LearnJapanese Tae Kim's Guide to Learning Japanese





Hypothesizing and Concluding

Posted by Tae Kim

In this section, we're going to learn how to make hypotheses and reach conclusions using: 「とする」 and 「わけ」().

Coming to a conclusion with 「わけ

Vocabulary

  1. 訳 【わけ】 - meaning; reason; can be deduced
  2. 直子 【なお・こ】 - Naoko (first name)
  3. いくら - how much
  4. 英語 【えい・ご】 - English (language)
  5. 勉強 【べん・きょう】 - study
  6. する (exception) - to do
  7. うまい (i-adj) - skillful; delicious
  8. なる (u-verb) - to become
  9. つまり - in short
  10. 語学 【ご・がく】 - language study
  11. 能力 【のう・りょく】 - ability
  12. ある (u-verb) - to exist (inanimate)
  13. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) - to say
  14. 失礼 【しつ・れい】 - discourtesy
  15. 中国語 【ちゅう・ごく・ご】 - Chinese language
  16. 読む 【よ・む】 (u-verb) - to read
  17. 広子 【ひろ・こ】 - Hiroko (first name)
  18. 家 【1) うち; 2) いえ】 - 1) one's own home; 2) house
  19. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  20. こと - event, matter
  21. 一郎 【いち・ろう】 - Ichirou (first name)
  22. 微積分 【び・せき・ぶん】 - (differential and integral) calculus
  23. 分かる 【わ・かる】 (u-verb) - to understand
  24. ここ - here
  25. 試験 【し・けん】 - exam
  26. 合格 【ごう・かく】 - pass (as in an exam)
  27. 今度 【こん・ど】 - this time; another time
  28. 負ける 【ま・ける】 (ru-verb) - to lose
  29. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) - to come
  30. あきらめる (ru-verb) - to give up

The noun 「わけ」() is a bit difficult to describe but it's defined as: "meaning; reason; can be deduced". You can see how this word is used in the following mini-dialogue.

Example 1

直子いくら英語勉強しても、うまくならないの。
Naoko: No matter how much I study, I don't become better at English.

ジム:つまり語学には、能力ないいうか。
Jim: So basically, it means that you don't have ability at language.

直子失礼ね。
Naoko: 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?"

  • 中国語読めるわけない
    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」.

Example 2

直子広子行ったことある
Naoko: Have you ever gone to Hiroko's house?

一郎あるわけないでしょう。
Ichirou: There's no way I would have ever gone to her house, right?

Example 3

直子微積分分かる
Naoko: Do you understand (differential and integral) calculus?

一郎分かるわけないよ!
Ichirou: 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.

  • ここ試験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 「いない」 in this case and not 「いない」.

  1. 今度負けるわけにはいかない
    This time, I must not lose at all costs.
  2. ここまできてあきらめるわけにはいかない
    After coming this far, I must not give up.

Making hypotheses with 「とする

Vocabulary

  1. する (exception) - to do
  2. 明日 【あした】 - tomorrow
  3. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) - to go
  4. 今 【いま】 - now
  5. ~時 【~じ】 - counter for hours
  6. 着く 【つ・く】 (u-verb) - to arrive
  7. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) - to think
  8. 観客 【かん・きゃく】 - spectator
  9. 参加 【さん・か】 - participation
  10. もらう - to receive
  11. 被害者 【ひ・がい・しゃ】 - victim
  12. 非常 【ひ・じょう】 - extreme
  13. 幸い 【さいわ・い】 (na-adj) - fortunate
  14. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】 - breakfast
  15. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) - to eat
  16. もう - already
  17. 昼 【ひる】 - afternoon
  18. お腹 【お・なか】 - stomach
  19. 空く 【す・く】 (u-verb) - to become empty

While this next grammar doesn't necessarily have anything directly related to 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.

Examples

  • 明日行くする
    Assume we go tomorrow.

The example above is considering what would happen supposing that they should decide to go tomorrow. You can see that the literal translation "do like we go tomorrow" still makes sense. However, 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 to assume that the conditional will be very handy here and indeed, you will often see sentences like the following:

  • から行くしたら9時着く思います
    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:

  1. 観客して参加させてもらった
    Received favor of allowing to participate as spectator.
  2. 被害者して非常幸いだった。
    As a victim, was extremely fortunate.
  3. 朝ご飯食べたしてもうだからお腹空いたでしょう。
    Even assuming that you ate breakfast, because it's already noon, you're probably hungry, right?

The same idea applies here as well. In example 1, you are doing like a "spectator" and doing like a "victim" in example 2 and finally, doing like you ate breakfast in example 3. 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」).