Forum Rocket Japanese Japanese Grammar Question about this statement -- using chopsticks

Question about this statement -- using chopsticks

J742129

In Lesson 1.8, one of the Write It Section questions is this: Can you use chopsticks? which in romaji is: O hashi wa tsukae masu ka? In Lesson 1.9, the student is introduced to the idea of -ga <verb> stem + "e" + masu. If I were to follow the rules of Lesson 1.9, I would think the romaji: O hashi wa tsukae masu ka? is incorrect. I would use O hashi ga tsukae masu ka? Can someone please clairify this? I'm confused. Thanks!

risa-rocket-japanese-tutor

Hi Fredさん、 Sorry for the lateness in my reply. In this example we can use both the particles “は" and “が。” The general rule is that you use the particle "が” to express ability. E.g. Ability to speak another language, ability to read Kanji etc. ~語がはなせます(か)。 漢字が読めます(か)。 But in this example with chopsticks you can use both. You would use "が” if you just want to ask someone about their ability to use chopsticks- the emphasis being the ability to use chopsticks. However, if you use "は” the emphasis would be on 'chopsticks.' Maybe the person had just replied that they cannot use forks or steak knives so you would like to know if they can use chopsticks. おはしは つかえますか? (Then) Can you use chopsticks?

J742129

Thank you for the clairification!

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