Hey, everyone. New to posting here. I have been studying the N5 grammar and would like to use this page as a resource gatherer of sorts. SO I’ll post each new lesson of N5 Grammar that I learn here. I invite others to do the same, and hopefully we’ll have a good set of resources the community can use. Here’s the first.
Rules: Use to mark the subject of sentence
Translation: No Direct Translations of which I am aware
Format : Japanese ~ Subject + は ~ Predicate
English ~ Subject ~ Predicate
私はタスです。～ I am Tas. Kanji: 私～わたし
かのじょはかわいいです。She is cute.
3)わたしはたべます。あなたは？I will eat. And you?
Feel free to construct your own sentences below for practice and other examples. Next Grammar point to follow soon. . .
Distinction is the topic is what the sentence is about, while the subject is the doer of the verb. Often the topic is the subject, in which case は replaces が, but the topic can also be any other word in the sentence. For example:
In Japan, people often eat rice.
Here, “In Japan” is the topic - “speaking of Japan, yada yada”. “People” is the subject - they are what is eathing the rice (which, incidentally, is the direct object, marked by を).
EDIT: Though, a bit more accurately than “doer of the verb,” would be… the subject is the part of the sentence that is grammatically tied to the predicate. Because the subject can have things done to them, and predicates don’t have to be verbs.
The topic need not be tied to the predicate. Though it can be.
But I guess once you have to start using grammar jargon, things start to get harder to grasp.
God this turned out longer than I intended…
The subject comes before the subject particle (as is how particles work in Japanese). And as discussed, the subject may be determined by が, or by は if the “subject” and “topic” happen to be the same (and stated, which isn’t always the case in Japanese). The predicate is the stuff after that particle which is still tied/associated with that subject. That last condition more comes into play in complex/compound sentences, not simple ones like these.
Example. “At night, John told his son a story”. Night will serve as the topic, giving us the nuance “as for nights… this is what happened”. John is the subject. Everything else is the predicate. His son is the indirect object (not being directly acted upon). The story is the direct object (it is being read). Reading is the verb. They’re all in the predicate. They’re all tied to John and what he did.
Though it may not be best to try to translate these ideas into western grammar jargon, especially if the jargon is not easily understood itself. But hey, to each their own. Knowledge is nice to have.
I just read this article which explained the difference between は (topic) and が (subject) pretty well.
for me it clicked with this explanation, but it will take time for me to internalize the concept. i also really liked the ending remarks about the culture and english being a language of doing and owning things and japanese being a language of happening and existing.
Well, every comment promotes deeper understanding. I am teaching English Grammar to Japanese students, so a better understanding of Japanese is critical for understanding how to get similar grammatical concepts across to students in English. Keep the advice coming!
What to call です varies, but just for clarity, it is not in the same category of words as things like ある or たべる, which are 動詞 (どうし verbs). In Japanese it is called a 助動詞 (じょどうし auxiliary verb) and usually it is described as a copula in English explanations. It just so happens that the copula in English is a fully fledged verb.
Don’t wanna be the guy who goes “well akshully” after every one of your posts, but…
です is the copula. In English, the copula is “is”, which happens to be a verb, but です in Japanese is not a verb (though some of its more formal or archaic equivalents are, confusingly - like である or でござる).
I haven’t heard copula for a while, but I see your point. However it is best to find a more accessible way of describing it for my students, so I think referring to it as a verb is best for them, despite its true nature. It makes lessons involving the concepts more accessible for them. I have found more success this way.
They don’t need to it be explained to them, but I need to understand it better to be able to create bilingual powerpoints for the grammar lessons. It often helps if I work with the students to find grammar parallels.
Oh, and since you used this example, in this sentence です is not a copula and it is not a verb. It is just a politeness indicator. It can’t be conjugated to でした here, for instance. The sentence is grammatically complete as かのじょはかわいい, and then です just makes it polite. This is in contrast to the other sentences, like わたしはタスです, where it functions as a copula.
I realize we might be going beyond N5 grammar. I’m not really sure since I forget where the boundaries are.