Introduction to modern Japanese - particle help

Hi all, I’m using the Introduction to Modern Japanese textbooks to self-teach grammar and there is no answer key… I was hoping someone could help provide correct answers to the attached? I need to decide whether the は or が particle goes in the brackets. I’ve done my answers but not sure how to check them - any help would be hugely appreciated

Also, does anyone know if an unofficial answer key does exist for this textbook?



I just did a quick Google search, but to no avail, that sounds rather counter intuitive to not have a way to check your work D:

But a Google search did reveal this

Which I suppose makes sense, and is fine if that’s what the book aims to acheive, but if they don’t make that explicitly clear in the blurb, that’s rather unfair on the learner and misrepresenting quite a bit D:

Hope you find what you’re looking for!


I’ll give it a try. Disclaimer: I’m just someone who reads too many grammar books.

I’m actually not sure about the first one but if I had to guess:
touzai ginko WA dochira desuka (touzai ginkou is assumed to be old information)
achira no biru GA touzai ginko desu. (unique answer to question, but I’m not sure)

marie-san no okuni WA igirisu desuka.
iie, watashi no kuni WA furansu desu.
(since it is speaking ONLY about marie’s homecountry and making no statement about other people’s homecountries)

dono kagi GA john-san no desuka. (“which key” is unknown)
kochira no GA watashi no desu. (a specific key is pointed out as the unique answer to the question)

meeting WA sanji-kara desuka. (the meeting is assumed to be known and the time of the meeting is confirmed)
iie, meeting WA sanjihan-kara desu.

dono kata GA akira-san no otosan desuka. (“which person” is unknown)
ano kata GA akira-san no otosan desu. (unique answer to question)

ano onna no kata WA kuniko san no okasama desuka. (which person is pointed out is shared knowledge, maybe because she is being pointed at, etc.)
iie, ano onna no kata WA kuniko san no okasama dewa arimasen. (again shared information and also not a unique answer)

dore GA akako-san no kasa desuka.
anokasa GA watashi no desu.
(again, question for unknown information and unique answer)

dochira GA tokyo-eki no chuoguchi desuka.
achira GA sou desu.

otemachi-eki no kitaguchi WA dochira desuka. (the existence of the northern exit is shared information)
kochira GA otemachi-eki no kitaguchi desu. (unique answer)


Thanks so much for this. I’ve also looked for an answer key but with no luck. I’m thinking that maybe I should switch to Genki or something with an answer key as I don’t want to be learning incorrect information (or forever posting to WK looking for answers!)

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Amazing! Thank you so much for this! :grinning:
And also for taking the time to put the explanations in - it’s a huge help, especially as the は or が particle is one point that I keep getting stuck on


Yes, wa/ga is notoriously difficult. I think even native speakers struggle with it in more complex scenarios (though it is very natural for them in most everyday’s ones, like “the” vs “a” vs nothing in english. Fun English example: “The cat is a sneaky animal.” (to mean the general statement “cats are sneaky animals”, rather than any specific cat)).

My favourite explanation of wa/ga is the one in the book “The structure of the Japanese language” by Kuno (the title is a bit misleading, it’s more of a collection of essays about various difficult points of Japanese). He goes into a lot of detail around the subtler uses of wa/ga. The book is written in a rather academic language, so it may be difficult to follow if you are not used to formal writing in English, but I found it to be very good at building up an intuition for the particles by comparison with English.


は and が can be a nightmare to tell which one should go where. You sort of just learn it through being corrected and using the situations to remember what should be used when.

Other uses of Ga can be like

In relative clauses, the secondary subject in a multiple clause sentence which has two different subjects, introducing new information that the listener isn’t expected to know etc… but there are loads of reasons why Ga is used over Ha and like mentioned before, even native speakers don’t know why Ga is used over Ha sometimes, they just know it as the way it is.

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Kinda thinking that every time you’ve said “unique answer to question”, you should be using は. “THAT building is the Tozai Bank” (not the others), “THAT umbrella is mine” (not the others), and so forth. Who says it should be が?

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The use of が here does seem to fit with the explanation chapter in the text book on は and が - although I’m not sure how interchangeable they are depending on context and what the speaker wants to emphasise. Can the exact same sentence be correct but just have a slightly different emphasis depending on if は or が is used? Or is one always “more correct” / natural sounding to Japanese speakers?

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は and が is something that drives people crazy but if you expose yourself to a lot of Japanese you can work out where which one fits. Yes, sometimes they can be used interchangeably depending on the emphasis. Generally people won’t pick up the mistake but using it incorrectly can cause some confusion about who/what you are talking about.

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I believe I have the same book as you have; is it the book by Richard Bowring?
If so, if you’re looking for more explanation on the particle は, somewhere around chapter 12 of the textbook (could be wrong, I’m afraid I lost it) there is a more in depth elaboration.

(forgive me if I’m wrong, it’s been a few years since I’ve looked last at that textbook)

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Thanks! I’ll have a look in the later chapters tomorrow. It seems like a good book so far and I like that it uses kanji early on, but it is quite frustrating to not have answers/explanations for these kinds of exercises

I don’t know the rules about using は or が, but if it’s worth anything, I answered all questions exactly the same way as you.


I think both are correct in these cases.
Using “wa” would carry an implication of “this (and maybe others) are …”.
Using “ga” clarifies “this and only this”.

In English this is often expressed by stressing the subject in a sentence.
“Which one is yours?” “THIS ONE is mine.”
But just like in English you might not use a stress in these examples, it seems plausible that Japanese speakers might use either.

I picked “ga” consistently, but to be honest, I do not want to make definite judgements which one is more natural in each specific case.


An important point I should may be stress, though it may be obvious to some: There is grammaticality and there is naturalness and often people (in particular native speakers, not just of Japanese, but of any language) confuse the two.

Grammaticality means the sentence complies with the basic rules of the language. You can judge grammaticality by the sentence alone. To a native speaker, sentences that are ungrammatical will feel deeply wrong and confusing, often to the point of being nonsensical. However sentences that ARE grammatical can still lack any sense of meaning and be completely absurd (Chomsky’s “colorless green ideas sleep furiously” comes to mind).

Naturalness on the other hand depends HIGHLY on context and also on things like pronunciation/stress patterns/etc.
Textbook answers are often perfectly grammatical but highly unnatural (frequently to the amusement of native speakers), often because they contain too much information:
“Who is the girl in the picture on the wall?” “The girl in the picture on the wall is Mary.” (A natural answer would be something like “Mary” or maybe “Oh, that’s Mary.” etc.)
But in a different context, an unnatural answer may suddenly become perfectly natural.
A: (Looks at picture) “Who is the girl in these pictures?”
B: “Well, the girl in the picture on the wall is Mary, but the girl in the picture on my desk is Sue.”
(Here the extra information is natural because it’s needed to make the contrast)

This point is really important when it comes to wa and ga. For example, consider the four sentences from the start of Kuno’s exposition:

(1) a. John wa gakusei desu.
b. John ga gakusei desu.

(2) a. Ame wa hutte imasu ga…
b. Ame ga hutte imasu.

In (1), it depends entirely on context which one is more natural and appropriate.
In (2), “ga” is used in the plain statement, but in a contrastive statement “wa” can become appropriate as a contrast marker.

When you want to judge naturalness (in your own native language or in another), you HAVE to imagine a scenario where people might say the sentence and you have to imagine them actually saying it in the appropriate stress pattern.

(In writing, you have to consider what might come before and what might come after it)

Similarly, always keep in mind that someone declaring something as wrong might not be considering in the context you were considering it.


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