The sentence:


No matter how much I progress in Japanese, the 「は」and「が」 distinction still gets the better of me. I can't justify why 「は」 was used to many times, especially. Is this kind of sentence pattern unusual? It's in my Japanese textbook.

I was under the impression that in sentences that have a passive voice (e.g. される, right?), then 「は」 would normally become 「に」. E.g., 食器洗いが誰かにされた → The washing up was done by somebody.

  • 1
    could you post the original sentence please? I am confused by all the added brackets and italics. thank you.
    – yadokari
    Jun 2 '12 at 19:03
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    @yadokari: I edited the sentence to hopefully be more readable, using the formatting recommendations as outlined in the FAQ. For those who don't like furigana, remember that you can opt to not see it using the options available at the bottom of the page. Hope that helps. :)
    – Questioner
    Jun 3 '12 at 3:40
  • sorry! thanks Dave M G - i hope it's more readable now!
    – Laurence
    Jun 3 '12 at 4:36
  • How in your last example does は become に when passivized? There does not seem to be one.
    – user458
    Jun 24 '12 at 11:02
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    Are you sure that the original says 先勝は午後は instead of 先勝は午後が? If so, the sentence is not consistent.
    – user458
    Jun 24 '12 at 11:04

I agree with Sawa's comment, saying that consistency would require "先勝は午後が." Now, assuming that:

On は

  • We're talking about three things that we introduce: A, B, and C. It's thus normal to enumerate them using "は":


When you group everything in one sentence, you get Aは…で、Bは…で、Cは…です。

which is basically the structure of your sentence, except that you have "され(ています)" instead of "で(す)".

On が

Without even thinking, just learn the patterns AはBが良い and AはBが良くない, meaning "B is good/bad for A". We have three of them here; for example: "The afternoon isn't good for the early winners''" (early winners'' being whatever translation you use for 先勝).

This pattern is exactly like "AはBが好きです" or "AはBがありません"。

On passive

The person doing the action in passive voice is indeed given by に. However, this actor can be implicit, as is the case now. The sentences are of the form:

(it is understood that) afternoon is bad for early winners

where the subject of する is undefined, to make the statement generic, à la "it is said that." I don't believe that it is the moment of the day that causes bad luck, it is just when bad luck strikes. Passive is just commenting how the three groups are classified (by you, me, or anything else, which is not explicit.)

  • This is just a guess, but does the use of は instead of が in "先勝は午後は" not put more emphasis on the contrasting time periods? (A is in the morning, whereas B is in the afternoon, etc.). It's almost as if you can guess just from the presence of that は after 午後 that some other time periods are coming and that the time period is going to be the critical aspect in making the distinction between A, B, and C.
    – zakvdm
    Sep 12 '12 at 10:56
  • "Early winners"? What are you talking about?
    – user4032
    Sep 1 '14 at 12:09

(I know I shouldn't post my answer this late)

If there are not any previous contexts, it's because the speaker is feeling that 良くない is more difficult to associate (hence more important) with the context (先勝は…日で) than 午後, and 良い is easier (hence less important) to associate with the context (先勝は…先負は…日で) than 午後.

Actually I guess there's a previous context that refers to a day when good fortune continues all the day or vice versa. That's why it adopts は in the first clause, to express contrast.

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