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In my textbook I have a sentence 「私の町は小さく、住んでいる人は30万人以下です」 I have a couple of questions on this.. At first glance I thought this meant “living small” as in the opposite of “living large” but I can’t see a textbook using that kind of language? Also why does this sentence use 2 は’s instead of 1 は and a が?

(Edit) Just realized the 小さく has a comma after it and since it’s written I’m assuming the 小さく means 小さくて、!

As for the double は part of anyone can help!

Feel free to use examples. Thank you!!

  • Could you provide a screenshot or a reference to the source material? It doesn't sound very Japanese at first glance, so maybe context can help. – JansthcirlU Jul 2 at 10:56
  • @JansthcirlU hey sorry, I re-read it and realized my mistake. Any thoughts on the second issue? – Dave07 Jul 2 at 11:18
  • To prevent further confusion, perhaps you could also edit the original sentence. As for the second 「は」, I think it introduces the topic 「(私の町に)住んでいる人」but I can't quite put my finger on it. I'll look into it a bit further before posting an answer. – JansthcirlU Jul 2 at 11:23
  • @JansthcirlU okay thank you! – Dave07 Jul 2 at 11:27
  • 30万人? That’s a huge city, not a small town! – Jan Jul 3 at 10:47
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私の町は小さく、

The first sentence uses「は」to introduce a new topic, with the added emphasis that it concerns the speaker's home town specifically. As you pointed out yourself, the construction 「小さく、」is a different way to write 「小さくて、」which helps the listener prepare for more information related to 「私の町」.

住んでいる人は30万人以下です。

For the second part of the sentence, the topic becomes 「(私の町に)住んでいる人」. However, the particle「は」is used over「が」because it concerns information that's already shared between the speaker and the listener (i.e. information about the speaker's town). In this answer I try to explain the nuance between 「は」and「が」when they're used after the subject of a sentence.

Another possibly confusing aspect about this sentence could be the fact that 「人」which is generally taught to mean "person" or "people," suddenly refers to a population. In English, you might expect a more explicit wording such as "the number of people" as opposed to just "people."

The thing is that「住んでいる人」does indeed refer to people who live in my town, but that the second 「人」in「30万人」is the counter for people, something that doesn't really exist in English. So what you would express as "the number of people" in English, is actually engrained in the usage of a counter in Japanese.

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  • Thank you for your detailed answer!! – Dave07 Jul 4 at 23:26

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