kevin posted. Then the situation and the reason for the change in particles should be much more clear. Though I do agree with Glenn about the pen bit.
 

Glenn

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Another way to think about the distinction is that は is similar to "the" and が is similar to "a/an". Of course, that doesn't always work, though.
 

Toritoribe

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よう might be from ~(上手な)よう(だ) as "to seem/to look like".

君が正しいようだ
You seem correct. ≒ I think you are correct.


Both それは and これは can be correct as Bob's answer. It depends on the (spatial) distance among the two persons and the pencil. For instance, if Alice has the pencil in her hand, それは鉛筆 would be more natural.
As for the last sentence, yes, it should be あれペンだ, except when the pen is already mentioned previously.

アリス) どれがペンだろう?これは何?
ボブ) それは鉛筆。
アリス) あれも鉛筆?
ボブ) 違う。あれがペンだ。


@ The OP, the following threads might be somewhat helpful.

www.jref.com/forum/threads/still-confused-about-は-and-が-example-sentences.46447/
www.jref.com/forum/threads/は-が-and-を-whats-the-difference-between-the-following-sentences.46448/

I, too, think は/が is one of the most tough-to-grasp things for learners, as same as particles, ~ている form, conditional clauses, and sentence-final particles. So, step by step, as Glenn-san said in the thread I linked.
 

GoldCoinLover

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これは正しいですか?



1. いぬ は ぱん を たべています
2. ぱん は いぬ が たべています
3. いぬ が ぱん を たべています

Inu wa pan wo tabete imasu.
As for the dog, it's eating bread.

pan wa inu ga tabete imasu.
As for the bread, the dog is eating it
(empasis on the dog eating the bread)

inu ga pan wo tabete imasu.
The dog is eating bread.

(emphasis on the "dog")
 

Toritoribe

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As I wrote in the thread I linked above, は shows that the topic is already mentioned previously.

1. 犬が一匹公園にいます。犬はパンを食べています。
There is a dog in the park. The dog is eating bread.

2. 床の上にパンとチーズがあります。パンは、犬が食べています。チーズは、ネズミが食べています。
There is a slice of bread and a piece of cheese on the floor. As for the bread, a dog is eating it. As for the cheese, a mouse is eating it.

が in #3 suggests that 犬 is not mentioned yet. Thus, it's more close to "A dog is eating bread".

Those sentences can have another nuance depending on the context, though.
 

Areckx

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I apologize for my sloppy Japanese. However, I disagree with Glenn that it is nonsensical. Not everything has to be PERFECT, basically, you can use 上手  as being skilled if you want to, you don't have to use 正しい


Basically, in a real life situation, where two people are talking, you don't STOP what you're talking about and say "oh you meant to say this and this."

No, you keep talking because you both get what you're talking about. Stop being grammar fanatics and start using Japanese like a language.

For example, we're conversating in English, you don't just discontinue the conversation and say "Oh I think you meant to say TO WHOM" unless you want to sound like a complete baffoon.


Oh and I like GoldCoinLover's way of explaining it.
.

1. いぬ は ぱん を たべています
2. ぱん は いぬ が たべています
3. いぬ が ぱん を たべています

Inu wa pan wo tabete imasu.
As for the dog, it's eating bread.

pan wa inu ga tabete imasu.
As for the bread, the dog is eating it
(emphasis on the dog eating the bread)

inu ga pan wo tabete imasu.
The dog is eating bread.

(emphasis on the "dog")
 

Toritoribe

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I'm afraid I have to agree with Glenn-san and Mike-san. Your sentence doesn't make sense at all. If I, a native Japanese speaker, heard 私が君は上手だよう in a real conversation, I would be completely at a loss since I can't get what you wanted to say. All I can do at the time would be just to say はい?"Pardon?"
 

Mike Cash

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Someday perhaps I will have the opportunity to use Japanese like a real language. Until then I will have to content myself with being a grammar fanatic. I hope I will someday be able to rattle off Japanese sentences with the same natural, carefree ease she does. I am chastened and humbled.
 

Glenn

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I apologize for my sloppy Japanese. However, I disagree with Glenn that it is nonsensical. Not everything has to be PERFECT, basically, you can use 上手  as being skilled if you want to, you don't have to use 正しい


Basically, in a real life situation, where two people are talking, you don't STOP what you're talking about and say "oh you meant to say this and this."

No, you keep talking because you both get what you're talking about. Stop being grammar fanatics and start using Japanese like a language.

For example, we're conversating in English, you don't just discontinue the conversation and say "Oh I think you meant to say TO WHOM" unless you want to sound like a complete baffoon.

I'm afraid you've mistaken the severity of the problems with 私が君は上手だよう. It's way beyond saying "to who" instead of "to whom" or saying 知らなさそう instead of 知らなそう or ふいんき instead of ふんいき for 雰囲気. It's more like saying "I you skilled yay!" and, well... what meaning is supposed to be extracted from that?

