Are These Sentences the Same? を versus は

“Please don’t put your luggage here”
1 ここに荷物を置かないでください。
2 荷物はここに置かないでください。

So, the difference between the two sentences is the location of 荷物. The first sentence is identified with the particle を (direct object) while the second sentence is identified with the particle は (topic). I feel like these sentences are the same in terms of idea. Or is there some sort of difference between the two?


The basic meaning is the same: Don’t put your luggage here.

The emphasis is different. First is more like:
This is not a place where luggage is put down. Other things happen here, but not that.
Second more like:
About your luggage, don’t set it down here. We have another place where you can leave it.

Hard to explain the nuances, but this is kind of the feeling I get from it.

A note: The only difference is not the position, but the particle assigned to 荷物. Even with を you can move it to the front, and it wouldn’t be wrong grammatically.



So it’s really in the context. ありがとうございます


Context is always important in Japanese, but in this question, the difference is the particles.


I hear ya. Not yet fully confident with the particles especially these two instances.

  • The difference between に and で. I’ve heard that you can think of に as an “arrow”.
  • は and が. I don’t know if I’m correct but here’s kinda an interpretation I got based from studying grammar:

I imagine when I am talking with someone, there’s a bubble that surrounds us. I use が if the thing we’re talking about is “outside the bubble” (something like third person) while I use は if something is “near the bubble” (first or second person)

Not sure I really follow that explanation, but the most basic uses of が and は are for introducing new information and identifying what both parties are aware of, respectively.

“Topic marker” is a label applied to は, but it’s basically a way of tagging something with “we both know about this already.”

When が is used, it’s signifying, “I’m bringing this into the discussion.”

It gets even more complicated because both が and は have more roles than just those… so you can have sentences with 2 が’s and no は’s, or the opposite. But one step at a time, I guess.

BTW, the reason you can say 私は when introducing yourself to a room full of people you don’t know is because presumably you’re already standing there and visible to them. They are aware of your presence, and so are you (obviously), so you’re already in the “we both know about this” category in a general sense, even if they don’t know any of the details about you yet.


That’s the thing with these particles. There are so many functions. I was trying to find a way to generalize (hehe). Based from your explanation, I guess the bubble I was talking about is the “information the involved parties know”. But I believe it gets more complicated, like you said: one step at a time.

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