I want to know if my first translation of a sentence is wrong and more importantly why.

I'm using Duolingo as one of a couple tools for learning Japanese. Today I got the sentence "The coffee here is delicious" At first I translated it "ここコーヒー美味しいです" In my head the super literal translation came out to "here is the target location of coffee that is delicious." Duolingo said it was wrong and that my が and は we're backwards.

I now know marks the topic of the sentence and marks the subject of the verb.

So the translation I gave I think is closer to "In reference to the coffee, here it's delicious"

Am I still interpreting the Japanese I wrote wrong? Is this bad grammar or just weird sentence structure?

1 Answer 1


ここがコーヒーは美味しいです is a perfectly correct sentence, but it's nuanced. This is a correct sentence if you wanted to say "Here is the place where coffee is delicious" or "It is this shop that offers delicious coffee". A sentence like this is natural only when someone asked you about the best café in the town or asked you to guide them there. This type of が is called exhaustive-listing が, which is a particle used to say "(this is) the one".

However, for now, you have to translate "The coffee here is delicious", which is a plain sentence that does not emphasize the "here" part. You have to translate it plainly without emphasizing "here". A natural way of doing so in Japanese is to construct a so-called "double-subject" sentence. You can mark ここ with は, making it as the topic ("Here, ..."), and then say コーヒーが美味しい ("coffee is delicious"). I think you have seen typical double-subject sentences like 私は猫が好きです ("I like cats"), 彼は背が高いです ("He is tall") or ゾウは鼻が長いです ("Elephants have a long nose"). You need to follow the same pattern here.

  • I appreciate the thorough response. I got the contents right but the nuance wrong. ありがとうございます!
    – ノアー
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 18:30

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