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Topic marker particle は

Particles are very important in Japanese since they indicate the relations of words within a sentence! Today we’re gonna learn one of the three most basic particles! Which is particle は, を and が.

Quick links to the other two particles lessons: Particle を | Particle が

Particle は

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This is one of the most important things in Japanese.
This particles marks a topic of sentence. Topic is something that is not exist in English, but easy to grasp. Basically, it let us know what is the sentence is all about!

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>> The sentence is talking about orange!!

Unlike English, Japanese structure is similar to lego block~ As long as word / group of word / sentence is properly marked with particle, it can then be juggled. So “BLABLABLAH, Orange は” Is also correct and have the same meaning.

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>> And yes, topic can be something that is more complex, like a situation, or something that require additional explanation. In this one, the sentence is talking about the task that is being given on that day to the speaker/hearer.

Basically what is written before は is the topic/what the sentence is all about!

  Important  when used as particle, this little guy is not read as ‘ha’ but instead it’s ‘wa’ !!

And now to answer everybody’s questions…

“How do I differentiate which は is particle and which is normal ‘ha’?

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It seems confusing at first, and you might not believe it, but it’s actually quite easy.
After reading some sentences, your brain will immediately pick up the pattern to differentiate which one is a particle and which is not.

The normal ‘ha’ is usually a part of words (vocabulary/nouns/adjective/etc).
So when you know the words after looking at dictionary, you will have no problem differentiate it.

Here’s some example: わたしははるかです。
You know watashi is a word meaning I. After that comes haharukadesu. Haruka might be a name, therefore your brain pick up the first ‘ha’ as particle. And then it’s easily read as ‘watashi wa Haruka desu’. Literally means “About me, it’s Haruka” and translated as ‘I am Haruka’.

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CHARACTERISTIC OF A TOPIC

Some rules about topic. It’s actually quite logical !
Without this characteristic below, you cannot use は to mark it as a topic:

– Topic can be a proper noun / a generic noun / a name
– Topic must be something a speaker & hearer can see / hear / touch / smell / taste / or understand about
– Topic can be something that have been mentioned / introduced previously (therefore the speaker & hearer understand about)
– You cannot mark questions words such as (what/why/when/etc) with は. Simply because a questions word cannot be a topic!

When introducing something that is not within the above characteristic, we can use が ‘ga’.

  Related  
• Learn about questions words *coming very soon*
• Learn about particle が ’ga’ *coming very soon*

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Move on to next particle!

Quick links to the other two particles lessons: Particle は | Particle が

 


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