I just learned about が and は. I just want to say "If I died" in Japanese. So I typed it. All I see is 私が死んだら

Can I say "私は死んだら" (は is put to emphasize what comes after は. So I think in the sentence "If I died", we should emphasize "died" (死んだら should be the main focus)

I don't understand why we use が here. (I learned that が is used to stress what comes before it) In this case, I have no idea why we stress 私.

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    "I just learned about が and は Rule." <- What rule was that? "So I typed it. All I see is 私が死んだら" <- Typed it where? Was this Google Translate? If so it's not the right way to check your Japanese. Your last sentence has a lot of truth to it, but it is far from the whole story. In this case the key phrase to look up is "subordinate clause". See if you can find out how は and が are used in subordinate clauses. Oct 3, 2019 at 19:53
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    you already seen japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/22/… ? what is not answered by it? Oct 3, 2019 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


Assuming you already know the basics, here are the relevant rules you may be missing:

  • が is normally used to mark subjects in subordinate clauses.
  • But は is still used in subordinate clauses when contrastive meaning is important.
  • Both contrastive-は and exhaustive-listing-が "emphasize" something before it, but in different ways.

Therefore, 私が死んだら is the normal way to say "when I die" or "if I died". 私は死んだら is fine when the contrast between 私 and someone else is important. It's like "if I died" or "in my case, however, if I died".

When I die, read this diary.
(が is used because no contrast is made.)

If he died, she would feel sad. If I died, she would feel happy.
(私は is used in a subordinate clause to contrast my case with his case.)

  • Sorry, I didn’t know that a clause with たら structure is a subordinate clause. Does this rule apply to と ば なら ? And Why が is put after 彼 ? I think it should be は because 彼 is being contrasted with 私.
    – Kiw
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:17

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