Forum Rocket Japanese Japanese Grammar “There Is” and I “Have”

“There Is” and I “Have”

GregV84

GregV84

In lessons 2.9, it is written :

"To say “there is” something, we use います or あります with the particle が . "

But in lessons 2.4, Kenny uses は instead of が with います :

"英語を話せる人はいますか?"

Why that ?

EarleyGrave

EarleyGrave

That's a good question, hmm. Maybe it's because が generally identifies concrete nouns, and “a person who can speak English” is rather a vague entity and could be anyone… or no one? I'm interested to know the answer too. ;)

It feels like using GA could make the sentence sound like “Does a person who can speak English exist?”, which would be awkward, but WA makes it “As for a person who can speak English, do you have (one)?” That's just my thought at this point.

Emma-Rocket-Japanese-Tutor

Emma-Rocket-Japanese-Tutor

こんにちは (Konnichiwa) GregV84 and EarleyGrave,

Good question!
Just as you say, normally we would use います (imasu) or あります (arimasu) with が  (ga); however, it is also correct to use は (wa).

The particle は (wa) is usually used with nouns and adjectives, but we can also use it with verbs when we want to show contrast.
By using は (wa) here instead of が (ga), we can contrast people that speak English, to people that don't. Basically, what it's really saying is this:

"Is there a person that speaks English (and not a person that speaks Japanese)."

A good example of when you might use は (wa) here instead of が (ga) would be if you're in Japan, where everyone speaks Japanese and were looking for an English speaker specifically. 

We have recently updated our Language and Culture lessons and have a new lesson on how you can use は (wa) to show contrast. You can check it out here, under the section "using は (wa) to contrast."
https://members.rocketlanguages.com/members/japanese/lessons/5045/2-7-Joining-Words

I hope this helped! Please let me know if you have any other questions.
べんきょう を がんばって ください! (Benkyō o ganbatte kudasai!)
EarleyGrave

EarleyGrave

Thanks Emma!

GregV84

GregV84

どうもありがとうエマ先生! :) 

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