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〜が [〜が] (ga)
    Meaning: (subject marker)
    Example: There is a television in the kitchen.
    JLPT Level: 4
    Category: grammar
    Author: Amatuka

  [ Edit This Grammar Entry ]

  Notes:  
Uses of が

Ga marks what the Japanese call the grammatical subject of the sentence. Think of the subject in the following two ways:

First in neutral descriptions of observable actions or situations.

手紙来ました。 てがみきました。
The mail came.   Tegami ga kimashita.

ふっています。   あめふっています。
Rain is falling.  Ame ga futte imasu.

*However, が cannot be used in the negative form (because, they are in a sense, unobservable). は is used instead.

手紙来ませんでした。 てがみきませんでした。
The mail didn't come.   Tegami ha kimasen deshita.

ふっていません。   あめふっていません。
Rain isn't falling.  Ame ha futte imasen.

Second, for special emphasis, to distinguish a particular person or thing from all others.

しました。  わたししました。
I did it. Watashi ga shimashita.

ハームバーガ緑です。 ハームバーガみどりです。
(The) Hamburger is green. Haamubaaga ga midori desu.

Other Uses.
When and interrogative pronoun is used as the subject of a sentence, が must be used.


が,これをしましたか? だれが,これをしましたか?
Who did this? Dare ga, kore wo shimashita ka?
 
(Rinji_HalfElf)
Other notes

*As an abstract and rough approximation, the difference between は and が is a matter of what the focus of the sentence is.

は gives focus to the action of the sentence, i.e., to the verb or adjective.

が gives focus to the subject of the action.

An example of this can be illustrated with two sentences which mean almost the same thing in English.

(あなたは)日本語を話しますか? (あなたは)にほんごをはなしますか? 
Do (you) speak Japanese? (anata ha) nihongo wo hanashimasu ka?

(あなたは)日本語が話せますか? (あなたは)にほんごがはなせますか? 
Can (you) speak Japanese? (anata ha) nihongo ga hanasemasu ka?

Exhaustive ga

*Unlike は, the subject particle が nominates its referent as the sole satisfier of the predicate. This distinction is famously illustrated by the following pair of sentences.

ジョン学生です。 ジョンがくせいです。
John ha gakusei desu
John is a student. (There may be other students among the people we're talking about.)

ジョン学生です。ジョンがくせいです。
John ga gakusei desu.
(Of all the people we are talking about) it is John who is the student
 
(Rinji_HalfElf)
Transitive and Intransitive verbs and が

Japanese has a large variety of related pairs of transitive verbs (that take a direct object) and intransitive verbs (that do not take a direct object), such as hajimaru, (an activity) begins and hajimeru, (an actor) begins (an activity).

授業始まる。 じゅぎょうはじまる。
Jugyou ga hajimaru.
The class starts(intransitive). (It is the class which does the starting on it's own, therefore it's observable, like rain.)

先生授業を始める。せんせいが授業を始める。
Sensei ga jugyou o hajimeru.
The teacher starts(transitive) the class. (Of all the teachers, this one starts class.)

Then there's another variant:
先生授業を始める。せんせいは授業を始める。
Sensei ha jugyou o hajimeru.
The teacher(s) start(s)(transitive) the class. (Teachers in general start the class.)

And another variant:
先生のみは授業を始める。せんせいのみは授業を始める。
Sensei nomiha jugyou o hajimeru.
The teacher(s) start(s)(transitive) the class. (Only teachers in general start the class. Sounds silly, but many times this is understood as a general statement in English without the extra words.)

Yet another example:
先生のみ授業を始める。せんせいのみが授業を始める。
Sensei nomiga jugyou o hajimeru.
The teacher starts(transitive) the class. (Out of all the teachers, this one starts the class only.)

And if nomi "のみ" is moved next to the verb as "のみ始める", it might indicate that no one else starts the class but this teacher (and not you).

In many cases the subject is omitted. Had the "teacher" been the topic of conversation in the first transitive example, the following would occur:

(先生が) 授業を始める。(せんせいが)授業を始める。
(Sensei ga) Jugyou o hajimeru.
   Class starts(transitive). (By an actor already mentioned, as indicated by the transitive verb or previous context)

The omitted subject is also what makes this topic more difficult to explain. Many examples used do not include the omitted subject or previous context which is important to understanding for many learners.
Those who speak English and begin to learn Japanese see most articles on this subject as a list of grammatical memorizations because they are not proficient with omitted subject. Even if a student knows how to drop a subject, they also must learn to when insert one for some random examples to make sense. Transitive and intransitive makes this a little clearer.
 
