The battle of wa vs ga

Hello, I’m looking for a resource with tons of examples and practice so I can finally understand why I’m using wa or ga, not just memoriziing when app quizzes will expect it… Is there a finite list of rules? Something not so heavy on grammar theory would be nice, as I’m not a grammitician, and I don’t know a direct object from an adverb


Well… you really should learn basic grammar terminology. Unless you plan to learn 99% via exposure, you’re going to need to know some grammar terms.

For example, I really like this blog post from 80/20 Japanese explaining wa vs ga, but it will be useless to you if you don’t know those basic terms.


I understand. Thanks.

I am using Michelle Thomas app along with wanikani and Bunpo and they really compliment each other. MT was particularly good for explaining the articles like ‘wa’ (when you are making it clear who/what the sentence is about) or ga, which is ‘but’. MT explains it by saying think of ‘wa’ as an underlining of that word. It comes up early on in the lessons too so you don’t have to download it all to get to that part. I think by hour two or three it was covered.
I hope the above is clear and. correct but I am very early stages myself.

Are you sure you aren’t mixing up usages of が? The “but” が is a conjunction particle that is different from the subject-marking が.

Conjunction が = いそがしいですが、あとでします。“I’m busy, but I’ll do it later”
Subject-marking が = おとこがほんをよみます。“A man reads a book.”

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Thank you. I hope to gain that understanding soon. I find the rules and explanations provided to me so far just totally arbitrary, and it’s almost like a guessing game. I’m just searching for a down to earth explanation.

It’s not just these particles too, it’s other occurences, such as when ni and wa are together right next to each other, which also frustrate me to no end.

Oh I see. Thanks. Haven’t go that far yet. Learning more already

This sounds like what you’re requesting.


There are five main differences, compiled in 1996 by a Japanese grammarian. Here’s my summary:

And a post in which I link to the Japanese article that first explained this to me:

I’m really sorry about the quality of the translation that I pasted into the first post. I didn’t feel like translating it myself because of the amount of time it would take, even though I probably should because some of it is really hard to read or falsely technical (i.e. there’s an attempt to translate Japanese technical terms while remaining technical, but the English terms probably don’t make much sense and probably aren’t even used in English linguistics). I hope, however, that the summary of the five points, at the very least, will be useful to you.

PS: I second what seanblue said – you need a bare minimum of grammatical knowledge to study Japanese. It’s not so much a matter of technical language being absolutely essential. It’s just that you’re not a native speaker and probably won’t be able to learn through tons of exposure and trial-and-error, so you’ll need to read explanations instead. If you want to be able to do that, then you’ll need to know words like ‘subject’, because no one is going to write an article in which they say ‘the person or thing doing an action’ over and over, especially because that doesn’t even cover all the cases, and it’s already so much longer than ‘subject’. Just get familiar with a few of the basic words as you come across them, and you’ll probably find that they’re not as bad as they seem.


Curedolly was recommended above, but here are the specific videos that cover the topic. They made a huge difference for me.


I think you should start a blog or a website and write up some of your posts. Then you could just link to it. :wink:

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How has no one posted the Tofugu article yet on the Tofugu Wanikani Forums? I think it’s pretty clear and concise.


i just read through the article, and wow, this seriously cleared up a bunch of questions i had! will totally recommend this to anyone stuck on the は and が particles.


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