How do I handle a sentence in which I would normally have two が? For example,


are normal sentences with slight distinction in meaning between が and は there, but what if I want a typical subject to use with 分かる?


This doesn't work with two が, but I swear I hear this phrase often as


Maybe I'm just mishearing, but is it possible to turn a second が into を for grammatical fit? Or are there other ways to express a が subject with a が verb?

1 Answer 1


The following four sentences are all valid.

  • その話題分からない。
    He does not know about the topic.
  • その話題分からない。
    He does not know about the topic.
  • その話題分からない。
    It is he who does not know about the topic.
  • その話題分からない。
    It is he who does not know about the topic.

As for the difference between 彼 and 彼, the former is the normal particle choice, as you probably know. If you use が here, it will carry an exhaustive-listing meaning. See: What's the difference between wa (は) and ga (が)?

As for the difference between その話題分からない and その話題分からない, they mean the same thing, but the former is still considered more standard. Some expressions including 好き, 分かる, ~(ら)れる and ~たい sometimes take を, but it's difficult to make a clear distinction, and the level of acceptance varies from person to person. See the following questions for details.

When exhaustive-listing が is involved, you can safely use two が's in one sentence, and just because there are two が's doesn't mean you have to replace the second が with を.

  • Can I get a little more background? Because the third sentence, 彼がその話題が分からない, has been described by all native speakers as unnatural. Are you a native speaker? Or is there a lesser-used grammatical rule?
    – user33717
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 10:49
  • 4
    @user33717 Yes I am a native speaker of Japanese. 彼がその話題が分からない makes sense, but only in certain contexts. It would indeed sound awful if said out of nowhere, but I didn't go into detail because I thought you already knew why... Do you understand how exhaustive-listing ga works in general?
    – naruto
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 12:21

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