So I've come across these two sentences:

  1. 雨は降っていますが、雪は降っていません


  1. 雨は降っていません。雪が降っています。

so what i think is happening is that the first sentence shows contrast.

in the first sentence, we simply introduce two topics and give information about them.

in the second sentence we introduced one topic, and since we already mentioned 降っている it became old information and then we can use が to specify what does come down/fall.

it's a sentence that doesnt come to contrast but to show correction/specificity of the topic.

is that correct..?

  • 1
    Have you heard about exhaustive-listing が (and how it's different from contrastive-は)?
    – naruto
    Jun 23, 2021 at 6:17

1 Answer 1


With all due respect, I disagree with your analysis, especially of the second sentence.

First of all, I don’t think the existence of the first part in each sentence is very important. The question seems to have more to do with how to interpret が and は in a negative sentence.

降っています is a very natural, matter-of-fact sentence that states it is snowing. However, its negative version 雪降っていません sounds as if the state described by 雪が降っています is the normal or expected state, but that state is currently not fulfilled because snow is missing.

降っていません, on the other hand, specifically negates 雪 as something that is falling. Something else might be falling.

Your first sentence sounds natural because of this. 「雨は降っていますが、雪降っていません」 would imply it is supposed to be snowing, too, and that would sound weird.

Your second sentence could be either 「雨は降っていませんが、雪降っています」 or 「雨は降っていませんが、雪降っています」. The latter somewhat emphasizes the fact that snow is coming down from the sky although rain is not.

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