I understand a lot of Japanese is not spoken and implicated through context, but don't really understand the culture behind it. What are the implicated differences between は and が in the following examples?

食べ物がある? // 食べ物はある?


トイレがある? // トイレはある?

Is one more common, or more polite, or more usual, or offensive to say than the other?

  • 2
    English nitpick: I think "implied" would be better than "implicated" in the wording of this question. Usage of “implicate” and “imply”
    – istrasci
    Aug 4, 2017 at 18:02
  • 1
    By 食べ物がある?, since it's got a question mark, are you asking about the use of は or が in a question? Or, just as a statement? Either way, without any context, it's just not easy to say. It's analogous to asking what the implied differences are between "a girl is happy" and "the girl is happy". It depends on the context and what's being communicated. Provide some context and perhaps you'll have a question that can be answered in a more satisfactory manner. Otherwise this really does just look like a duplicate of the question in the link provided by @ajsmart.
    – A.Ellett
    Aug 4, 2017 at 18:56
  • 3
    A lot of any language is implied through context; English is no different. In fact, Japanese explicitly states a whole pile of things English leaves to context. People talk about languages as being 'heavily context-dependent', but this tends to be exoticising and less than helpful or accurate.
    – Sjiveru
    Aug 4, 2017 at 20:12
  • 1
    @Sjiveru Thank you so much. I get tired of hearing how context dependent Japanese is when English can be just as maddeningly so. More often than not, it seems the differences between the languages in terms of how they express things are more a matter of cultural assumptions that once understood make the meaning clear.
    – A.Ellett
    Aug 4, 2017 at 20:19
  • 1
    Basically you shold be using ~はある? in 99% of the time.
    – naruto
    Aug 4, 2017 at 22:32


Browse other questions tagged .