In Spanish there is something called circumstantials which indicate time, place, means, cause, etc where an action is done. For example, in English a circumstancial of time could be translated as "in the summer".

Now I know Japanese is a language completely different to Spanish so calling a construction which indicates the time when an action is done a "circumstancial" is wrong, since a spanish circumstancial probably have other grammatical consequences than a japanese construction which indicates time, place, means, etc., that's why I used the "" to refere to the same in japanese.

Anyway, the point of my question is to know if there is any rule to know when constructions which indicates the time an action is done are the "topic" (marked with は) of the sentence.

For example, in this sentence 春休み明けは皆ちょっと大人に見える the construction which indicates time 春休み明け is the topic of the sentence.

In which situations are constructions which indicates time the topic of the sentence?

  • I think you're thinking about Japanese as a whole in terms of Spanish, and that's not helping you develop an understanding for Japanese as it is. When you relate Japanese to constructions that exist in Spanish, you end up having to create a roundabout understanding by means of translation.
    – psosuna
    Nov 2, 2018 at 22:00
  • 1
    I don't think that I understand the question. In particular, I don't think that you can draw a particular relation between "circumstantial expressions" and topic. Sure you can have a circumstantial expression as topic but that's all. Nov 3, 2018 at 9:56
  • For example, in the sentence gogatsu ni kekkon shimasu, time is indicated with a "ni" particle. Why is here time indicated with a "wa" particle? Is it because there is already a "ni" particle indicating who is seen as an adult? There has to be some grammar rules for when you can't use ni to indicate time, for example, a website states you can't use ni with words like today, now, morning, evening, etc. Is there any grammar rule here?
    – Pablo
    Nov 3, 2018 at 12:33

2 Answers 2


I know nothing about Spanish, but in English, topic-like words can be pulled at the beginning of the sentence (e.g., "In summer, ...", "In 2015, ...", "At our company, ..."). If you think your sentence can naturally begin with such an expression, it usually indicates it's a good candidate of には, では, etc. Of course this is not a rule but a tendency.


I'm taking my comment in stride to answer this in a way that might be the most beneficial to you and Spanish-speaking Japanese learners everywhere.

A "circumstance complement" (lit. from Spanish "complemento circunstancial," it is in quotes because the concept does not exist in English), is a concept in the Spanish language that can describe a circumstance under which an action occurs. Because Spanish most naturally expresses these at the end of a sentence, normally a complete statement can be had without one, and if a question can lead to the inclusion of one, normally this can be called a "circumstance complement."

An example of one of these is the following:

Iré al supermercado.
I will go to the supermarket.

A "circumstance complement of time" would then be identified by the leading question "When?" The answer to this leading question then forms the "complement", as such:

Iré al supermercado mañana.
I will go to the supermarket tomorrow.

However, because Japanese doesn't work in this fashion, it is a bit of a red herring to pursue the question "When is a circumstance complement of time defined as the topic that is marked with は" because Japanese as a language has no such concept.

The "simpler-than-expected" solution is in the inverse observation: That time, among other things, can be a topic. Japanese expresses what phrase in a sentence is the topic by using the particle は. When time is not expressed with the particle は, it is not the topic, and has another function in the sentence. Sometimes direct time is expressed without a particle, and a span of time can be expressed with the particle に.

In the case of the example you've posed, here's a loose translation as it relates to Spanish, with breakdowns:

(topic: 春休み明け)は皆ちょっと(direction: 大人に(verb: 見える))

Just after Spring vacation is when everyone looks a little more like an adult.

Justo después de las vacaciones de primavera es cuando todos aparecen un poco más como adultos.

Therefore, I think you'd do best to focus on the Japanese in the terms of the Japanese language, and not in the terms of the Spanish language, because they work very differently.

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