I'm still a beginner with japanese.

Here is the example that I foud: すみませんが、さとうをとってください

I'm not completely sure about the meaning of が in this sentence, since the teacher told me you can both use it or not. What is it for?

2 Answers 2


「が」 simply means "but".

「すみません、さとうをとってください。」 =

"Excuse me, but please pass me the sugar."

You can also make the same request without using 「が」 by saying:

「すみません。さとうをとってください。」 =

"Excuse me. Please pass me the sugar."

The difference between the two is almost too subtle to mention. It just flows a little better with 「が」IMHO.

  • Could be weird to skip が in the case of not wanting to hurt anyone's feeling, where you would use 悪いけど in タメ語.
    – oldergod
    Feb 4, 2015 at 9:05
  • 「ガ」を入れて、自分のことを擁護になる可能性が高くなりますか。「すみませんが、それができません」の場合が多いですか。(非母語の人のセンス...)
    – virmaior
    Feb 4, 2015 at 9:31
  • @virmaior can you explain it in english, please?
    – Clover
    Feb 4, 2015 at 9:35
  • My question was a clarification one for l'electeur, but I was wondering whether adding the "が" can add a sense of defense (think Socrates' Apology) versus contrition in non-が versions. It's a very minor point and one that doesn't at all affect the meaning of "が" which as l'electeur explains is "but". (I asked it in Japanese precisely because I felt it would only serve to confuse to add this sort fine-grained information).
    – virmaior
    Feb 4, 2015 at 9:38

yes that's right. we can use the both sentence in the same sense.

A: "すみません。さとうをとってください"
B: "すみませんが、さとうをとってください"

"すみませんが" or "申し訳ありませんが" or "恐れ入りますが"...etc
These are just like the Cushion.

A is just it has been completed.
B can be connected to the sentence after without punctuation.

"すみませんさとうをとってください" NG
"すみませんがさとうをとってください" OK


"さとうをとってください。すみません。" OK
"さとうをとってください。すみませんが。" NG

  • 私によって、この答えは悪くはないが、質問者は特に「が」の意味に気になっているため、ほぼ同じだけではなく、どのように変わっている教えて欲しいと思います。
    – virmaior
    Feb 4, 2015 at 10:07

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