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Help Why は and not が?

Vulcan879

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I signed up for Lang-8, and on the site wrote a sentence I hazily remembered from Pimsleur,
'にほんごがすこしわかります。' A user corrected me with 'にほんごは、すこしわかります。' I'd like to know why he changed the particle が into は.

(I'm asking here in case he can't respond.)
 

Toritoribe

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Both are correct, and it depends on the context which one should be used. は works as the contrastive marker there, so it connotes, for instance, "(I understand Japanese a little, but) I don't understand Chinese at all, I understand French very well, etc." Thus, if you just want to say "I understand Japanese a little" without any connotation for instance in your self-introduction, が is more appropriate, but if you say this after "I'm good at Spanish", は is more natural.
 

Denisel

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I am puzzled too. I thought the sentence has meaning conerned wtih human attributes and "が should be used. Please let me know the answer when he responds.
 

Denisel

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Both are correct, and it depends on the context which one should be used. は works as the contrastive marker there, so it connotes, for instance, "(I understand Japanese a little, but) I don't understand Chinese at all, I understand French very well, etc." Thus, if you just want to say "I understand Japanese a little" without any connotation for instance in your self-introduction, が is more appropriate, but if you say this after "I'm good at Spanish", は is more natural.
Happy to see your explanation!
 
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Understanding the difference between は and が may prove to be one of the most difficult subjects in studying Japanese. Especially in the beginning. Here is slideshow, which i used to refer to whenever a doubt arose wavsga .
 

Mike Cash

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Understanding the difference between は and が may prove to be one of the most difficult subjects in studying Japanese

One of the most maddening things is to be watching a television show which has both text on the screen and a narrator....and the narrator's script includes the exact sentence which is on the screen, except one is は and the other is が.
 
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One of the most maddening things is to be watching a television show which has both text on the screen and a narrator....and the narrator's script includes the exact sentence which is on the screen, except one is は and the other is が.
Which makes a point of Japanese themselves lacking consensus on which particle to use, every now and then.
 

Vulcan879

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Toritoribe

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Well, it's an explanation about the emphatic sentence construction in English grammar... I wouldn't trust posters who reply to Japanese learners with the site only in Japanese (and the site is in fact useless...)
 

Vulcan879

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Well, it's an explanation about the emphatic sentence construction in English grammar... I wouldn't trust posters who reply to Japanese learners with the site only in Japanese (and the site is in fact useless...)
Okay, thanks for the advice.
 
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