は, が and context

So I’ve found some grammar practises online and am currently doing practises for the は and が particles. Questions go like this for example: それ__鞄です。The answers look for a specific answer and is either-or. However, to my knowledge, it would not be wrong to use either of these particles in the correct context because they mean different things. Am i correct?

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For this specific example, I believe your understanding is correct. There are cases where one may not be grammatically correct though.

I found this blog post to be really helpful for understanding the differences.

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Yeah that is a good article. I used it to figure out the those particle usages when I was first learning, along with some other sources

But the tl;dr for the OP or future readers that won’t read a full article is that が is for the subject of the sentence, while は is for the topic. The topic gives the context for sentence, and will fill in the blank spots of the sentence.

My favorite example is to compare these two sentences:

私はピっざです。

Translates to: I will have pizza

私がピっざです。

Translates to: I am pizza

Why are these different? Well, は is the topic of the sentence. The context. The literal translation would be "as for me, is pizza. " When ordering food, people will understand that the subject of the sentence is your oder, not the pizza. The topic indicates Whose order it is in this sentence. は can take any part of the sentence grammatically.

が is just the subject of the sentence. So it would act there as a beginner would think the sentence would read.

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While true, there is going to be a “best” answer or one most likely to fit the context of the grammar point and learning level. XはYです is about as basic a grammar pattern as they come.

それが靴です would be a lot more likely in the context of some question and answer, with emphasis on which item is a shoe. E.g. (in English):

“Is this a shoe?”

“No, that one [some other item] is a shoe.”

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Well, we don’t really have the full context for those example sentences, so 私はピザです。could just as well mean “I am pizza”, depending on the context. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also if someone asks 「ピザは誰ですか?」, 「私がピザです。」is a perfectly valid response translating to “I am the one who ordered pizza.”

So we do need the whole situation instead of just a translation.

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That seems incredibly unlikely though.

Wouldn’t you ask ピザは誰のですか?

Yes, this is true. I was trying to keep it simple as possible for the explanation, since the point was for a simple tl;dr. Effectively, 私がピザです, absent of context, could mean just about anything involving yourself and the pizza. But absent of any context, one would probably assume it is an order/request for pizza.

Also I’m annoyed that my IME completed that to ざ rather than ザ :man_facepalming:

What if we are all putting on food costumes and people ask what food you want to be! :eyes:

That sounds like you would own the pizza to me. Either way works but omitting it is fine. It is possible that it’s not grammatically correct but OK in casual speech. Someone else can confirm but this is my gut speaking mostly :stuck_out_tongue:

EDIT: Thinking about it I’m pretty sure you don’t need it, as it translates to “As for pizza, who?[is the one who ordered it]”

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But what if I’m Andrea Pizza? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Don’t forget that wacko parents cough Gweneth Paltrow cough have named their kids ridiculous things like Apple.

Or even imagine a cartoon or something with an anthropomorphized Eel who introduces itself with 私はウナギです。Or even just Sailor Moon whose name is ウサギ. You can’t just assume that if she as a character says “私はウサギです。” that’s she’s saying “I’ll have rabbit.”