By the way, you said it could mean "you and I are correct" or "I think you are correct" or "You, in my viewpoint, as seen by me, relevant to me, are correct," and while the last two at least express a similar sentiment, they are completely different ideas from the first one.
 

Areckx

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英語見たいなの? 本当言う事もう簡単けど、 英語の 説明もう混乱だよう。 何で言うから英語を話せるなの 、 このフレーズが無理じゃないよ、 

Who cares!?

And seriously, I am limited where I live as well, even though I live in California. There are absolutely no speakers of Japanese anywhere to be found. That being said, I still spend every single day listening, reading, and writing whenever I feel the confidence. If I worried about how I sounded all of the time, worrying about sounding like "You, me, good, yes!?" then I would never learn anything.

The FACT that you corrected me means that there is MOVEMENT, and not just stagnating on whether or not 「が」 was used correctly. The FACT that you were confused INDICATED to me that there is something at the miss. That's what I meant by HAVING A CONVERSATION.

I urge everyone here to try and use the Japanese that they KNOW as OFTEN as possible. Don't be afraid of sounding like me, because if you never use it, you'll lose it.
 

GoldCoinLover

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As I wrote in the thread I linked above, は shows that the topic is already mentioned previously.
1. 犬が一匹公園にいます。犬はパンを食べています。
There is a dog in the park. The dog is eating bread.
2. 床の上にパンとチーズがあります。パンは、犬が食べています。チーズは、ネズミが食べています。
There is a slice of bread and a piece of cheese on the floor. As for the bread, a dog is eating it. As for the cheese, a mouse is eating it.
が in #3 suggests that 犬 is not mentioned yet. Thus, it's more close to "A dog is eating bread".
Those sentences can have another nuance depending on the context, though

ありがとうございました!
でもまだ「が」をわかりません。
今日も勉強しています。

Can you please correct my japanese?
Do you know of any other examples to practice with? Should I keep studying, and do you think grammar will make more sense? Or should I focus only on these differences for now?

Thanks!
 

Areckx

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Always study, but if you don't get a grammar concept, don't pull your hair out, it'll click eventually. Just continue reading supplemental materials until you feel more familiar with the grammar concepts before reviewing.
 

Toritoribe

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英語見たいなの? 
何で言うから英語を話せるなの、 このフレーズが無理じゃないよ、
Pardon? Sorry, but I can't get what you wanted to say. Could you please say it in English?

本当言う事もう簡単けど
Uh, 本当言うと/本当のこと言うと or something along the line? If so, it could be barely acceptable.

英語の説明もう混乱だよう。
May be 英語の説明は紛らわしいよ/わかりにくいよ/訳わかんないよ(= confuging)? It's acceptable.

HAVING A CONVERSATION
That's the point. That's exactly the reason why I have to say "Pardon?". つまり、会話が成り立たないほど支離滅裂な日本語をあなたは話されてるんです。残念ながら。


Can you please correct my japanese?
Good!👍 Just one point. You need to use が instead of を in the second sentence.

でもまだ「が」わかりません。

Some verbs/adjectives (e.g. わかる, できる, potential form of verbs, 好き, 嫌い) take が as the object marker.

Should I keep studying, and do you think grammar will make more sense? Or should I focus only on these differences for now?
I agree with Glenn-san.
Baby steps indeed. Don't worry about this coming gradually to you. It's so different from how we deal with information in English that it's like learning to write with your feet. This is perhaps the hardest part about Japanese for English speakers (Koreans are lucky from what I understand: they have the exact same structure, although slightly more complicated). I feel like I went over a year without starting to have a grasp on it, maybe even more.
 
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GoldCoinLover

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でもまだ「が」がわかりません

The 「が」 particle identifies a specific property of something while the 「は」 particle is used only to bring up a new topic of conversation. This is why, in longer sentences, it is common to separate the topic with commas to remove ambiguity about which part of the sentence the topic applies to.
 

Mike Cash

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I apologize for my sloppy Japanese. However, I disagree with Glenn that it is nonsensical. Not everything has to be PERFECT, basically, you can use 上手  as being skilled if you want to, you don't have to use 正しい

It was nonsensical in the strictest sense of the word; it didn't make sense. It certainly couldn't be read to mean any of the things you said it could mean. Just because you intended it to mean a certain thing doesn't mean others are going to be able to figure out what you were talking about when the grammar is so far off and you use 上手 to mean "correct".

Not only do you not have to use 正しい to mean "skilled", you can't use 正しい to mean "skilled". 正しい and 上手 are nowhere near being the same thing. That makes as much sense as saying, "You don't have to use 'cat' to mean 'apple' if you don't want to."

Basically, in a real life situation, where two people are talking, you don't STOP what you're talking about and say "oh you meant to say this and this."

When things are so garbled as to be incomprehensible you most certainly DO stop and try to figure out where the conversational train jumped the tracks.

