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Particle: Wa and Ga


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Hello!

I teach Japanese to a beginner and now he has a problem with particle, especially wa and ga.

I can tell which particle should be used in an actual sentence, but can't explain why. For me, a native Japanese speaker it's purely intuitive. I did a quick research, but there are various explanations and now I'm confused :cry:

Could you tell me how did you learn and/or how do you understand the difference between wa and ga? It would be very helpful for me :vampire:

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

The way I see it, "wa" is used to put emphasis on the rest of the sentence, while "ga" puts emphasis on the subject of the sentence. For example, take these two questions:

誰ですかWho are you?

誰はベンですかWho is Ben?

The first question would have the response: 私ベンです I am Ben. The second would have the response: 私ベンですI am Ben. Both translate the same in English, but the connotation is different.

Ga is also used to distinguish between the main subject and the subject of the dependent clause of a sentence:

ベン学校に毎日いくと思います。 I think Ben goes to school every day

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I think the poster above me is right. I saw this while playing a game and saw 'ga' instead of 'wa' several times in the script of the speaking characters. I think it's because a subject or action was being emphasized rather than the whole of the sentence.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The question "Who is Ben?" would be 「誰がベンですか」 but still,

"wa" is used to put emphasis on the rest of the sentence, while "ga" puts emphasis on the subject of the sentence.

I find this explanation is really useful. どうもありがとう :smile:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tae Kim's guide was really specific in differentiating the two and states that the "wa" is a topic particle, meaning it denotes what the topic of the sentence is; whereas "ga" is the identifier particle, which denotes what the subject of the sentence is.

The "ga" particle identifies a specific property of something, while the "wa" particle is used only to bring up a new topic of conversation.

In their example, they translated these two sentences as:

私は学生 - As for me, I am a student.

私が学生 - I am the one that is the student.

I still get confused about them a lot but I just remind myself that the "wa" particle disappears in continuous conversation as long as the topic is the same whereas the "ga" is always needed if there's a subject.

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  • 5 years later...

I am having trouble with the sentence "Dare no koruma desu ka" which my book translated as "Whose car is this?" Shouldn't that sentence have a topic marker, namely "ga" since "dare" seems to be the topic of the sentence. The topic seems to have been omitted altogether, which I do not understand.

From the conversation above, it seems that you guys understand "ga" as an kind of pointer, which, combined with my understanding, means that when "ga" is used with a question word, it is emphasizing that question (?). Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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23 hours ago, TomatoCultivator said:

I am having trouble with the sentence "Dare no koruma desu ka" which my book translated as "Whose car is this?" Shouldn't that sentence have a topic marker, namely "ga" since "dare" seems to be the topic of the sentence. The topic seems to have been omitted altogether, which I do not understand.

The only mistake is that it's "kuruma", not "koruma", but probably just a typing mistake rather than a knowledge mistake.

No, "dare" is not the topic in this sense.
The "dare no kuruma" part is the object.
The full sentence would look like this: "kore wa dare no kuruma desu ka", "kore" meaning "this" as can be found in the translation.
But assuming there's only 1 car right next to the person asking whose car it is, it's obvious you're talking about "this one car" rather any random car, so the topic (kore wa) has been omitted altogether.

23 hours ago, TomatoCultivator said:

From the conversation above, it seems that you guys understand "ga" as an kind of pointer, which, combined with my understanding, means that when "ga" is used with a question word, it is emphasizing that question (?). Please correct me if I'm wrong.

In theory, the difference between "ga" and "wa" is that "ga" is used for new or changing topics (think you're talking about fish, and all of the sudden you start talking about geography).
But in practise, it doesn't matter which one you use, both "wa" and "ga" are equally correct.
For questions the only thing that matters is "ka" at the end for polite sentences, or a raised intonation at the very end of the sentence for casual sentences.

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