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Posts: 56

A couple months ago I was having issues with とする. It's a very common piece of grammar but I couldn't understand it with the resources(this site included) that I had been using. Ultimately, even though it felt like there was something missing, I just learned the main meanings(資格("capacity as"), 仮定("suppose")) and ignored any lingering discomfort with the grammar. About a month ago I realized through context as I was reading an example sentence that とする could simply mean "make"(or "turn into"). I'm embarassed that I never learned this meaning feels like the kind of things that I was just supposed to know.

Part of the problem has been that the resources I've been using didn't seem to consider this a particularly important grammar point, but as I'll show in a moment, it is. This site doesn't mention it, Tae Kim's didn't mention it. Yahoo's dictionaries bury this meaning amongst a dozen others in the main する page and notably don't include it in the とする or として pages(neither dictionary has a にする page). While I've been weary of using J-E dictionaries anymore, I did finally resort to returning to wwwjdic back then. For とする, "to make into, to change into" is definition of 7 of 9. It features more prominently in にする, but I never thought to look it up back then(After all, what precedent is there for assuming the definition of にする would have anything to do with とする?)

Even though I figured out that "to make" meaning about a month ago, it only dawned on me a couple weeks ago(in the head, ever a great setting for thinking) that this meaning ties together the various submeanings of する very well. But first, see how it also perfectly illustrates one of と's main meanings. From助詞;, under 格助詞, 「と|共同の相手、作用の結果、引用、並立を示す。」 

I was hoping when I first started having trouble with this that learning more about the particle would help me unravel it, and the answer was always here, but I didn't recognize it. 作用の結果 is clearly the meaning that と takes when する is using its "make/turn into"meaning. 

So what do "as" and "suppose" have to do with "make"? Well it's all about context. Consider the sentence 「彼を主賓としてパーティーを開いた。」 (We) had a party with him as the guest of honor.  That concept of "make" makes sense here, does it not? "We made him the guest of honor and had a party." 

This "as" meaning from yahoo(the 大辞泉 dictionary):2③(多く「…を…にする」「…を…とする」の形で)人や物事を今とはちがった状態のものにならせる。ある地位に就かせたり、ある用に当てたりする。

In this case, 就かせる and 当てる are merely subdefinitions of する as "make."

I could point out how this applies to "suppose" as well, but I think I've made my point. In grammar sites, there's an awful lot of attention given to ~うとする and "as" and "suppose" but rarely any mention of the this simple secondary definition of する, even though (it's been my personal experience that) it enhances the understanding of する, にする, and とする alike. So I think it should get at least a mention in Lesson 15, if not a lesson unto itself. Such an article would've been incredibly helpful for me a couple months ago.

Lastly, a couple of example setences. 



「占める:1 あるもの・場所・位置・地位などを自分のものとする。」






The above is an example of something that is unwieldy using just the "as" meaning and/or trying to think of する as "do." 部隊を自慢としている。To be proud of the brigade...or literally "To make the brigade (ones) pride." NOT "To do the brigade as ones pride".










March 11, 2013 at 5:49 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1032

Mind you that not all of these examples are in support of your hypothesis. 

To me, the sentence you sent to me on my wall were synonymous in meaning. Now, let be clear that the section in L96 does not cover the exact environments that you are finding. However, there are sections that do. They need to be referenced for clearer clarification, but if I remember last time you didn't bring the best examples for your case, and over half of them are in the scope of the section of L96. Try not to let translating get the best of you because English and Japanese hardly cooperate with each other.

You would be right in your complaints on translation problems with those few sentences, but that just goes to show you the differences in pragmatics for both languages. You can't call one thing phony because the literal parts in the other language creates an unnatural or ungrammatical sentence.

Now, what you're spotting is something about making something out as something. This is within the bounds of the site and it is found in L19.

You're not discovering something new about the language. It's 2013 after all, not 1946.  

The fact of the matter is that Japanese speakers view these things that you think are different as the same thing, and the problem is that English distinguishes and barely does because you can make a corpus of sentences where the two ways are synonymous and where they are not. This is just the problem with semantics on the sentence level though. 

I'll definitely work on making those sections better for you and others so that this is completely clear, but as a Japanese speaker I don't see anything amidst in the sentences presented here. 



March 11, 2013 at 10:56 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 56

1. I never thought to look under L19...とする and its various forms are far more common than にする. Nonetheless, if I had properly studied your site cover to cover, I would have been familiar with the grammar. So I was clearly wrong that your site doesn't cover it. I apologize. Also, I noticed in that lesson the difference from last month's google cache version. Thanks for the little addition(even though this is still my fault for having never read that lesson in the first place :) ). I think it'll help someone someday.

2. You're absolutely right that I shouldn't linger on the English translations, but the great advantage of this site is that it describes a huge amount of grammar in English, making it an outstanding reference(though again, as my stupidity precluded my thinking to look in L19(all the worse since you specifically stated "you might want to check through Lesson 19 and 25" back then), its usefulness as a reference fell short in this particular instance.) I understand that this sense of, as you describe in L96,  "1. "Aが・をBとして" shows qualification, position, or title" is a subset of "to make." It's what I was trying to note...that within the context of, say, a conversation, the above is a subdefinition from "make". (And I don't want to suggest that I'm hung up on the English words...merely the concepts behind them. I'd give a shot at using Japanese, but I'm not at all confident in my writing abilities.)

