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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!

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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?

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

Unagi
August 25th, 2016 at 08:19 PM
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ひろこ先生、


いつも分かりやすく面白い説明をありがとうございます。今回のテーマに関する疑問が色々ありますが、聞いてもよろしいですか。「こと」と「の」の違いがなんとなく分かりましたが、いつも迷う言葉がいくつかあります。例えば、


やめる

  毎晩遅くまで遊ぶのをやめてください。

  毎晩遅くまで遊ぶことをやめてください。


  有名な俳優になるのが夢です。

  有名な俳優になることが夢です。


一般的

  夏祭りには浴衣を着て行くのが一般的です。

  夏祭りには浴衣を着て行くことが一般的です。


中止

  天気がよくなるまで、この山道を歩くのが中止になっています。

  天気がよくなるまで、この山道を歩くことが中止になっています。

  

上記の場合、どちらも正しいですか。「の」/「こと」しか使えない例文がありますか。


お返事をよろしくお願いいたします。