The Japanese particle は
For me as a foreigner studying the Japanese language, particles are the most confusing part of a sentence structure. I will only explain what I’ve understood during the years that I’ve been studying the language and based on what my Japanese bosses and colleagues taught me about it.
So let’s begin with the easiest Japanese particle, は, read as ‘wa’. Don’t get confused with the correct pronunciation of は. If it is used as a particle in a sentence, the sound is ‘wa’. Otherwise, it is read as ‘ha’.
The particle は is the most common particle. It is known as the topic marker of a sentence. The Noun before は means it is the topic that the speaker wants to talk about.
The sentence structure for particle は is:
Where the Japanese Copulaです (desu) is the linking verb, meaning ‘to be’ or the Be-verbs ‘is, am, are, etc’. When added to the sentence, the sentence becomes the polite form. The plain form of です is だ. It is also the verb used to describe that A is equal to B.
In short, A is B.
これ (kore) is the subject in this sentence because of the particle は. これmeans ‘This’
です is added at the end of the sentence, meaning that これis equal to ペン (meaning Pen).
これ = ペン
This = Pen
If we translate the sentence above, it
will become ‘This pen is’.
Correct Translation is ‘This is Pen’.
わたし (Watashi) is the pronoun ‘I’ and it is the subject in this sentence
because of the particle は.
がくせい (gakusei) means ‘student’.
です is the copula verb ‘am’.
わたし = がくせい
I = Student
I am a student.
さん (san) is an honorific and the English equivalent is either Mr. or Ms.
(Mrs., Sir, Ma’am). In this sentence, we’ll translate it as Ms. So, アンナさん is Ms. Anna
and she is the subject in the sentence.
せんせい (sensei) means ‘Teacher’.
アンナさん = せんせい
Ms. Anna = Teacher
Ms. Anna is a teacher.
Can be shortened to ペンです if both the speaker and listener already understand what they are referring to.
これはペンです。 ＝ ペンです。
The same goes with わたしはがくせいです and アンナさんはせんせいです。
When the topic is omitted, it will become:
わたしはがくせいです。 ＝ がくせいです。
アンナさんはせんせいです。 ＝ せんせいです。
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