An example in English:

"Some random guy in a subway asks you to take off your shirt. Creepy, eh?

Now, make him a doctor..make the subway a hospital room. And now it's okay?"

So even in English, "make" can be used in that way. (as a doctor -> making him a doctor -> 医者として)

Anyway, if I had a point, I think my train of thought let it off a few stops ago.  I guess what I'm getting at is that the help I received before(for which I remain tremendously grateful for), including the following...

業としている = To do as one’s profession or business

専門している = To be majoring/focusing on

必要としている = To need/make as a necessity 

守りとして = As a defense 

宝物としている = To deem as a treasure

代償として = As a compensation for

..."Make" is mentioned once, and then only appearing with "as" following it. You then proceeded to point me in the direction of L19...something which I epically failed at(mea culpa..mea culpa..). However, maybe it might have been a bit more useful to note in that reply that とする could mean...well, I won't say "make" again(oops(mea maxima culpa)). That's where my confusion stems from. Anway, I think I'm starting to go around in circles and had better cut it off here. As always, thanks for the help and the wonderful site. ^^

March 11, 2013 at 1:25 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1032

I know that this sort of confusion can last a long time. Just try not to let something relatively simple get the best of you. Sadly the site doesn't have as strong of a reference system within the site ever since major curriculum changes took place, but there are mentions of the usages of this grammar point scattered around the site. There should be a mention in L25. 

As you get more familiar to my style of teaching, I try to put as little emphasis on definitions of grammar points as much as possible, because oh too many times people try take it and run with it. It's best to take the function, look at the examples, find more sentences, and then see how things are being put together. 

Those examples as before are accounted for with the explanations found within the site, and are within the bounds of all other explanations you've found thus far. 

Those two makes would be translated differently into Japanese. Words that are semantically ambiguous in English such as "make" are never going to find a perfect single match in Japanese. It just doesn't happen. A lot of learning a different language is trial and error. At least you find out what's right and wrong. 



March 11, 2013 at 3:19 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 56

Figured I'd take one last(hopefully brief) shot at this.


  • This site endeavors to provide English language coverage of a broad range of Japanese grammar and is, to the best of my knowledge, the most ambitious such site in existence.
  • As the site is in English, the normal disinclination to agonise over English semantics when discussing Japanese shouldn't apply. That is, for me, this is the go-to place when the Japanese-language resources are beyond my understanding. Therefore, the choice of English is therefore incredibly important.
  • I stand by my belief that "as" is a terribly counterproductive handling of として/とする. While it is more natural for a minority of とする translations, for the purposes of education it is very misleading. I'll do my best to briefly support this assertion.

The simplest problem with "as" is that it is a conjunction. From the start this makes it a terrible choice to explain とする. You said it yourself that Japanese speakers would consider the following sentences to be using the same meaning of とする. 

石炭を燃料として使う。To use coal as fuel.

石炭を燃料とする(/としている)。To make(/turn) coal into fuel.

But given how dangerous "as" is(our exchange here is evidence enough of that), in an educational text, I would translate the above as "to turn coal to fuel and use it"...It's a cumbersome, ugly translation; "To use coal as fuel" is easier on the ears certainly. But it seems that it might be necessary to prevent the student from getting the wrong idea about として being 接続詞. 

Just two more things I want to add in support of "to make." The first is just one last example sentence:

You see the mental gymnastics it would take to shoehorn "as" in here? Because とする isn't 接続詞 and shouldn't be translated or taught as such, right?

And lastly, to support the idea that とする/にする, along with their derivative grammar, would be better taught as "to make" and derivatives thereof, a few definitions from Yahoo's dictionaries(大辞泉 and 大辞林):

  • (大辞泉)する【▽為る】:2③(多く「…を…にする」「…を…とする」の形で)人や物事を今とはちがった状態のものにならせる。ある地位に就かせたり、ある用に当てたりする。

  • (大辞林)する0 【▽為る】:【2】 (「…を…にする」「…を…とする」の形で)
  • [1] ある人をある身分にする。あるポストにつける。あるものに育て上げる。
  • [2] ある物をある用途に使う。
  • [3] ある物を…に変化させる。
  • (大辞泉)と:14 動作・状態などの結果を表す。
  • (大辞林)と:[3] 動作・作用などの帰結・結果を表す。
My first thought on these dictionary mentioned "Words that are semantically ambiguous in English such as "make" are never going to find a perfect single match in Japanese." ならせる seems awfully close...

Second thought: 【2】[2] does seem awfully close to "as", but I still think that it's (abstractly) subservient to the concept of 変化させる/ならせる/"make"/"turn into." I think that the entries on と seal this. They clearly demonstrate that the particle is performing the function of signifying the result of some change. The english conjunction "as" is a suboptimal choice to reflect this concept I think.

So I think I've failed in my efforts to keep this brief, but I'm about done. Just one closing thought.

