I'm so confused about the sentence structure'...では...' we say '私は学生です' 'は' here can mean 'be' but Japanese people would say '夜に部屋では電気をつけない' and 'その店では洋書が売られている' So the first sentence mean '(I) don't switch on the light in (my) room at night' The particle 'で'serves as a preposition which has meaning similar to 'in'. But what's the point in adding 'は' here?

Is it okay to elimiate 'は' from the sentence? Any changes in meaning when は or で is included or exclused in the sentence??

1 Answer 1


Let me caveat this answer by saying that I've only been learning for a year and use of は is a mind bending subject.

First of all, は does not mean 'be'. If you really think this then you have a serious misunderstanding. In your example the function of 'be' is provided by です. は is the topic or contrast marker. For me the distinction between topic and contrast can be quite blurry, but in these sentences I'd say it's contrast.

Western books are sold in that shop
I don't know about other shops, but at least in that particular shop, western books are sold.

That's obviously an exaggeration, but hopefully you get the idea.

From the topic marker point of view, I'm sure you would be happy with the following sentence:

That shop is Momoko's shop.

You've introduced a new topic, 'that shop', to the conversation. But what if you wanted to talk about what happens in the shop? You need to put on the end, but you're introducing a new topic at the same time so you need a . No problem, just put the two together and you get your original example:


Which of the two interpretations is more appropriate would be determined by context.


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