koto ha and koto ga

548409 January 23, 2015, 4:11 pm
I was wondering about the different particles used when using 'koto' to express having done/experienced something. Most of the time the particle ga is used "koto ga arimasu" and this is the particle I naturally use. However, often when they are using a negative form of a verb ha is used instead, although I can see there are also examples where ha is used even when it is a positive form of the verb. (such as ことはできますか?)

Is there some way to know which will be used? Or is this a very difficult thing that you just need to learn the correct feel for which particle to use?

Thanks for any insight!
koto ha and koto ga
keiko-rocket-japanese-tutor January 27, 2015, 9:05 am
Hi ジャグ –,

When wa is used, it suggests a tone that there is another case being compared/contrast against. For eg. The difference between ピアノはひけます。and ぴあのがひけます。They both mean "I can play the piano." but...

When you use ga, you are simply saying "I can play the piano", a statement. When you use wa, there is a hidden comparison/contrast to the tone of the sentence. It could be in comparison/contrast to not being able to play something/anything else and so you want to emphasise THE PIANO is what you can play. The point being contrasted may or may not stated, but with this usage of wa, the contrast is implied. You could say wa emphasises the subject which in this case is the piano...Read More
Hi ジャグ –,

When wa is used, it suggests a tone that there is another case being compared/contrast against. For eg. The difference between ピアノはひけます。and ぴあのがひけます。They both mean "I can play the piano." but...

When you use ga, you are simply saying "I can play the piano", a statement. When you use wa, there is a hidden comparison/contrast to the tone of the sentence. It could be in comparison/contrast to not being able to play something/anything else and so you want to emphasise THE PIANO is what you can play. The point being contrasted may or may not stated, but with this usage of wa, the contrast is implied. You could say wa emphasises the subject which in this case is the piano. Makes the sentence more particular of the subject being talked about.

So if you say
Nihon ni ittakotoga arimasu
日本に いったことが あります。

Nihon ni ittakotowa arimasu
日本に いったことは あります。

Both translates to English as "been to Japan" but when wa is used, you are being more particular. Slightly close to putting a "but" in front of the whole sentence: (but) Japan I have been to.

I hope this helps you understand.
koto ha and koto ga

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