If an unknown subject is introduced by が in one sentence, can it still be the subject in a subsequent sentence?

As an example:


At first glance, it seems more natural to me to read the 3rd sentence thinking the beetle (which is identified by が in the 2nd sentence) is the one scratching the Nighthawk's throat and making a commotion as it is being eaten.

But if が subjects can't persist between sentences (I think they can't), then よだか must be the subject of the 3rd sentence by default (since よだか is the topic). And that would mean that the Nighthawk is scratching his own throat and making a commotion as he swallows the beetle.

So I guess it's a straightforward question,
Can a subject introduced by が still be the subject in the following sentence?

1 Answer 1


Yes, it can.

You do not have to mark a subject using は before you can omit it. There is no such grammatical rule (I wonder where your assumption came from). Omission of subjects happens purely depending on what can be assumed from the context, verb choice, etc. Here, the implicit subject of the third sentence is clearly the 甲虫.

  • I'd assumed they couldn't because nobody ever told me they can, but that's why I asked. As a follow-up question, does something introduced by が remain the subject until a different が subject or は topic is identified? Or do I have to recognize from context that the subject has changed even if no marker was used (which is what I've been doing)?
    – Hyperglyph
    Mar 1, 2018 at 10:27
  • @Hyperglyph From context. If the third sentence started like "その虫を飲み込んでから…", then you'd have to notice the subject is よだか even without explicit よだかは.
    – naruto
    Mar 1, 2018 at 11:24
  • That's not quite what I meant. As an example, if Sentence [1] has a は topic, Sentence [2] has a が subject and Sentence [3] also has a が subject.... Then can the omitted subject of Sentence [4] potentially be any of the 3 previous subjects? Or can it only be either は or the most recent が subject (from Sentence [3])?
    – Hyperglyph
    Mar 1, 2018 at 20:17
  • It can be any, although statistically speaking the subject tends to be the same as the one right before it. Let me say this again, there is no such grammatical rule.
    – naruto
    Mar 1, 2018 at 23:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .