Learning Japanese – Introducing the topic of a sentence using …は…


In this sixth lesson in our Learning Japanese series, you will learn how to indicate the topic of a sentence using the particle は.

We will built up on the content of our previous lessons, there fore not hesitate to have a look at them before you start this one:

Now, let’s have a look at the use of this は particle in context.

たかい です。

[takai desu.] – It is expensive.

たなかさん の くるま は たかい です。

[Tanaka-san no kuruma wa takai desu.] – Tanaka’s car is expensive.

ほん は おもしろい です。

[hon wa omoshiroi desu.] – Books are interesting.

Here is what we have to notice from these sentences:

  • First, the particle は must be pronounced [wa] and not [ha].
  • The interest of the particle は is made obvious if you look at the first and second sentences. In the first sentence, we are saying something is expensive, but if it might be obvious for us, it might not be for our interlocutor. Therefore in the second sentence the use of the particle は allows to introduce the topic which we are saying it is expensive. Note the use of “topic” instead of “subject”, as even though it might seem that “たなかさん の くるま” is the subject of the second sentence the notion of subject does not really exists as we know it in Japanese.

Let’s do some practice.

Exercise 1:

Translate the below sentences into English using the following vocabulary:

いぬ – dog
いもうと – younger sister
くるま – car
はやい – quick
やさしい – gentle, affectionate
わたし – I, me


たなかさん の くるま は はやい です。

わたし の いもうと の いぬ は やさしい です。











[Tanaka-san no kuruma wa hayai desu.] – Tanaka’s car is quick.

[watashi no imōto no inu wa yasashii desu.] – My sister’s dog is affectionate.


Exercise 2:

Translate the below sentences into Japanese using the following vocabulary.

あかい – red
いえ – house
じてんしゃ – bicycle
ひろい – spacious, large
わたし – I, me


My bicycle is red.

Tanaka’s house if spacious.


わたし の じてんしゃ は あかい です。

[watashi no jitensha wa akai desu.]

たなか の いえ は ひろい です。

[Tanaka-san no ie wa hiroi desu.]


This is the end of this short but important lesson, as you will see that the particle は is commonly used in Japanese sentences.

Do not hesitate to share your comments or ask questions!

See you at the next lesson,


Next lesson: Asking what something is using これ/それ/あれ は なん です か。

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