I understand that if the subject of the question is in question then it will be indicated by が. So we will have:

A: 誰が手伝いに行きますか? [Who will go to help him a hand?]

And not:

A: 誰は手伝いに行きますか? (x)[Who will go to help him a hand?]

What's odd to me is that in the next sentence that gives answer for A's question, the subject is also indicated by が not は, so:

B: カリナさんが行きます。[Karina will go to help him.]

Instead of:

B: カリナさんは行きます。[Karina will go to help him.]

After search the internet for some time, I found an explanation that says:

When a question word such as "who" and "what" is the subject of a sentence, it is always followed by "ga," never by "wa." To answer the question, it also has to be followed by "ga."

So far so good.

But soon I'm wondering whether this rule is also applicable for affirmative sentences.

So for the following English sentence:

Karina will go to help him.

The Japanese version of it should be:

カリナさんが彼を手伝いに行きます。[Karina will go to help him.]

And not:

カリナさんは彼を手伝いに行きます。(x)[Karina will go to help him.]

1 Answer 1


The particle が doesn't just mark the subject of questions, it marks the subject of sentences too. It is a subject-marking case particle. Sometimes the subject can also be the topic, hence the common confusion of が vs は. This topic has been discussed extensively on this site. I recommend searching through the threads as I'm sure you will find them helpful.

  • So the explanation I found just covers part of the whole thing. I mean が is the subject marker and it does it not only for the case where subject is a question word such as "who" and "what"?
    – Khanh Tran
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 2:07
  • Both your sentences about カリナ are grammatical but have different nuances, as per the usual difference between は and が.
    – kandyman
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 8:56

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