I'm studying Japanese, and found this phrase:


I was thought that the particle that is always with 好き is が but in this case is は, is there an explanation for this???

2 Answers 2


Japanese grammar works this way.

In a clause, you can simply use case particles such as がのをにへ as it is.

  • 私が読むのが好きなこと: the fact that I like reading

Now, what if you convert the contents of the clause into a sentence? In English, you can put it as it is, i.e. "I like reading". However, it doesn't really work in Japanese. In other words, 私が読むのが好きだ can't immediately be a valid sentence. (It often happens to beginners that they carelessly produce topicless sentences or ones whose contents don't get along with an inferred topic.)

A sentence of statement needs some topics or equivalents in Japanese except some cases. Among several ways to produce topic parts, adding は to a noun phrase is one. Let's call this process "topicalization" here.

I'll omit the detail but anyway, when you topicalize 私が, it turns into 私は, and the sentence becomes 私は読むのが好きだ. Likewise, when you do 読むのが too, it produces 読むのは, thus, 私は読むのは好き.

If you are curious about the reason for using は*, searching difference between は and が will help. As user31035 says, expressing contrast is one of its functions (though it doesn't necessarily mean he hates the other things).

*; Expressing contrast is unique to は while so called thematic usage is a problem why you choose it rather than other choices especially in colloquial Japanese. But you can ignore the trivia for the time being.

  • Regarding the linked sentence, I don't quite get it. Can you explain what the writer is trying to say, and how is the sentence wrong?
    – Sweeper
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 13:35
  • Since 彼女の言語力が高くて、すごいなぁって思います apparently lacks topics, native speakers automatically think of it as アリスワイデル (or 彼女) right before, thus, the sentence becomes 彼女は彼女の言語力が高くて…: "(I think she's great because) her* girlfriend's linguistic ability is high". *; This "her" is ionized and floating as a topic in the Japanese sentence.
    – user4092
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 14:10

I think it shows a contrast https://jisho.org/search/は. After reading this https://www.wasabi-jpn.com/japanese-grammar/ha-vs-ga-five-points-you-need-to-know/ it seems to me that the writer want to say that he/she only likes reading kanji and doesn’t like anything else about it.

But I am also new to Japanese. Let’s wait for someone more knowledgeable.


After reading user4092’s answer I see that my answer is wrong. I am leaving it here only because of the links as I think they are a good source of knowledge.

  • 1
    That site is overall good, but the part that says "indicates that .... don't like other fruits" is not really accurate. It should be more like "can imply that ... don't like some other fruits". In addition, it depends on things how far it functions as a topic, to what degree it's contrastive, if it's both thematic and contrastive, either or neither (I mean conventional は with negation by "neither").
    – user4092
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 9:41
  • @user4092 So, should I read it as “when it comes to fruits, I like oranges the most” or “when it comes to fruits, I mainly like oranges”? It seems to me that the latter is more correct as “I like oranges the most” does not imply that the speaker don’t like some other fruit. I mean if someone told me this and I'd like to buy him/her something fruit-flavoured should I assume that it would be best to not buy anything that is not orange-flavoured as the probability that he/she would not like its taste will be high? Should I ask this as a new question?
    – user31035
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 10:56
  • 1
    No, it doesn't say "the most". In the first place, declaration of a topic is done in order to limit the scope of information to be applied. For the example of fruits, you only refer to oranges while you don't for the rest. So, it's just unknown if you like other ones. On the other hand, implication by emphasizing don't-know-about-the-others attitude works negatively, so much. Posting it as a new question is a good idea.
    – user4092
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 18:19

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