Basic Expression Course

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Marshall
JLPT Basic, JLPT Course
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Basic Expression Course

Lesson 2: NはNです

In this lesson, I will teach you how to express “Noun 1 is Noun 2” in Japanese.

Noun 1 は/がNoun 2です/ではありません

は vs が

Both は and が are particles. は is topic marker. and が is subject marker.
【Noun 1 + は】 means that Noun 1 is the topic of this sentence, and 【Noun 1 + が】means that Noun 1 is the subject of this sentence.

When は is a particle, it’s read as “wa”.
は: emphasizes the noun after it.
が: emphasizes the noun before it.

For example, わたしトムです。 I’m Tom. 
In this sentence, は emphasizes “Tom”. So you can drop the “私は” too. If you say “トムです”, it means “I’m Tom.”, It’s just less formal.

わたしがトムです。I’m Tom.
In this sentence, が emphasizes “私”. This sentence is often used to answer a question: “Who is Tom?”
So you will answer him: I’m Tom. (It’s not everyone else, It’s me!)
So it will be weird to drop the 私が. 

Usually, は is way more often used. 
But if you do want to emphasize the subject, feel free to use が, it’s correct too!

Examples:

わたし学生がくせいです。
I’m a student.

なかさんは学生がくせいではありません。
Mr.Tanaka is not a student.

かれ中村なかむらさんです。
He is Mr.Nakamura.
 
ちち先生せんせいです。
My father is a teacher.

ちち先生せんせいではありません。
My father is not a teacher.
 
やまさんがしゅです。
Mr.Yamada is a singer.

 Note: さん is added to the end of other people’s names to address them more politely, you can’t use it on your own name.

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10 thoughts on “Lesson 2: NはNです

  1. I am a little confused as to why the profession changes from topic to subject. In example 4: chichi wa sensei; but in example 6: yamada-san ga kashiyu. Why is yamada-san the subject of the sentence but chichi is not? Sorry if my question isn’t very clear; basically I am trying to find the difference between these two sentences.
    If yamada-san was a teacher, would it be, “yamada-san wa sensei”? Why is chichi (father) the topic of example 4 but yamada-san is the subject of example 6?
    If chichi was a singer, would it be “chichi wa kashiyu” or would it be “chichi ga kashiyu”?

    The concept of wa and ga is otherwise pretty clear thanks to this lesson, thanks for your help

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    1. I think it is related to the topic of conversation the speakers have… You see when what is magnified is what’s after the particle it is because the content of the conversation is that specific thing which in this case Example 4 … But when speaking in general about something specific then what’s before the particle gets magnified which in this case Example 6 …
      I don’t know if this will help ,but when you ask ” Where is the pen ? ” here you are asking about something specific – topic – so when answering I say ” The Pen is on the table or in the Drawer ” ( Pen wa ______ )
      But when I ask ” What is on the table / in the drawer ? ” here I am asking about something general – subject – as many things can be on that table so I answer using ( ga ___ )
      I am not sure of that 100% but I think it might help in some way .. If I am wrong I am sorry ..

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    2. From what I understand it’s just showing the different uses for the particles. The overall focus of the sentences are different because of the particle used. In the first sentence, は puts the focus on the 先生 whereas が puts the focus on 山田さん.

      父は先生です
      My dad is a TEACHER.

      山田さんが歌手です
      MR. YAMADA is a singer.

      If they were flipped, I think it would be like this:

      父が先生です
      MY DAD is a teacher.

      山田さんは歌手です
      Mr. Yamada is a SINGER.

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  2. 練習のために文章を作りったよwwww 【あたしは退屈った】

    姫ず奈:月は素敵だよ。
    秋桜:そうだね、月は綺麗ですね。【は】

    菊:詩野本 姫ず奈さんは誰ですのか?先生が詩野本さんを呼びしましたよ。
    姫ず奈:本田 先輩、私が姫ず奈ですよ【が】

    P.s.あたしの日本語はあまり上手ですね、ごめんね

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  3. If someone asked “Who is Tom?”, would it be possible to answer “私がです” dropping the “トム”?

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    1. Admin bar avatar

      just say 私です

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  4. これは誰のペンですか?

    A. それは私のです。
    B. それが私のです。
    C. 私のです。
    D. 私です。

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    1. Admin bar avatar

      D is wrong.

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    2. Thank you. Before this, I’d only use A and C, but I didn’t know B is also correct. Knowing whether to use は or が is still difficult for me.

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    3. Admin bar avatar

      You will learn this in Particle Course, no worries!

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