Lesson Notes

April 2009



Kare to Kanojo wa tomodachi desu.

Kanojo no kazoku wa Doitsu-go to Ei-go to Nihon-go o hanashi-masu.

Kanojo no imouto wa musume to musuko ga imasu.

Aka to kiiro no hana ga arimasu.

Watashi to watashi no ane wa suiei to dansu o shimasu.




彼 と 彼女 は 友達 です。

彼女 の 家族 は ドイツ語 と 英語 と 日本語 を 話します。

彼女 の 妹 は 娘 と 息子 が います。

赤 と 黄色 の 花 が あります。

私 と 私 の 姉 は 水泳 と ダンス を します。




He and she are friends.

Her family speaks German, English, and Japanese.

My (younger) sister has a daughter and a son.

There are red and yellow flowers.

My sister and I swim and dance.


As you see already, "and" is "と(to)" in Japanese. Unlike in English, you put "と" between every single words.

れいぶん (example sentence)

あか と きいろ と みどり と あお と しろい えのぐ が あります。

Aka to kiiro to midori to ao to shiroi enogu ga arimasu.

There are red, yellow, green, blue and white paints.


However there are a lot more complicated things in this lesson.

First of all, let's see a difference between [いる] and [ある].


Japanese also has two verbs corresponding to English "to be": aru and iru. They are not copulae but existential verbs. Aru is used for inanimate objects, including plants, while iru is used for people and animals, though there are exceptions to this generalization.



Secondly, I want to introduce Particle [が(ga)].

Particle [は(wa)] and Particle [が(ga)] can confuse you. I don't know the best way to explain them. You will make a lot of mistakes on this issue when you try to write in Japanese, but don't worry. You will get them eventually.

Here is the explanation from Wikipedia.


The difference between は and が is a matter of focus: は gives focus to the action of the sentence, i.e., to the verb or adjective, whereas が gives focus to the subject of the action. However, a more useful description must proceed by enumerating uses of these particles.

However, when first being introduced to the subject and topic markers は and が most are told that the difference between the two is simpler. The topic marker, は, is used to declare or to make a statement. The subject marker, が, is used for new information, or asking for new information.

[Thematic は]

The use of は to introduce a new theme of discourse is directly linked to the notion of grammatical theme.


JON wa gakusei de aru

(On the topic of John), John is a student.

[Contrastive は]

Related to the role of は in introducing themes is its use in contrasting the current topic and its aspects from other possible topics and their aspects. The suggestive pattern is "X, but..." or "as for X, ...".


ame wa futte imasu ga...

It is raining, but...

[Exhaustive が]

Unlike は, the subject particle が nominates its referent as the sole satisfier of the predicate. This distinction is famously illustrated by the following pair of sentences.


JON wa gakusei desu

John is a student. (There may be other students among the people we're talking about.)


JON ga gakusei desu

(Of all the people we are talking about) it is John who is the student.

[Objective が]

For stative transitive verbs, が is typically used to mark the object.


JON wa FURANSU-go ga dekiru

John knows French.


I have more to explain, but I have to go now. I will back later.


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