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When I say I’m now busy, it’s

今は忙しい

But what I don’t understand is that 今 is being used as the topic. I’m this sentence, the real person that’s busy is me, so if I choose to not omit the person, but still want to use 今 as the topic, can I use multiple は?

今は、私は忙しい (is this even correct?)

If not what’s the right way of not omitting the subject yet using 今 as the topic?

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You can use multiple は grammatically, although consecutive use of it sounds weird a little. But basically in Japanese sentence we have only one subject, as well as in English sentence.

Because "は" is not "to be" verb, but an adverbial (or binding) particles which strengthens the meaning of the preceding word, the word followed by は is not necessarily a subject, and whether it becomes a subject or not depends on the word and the context.

Let's say,

今、私は忙しい - strengthens I
今は、私(が)忙しい - strengthens Now

今は、私は忙しい - strengthens both I and Now

The last example leads one word to cancel out the importance of another word. That's why multiple consecutive use of は sounds weird.

And in all 3 examples, 私 is always a subject and 今 is not. Theoretically 今 can be a subject, but I don't come up with a good example right now.

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  • What do you mean by は being "adverbial"?
    – Leebo
    Aug 9 '20 at 1:16
  • Strictly speaking は is not an adverbial particle but a binding particle, but I learned it's the former at school in Japan and some linguists seem to argue the former includes the latter. Aug 9 '20 at 6:58

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