2

Here are some Japanese sentences:

A)

Uses ga. Subject comes first

Who is (existing) over there? / Dare-ga asoko-ni imasu ka? だれが あそこに います か。

B)

Uses ga. Location comes first

There is a dog over there. / Asoko-ni inu-ga imasu. あそこに いぬが います。

C)

Uses ga. Location comes first

There are comic books here./ Koko-ni manga-ga arimasu. / ここに まんがが あります。

D)

Uses wa. Subject comes first

Where is the hotel (located)? / hoteru wa doko ni arimasu ka

In these sentences, the order of the subject/location is different. The marker also changes (ga & wa).

Is there are rule to follow, or does the order/marker not matter?

I know Japanese makes a difference between imasu and arimasu for animate and non animation subjects. I'm not sure if that affects the marker and word order.

2

The order does not matter in Japanese The only rule is that the verb must come last (aside from sentence-ending particles). The following are all correct and mean the same thing:

6時に私がケーキを食べた
ケーキを私が6時に食べた
私が6時にケーキを食べた

They all mean "I ate (the) cake at 6:00". In English, which relies on word order to determine grammar roles of words, flipping around the subject and object would make the sentence sound weird ("The cake ate me at 6:00"), but in Japanese there are particles to show the role of each object, so there's no ambiguities.

Technically, Japanese is a strongly left-branching language, meaning the most important stuff goes at the right (which is why the verb goes at the end, as it's considered to be the most important part of the sentence). Thus, my first sentence is centered around that it's cake I ate, with the time being the least important element; my second sentence focuses on that I ate it at 6, etc. You don't really need to stress out over this too much, though.

As for your が/は question, it has already been answered here.

  • For が/は, the answer you linked to is informative, but I don't 100% understand how it relates to locations. Is there are rule of thumb I could use? – big_smile Aug 25 '15 at 17:05
  • @big_smile The rules are the same for expressing locations. The verb has little, if anything, to do with the choice between は and が. – Blavius Aug 25 '15 at 20:19

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