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I'm currently going through a review-all Japanese Linguistics reading. Now I've got to the part where verb types are described and it's been bothering me how this particular topic has been addressed. Not just in one particular grammar book, but in all of them.

The issue here is as follows:

Do stative (versus eventive) predicates have an object which is marked by が?

I'm just curious to see what other people actually think, and to hear of any source where this may be analysed differently.

For me

その質問が分からない

is not to be thought as it'd be in English language, that is, to think as the subject being an actor (and therefore the verb "to understand" wouldn't be considered as stative). Isn't the point of stative predicates to describe a state and therefore "that problem IS not understood" (~I don't understand that problem)? This troubles me a lot. Why isn't the verb 分かる treated as "to be understood", a property of the SUBJECT (thus が) instead of an action (where を would mark the accusative case/ the object)?

Some more examples

いつも笑っている人があまり好きじゃない 家が見えるね!

Furthermore, is it possible to use the particle は in these cases? It seems too emphatic to use the が particle when further context is provided

彼女がいつも笑っている人だね。でもいつも笑っている人 あまり好きじゃないんだからパーティーに行きたくないんだよ

Thank you in advance.

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わかる takes this structure:

  • (agent) に/が (object) が わかる

好き does this way:

  • (agent) が (object) が 好き

So, it's not correct to think of わかる and 好き as "to be understood" and "to be liked" respectively because (agent) が 好き only translates to "the agent likes", not "the agent is liked", for example.

I personally find it easier to explain things when you think が as in (object) が is a kind of object marker but it depends on people.

As for using は, there are no grammatical cases that can't be topicalized, in short, you can add は to whatever if you need.

As for your sentences specifically, either が or は don't change things that much, but if I dare to dig it, changing いつも笑っている人があまり好きじゃない家が見えるね to …笑っている人は…, could imply that the latter limits the kind that they(家)hate, while the former is neutral (が in a clause can straightforwardly denote the subject unlike in a sentence).

As for the second sentence, If you focus on relationship between the predicate (being a negative form), you may feel は more natural. On the other hand, however, you may prefer the sub clause packed tight without topicalized. (Incidentally, it should be あまり好きじゃないから instead of …好きじゃないんだから.)

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