Some things that are not covered
In writing this section, I considered a large number of topics that fall on the border between vocabulary and grammar. In the end, I decided to skip any topic that can be looked up and learned with examples. Some examples of grammar that fall under this category are 「にとって、に対して、に関して、and について」. When you come across such grammar in the course of learning Japanese, you can look them up at the WWWJDIC and look at the example sentences. That’s all you should need to give you an idea of what each phrase means and how it is used. On the other hand, I’ve decided to go over two types of grammar that does deserve some explanation: 「わけ」（訳） and 「とする」.
Coming to a conclusion with 「わけ」
The first type of grammar is, in actuality, just a regular noun. However, it is used to express a concept that deserves some explanation. The noun 「わけ」（訳） is defined as: “meaning; reason; can be deduced”. You can see how this word is used in the following mini-dialogue.
- No matter how much I study, I don’t become better at English.
- So basically, it means that you don’t have ability at language.
- How rude.
As you can see, Jim is concluding from what Naoko said that she must not have any skills at learning languages. This is completely different from the explanatory 「の」, which is used to explain something that may or may not be obvious. 「わけ」 is instead used to draw conclusions that anyone might be able to arrive at given certain information.
A very useful application of this grammar is to combine it with 「ない」 to indicate that there is no reasonable conclusion. This allows some very useful expression like, “How in the world am I supposed to know that?”
- There’s no way I can read Chinese. (lit: There is no reasoning for [me] to be able to read Chinese.)
Under the normal rules of grammar, we must have a particle for the noun 「わけ」 in order to use it with the verb but since this type of expression is used so often, the particle is often dropped to create just 「～わけない」.
- Have you ever gone to Hiroko’s house?
- There’s no way I would have ever gone to her house, right?
- Do you understand (differential and integral) calculus?
- There’s no way I would understand!
There is one thing to be careful of because 「わけない」 can also mean that something is very easy (lit: requires no explanation). You can easily tell when this meaning is intended however, because it is used in the same manner as an adjective.
（１） ここの試験に合格するのはわけない。- It’s easy to pass the tests here.
Finally, although not as common, 「わけ」 can also be used as a formal expression for saying that something must or must not be done at all costs. This is simply a stronger and more formal version of 「～てはいけない」. This grammar is created by simply attaching 「わけに はいかない」. The 「は」 is the topic particle and is pronounced 「わ」. The reason 「いけない」 changes to 「いかない」 is probably related to intransitive and transitive verbs but I don’t want to get too caught up in the logistics of it. Just take note that it’s 「いかない」 in this case and not 「いけない」.
- This time, I must not lose at all costs.
- After coming this far, I must not give up.
Making hypotheses with 「とする」
While this next grammar doesn’t necessary have anything to do with the previous grammar, I thought it would fit nicely together. In a previous lesson, we learn how to combine the volitional form with 「とする」 to indicate an attempt to perform an action. We will now learn several other ways 「とする」 can be used. It may help to keep in mind that 「とする」 is really just a combination of the quotation particle 「と」 and the verb 「する」 meaning “to do”. Let’s say you have a sentence: [verb]とする. This means literally that you are doing like “[verb]” (in quotes). As you can see, when used with the volitional, it becomes: “Doing like making motion to do [verb]“. In other words, you are acting as if to make a motion to do [verb]. As we have already seen, this translates to “attempt to do [verb]“. Let’s see what happens when we use it on plain verbs.
- Assume we go tomorrow.
In （１）, the example is considering what would happen supposing that they should decide to go tomorrow. You can see that the literal translation still makes sense, “Do like we go tomorrow.” but in this situation, we are making a hypothesis unlike the grammar we have gone over before with the volitional form of the verb. Since we are considering a hypothesis, it is reasonable that the conditional will be very handy here and indeed, you will often see sentences like the following:
- If we suppose that we go from now, I think we will arrive at 9:00.
As you can see, the verb 「する」 has been conjugated to the 「たら」 conditional form to consider what would happen if you assume a certain case. You can also change 「する」 to the te-form （して） and use it as a sequence of actions like so:
- Received favor of allowing to participate as spectator.
- As a victim, was extremely fortunate.
- Even assuming that you ate breakfast, because it’s already noon, you’re probably hungry, right?
The same idea applies here as well. In （３）, you are doing like a “spectator” and doing like a “victim” in （４） and finally, doing like you ate breakfast in （５）. So you can see why the same grammar applies for all these types of sentences because they all mean the same thing in Japanese (minus the use of additional particles and various conjugations of 「する」).
|Previous - More Negative Verbs||Next - Time-Specific Actions|
This guide has been borrowed from Tae Kim's Guide to Learning Japanese, which is not affiliated with and does not endorse The Unofficial AP* Japanese Website.