I personally learned beginner Japanese using the Genki textbooks, though I think this is similar for other beginner textbooks. In these textbooks, they teach が to mean "but", as in "日本料理が好きです、生卵が嫌いです。" However, when I was in Japan this past summer, I don't believe I ever heard people use が this way. けど was so much more common, and when people wanted to be formal, they used けれど or けれども. (I was in Nagoya, so it may be a regional thing.)

Why do textbooks teach が when けど seems so much more commonly used?

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    The ga is commonly used in newspapers, novels, essays, news announcements. Do your textbooks teach only spoken/colloquial Japanese? – Chocolate Sep 14 '16 at 3:30
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    I think the answer to this question will be somewhat opinion-based, but my belief is that language teaching (whether L1 or L2) always contains a political component of how certain parties want you to speak / write. In this case of Japanese, they try to make foreigners speak politely -- thus they don't want you saying けど for "but" instead of が – virmaior Sep 14 '16 at 3:34
  • I stubled on this book in my first few months in Japan and learning Japanese from scratch and it really did it for me. It will show you I think around 20 uses af GA among many other Particles. amazon.com/All-About-Particles-Handbook-Japanese/dp/1568364199 – Mark Sep 14 '16 at 4:01
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    @virmaior I think it's less a nefarious cabal of JFL teachers trying to make non-native speakers into mealy-mouthed patsies and more the idea that the potential for disaster is smaller when you err on the polite side rather than the casual side. Especially in Japan. – Matt Sep 14 '16 at 9:41

Just my personal opinion but as I am living in Tokyo now, I've only heard people saying が very few times too. In my textbooks, I was taught that けど is the informal form of が so in the beginning I didn't dare to use it until I heard most people do. けど is much more frequently used in daily conversations, regardless of the circumstances. In terms of けれども, I hear it very often during speeches or formal meetings, so I believe it is neither uncommon nor regional, but of course awkward if you use it in casual conversations.

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In each of spoken & written categories, i think 「が」 is at least 3 times as common as 「けれども」 and variants ( 「だけど」 「けれど」 「けど」 「けども」 ... ) combined.

I think textbooks all over the world respect the (formal) [written word] over the (casual) [spoken word].

What's a good example in English ?

  • No introductory textbook of English begin with "gonna", "ain't", ... etc.

  • U.S. elementary schools teach the pronuciation "Twen-tee" when "Twa-nee" is much more common.

Other (better) examples ?

    and, Yes, we love it when foreigners speak polite and over-polite Japanese.


[補説] 「けれども」は中世末、形容詞活用の已然形語尾に接続助詞「ども」が付いてできたもの。近世前期になると、くだけた感じを伴う「けれど」「けど」が生じ、後期には、「けども」が成立した。

「けれども」 is longer and more awkward.

It can sound too colloquial for an introductory textbook. -- 「が」 is just as good, or better.

「が」 sounds more modern. -- 「けれども」 can sound old-fashioned. like Kobun.

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  • However, why teach が instead of けれども, which is also quite formal? Is it because けれども is more of a spoken word? – charlieshades Sep 14 '16 at 21:06
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    Ga plays such a huge role in grammar and creating the direction and feel of a sentence. Ga carries more meanings than "but" as shared with けれども and the ability to distinguish that is key understanding a sentence. The book I mentioned on the original post offers over 10 ways GA becomes different in meaning in English. Learn the base, then the manipulation. for example, you learn けど/けれど first then a unit comes up saying "oh you can also use が in this case....but が also means this, this, this, this and this...oh and this. Or learn が then learn けれど can replace this one usage of が.. – Mark Sep 14 '16 at 23:04

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