As promise, today I will explain one of the most confusing particles faced by most Japanese Learning Students.

1. Mr. Tony eats bread. – Toni-san wa pan o tabemasu.
2. Mr. Tony eats bread. – Pan wa Toni-san ga tabemasu.

The difference of the above two sentences is that (1) is talking about “Toni-san” and (2) is about “pan (bread)”. In another words, (1) is answering a question such as “What Toni-san eats?” and (2) such as “Who eat bread?”.

Either sentence does not necessarily need a question, but the main interest is “Toni-san” in (1), and “pan” in (2). The essential difference of (1) and (2) is the topic. The topic in (1) is “Toni-san”, and “pan” in (2).

The expression “Toni-san wa…” in (1) indicates that “Toni-san” is the topic, so the speaker is talking about or making question about “Toni-san”, and this is the function of “wa”. You can let the people know that you are talking about X by saying “X wa…”, and this function is called topic marker in the field of linguistics.

In other words, “wa” is a topic marker and “ga” is a subject marker.

Another example will be the combination of “wa” and “ga” in one sentences
Mr. Tony is staying in this house. Mr. Tony is a teacher.
Toni-san ga kono ie ni sunde imasu. Toni-san wa sensei desu.

In the above example, “Toni-san” is mentioned first as a “subject”. The second sentence is about “Toni-san” that is mentioned earlier and now “Toni-san” becomes a “topic”, “wa” is used instead of “ga.”

Almost all future lessons will be using “wa” and “ga”. So the more you read , the more you will understand. Stay Tune !!!