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The bad news-は we don't really have an effective way to distinguish them. The good news-は in fact you don't have to distinguish them. The particle は's function could be loosely described as "singling out one thing you and me know as the current focus", that is, every usage theoretically carries contrastive overtones, as long as it has possible competitors ...


My suggestion is to keep using は and that is the most natural way that I can think of as a native Japanese speaker. The description of は and が by Kuno (1973) is widely used. Kuno (1973) mentions は indicates the known information and が indicates the unknown information but it is actually similar to distinguish a/an and the in English for instance if English ...

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