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I was reading through the following blog and came across a particularly interesting example on the use of は and が.

The author explains that in the context of a young man pointing at a number of pictures of girls he could use the following sentence to say "I like her".

私は彼女だね。

I am reading this as the following:

私は - As for me 彼女だね - she it is right?

I know that the adjective for "like" is 好き however the author also describes だ as the Verb for "being" I can't find this Verb anywhere online, and as far as I know だ is just the informal equivalent of the polite です.

Can someone help explain this to me? I'm guessing the answer is very much related to the context so relies heavily on the question, probably something like "which one do you like?"

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    A better English translation of that might be 'for me, it's her'. Does that help answer your question? – Sjiveru Sep 21 '18 at 21:18
  • Thank you. Yes it's helpful. But when we say her, don't we have to use the no particle attached to 彼女? Like 彼女の? I think this one of the main reasons I'm confused – Master Yoda Sep 21 '18 at 21:49
  • No, since の indicates possession, which isn't what we want here. 'her' in English is more than one thing, and 彼女の only corresponds to one of several uses of English 'her'. – Sjiveru Sep 21 '18 at 22:18
  • @Sjiveru That makes sense. You mean 彼女の would correspond to something that "she" possesses? 彼女の父は静かな人だ。 – Master Yoda Sep 21 '18 at 22:22
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    Exactly that. As a word of advice, don't try and set up equivalencies in your head between Japanese words and English words - connect the Japanese words to concepts directly, and forget about how English works. – Sjiveru Sep 21 '18 at 22:26
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This is a typical example of うなぎ文 ("eel sentences"). As you have correctly guessed, the interpretation of this sentence is highly context-dependent. In different contexts, 私は彼女だね can mean "I hate her", "I will work with her" or virtually anything. For details, please see the following.

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Many books and websites explain だ/です as verbs meaning "to be". However in my experience thinking of these as verbs only confuses people. です is added to the ends of sentences to make the sentences more polite. It will be too confusing to think of it as anything more than that. Adding だ or だね to the end of a sentence adds a certain feeling that is hard to explain. Rather than trying to explain it, it is better to just read thousands of sentences using these particles until you start to intuitively understand the kinds of feelings they can convey. They don't add any extra meaning, they add feelings. Here are some others:

だよ

ね  

だよね  

よね

だな

だよな

  • Thank you for the answer and your examples. It was useful – Master Yoda Sep 21 '18 at 21:50
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This is a difficult question, that has some nuances to it. It's best resolved with practice, but just be cautious that there are some 'general guidelines' to be wary of checking before proceeding.

It is worth considering that だ functions more like a "declarative particle", according to a few sources; you are asserting the quality of something as such-and-such. The particle だ is used in contexts where you are asserting something is the way it is, whereas です is an actual copula, like "to be" in English. Because of this distinction, there are cases where you cannot or should not use だ, but could and should use です. This is because whereas だ is a plain form-only particle, its function is related to making something a statement, which does not work when asking a question in Japanese, for example.

Also, consider that だ can be used within a sentence, whereas です can only be used at the very end of a sentence; so as to indicate politeness and to function as a copula. These are the two main reasons why one could not use です where you would use だ.

  • Thanks for your explanation of だ. It was useful. It's good to know that だ is not always needed. – Master Yoda Sep 21 '18 at 21:51
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Japanese allows the omission of almost any part of the sentence as long as it can be understood from the context.

So
私は彼女だ。
is short for
私は彼女が好きだ。(I like her)

好き was omitted because it probably can be understood from the context.
As you say, it is probably an answer to the question "which one do you like".

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