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What is the difference between the following two sentences?

  • お酒は机の上にあります。
  • 机の上にお酒があります。
5

If I was asked お酒はどこにありますか? I might respond like this:

お酒机の上にあります。

Here, お酒 is old information (so you use は) and 机の上 is new information.

If I was asked 机の上には何がありますか? I might respond like this:

机の上に、お酒があります。

Here, 机の上 is old information and お酒 is new information.

When you say:

机の上にお酒があります。

both 机の上 and お酒 are normally new information.

  • In both cases everything before and including the は may be omitted as redundant. You both already know the topic of conversation (the Sake and the shelf, respectively), so typically a native speaker would not repeat it (unless getting time to think or for emphasis/clarification). – Aaron D Jun 29 '15 at 20:14

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