---Why do I care so much?---
Because this site is incredible! The web is full of kana flashcard applets and "Baby's first kanji"-esque sites. Tae Kim's site was comparatively very helpful. But he himself stated that he would avoid any grammar point that he saw as being more in the domain of vocabulary, and so while his guide is a fine introduction, it's outgrown pretty quickly and leaves the learner short of a huge amount of important recurring utilitarian vocabulary. I guess the presumption is that the grammar covered in that site is a sufficient foundation, and anything further can be learned through dictionaries, textbooks, and example sentences. For those of us struggling on the path from beginner to intermediate, this isn't especially helpful. It reminds me of the old 'proof is left as an exercise to the reader' from uni. It should be up to the student what they want to spend (sometimes large amounts of) time figuring out on their own. And so I think this site plays a very important role. This is a diamond in the rough in a sea of unambitious basic level guides with the occasion site that lovelessly enumerates grammar points. Anyway, I'd again better quit before I start going around in circles. I hope with this post I finally managed to adequately state my grievance.


March 13, 2013 at 9:23 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1032

Well, I'm not saying that "as" is a comprehensive definition of the expression either because there are several different usages attested for it. That's the first thing that you have to figure out. The best thing to start first with is take the bits of information that merely even refer to the topic and print those out first. As you discover sentences with it in it, try figuring out what the rest of it says. Your native English intuitions will try to finish the sentence for you. It may turn out that you want to use one wording here and another there. So long as what you turn up is a great match for what's being demonstrated in Japanese, I don't care and I'd give extra credit for making sure the English translation you provided was as natural as possible. 

With that said, there are a few problems with mentioning "make" so earlier in the game. That's because of the causative, the verb "tsukuru" and the existence of "Ren'youkei + suru" and "ni saseru", etc. There are multiple dynamics to keep in mind, and I'm not even mentioning the possible usage of the Ren'youkei of タル形容動詞+する, which would be とする as well. 

Yes, "to make" is a good interpretation of it in some environments. It is like XをYにならせる in those cases. However, when the causative form is not taught and different nuances overall come about when using either or, it makes it hard to mention this in beginners. 

What I think I might do, though, to really help, but it will take some time later in the day, is reconfigure the section in L96?--I forgot the actual number--and try to cover all of these bases for you. It's not like I'm aloof at all these possible environments as I use and read them all the time as early as yesterday night. 

This is definitely a good topic to be had. I'll try to make sentences with phrases that you've brought up and hopefully sometime hopefully in the afternoon have a substantial section that brings other material together from the other lessons. 

Now, my biggest grievance is that so many people would rather use Tae Kim's site rather than mine because they would rather not venture further into the site past the homepage as they just don't realize what's in it...oh well.

Just let me do my magic. There's no telling when I get it done because I have other things to do as it is spring break. lol



March 13, 2013 at 10:24 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1032

Also, とされる has its own mention. I told you things were a little bit scattered.



March 13, 2013 at 2:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1032

Well, I've gone through some studying before trying to attempt doing any rewrite of the material, but I've come to a preliminary conclusion that the information that you've been seeking is actually present on the site but broken up to the point that this is not immediately evident to you. 

Remember that the environment plays a big role on interpretation. You can have the same elements, or what look to be the same elements, put them in different kinds of environments and then get different meanings. 

With that said, the most inclusive list of functions of とする happens to be This, though, still doesn't account for 100% of the data. So, as a linguist, this is what we try to do when making a hypothesis of any sort. We want to try to come up with a conclusion that accounts for all possible sentences with something in it, and for this case, in Japanese.

Now, I've read through all of the examples that you've posted here, and I am basically 100% certain that the site in totality can explain them all. You just made a perfect opportunity to make those sections better and more connected with each other. With that, you are definitely a diligent student. 



March 13, 2013 at 3:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1032

Oh, and considering にする and とする together is actually very important. You should have been able to surmise this when searching for other explanations in other dictionaries. The two particles are sometimes quite interchangeable with only minor nuance differences, if any. 

In this case you have to be careful on what you're referring to, but both can be the Ren'youkei of adjectives 形容動詞 and タル形容動詞 respectively. So, in this sense, they would be the same thing and you would then imagine them to share the same meanings in those cases--which is exactly what you find. Aside from that, however, you realize that there is often a nuance difference concerning 作用の結果. This is described in the lesson about と.

Of course, this difference in nuance is enough to cause one or other be environments that the other cannot. After all, all languages do this. This is where the confusion first stems from, and trying to relate this to English with different dynamics could spell headaches. 

Now, to reassemble this information. 



March 13, 2013 at 3:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1032

I've done a pretty good job connecting the bits of information together. After thinking long and hard about this, I think the main issue is that you were confusing yourself more than anything else. 

As I'm sure you know, no English equivalent should be treated as a blanket term without qualification. L96 had mentioned specifically certain other things. The usages that you showed for とする are structurally in different environments. You did all the right things trying to search more into the meanings of the parts, but the site has already done that work for you. 

So, with the slightly modified entries of L19, 25, and 96, you should be more on your way to understanding this. 



March 13, 2013 at 4:40 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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