本は読む? Does this make sense?

I was going through the を particle and this example sentence came up: 本を読む
That makes sense but then I wondered what would happen if you had は instead of を

The best I came up with for 本は読む is “as for this book, I read it”, but that translation seems clunky.

Any help would be appreciated !!

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Wouldn’t it mean: “The book is reading” because は shows the subject?
For “as for this book, I am (the one) reading it” it would be more like: 本を読むのは私です

could be wrong tho

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Oh yeah I completely forgot about は showing subject. “The book is reading” makes a lot more sense (though the thought of a book reading sounds pretty bizzare :joy:)

The whole subject vs topic thing has been confusing

There’s nothing ungrammatical about what you wrote, although it does carry different nuance.
You would use は here if you’re comparing the fact that you read books (or a particular book) to something you don’t read, either other particular books, or another readable thing in general, such as news articles.
What you wrote in particular (本は読む) would be something like “As for books, I read them” (not “as for this book, I read it”). If you wanted to specify a specific book you could add この, for この本。

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は is the Topic marker, not the subject marker.

本は読む could be translated as: «As for the book, I’m reading it». The book is the Topic and I is the subjekt.

It does sound more natural with を!

(私は)本を読む - (As for me) I’m reading the book.

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No, it wouldn’t (of course ignoring the fact that the equivalent to saying ‘is reading’ would be 読んでいる not 読む). That is not what anyone saying or writing that sentence would possibly mean. By this logic, the sentence:

今日は読む

must mean ‘Today reads’ which is just illogical. I can even say:

今日は本を読む

Which again does not mean ‘today reads a book’. It would be something along the line of ‘As for today, I will read a book’ with the nuance that maybe I don’t read a book every day or I didn’t read one yesterday but I will today.

Also, は introduces a topic it does not ‘show the subject’ (not sure what that means honestly).

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According to “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar”, the constellation "Xは"marks a contrastive elements, when it is stressed.
For example:
ビールは飲む => “I dont drink other drinks but I drink beer.”

So, I would agree with @Lostick

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Also, if you really did want to say “the book is reading” it would be:

本が読んでいる

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This is incorrect. -ing form would be ている. The dictionary form means either you do something as a matter of course (e.g. I read books, I don’t eat sushi) or something you will do in the future (e.g. I will read a book, I won’t eat sushi).

As @Lostick said, the sentence would be talking about books in general, not a specific book.

This is why は is translated as “as for x” instead of “to be” because it gives the context for what is being talked about, but not necessarily describing the state of the object.

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読む turns to 読んで not 読んて.

I was mentioning the specific grammar point, not the conjugation. Yes, in this case it’s 読んでいる.

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I know this is already solved, but I thought this video had a fantastic explanation of the は particle. It builds on concepts introduced in lesson 1 but if you already know some Japanese grammar I think you’ll be okay.

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thanks for posting this, it’s the correct answer. the way most grammar books explain は/が/を is quite destructive for peoples understanding imo. curedolly’s way of explaining the ‘core sentence’ as always being subjectがverb no matter what makes this so much easier to understand.

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seconding what @cehrlich said that video really helped to clear up the は confusion I’ve been having and has made the other answers make even more sense to me now.

I think I might start watching more cure dolly vids from now :smile:

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Good to hear things make more sense now.

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Conjugation :slight_smile:

Just to make sure there is no confusion.

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I blame autocorrect.

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Don’t we all

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What the duck do you mean buy that? Are you tying to say we all don take responsibility’s four out spellings?

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