Lesson 18. The Main Difference Between Wa vs Ga Particles in Japanese
は (wa) and が (ga) are probably the most frequently used particles in Japanese. At the same time, these two are confusing since there are no English equivalents. Both of them mean the same thing but actually they cannot be used interchangeably in every situation. Let’s take a look at what is the main difference between them!
Topic Marker vs Subject Marker
Wa is best translated to emphasize on the predicate, while ga is to emphasize on the subject of the sentence. Examples:
When someone asks you, “Who are you?”, the appropriate answer will be:
Watashi wa yuki desu.
I am Yuki.
Explanation: in this sentence, wa is used to deliver a fact that my name is Yuki.
Who is Yuki?
Watashi ga yuki desu.
I am (the one who is) Yuki.
Explanation: in this case, ga emphasis on who is the subject. For a better understanding, you can imagine that someone is asking which one is Yuki in the crowd.
Let’s take a look at another one:
What did Yuki eat?
Yuki wa chikin o tabeta.
Yuki ate chicken.
Explanation: in this case, wa makes the sentence highlight on chicken is the food that Yuki ate.
Who ate the chicken?
Yuki ga tabeta.
Yuki (is the one who) ate it.
Explanation: ga emphasized on no one else, but only Yuki ate the chicken.
In a brief, next time if you want to answer:
“What did subject do?”, use は (wa), while
“Who is the subject?”, use が (ga) instead.
For your information, there are other usages of both particles. However, understanding this will make you easier to understand others. Read: The Complete Guide of Japanese Numbers (Up to 10^68)
*は is pronounced as wa when used as a particle.
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