Although it would seem that such a relatively small phrase would be easy, ～ての is far from simple.
What is so complicated about this expression? As you know, て follows the 連用形 as a conjunctive particle to show continuation or parallelism. It has become so important that it is deemed an essential conjugation in Japanese, the て形, or more correctly called the 並列形 in this instance. Essentially how it works is that it attaches to the 連用形 and stops the continuation of the current clause, and you as the listener or reader expect something related to that clause to be said next.
What about ～ての? の makes an attribute. You may have seen ～についての (about) before.
1a. 日本について話す。To talk about Japan.
1b. 日本についての話。 A talk about Japan.
In the second it's used as an attribute of 話. There are several such phrases and they're often deemed as fixed postpositions. This, though, doesn't account for everything. In reality there are four broad usages of ～ての.
1. The attribute form for stopping the 連用形 (連用中止法の連体形).
2. As a postposition (the opposite of a preposition)
3. In fixed attribute expressions.
4. After て phrases used adverbially like 初めて.
However, the hard one is 1. Expressions under the third category are just deemed suffixes. An example is ～きっての (The most...of all).
The most capable person in the country
We also understand expressions under 4 like 初めての.
My first overseas trip ever was to Mexico.
The problem is how の really functions and the relationship between the 連用形 and 連体形. Say you have the verb 使う. 使う’s 連体形 is still just 使う. So, why can you say something like さいころを使っての遊び (a game played with dice). One would assume that this could work with anything. However, there are indeed instances where this is unnatural. Now we have to find out what these restrictions are. The previous example could have easily been stated as さいころを使った遊び.
～ての has a deep tie to the 連体形. After all, it too is an attributive expression. Considering the ways to make an attributive expression in Japanese, you have the following options.
Let us not forget about the underlining properties of an attribute and case particles themselves as we examine this pattern further.
4a. 韓国へ旅行する。To travel to Korea.
4b. 韓国への旅行。 Travel to Korea.
As you can see, you have to use の for the attribute, and the case particle in this case stays. However, you couldn't have said にの. Consider how the following expressions below change when you change it to an attribute.
5. 高校を卒業する → 高校の卒業
To graduate high school → High school graduation
6. 彼に死刑を宣告する → 彼への死刑の宣告
To give him the death penalty → The death sentence given to him
7. 武器が恐ろしい → 武器への恐ろしさ
Weapons are dreadful → The dreadfulness of weapons
What about when it seems that both the 連用形 and the 連体形 are logical choices. These are exceptional circumstances, and the noun in question is one that has adjectival qualities. Consider the following.
The first focuses on the quality of beauty while the second modifies the thing. So, it's like the difference between "she's really beauty" and "she's a real beauty". In other cases such as the ones we've seen, there is a clear back-and-forth change between the 連用形 and 連体形. However, sometimes changing one phrase to fit the other results in an unnatural sentence. This is due because of semantic restraints, not the 'grammaticality' of the phrase.
9. うれしい話 〇 → うれしく話す X
What about adverbs? What if they're used like an attribute? はじめて is a prime example of の following. しばらく (in a while) is also a good example. Yet, there is a group of adverbs that never take の even when they are with a noun. These nouns are relative and have to do with an indeterminate quantity. So, one says something like ちょっと前. However, ちょっとの前 is unacceptable. There are still other adverbs that are never used with の like 必ず.
You have now gotten a glimpse of why ～ての may be so difficult given the complexity of the 連体形 itself and how it relates to the 連用形. However, that's not the only thing that makes it complex. What about the many usages of て?
1. Shows sequence.
To go home and eat dinner.
2. Indicates reason or cause.
I got scratched by a cat and cried.
3. Indicates method or means.
To use one's elbows to view.
4. Comparison or contrast.
A red and large apple
5. Contradictory condition.
He knew but didn't tell (me).
6. Shows some sort of condition. This is so in phrases like について.
Ignoring #6, #1-3 can be used with ～ての. This definitely makes things still difficult. #4 and #5 are illogical with it. Now, let's see what happens when it's used with #1.
When ～ての is used to show sequence, it compensates the particle から. So, it could be replaced by ～てからの or ～たあとの.
It was a come-back as planned after a rest for two years
Coming back from visiting an aquarium
Homeward after completing a pilgrimage
That day, because there was an emergency situation after having already gone to have fun at an amusement park, it took some time to get to the scene.
All of these can be rephrased with the 連体形. This phrase can lead to something being incidental.
This phrase indicates that one wouldn't understand the fun had you not seen it. This phrase, incidentally, no pun intended, can lead to very strong statements.
That is something that lapsed over 10 days.
Upon receiving permission
However, when the transition shown by て is a simple sequence, it's very hard to use ～ての. This is because as these examples have shown, it presents some sort of premise, and then something strong is supposed to come after it.
When て indicates reasoning or cause, the relation is general. Since X is so, Y happens. Phrases like 心配しての言葉 can be rephrased to 心配して言った言葉. However, this is not as simple as it looks. Rather, there are three possible consequences.
This is very context driven, but it isn't a totally random assignment. Sometimes context must be there for ～ての to be understood. If words seem to be missing if you translate back into English, the Japanese is probably bad.
A suicide forced by being pressed into repaying one's debts
An emotional return to Japan from being tired of American life.
Example Note: 24a shows reasoning and 24b shows the content of resentment.
You can also see ～てのことだ. In similar examples, you can't just replace it with ～た. That's because you lose any sense of reasoning with something else. The の replaces a verb that can be ascertained from the context. The same goes for ～てのものだ.
Why I always store food and water is in case of a [natural disaster/earthquake/emergency situation].
That's in preparation for things tomorrow.
27. アベノミクスの政策が失敗に終わったら、日本の経済はすぐに復活できないかもしれない。景気が戻るに は50年はかかる可能性があるだろう。なので、私が現在のアベノミクスに対して警鐘を唱えるのは、３０年
If the Abenomics policy were to end in failure, the Japanese economy would possibly not be able to quickly recover. There is also the possibility that it could take even 50 years for the economy to recover. So, as for me personally, what raises an alarm at the current Abenomics is worrying about my life thirty years down.
～あっての is a very important application that states that without X, there is no Y. が is usually dropped.
Joy only from having gone through hardship.
As this is a fishing industry since there is the ocean, we mustn't pollute it.
It's all thanks to my parents.
31. 命あっての物種 (Proverb)
Where there is life, there is hope.
A union in existence thanks to the company
～ての: Means and Condition
This is actually the most prevalent usage and the easiest to understand. It is often interchangeable with ～ながらの.
Hiking while guiding a lot of people was hard.
A revolution while disgracing oneself
Just as was the case before, there are instances where you can replace it with the 連体形, cases you can but there is a change in meaning, and cases where they're not interchangeable.
A personal relation aside from work
A decision based on forecast
A dinosaur name after the president
Study directed for exam
There are many instances where the 連体形 and ての are still interchangeable, though. Remember those postposition like phrase? Some include に対｛しての・する｝ (with regards to), をめぐ｛って・る｝ (concerning (disputes)), and に関｛しての・する｝ (about (formal)). We will see these later in Advanced IMABI.