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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is...How do I use the nominalizers の (no) and こと (koto) correctly?
Both の (no) and こと (koto) are nominalizers. That means they can turn other parts of speech into nouns. In many cases, you can use them interchangeably, for example --
およぐのがすきです。(Oyogu no ga suki desu.)
およぐことがすきです。(Oyogu koto ga suki desu.)
Both sentences mean “I like to swim,” and both are considered grammatically correct. So, how do you know when to use which one?
Let’s go over the rules so you can learn how to use の (no) and こと (koto) correctly.
Here are the cases where you need to use こと (koto) instead of の (no)--
One, if the sentence ends with です(desu), だ(da) or である(de aru), you have to use こと (koto). An example is,
今年の目標は、試験に合格することです。 (Kotoshi no mokuhyō wa, shiken ni gōkaku suru koto desu.)
This means “My target of this year is to pass the exam.” Here, the sentence ends with です(desu), so you need to use こと(koto).
Do you remember the sentence ending phrase のです(no desu)? You can use it to explain the reason or background of a situation, as in, 電車が遅れたのです。(Densha ga okureta no desu.) which means, “It’s because the train was delayed.” So, when you use the nominalizer before です (desu), you need to use こと(koto) instead of の (no).
Two, you need to use こと(koto) if it’s before fixed phrases such as routines, rules, or experiences, such as ことにする (koto ni suru) meaning “to make it a rule to do something” or ことがある (koto ga aru) meaning “to have ever done something”. You also use it before certain verbs such as ことが可能だ (koto ga kanō da) meaning “to be possible to,” ことが必要だ (koto ga hitsuyō da) meaning “to need to” and ことに決める (koto ni kimeru) meaning “to decide to.”
Here is a situation where you need to use の (no) instead of こと (koto)--
One, you’ll need to use の (no) for verbs that talk about perception like 見る・見える (miru/mieru) meaning “to see” or 聞く・聞こえる (kiku/kikoeru) “to hear.” That’s because the original meaning of こと (koto) is “thing” so it’s not appropriate to use when expressing perception.
For example,
友達が話しているのが聞こえました。(Tomodachi ga hanashiteiru no ga kikoemashita.)
Meaning “I heard my friends talking.” Here, you’re perceiving what you heard, and it’s not related to an object, so you need to use の (no).
How was this lesson? If it’s still a little confusing, make sure to check out JapanesePod101.com for more practice!
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
またね![mata ne!] See you!

12 Comments

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JapanesePod101.com Verified
August 2nd, 2016 at 06:30 PM
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What Japanese learning question do you have?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
December 9th, 2020 at 07:46 PM
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Hi Holt Sievers,

Thank you for your question!

As Michael says, it means "desu" at the end of a sentence, following a nominalizer.

In that case, the nominalizer should be "koto", not "no"☺️


Hi Michael,

Thank you for your comment!

Your answer to Holt Sievers is perfect and really easy to understand😊


Hope you enjoy learning Japanese with us:)


Sincerely,

Miho

Team JapanesePod101.com

Michael
December 8th, 2020 at 10:14 PM
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Holt Sievers:

"You said to use koto if the sentence ends with desu, but you contradicted that in your first example. "Oyogu no ga suki desu""


You're correct, that's a mistake in the article's wording - the article means that if you want to nominalise an action and IMMEDIATELY end the sentence with 'です' like in:


「今年の目標は、試験に合格する `こと` です。」


always use 'こと' otherwise it would come out:


「今年の目標は、試験に合格する `の` です。」

('My target of this year is BECAUSE pass the exam', which doesn't make sense)


「およぐ `の` がすきです」 and 「およぐ `こと` がすきです」


can both be used because 「のがすきです」 and 「ことがすきです」 are valid preference nominaliser patterns.


Hope that makes sense!

Holt Sievers
May 5th, 2020 at 05:47 AM
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You said to use koto if the sentence ends with desu, but you contradicted that in your first example. "Oyogu no ga suki desu"

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 10th, 2019 at 05:01 PM
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Hi Boh,


Thank you for your comment!


Sorry for the confusion.

The の in the example 電車が遅れたのです。(Densha ga okureta no desu.) is not a nominalizer, and that's why it can be used with です. It's just a comparison to ことです, as a nominalizer.


Thank you for studying with us!


Sincerely,

Miho

Team JapanesePod101.com

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 10th, 2019 at 04:50 PM
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Hi Phil,


Thank you for posting!


We are glad to know that this lesson was helpful for you.

If you have any question, please feel free to let us know.


Sincerely,

Miho

Team JapanesePod101.com

Boh
August 25th, 2019 at 12:01 PM
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I'm confused.

"Do you remember the sentence ending phrase のです(no desu)? You can use it to explain the reason or background of a situation, as in, 電車が遅れたのです。(Densha ga okureta no desu.) which means, “It’s because the train was delayed.” So, when you use the nominalizer before です (desu), you need to use こと(koto) instead of の (no)."


In this example, isn't の being used?

Phil
February 15th, 2017 at 11:40 AM
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good info

JapanesePod101.com Verified
September 15th, 2016 at 12:37 PM
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Unagiさん

こんにちは。

どういたしまして。:smile:

Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

Unagi
September 6th, 2016 at 03:37 AM
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由紀先生、


なーるほど。お返事ありがとうございました!

JapanesePod101.com Verified
September 5th, 2016 at 12:16 AM
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Unagi san,

こんにちは。

「の」は個人的なことに使うことが多く、「こと」は一般的なことに使われることが多いです。

ですから、文がPersonalかどうかを考えるといいと思います。

「やめる」はこの文だけでは背景は分かりませんから「の」も「こと」も使えます。

「夢」はもし、このSpeaker or writerの個人的なことなら「の」を使うべきです。

「一般的」は「こと」を使ったほうが良いです。

「中止」の文は「中止」がKeywordではなく、この内容がKeyです。山道の事は個人的な問題ではありませんからこの場合「こと」が良いでしょう。

:smile:

Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com