Particles WA & GA
Just like English, Japanese also has particles, except they often have uses that can't be translated into English. If you don't know what a particle is, they are the words that connect other words together to form a sentence ie; 'the, and, to'.
Since Japanese particles are very different from English, you shouldn't expect to understand them fully just by reading this one lesson. As you get used to making sentences in Japanese you will understand the particles a lot more.
It can be used in many different types of sentences. The best way to understand particles in Japanese are by viewing different sentence structures. In written Japanese Wa is always written with the hiragana for ha (は), but it is always pronounced WA. There is no English translation to the particle wa. Generally it is used to,
● Indicate the topic of a sentence
● Talk about something
● Emphasizes what you are talking about
Becareful, Some Japanese learning text books teach that WA means is or =. Now this may appear to be correct for most of the sentences you will see as your starting learning Japanese. Examples are,
I am Kenta = watashi wa kenta desu (私はけんたです)
I am not a girl = boku wa josei ja nai (僕は女性じゃない)
However what learning sites fail inform you is that WA is not really translated as anything in these sentences. WA is only connecting two words together that are related. The reason there is a large confusion is because in English we use the word am after the pronoun to connect words. It's important not to try to associate a Japanese sentence structure with English ones.
If you start to accociate the meaning of WA with the English word am, You will get confused once you start learning more advanced sentences. Here is a example of a sentence with WA that do not state something is equal to something.
Thank you for today = kyou wa arigatou (今日はありがとう)
Today I work = kyou wa shigoto desu (今日は仕事です)
Japanese sentences can also mean completely different things based on the context of the situation they are used in. Most sentences are actually very vague, but understood when you are in the situation.
Watashi wa pan da (私はパンだ)
The sentence above can mean different things depending on the situation. With no context you might translate this as I am bread. One situation you can use this sentence is in a restaurant. If this is said in a restaurant it can then be translated as My order will be bread based on the context.
Another situation you can think of is a group of guys looking at a magazine full of pretty girls. One guy points to a girl and says boku wa kanojo da (僕は彼女だ). In this situation it implies that he likes her.
GA is another particle used in Japanese. This particle also has different uses depending on the sentence it is in. One of its uses is similar to WA but there are some differences. GA is used to,
● Emphasize what your speaking about
● Change the important part of sentence
GA is also used in other grammatical ways but you will learn about these in another lesson. One good way to understand GA is to see different examples of how it can be used in sentences.
If someone wanted to introduce themselve in Japanese chances are they would use the particle WA.
I am john = boku wa jon desu (僕はジョンです)
If someone else asks you who is john, You would reply using the particle GA. The reason the sentences changes is because we need to know who is John. Ga puts emphasis on I/boku showing that it is I, that is john and not someone else.
I am John = boku ga jon desu (僕がジョンです)
Which particle you use depends on what you are trying to say, or what question has been asked to you. Here is another example using questions and answers to help you understand how to know which part you wish to emphasize.
What do you think of Ken?
ken wa kawaii desu (けんはかわいいです)
Which person do you think is cute?
ken ga kawaii desu (けんがかわいいです)