Grammar Info
N5 Lesson 2: 1/12

Subject marking particle, Identification particle

が emphasizes what comes before it, while は emphasizes what comes after it

Subject +
Part of Speech Particle
Word Type Case Marking Particle
Register Standard
品詞 助詞
単語の種類 格助詞
使用域 一般
is considered to be the subject marker in Japanese. This means that it marks someone or something that is performing an action, or it identifies someone or something as having a specific feature (this is usually a feature that the listener is not aware of).
  • 父(ちち)働(はたら)く。
    My father works.
  • 父(ちち)背(せ)高(たか)
    My father is tall.
In both of these sentences, puts focus on the person as being ‘the one’ who is performing an action/existing in some way (as opposed to any other person). Because of this, is usually said to highlight what comes before it, while highlights what comes after it.
  • コーヒー好(す)きです
    I like coffee. (I specifically like coffee)
  • テスト嫌(きら)いです
    I dislike tests. (In general, I don’t like tests)
always shows the ‘target’ of a statement, when other targets also exist. This is why is used to describe situations that are happening ‘in the moment’.
  • 近所(きんじょ)子供(こども)たち走(はし)る。
    The kids in the neighborhood run. (Not all the time, but sometimes)
Because the event in this sentence is only one short moment out of many possible ‘points in time’ that could be described, will be used.
is not usually used to describe something about yourself, unless you are intentionally describing yourself compared to other people. If you want to talk about yourself ‘in general terms’, will sound more natural (there are exceptions).
Slow Male
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The tea is cold.
[subject of the sentence marked by が]
What is good? | What would you like?
[subject marker・particle]
That is good. | That is what I would like.
[subject marker・particle]
Genki I 2nd Edition
Page 195
みんなの日本語 I
Page 146 [CH 23]
[DBJG] A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
Page 118
Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide
Page 36