5

日本語上手に話せます。

日本語上手にはなせます。

Hello, I'm sorry if this has been asked before, but is it で or が? I know you're supposed to use で for languages, but this sentence I got from class is using が。

I'm utterly confused :-(

9

In this case, the particle で denotes method/means ('by means of', 'with', 'using', etc.) The difference is 'speak in Japanese' vs 'speak Japanese'.

  • 日本語上手に話せます。
    One can (speak / talk with someone / say something) well in Japanese.
  • 日本語上手に話せます。
    One can speak Japanese well. (= One is a good Japanese speaker).

When someone says 日本語で話す, it means talking with someone, or saying something, using / by means of Japanese. The speaker usually has some concrete objective in their mind, and is concerned about whether or not one can [do it / say it / talk with them] well in Japanese.

For example, this sentence is OK:

  • 明日の講演は、日本語で上手に話せると思います。
    (literally) As for tomorrow's lecture, I think I can speak well in Japanese.

However, when you're talking about whether or not someone is a good Japanese speaker in general, 日本語が上手に話せる is much more natural.

  • 1
    Thank you so much. These slight nuances in the language is killing me. – John Dec 13 '15 at 10:25
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The meaning of two sentences is same. で in this case is used as the method of representing tool and が is used as a postpositional particle of the method of representing the subject.

  • Hi thank you for replying. So, you're saying that they're the same so I could either use で or が, and it shouldn't matter? – John Dec 13 '15 at 4:41
  • Yes、 you can use the both sentences. – Yuuichi Tam Dec 13 '15 at 5:29

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