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ねえ、田中さんがもう一度会ってほしいって。田中さん、犬のこと考え直したんだって。犬飼っていいって。だから、会ってあげれば?
いや、無理。私もう田中さんに会う気はないの。だから伝えて、「私はもうあなたに会う気がない」って。

Why does it change from 気はない to 気がない in the message that should be passed on? Is it 1) because は is used as contrastive (something beside meeting is okay) and が is a simple statement or is it the other way around? 2) That は is just a simple statement here and が is used in its exhaustive-listing function to emphasize that one does not want to meet?

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This is one of the uncommon cases where が and は are interchangeable.

  • In general, が is used in the AはBが construction such as 彼は背が高い and 象は鼻が長い. 彼は背は高い would be interpreted as a contrastive sentence meaning "He is at least tall (despite having some shortcomings)". Compare them with 彼の背は高い and 象の鼻は長い, which are neutral statements.
  • However, は is generally preferred in negative sentences. Why is the topic marker often used in negative statements (ではない, ~とは思わない)?

As a result, 私は彼に会う気はない and 私は彼に会う気がない are both natural, and there is almost no difference between them.

However, note that:

  • If there was no explicit topic (私(は)), the difference between 会う気がない and 会う気はない could be a little more noticeable. For details, please see my answer here: Which は is this?
  • If the sentence was non-negative, you always have to say 私は彼に会う気ある. 私は彼に会う気はある would suddenly become a contrastive sentence, for example "I am at least willing to see him (but I'm not going to listen to his advice)".
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  • I might have phrased my questions poorly. He first said 私もう田中さんに会う気はないの。 with a は but changed it at だから伝えて、「私はもうあなたに会う気がない」って。 to が. I was wondering what the meanings of these two are because I thought there is a reason for changing it instead of using both times は/が. I didn't want to know how the meaning would change if 私はもうあなたに会う気がない is changed to 私はもうあなたに会う気はない. Or am I just misunderstanding your answer and the neutral statement still applies to both?
    – Khal
    Commented May 7 at 16:11
  • @Khal No reason. She just said whichever occurred to her first. It could have been 私もう田中さんに会う気がないの。だから伝えて、「私はもうあなたに会う気はない」って。, or she could have used either が or は for both places. There's no difference in meaning.
    – naruto
    Commented May 8 at 3:55
  • Thank you for the explanation.
    – Khal
    Commented May 8 at 11:34

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