I have the following sentence in my anki app:

Please write it down as I tell you.

However my instincts tell me this should not be は but が. Am I correct?

  • 2
    Indeed は is not appropriate here but even after changing it to が it remains kind of weird. I would rather go for 私が/私の言うことを書いてください or 私の言うとおりに書いてください (depends if you want to say: write what I say or write as I say) but I am no expert. – 永劫回帰 Feb 14 '17 at 12:52
  • @永劫回帰 What is weird about it? It is more than natural-sounding, not to mention its perfect grammar. – l'électeur Feb 14 '17 at 13:15
  • @l'électeur I never said it used wrong grammar. I said weird because I never heard ように after 言う then followed by ~ください but if you say that it is perfectly fine I believe you. – 永劫回帰 Feb 14 '17 at 13:26

You are correct.

In the sentence:

「私{わたし}( )言{い}うように書{か}いてください。」

The only particle that can be placed in the parentheses above is 「」. 「は」 is not an option at all. Use a 「は」 there and you will sound weirder than you ever want to sound. It is that important.

Why? That is because the only possible subject-marking particle in subordinate clauses and relative clauses (and any phrases that play subordinate roles in sentences) is 「が」.

In the sentence above, the main part is 「書いてください」 because the sentence as a whole is an imperative. The imperative part of an imperative sentence must be the main part.

In comparison, 「私が言うように」 functions subordinately in the sentence as it only describes how the listener should write.

Had the sentence been "Smith wrote as I told him to.", the Japanese counterpart would have been:


That way, one could have seen both 「が」 and 「は」 used correctly in a very short sentence.


  • 2
    Is の an option? I found some google search result using it so it might be used sometimes but does it sound fine or not? – 永劫回帰 Feb 14 '17 at 13:28
  • 2
    の is fine, too. – user4092 Feb 14 '17 at 15:16
  • 1
    l'électeur - Just to be clear, in the non-imperative case, is it the case that は and が in 「私(が)言うようにスミスさん(は)書いた。」can be changed depending on emphasis? (E.g., what might be by adding stress to either "I" or "Smith" in English.) – Craig Hicks Feb 14 '17 at 18:30
  • How about the sentence 「いずれは書いてください」? – Craig Hicks Feb 15 '17 at 17:08

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