Grammar Info

N5 Lesson 1: 3/12

As for... (Highlights sentence topic)

は can be also used to contrast several things

Structure

Sentence topic + , Pronounced "わ"

Details

  • Part of Speech

    Particle

  • Word Type

    Linking Particle

  • Register

    Standard

  • 品詞

    助詞

  • 単語の種類

    係助詞

  • 使用域

    一般

About は

(pronounced わ) is often considered to be one of the most difficult particles to master in Japanese, alongside . marks the topic of the sentence, and describes the whole sentence broadly. However, primarily marks single actions or statements. We will explore this distinction in more detail when covering .

In many sentences (especially short ones), either or would be considered perfectly natural.

In the first sentence, broadly describes what the sentence is about. In the second sentence, again describes the whole sentence, but highlights one specific piece of information.

Caution

cannot be used to describe things that you are seeing or experiencing 'in the moment' (right now). This is due to 'in the moment' events being considered part of a larger experience (your whole day for example).

  • (いま)テスト。
    I have a test now. (Slightly unnatural, as the test is happening 'right now')
  • 今日(きょう)(あめ)
    It will rain today. (Natural, as rain is a fairly broad event)

Caution

has 2 main functions. The first marks the topic of the sentence, the second is used for contrast or making comparisons. Although there are no 'strict' rules for this, when is used toward (or after) the middle of a sentence, it will usually have the nuance of contrast.

  • (わたし)金曜日(きんようび)()き。
    I like Fridays. (Focus is on Friday)
  • (わたし)金曜日(きんようび)()き。
    I like Fridays. (Focus is on the comparison to other days)

In the second sentence, will give the listener the impression that there is a comparison being made.

Examples

--:--

  • (わたし)トムです

    I (as the topic of this sentence) am Tom.

    • あなたジムです

      You (as the topic of this sentence) are Jim.

      • トム先生(せんせい)です

        Tom (as the topic of this sentence) is a teacher.

        • カレンダー必要(ひつよう)です

          A calendar (as the topic of this sentence) is necessary.

          • (わたし)(いそが)しいです

            I (as the topic of this sentence) am busy.

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            は – Grammar Discussion

            Most Recent Replies (13 in total)

            • Savannah

              Savannah

              Yes, I also would like to know what this mea...

            • FredKore

              FredKore

              This makes sense if you translate は as “As for [the topic of]…”.

              When you’re talking with your friend about puppies:
              子犬かわいいね。-- “puppies are cute”, talking about puppies in general, as a topic
              子犬かわいいね。-- “those puppies are cute”, talking about a specific puppy, or focusing on puppies out of all animals

              When you’re standing in front of a pet store talking about puppies in...

            • jacobalbano

              jacobalbano

              Hi all, been a it’s been a while since I posted. I’m a very satisfied (former) customer and I help moderate a Japanese-learning discord community, where I recommend Bunpro to pretty much everyone I meet. However, the other day one member (who had picked up Bunpro at my suggestion) posted about this blurb on the は grammar point page, which has apparently been added since my sub ended last year:

            Got questions about は? Join us to discuss, ask, and learn together!

            Join the Discussion