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This is the first sentence of a news article from NHK News Web Easy: 大学 緊急事態宣言でオンラインと学校での授業に分かれる

新しいコロナウイルスの問題で、去年はオンラインで授業をしていた大学、今年の4月から、学生が大学に来て受ける授業を増やす予定でした。

If I replaced も with the other non-logical topic marker は, would it be like saying "Universities that held classes online last year due to the new coronavirus problem planned to increase classes that take students on campus" - kind of like saying (due to the restrictive/comparative qualities of は) that only universities that held classes online last year intended to increase classes on campus this year.

Whereas the original sentence is saying something like (Because も is the inclusivity topic marker) "Some universities (but not all) that held classes online last year... Etc"

Am I on the right track with this one?

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    Would you elaborate a bit on how you understood the effect of も there? What is “included” in what, according to your interpretation?
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 28 at 23:57
  • Inclusive in the sense that は is restrictive, whereas も is not. Thus, some universities, but not all (the topic is more loosely defined). Does this make sense? Apr 29 at 3:32
  • Not quite. Please read my answer.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 29 at 3:52
  • If this sentence is presented in isolation, "also" or "as well" is the most natural interpretation. Please explain why it didn't work.
    – naruto
    Apr 30 at 1:40
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The most straightforward, and strict, interpretation would be:

Universities that held classes online last year due to the new coronavirus problem also planned to increase classes that take students on campus (, along with other universities that planned to do the same).

Generally. the particle も is added at the end of the thing you want to “include” in the same category as other things. In this case, it’s the whole of 新しいコロナウイルスの問題で、去年はオンラインで授業をしていた大学.

Strictly speaking, though, this might not make much sense because universities that didn’t hold classes online due to the coronavirus last year wouldn’t increase on-campus classes from this April. Even if some did, it should have little to do with the coronavirus. At least, that’s not what this article wants to talk about.

I think the inclusive quality of も should be understood a bit less strictly in this context. It implies that universities, or even other institutions, planned to implement some changes. Those that held classes online last year were also among them; they planned to increase on-campus classes from this April.

The sentence doesn’t say anything about “some” or “all” among universities that held classes online.

As you say, は would have added an unwanted nuance of exclusivity (even though it might have described the fact more accurately). If the article also talked about universities that didn’t hold classes online last year having planned to so some other concrete things, then は might have been good to explain what those that did planned to do in contrast.

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This も is fundamentally "also", "too" or "as well", but Japanese も can be used without explicitly mentioning "the similar thing" in previous sentences. In such cases, you can think of it as 'like others', 'among others', 'like similar examples we know', 'as usual', etc. This type of も is commonly used to describe an event that happens naturally over time. Here も is used because everyone knows that many other organizations had been planning to restart social activities.

By extension, も can even add an exclamatory feeling (see: Odd use of も has me stumped). Just by saying も, it adds the feeling of "that's the way things are, and this time is no exception".

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