(Rinji_HalfElf)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_grammar 
(Rinji_HalfElf)

[ Add Note(s) ]
  Examples:  
Note: visit WWWJDIC to lookup any unknown words found in the example(s)...
Alternatively, view this page on Rikai.com

ex #670   バス来るよ。 [basu gakuru yo.] 
The bus * is coming!  
 [edit]  
(Amatuka)
ex #674   台所にテレビあります 。[daidokoro ni terebi ga arimasu ]  
There is a television * in the kitchen.  
 [edit]  
(Amatuka)
ex #880   ここだと2万円前後のテレビ買える。[koko da to 2 man en zengo no terebigakaeru. 
If it's here then you can buy a television for 20,000 yen - more or less.  
 [edit]  
(Amatuka)
ex #3121   この店ではほかでは売っていない特別仕様のCG機能を持つPCを買うことできる。 
At this shop, you can buy PCs with special CG functionality that is not offered by others.  
 [edit]  
(bamboo4)
ex #5722   nihongo ga dekimasu. 日本語できます 「にほんごできます。」 
(I) can speak japanese  
 [edit]  
(tatsujin)
ex #6440   降っています。(あめがふっています)  
Rain is falling. (or it's raining)  
 [edit]  
(hana)
ex #7802   お母さんパンを買いました。 おかあさんがパンをかいました。  
(My) Mother bought bread. Okaasan ga pan o kaimashita.  
 [edit]  
(Rinji_HalfElf)
ex #7803   アリスさんそれをしました。  
Alise did it/that. Arisusan ga sore o shimashita.  
 [edit]  
(Rinji_HalfElf)
ex #7804   お父さん映画を見ました。 おとうさんがえいがをみました。  
(My) Father saw (a) movie. Otoosan ga eiga o mimashita.  
 [edit]  
(Rinji_HalfElf)
ex #7805   新聞テエブルの上にあります。しんぶんがテエブルのうえにあります。  
(The) Newspaper is on top of the table. (*lit. table's top) Shinbun ga teeburu ue ni arimasu.  
 [edit]  
(Rinji_HalfElf)
ex #7806   これ私の家です。これがわたくしのうちです。  
This is my house. Kore ga watakushi* no uchi desu. *polite, spelt with same kanji as watashi  
 [edit]  
(Rinji_HalfElf)
ex #7807   だれあの彼女ですか?  だれがあのかのじょですか?  
Who is she/that woman over there? Dare ga ano kanojo desu ka?  
 [edit]  
(Rinji_HalfElf)
ex #7808   ふっています。 あめがふっています。 
It's raining (lit. Rain is falling). Ame ga futte imasu.  
 [edit]  
(Rinji_HalfElf)

Help JGram by picking and editing examples!!
  See Also:  
  • iru    (The particle が is used in いる sentences) [Amatuka]
  • aru    (The particle が is used in ある sentences) [Amatuka]
  • ha    (Compare / contrast が ga (subject) and は [ha / wa] (topic) markers.) [Amatuka]
[ Add a See Also ]
  Comments:  
AmatukaNeed to put together something on when to choose to use が (subject) instead of は (topic) 
AmatukaNote that が (or の) replaces を in sub-sentences.
(See 'television' example, would be テレビを買う (terebi wo kau) if it was a sentence on it's own.
 
Amatukaga follows a noun or a noun phrase.
(e.g. 犬が [inu ha] 'the dog' / 'dog(s)'
知るのが [shiru no ga] 'what (I) know (is)'
The latter case の nominalizes (turns into a noun) 知る)

N = noun
 
bamboo4In #880, テレビが買うことができる is not acceptable. 
Zhen LinHowever, would TV-wo kau-koto-ga dekiru be acceptable? In the case of -ga, it marks the object when a verb is in the potential mood, as if the verb was passive...  
bamboo4テレビを買うことができる is acceptable.  
anonymousThe book Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You by Jay Rubin offers an excellent section explaining the difference between が and は. 
dakara?Could you explain what you leant from the book the difference between が and は? 
SvendsenYou can read Tae Kim's online guide to japanese and get a very reasonable explanation. First of all he rejects the use of the term subject, simply because it is laden with all the wrong connotations from english. Primarily because subject in japanese is not the same as subject in english (and most roman and germanic languages, probably). He calls it the identifier, a particle used to identfy one among many, where as ha is used to say something detailed about something, by some called the focus particle.
 
KyleGoetz@Amatuka テレビが買うことができる is wrong
@bamboo4 Yes, テレビを買うことができる is correct

Amatuka is most likely confusing を with が in clauses: if you want to say 背が高い友達, you can also say 背の高い友達. There is no difference at all (even in connotation) between の and が as far as every single Japanese person I've ever asked about this is concerned, when dealing with this type of clause.
 
devrichaCan anybody tell me difference between は and が. As both are topic markers, i dont understand when to use which 
devrichaCan anybody tell me difference between は and が. As both are topic markers, i dont understand when to use which 
nellyaudreyif i'm understand right, a good comparison would be
私は学生です.I am a student. Because here ha focuses on me in particular. it's a narrower description.

学生がいます.There is a student. because this has a broader sense, there are many students but here is one.

feel free to correct me but that is what i've come to understand. and thanks to svendsen because i got most of it from his comment.
 
takamichi"ha" is used when introducing/describing something

while "ga" is used when you want to be specific and direct the focus of attention to the noun preceding "ga"

more or less the difference lies on the weight of "emphasis" ~ tada hitori no iken desukedo ^w^
 
IMABIThis article isn't as near as big as it should. I quite personally think the two entries of ga need to be combined and expanded to show ga's other usages. I have an article about the differences between wa and ga on my website www.freewebs.com/kanjiwebs/ because there is no way that only a few examples could distinguish wa and ga for beginners. There's just no way, not even for Japanese people.  

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