The Difference between は and が
Today I would like to explain about “The Difference between は and が”. Knowing the difference is so important, so please check it out!
If you have studied Japanese grammar I think you already know how to make the subject in Japanese. Yeah, of course it is “Noun + は” or “Noun + が”, but they do not have the same meaning. If you do not know the difference then you can get in trouble and not be understood.
“Noun + は”
“Noun + は” is used for general statements. For example, “I go to school.” This is a general sentence. So 「わたし は 学校に 行く。」 is natural.
“The earth is round.” This is also a well known fact (unless you’re a flat earther! lol). 「地球 は 丸い」 is natural. Furthermore, “She is an American”, “The TV show is so funny”, “He is tall”, and any sentence that states general or well known knowledge starting with “The …” in these cases, it is “Noun + は”.
“Noun + が”
On the contrary, when you want to make the subject stand out, it is “Noun + が”. For example, imagine that the situation, in the classroom of the elementary school, a teacher is mad at the student who broke the windows, and the teacher says to the students,”Who broke the windows?”. And one of the student raised his hand and says”I did.”
In this case, “Who broke the windows?” is 「誰 が 窓(まど)を割(わ)った?」、”I did.”is 「ぼく が やりました。」 Because the subject should be prominent, right? In other words, when you hear “Noun + が”, the speaker has some other candidates to compare to the subject. If you say “ポールが歌います。”, it means, The person who sings is not John, George, Ringo, but Paul! When you use “Noun + が”, you always have to have something to compare with.
I hope you understand the main differences between は and が. This is so important and if you don’t know, it is often strange and seemingly incomprehensible. But don’t worry, I think with my help it is understandable. I wrapped up the information below, that way it is easy to study on your flash cards and practice! Please check them out again!
- “Noun + は”・・・the subject is a fact, general knowledge
- “Noun + が”・・・the subject is prominent out or chosen, and has something to compare itself to.
You got it? Cool beans! Keep up the good work!
Taka, Aquarium manager