No, you keep talking because you both get what you're talking about. Stop being grammar fanatics and start using Japanese like a language.

I started using Japanese like a language when I was nineteen years old. I'm forty-six now. My Japanese is not perfect, but it feeds, clothes, and shelters a family of four. I make my living in a 100 percent Japanese-only work environment. My children are monolingual Japanese speakers.

Not to sound like a total snot here, but the day I need somebody to tell me about using Japanese like a language I will be sure to let you know so you can give me some useful pointers on the topic.

For example, we're conversating in English, you don't just discontinue the conversation and say "Oh I think you meant to say TO WHOM" unless you want to sound like a complete bafoon.

It is true that one should not be uptight about getting every little thing perfect. People who do that tend never to make any progress, in no small part due to being too paralyzed with fear to speak and get any meaningful practice. The way we get better is by first screwing up a lot.

But neither should one go to the opposite extreme which seems to characterize your output: complete disregard for getting the grammar right. You can't just string Japanese words together and assume that everybody can understand what you're talking about. Grammar is the set of rules by which we all know how the elements of sentences relate to each other and by which we convey and interpret information. Throwing words together without regard to grammar is one step above caveman grunts. Grammatical elements have their own functions and convey different information. When you use them in some way other than how everybody else understands them the result is that your meaning gets misconstrued or what you say is simply unintelligible.

You remind me of a couple of Japanese guys I taught English years ago. They were both very fluent (in that their speech flowed effortlessly) but they were also of the opinion that grammar wasn't important. One guy used the present progressive verb tense for everything. The other guy just didn't care about verb tenses at all. Neither gave a damn about prepositions. Despite the smooth flow of speech, it was hard as hell to follow what they were talking about much of the time.

英語見たいなの? 本当言う事もう簡単けど、 英語の説明もう混乱だよう。 何で言うから英語を話せるなの、 このフレーズが無理じゃないよ、

I had to spend much of a whole day trying to figure out what you were trying to say there. I ended up trying to deconstruct it based on a knowledge of English, personal experience with learning Japanese, and just plain old blind guessing.

"Isn't it like English? To tell the truth, it's easy. English explanations just confuse things. The reason I phrase things like this is because I speak English."

That's my guess.

What it actually sounds like, though, is:

"Is it like English? Telling the truth is easy, English explanations are mixed up. Because why I say I can speak English, this phrase isn't impossible."

 
Who cares!?

The people who have to struggle to figure out what a person who doesn't give a crap about putting their sentences together in an intelligible manner is trying to say. The people who would rather not sound like buffoons when conversing in a foreign language.

If I worried about how I sounded all of the time, worrying about sounding like "You, me, good, yes!?" then I would never learn anything.

Unfortunately, your disregard for the importance of grammar and its function in facilitating communication means that everything you've posted on JREF in Japanese so far DOES sound like "You, me, good, yes!?" It is questionable if you have indeed learned anything or not yet. You've certainly mislearned a lot. The impression is of someone who has been learning exclusively from comic books and a dictionary.

Always study, but if you don't get a grammar concept, don't pull your hair out, it'll click eventually. Just continue reading supplemental materials until you feel more familiar with the grammar concepts before reviewing.

There's no non-nasty way to ask this, but could you tell us some of the grammar concepts which have "clicked" for you so far? I can't spot a single one that you've used correctly here.

You misuse は and が. You seem to think よ and よう are the same thing. You totally misuse verb+事. I get the idea you don't know that から comes after a reason, and not before as in English. For some reason 上手 and 正しい are interchangeable in your mind. In another thread, despite being a female you refer to yourself as both 僕 and わし.

You're all over the map to the point that nobody can figure out what you're trying to say. Glenn has been a serious student of Japanese for many years and is quite knowledgeable and he couldn't understand you. I'm about as immersed in Japanese as you can get without actually being Japanese....have been for a couple of decades....I couldn't figure out what you were saying. Toritoribe is a native Japanese speaker and he couldn't figure out what you were saying.

You might want to give some consideration to the possibility that the problem doesn't lie with the people who can't understand what you're trying to say, but with your devil-may-care attitude toward the nuts-n-bolts grammar of constructing intelligible sentences. You've ignored or left for later so much of the basic material out of an eagerness to rush forward that you have totally hobbled your ability to communicate. You need to get some good primary learning materials (textbooks and drill material) and go back and do the grunt work of learning it and at least semi-mastering it before dashing on to the next and sexier thing. Any effort you put into learning more new stuff with your inadequate grasp of the basics is going to be nothing but wasted effort. The biggest favor you can do yourself would be to go back to square one and start over again.

At the very least you could do us the courtesy of not coming into a thread where someone is specifically asking for help understanding a grammatical concept and telling us that grammar doesn't matter. Your unintelligible examples served as a perfect example of why it does matter.
 
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