In the process of learning Japanese, I've been doing some grammar analysis on sentence structure (across languages), Eg. subject, object, etc. I've come across something I haven't heard of before: the "topic" of the sentence.

Take this sentence: "Regarding coffee, arabica is smooth." "Arabica" is the subject, and in Japanese, "coffee" would be called the topic.

I can't find anything on the term "topic" as a classification of a part of a sentence in English. How is this defined in English?

  • 1
    "Topic" is a term that makes a lot more sense in Japanese grammar than in English. Whatever gets the wa marker is the topic, and often it's the subject, but wa and ga are different. Jun 6, 2022 at 3:10
  • Indeed, I understand the wa-marked topic is a non-logical particle (will never change the logic of the sentence, only emphasize something as a topic) and that, even when the topic and subject are identical, there's still a hidden, implied ga subject with the same noun/pronoun but isn't (redundantly) spoken. Regardless, though, we do still have those phrases that mean the same thing in English (Eg. "regarding __," "as for __," etc.) So in English grammar, how do we define such phrases in terms of "parts of a sentence"?
    – gills
    Jun 6, 2022 at 7:05
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    In English grammar, they're called a number of things, usually by form or function - prepositional phrases, conversational linkers, etc. Jun 6, 2022 at 12:25
  • I use the functional classification: pragmatic marker, discourse related, topic focusing. It's a parenthetical, here fronting the main clause. Jun 6, 2022 at 16:37
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    Lexico defines "regarding" in this context as a preposition (although I'm sure there are reasons for questioning that classification). You can compare other prepositions like re.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 6, 2022 at 21:33

1 Answer 1


In the terminology of Huddleston & Pullum (2002), "regarding coffee" is a domain adjunct consisting of a prepositional phrase.

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