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I am learning Japanese from a book. The excerpt of a dialogue is given as follows.

Q: 夏休みに国へ帰りますか。

A: いいえ、夏休みには帰りません。冬休みに帰ります。

My question is how do we know what the questioner wants us to answer? In my mind, I will answer as follows.

Q: 夏休みに国へ帰りますか。

A: いいえ、夏休に国へは帰りません。論文を書きます。

More precisely, in the first answer, "夏休み" is followed by "は". But in the second answer (my answer in mind), "国" is followed by "へは". I think it is related to emphasizing but I don't know what the questioner what to emphasize.

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  • I think the は is there because of the negative form of 帰りません。 The は is a contrastive は which leads us to the second sentence better. (I'm not planning to return, but I'm planning to ...)
    – oals
    Apr 28 '15 at 9:33
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It's not clear based off the context which the person asking the question means, due to simple ambiguity. By the rest of the conversation, it may be more clear, but it's not inherently obvious if, say, they tried starting a conversation with "夏休みに国へ帰りますか", if they are talking about when you want to return to your country, or were asking what you're doing over your summer.

To make this clear, you could simply add は in the appropriate place.

夏休みには国へ帰りますか。

It's obvious here that they're asking "are you going back to your country in summer specifically", therefore making the more likely conversation:

Q: 夏休みに国へ帰りますか。

A: いいえ、夏休みには帰りません。冬休みに帰ります。

I feel that this is actually the more natural of the two conversations. The fact that the questioner mentioned going back to your country, it just seems less likely that they're asking what you're doing over summer, which would probably have just been better asked by a 夏休みに何をする/どう過ごしますか etc.

Overall, you can't be certain without knowing the tone or ammending the grammar for clarity, but it seems much more likely that they're asking when you're going home rather than what you're doing over the summer, based off context, and the way in which the questioner is asking.

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it's the tone of the last KA.
If the tone is rising, he wants you to answer. If it's down , he's just talking to himself like "So, you're going back to your country hmmmm.."

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  • But it is a dialogue written in a book. We read it without knowing the tone. :-). Apr 28 '15 at 8:48
  • You read the following sentence and if it's an answer to his question then you know that you should read it at a high tone. Apr 28 '15 at 10:00

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