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I'm currently trying to get back into studying Japanese. I want to take the JLPT N3 this summer. To get myself in the mode for this I am first looking at the N4 tests on the JLPT website.

The reading parts and kanji comprehension are no challenge for me. I can get through the vast majority of that without trouble and where I do slip up I can understand why.

Grammar however...grammar is the devil.

One of the supposedly easiest questions on the test is as follows-

わたしの父は中国語も英語x話せます

My instinct was for the answer to be を. も means in addition, so you have to have an actual action for the も to be in addition to, right?

No. It turns out the answer is も. I fail and I don't understand the reasons. Can anyone explain why in this context を is incorrect and も is right?

It is a bit of an unusual sentence and a break from textbook patterns of the additional も. The way I'm used to is one person says I like y/I come from z, and the other person says 私も. Its not a particle I generally see used too often in this also sense, where I see it its usually as a negative. To have the も come first like this confuses me.

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わたしの父は中国語も英語も話せます。
My father can speak both Chinese and English.

~も~も is how you say "both ... and ..." in Japanese. It works with all particles, as も does by itself, i.e. usually replaces は, が, を and follows へ, に, etc.

It also works with more than two も's, e.g.

わたしの父は中国語も英語もドイツ語も話せます。
My father can speak (all of) Chinese, English and German.

The point is that everything in the list is marked by も. If you said

わたしの父は中国語も英語を話せます。

it just sounds wrong, but if it means anything, one would have to assume that も replaces が, which would give

As for my father, his Chinese can also speak English.

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How do we know this action is をed however? I'm sure I remember that in lists it is only the additional things that need も whilst the last one has the standard particle? Totally wrong? –  Tor Mar 5 at 0:59
    
For と you can say AとBを食べた; for も every item in the list needs it. –  Earthliŋ Mar 5 at 1:04
    
Oh...is there a particular reason も is used here rather than と? –  Tor Mar 5 at 1:40
    
@Tor I think you can think of と as a simple, non-emphatic (and all-inclusive, as opposed to や) "and": My father can speak Chinese and English. も...も, on the other hand, seems to place emphasis on the fact that multiple things can be done/are being done: My father speaks Chinese as well as/in addition to English. –  alexhatesmil Mar 5 at 2:09
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@Tor: It is worth getting on top of this because there are plenty more "compound particles" that can be used to give a series or list of items and act in the same fashion (でも、し、といい etc) –  Tim Mar 5 at 3:43

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