Day Five: Ga

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Day Five: Ga

Don’t Get it Twisted

Ga/が and wa/は often get confused and mixed up, which is why we are bringing it up right away. That way, over the next 25 days (or however long you are going spend on the 30 day challenge) you can get used to the difference between the two. The fact is, the は Topic Marker and が the Subject Marker do two different, yet similar, jobs.


が (ga) indicates that the word before が is the subject of です. The subject is – the person or thing that does the action, is in the state, or instigates the feeling expressed in the predicate. The difference is found in the usage, i.e. where it is used in the sentence and when it is proper to use it. 


Here are some other minor differences: 

が (unlike は) can be used in ‘embedded sentences’. **an embedded sentence is similar to a non-restrictive clause in English** 

が can be used behind “WH” question words where は cannot. (“Who?” “What?” “When?” “Where?” “Why?” and “How?”) 

が can used in subjective clauses. Meaning that they can be used to re-address the topic from a previous sentence. But not to introduce a new topicは is used to introduce a new topic/subject


It’s important to note that some verbs and adjectives require が. Verbs and adjectives that express a non-volitional or uncontrollable state in Japanese require が in most cases. 


In it’s most simple state, が is used to mark what we are talking about when it isn’t being introduced for the first time. 



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Daily Vocabulary



The words that you use for you family as opposed to someone else’s family are different, just like in English. Would you call someone else’s father “Dad”? Not without getting some awkward laughs. So today’s vocabulary words are doubled up (sorry!) because you need to know what to call your family and what to call someone else’s family member. 


While the previous rules still apply , Japan has a very interesting cultural view of family. If I don’t know someone’s name I can address them by the familial term (not the one for your family of course). So if I don’t know a kind elder woman’s name, I can refer to her as “Obaasan” etc.


  1. *mother 
  2. mother 
  3. *father
  4. father 
  5. *little sister
  6. little sister 
  7. *little brother
  8. little brother 
  9. *older brother
  10. older brother
  11. *older sister
  12. older sister
  13. *grandma
  14. grandma 
  15. *grandpa
  16. grandpa 
  17. *grandchild
  18. grandchild 
  19. cousin
  20. *husband
  21. husband 
  22. *wife
  23. wife 
  24. family
  25. love 
  26. friend
  27. passport
  28. now
  29. marriage
  30. dating


* Only used for your family members/relations



  1. *hahaoya
  2. okaasan
  3. *chichi
  4. otousan 
  5. *imōto 
  6. imōtosan 
  7. *otōto 
  8. otōtosan 
  9. *ani
  10. oniisan
  11. *ane 
  12. oneesan 
  13. *obāchan
  14. obāsan 
  15. *ojiichan 
  16. ojiisan 
  17. mago
  18. omagosan 
  19. itoko 
  20. *otto
  21. otousan 
  22. *tsuma 
  23. okusan 
  24. kazoku
  25. ai  
  26. tomodachi  
  27. pasupo-to 
  28. ima
  29. kekkon
  30. sukiai 


* Only used for your family members/relations


  1. *ははおや
  2. おかあさん 
  3. *ちちおや
  4. おとうさん
  5. *いもうと
  6. いもうとさん
  7. *おとうと
  8.  おとうとさん
  9. *あに 
  10. おにいさん
  11. *あね
  12. おねえさん 
  13. *おばあちゃん
  14. おばあさん
  15. *おじいちゃん
  16. おじいさん 
  17. *まご
  18. おまごさん
  19. いとこ 
  20. *おっと
  21. おとうさん 
  22. *つま 
  23. おくさん 
  24. かぞく
  25. あい 
  26. ともだち
  27. パスポート
  28. いま
  29. けっこん
  30. すきあい


* Only used for your family members/relations