Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

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!