が in "日本語がはなせます。"

I was practicing on duolingo when i came across the sentence “日本語がはなせます。”
why don’t we use は here? I know that が is used to identify the unknown. And it does make sense that we use が when we answer the question “what language can you speak?”, but that is just my guess and I would like a more proper explanation.
Also can you explain what function does ます hold or is ます is part of the word はなせます.

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If I remember correctly が is used with potential verbs :slight_smile:
サッカーができます - I can play soccer
宿題ができますか? - Can you do the homework?
I would wait for confirmation for this though :sweat_smile: I can’t help too much wit this part of the question

I can answer the ます question though \o/
ます is a way to make verbs polite. Similar to です for nouns :slight_smile:
How to form:
Ru-verbs/Ichidan:
Remove the る and add ます
食べる - 食べます

For U-verbs/Godan verbs:
Change the last sound to the “i” sound (Like す to し、つ to ち, etc.) and add ます
話す - 話します
帰る - 帰ります

Past tense of ます - ました
Negative ます - ません
Past tense negative ます - ませんでした

It is also in potential form (Can, can do, etc.)
How to form potential:
Ru-verbs/Ichidan verbs:
Remove る and られる
食べる - 食べられる

U-verbs/Godan verbs:
Change the う to え and add る
話す - 話せる
待つ - 待てる

話せます is a combination of polite form and potential :slight_smile:
Hope that helps!

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You could use は. It wouldn’t be ungrammatical. But on its own, it would probably be interpreted as the contrastive は, if there was no other context. Meaning that with that one sentence, you are not just saying you can speak Japanese, but you are implying that there are other languages you can’t speak. So, for a random, context-free example sentence, I can see why they would choose the plain が.

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Aye, the topic here is an omitted 私. The full sentence is 私は日本語が話せます.

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with the potential form of verbs, the subject becomes the thing that is possible. In this case ‘ga’ is the subject marker.

‘watashi wa nihongo wo hanasu’ means ‘I speak Japanese’
watashi wa nihongo ga hanaseru’ means ‘Japanese can be spoken by me’

(sorry, don’t have IME installed on this laptop. I might fix it later)

I’m not sure about 私… Actually I think only “context” will say who is the topic here.
Could be that we’re talking about “彼”, “彼女” or basically anyone… that with due context we’ll know for sure.

So you’ll have は to express that the topic is different from what you might infer from context… so は gives contrast if you could be assuming the contrary from context alone, or give a totally new subject if deraling from the topic it has been previously written or talked about it.

So basically は will be used if needed… otherwise context is king.
Then が will state a fact and do no more… as it does in the OP posted line.

I think that single sentences alone are a really bad way to learn differences between が and は for that reason. You might miss the whole context, which is key to understand what they do. :man_shrugging:

True, but it tends to be 私 in this sort of sentence. Either way, the main point I was making was that the topic has been omitted, whatever the topic happens to be. It’s a ~は~が~ sentence form with the ~は omitted.

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@ThomasNewsman
If you can cope with the unusual format I would recommend go over this 2 videos before touching any other sentence (thats how much I think it can screw your view of japanese going any further without a better explanation :nerd_face: )

CureDolly zero pronoun and ga / ha differences videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SqgXPBJfOI&t=13s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N49NWfg-rAY&t=31s

If you’re following a textbook I’ll recommend checking every now and then the same channel for views upon what you are reviewing in other apps or material :wink:

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This is a good explanation as well.

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