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I wrote a sentence that I was trying to mean "But, I don't know if it's correct", and the Japanese person corrected it so this is the result:

でも、これが正しい翻訳かはわからない

My best guess is that the particle か are there to create relative clauses together with the topic particle. If so, what is the purpose of は here? Contradiction? Formality?

  • Do you find the sentence more stable without は, or with は? – user4092 Sep 14 '18 at 1:24
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    Possible duplicate of Usage of か after a clause? 「これが正しい翻訳か」 is an embedded question marked with the topic marker は. – naruto Sep 14 '18 at 15:24
  • @naruto I figured that out before posting here. I want to know why the は particle was added and what is the difference of putting it there or omitting it. What do I do? Should I edit the question? – BIG-95 Sep 16 '18 at 16:10
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When your main concern is use of は, the problem is the same as the は-が problem in general.

With は, it's a complete sentence by itself with topic これが正しい翻訳かは and comment わからない.

Without it, it's an incomplete sentence on its own without topics and only with comment これが正しい翻訳かわからない. Of course, however, people can guess what it's telling about from context. For example, if the previous line is 情報が少なすぎる (we have too little informaiton), a topic to be shared by the both lines will be, say, これでは (at this rate) or so.

Besides the problem of topic, in other words, whether it functions as a primary topic or not, は can imply the sense of "even if I know the others" in the example that says you don't know one. (Note that not "though" but "if".) This function is often called "contrast" or "contrastive marker は".

In addition, は can be added to a negative predicate like わからない just because it's a negative redicate even if it's not a primary topic or contrastive.

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According to "A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar", page 168, か is short for かどうか which is a "marker for an embedded yes-no question". It can be translated as "whether or not", "if or not".

Example (the terms in parenthesis can be omitted):

鈴木{すずき}さんが大学{だいがく}に入{はい}ったか(どうか)(は)知{し}らない。

I don't know whether or not Mr. Suzuki entered college.

  • Basically, can I say that that "どうか" is an inside question that literally means "how" and the following "は" is talking about those words? If so, why would someone put that は there? Besides, I always get confused why the word "how" is used often in cases where we would use "what", like in どう思う? instead of 何と思う? to mean "what do you think?" Thank you in advance! – BIG-95 Sep 16 '18 at 16:25

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