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Japanese Lessons >Grammar> Subjects and objects particles


Japanese sentence construction introduction (2) 文法

Subject and object makers in Japanese 主語 目的語

The makers of subject and object in a Japanese sentence.
Japanese particles are used to mark the subject and object. In the follwing example, が ga marks a subject and を wo marks an object.

猫(cat) 犬(dog)食べた(ate)。 A cat ate a dog.   Japanese

The writers can decide which comes first, a subject or object, in a sentence. The following form is often used instead of above. Swapping the order of subject and object, it can be re-written as follows.

犬(dog) 猫(cat)食べた(ate)。 A cat ate a dog.   Japanese

Subject (S) verb (V) object(O)

SがOをV。

OをSがV。


Let's write "I ate apples." in Japanese, given I わたし, ate たべた and apples りんご.  

わたし(I) りんご(apples)食べた(ate)。  Japanese  

Yes, of course. It can be written as follows.

りんご(apples) わたし(I) 食べた(ate)。  Japanese


wa1 is also used to declare a subject.

わたし ( I ) りんご(apples)を食べる(eat)。 I eat apples.   Japanese

Are は and が used interchangeably? No, they are not. The wikipedia article explained as follows.

... To simplify matters, the referents of wa and ga in this section are called the topic and subject respectively, with the understanding that if either is absent, the grammatical topic and subject may coincide.

As an abstract and rough approximation, the difference between wa and ga is a matter of focus: wa gives focus to the action of the sentence, i.e., to the verb or adjective, whereas ga gives focus to the subject of the action. However, a more useful description must proceed by enumerating uses of these particles.

However, when first being introduced to the subject and topic markers wa and ga most are told that the difference between the two is simpler. The topic marker, wa, is used to declare or to make a statement. The subject marker, ga, is used for new information, or asking for new information.



*1subject は particle is customarily pronounced as わ wa in Japanese sentences. Similarly, object をwo particle is used instead of お character, and directional particle へ is pronouced as えe instead of he. Directional article, へ, is covered in a different section.


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