第224課: ~によって

When we learned about the agent marker に, we learned how several functions of に are interrelated. From its basic definition of showing where something exists, に by extension marks the existence of an agent. As we learned in that lesson and the lessons that followed, に marks the agent of stative-transitive, passive sentences, and causative predicates.

At the conclusion of our discussion on how に functions as an agent, we learned that に can in fact follow verbal expressions. By doing so, the verb becomes grammatically nominalized, but because the resultant noun is still verbal in nature, the “agent” becomes interpreted as a reason/purpose/cause for the main predicate of the sentence. Thus, the purpose-marker is born.

In Lesson 115, we briefly discussed how ~によって can be used to mark the agent. This is the combination of the agent-marker に and よる, which has various nuances including “to be caused by/to depend on/to be based on.” At its basic understanding, it helps fully establish that something is an agent, especially when other usages of に are present.


1. 原因 (Cause)・理由 (Reason): The first usage of ~によって is to objectively and indifferently present cause/reason. This speech pattern, thus, is not used so much in general conversation due to its lack of emotion. It is, however, perfectly appropriate for speaking in a technical manner.

In English, this usage translates as “due to.” Whenever it is used to directly modify a noun, you use ~による (Exs. 3-6).

Spelling Note: The Kanji spelling for this nuance is に因って.

1. 踏切(ふみきり)での(おお)きな衝突事故(しょうとつじこ)によって、運行(うんこう)20(にじゅう)時間(じかん)(おく)れが()た。
Due to a large collision at the railroad crossing, a 20-hour delay came out in operations. 

2. このビルは大地震(おおじしん){によって・で}ばらばらに破壊はかいされた。
This building was destroyed to pieces [by/in] the big earthquake.

3. 過失(かしつ)による人身事故(じんしんじこ
Traffic accident caused by a blunder

4. 大地震(おおじしん)による家屋倒壊(かおくとうかい)は、すでに一万戸(いちまんこ)()えているといわれる。
It's said that the number of homes that collapsed due to the big earthquake has already surpassed 10,000 homes. 

5. 福島原発事故(ふくしまげんぱつじこ)による放射能環境汚染(ほうしゃのうかんきょうおせん
Environmental radioactivity pollution caused by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident

6. (うし)インフルエンザによる死亡者(しぼうしゃ)続出(ぞくしゅつ)しています。
Deaths are occurring one after another due to cow influenza. 

2. 手段 (Method): によって can also be used in the sense of “by” to express method. This usage has considerable overlap with the particle で, but because によって deals heavily in showing agents of happenstance, when method is being used in a way that is not a speaker literally using a tool/method, then only によって would be appropriate.

When modifying nouns directly with this meaning, ~によって takes either the form ~による or ~によっての.

7. インターネットにより世界(せかい)のニュースを()る。
To know the world news by the Internet.

8. インターネット{によって・で}、人間(にんげん)()ながらにして、世界(せかい)概観(がいかん)できる。
Through/with the internet, people can stay seated as they can survey the world. 

9. 投票(とうひょう){によって・で}()めよう。
Let's decide by vote. 

10.  大抵(たいてい)成功(せいこう)不断(ふだん)努力(どりょく)によって()られる。
Most success is gained by ceaseless effort.

~によって VS ~を通じて・通して

There is some interchangeability between ~によって, ~を通じて, and ~を通して with Usage 2. ~によって places emphasis on the connection between the method and effect/result, which is in line with how the agent-maker に behaves. The latter two phrases, on the other hand, place emphasis on the process. 

12. インターネット{によって・を(つう)じて・を(とお)して}、アルバムを販売(はんばい)する。
To sell albums by/via/through the Internet. 

13. 選挙(せんきょ){〇 によって・X を(つう)じて・X を(とお)して}委員長(いいんちょう)になる。
To become the committee chairman by election.

3. 受身の動作主 (Agent of a Passive Structure): As we have already learned about, ~によって can be used with the passive form of a verb to show the agent (doer). If a sentence with a receiver (indirect object) is passivized, the agent must be marked by ~によって. Additionally, ~による is the only acceptable attribute form for this usage.

14. 田中(たなか)さん{〇 によって・X に}岡田(おかだ)さんに手紙(てがみ)が送られました。
A letter was sent to Mr. Okada by Mr. Tanaka.

15. その仕事(しごと)加藤(かとう)さんによってなされました。
The work was done by Mr. Kato. 

16. ライトアップ{によって・で}夢幻的(むげんてき)光景(こうけい)()()された。
A dreamy scenery was created by/with a light-up. 

17. 松本清張(まつもとせいちょう)による小説(しょうせつ
A novel by Matsumoto Seichō

4. 根拠 (Proof)・拠り所 (Basis): Following a rule/law/example/precedent/previous example/etc., it is used a lot to clearly show proof/basis. In this usage, ~による is the only acceptable attribute form. This should only be used when something clear is understood. It should not be used for mere hearsay. 

18. 証言(しょうげん)による真実(しんじつ
Truth according to testimony

19. 前例(ぜんれい){による・に(もと)づく}判決(はんけつ)(くだ)されることになる。
A judgment is to be made based on precedent.

5. 場合 (Circumstance)・相応変化 (Reasonable Change): This usage is perhaps the most common in the spoken language, equating to “depending on…” Both ~による and ~によっての are correct attribute forms, although the latter is more common in the spoken language. 

20. 天候(てんこう)によっては中止(ちゅうし)もありえるでしょう。
Depending on the weather conditions, (the match) may possibly be canceled. 

21. (とき)場合(ばあい)に{よっての・よる}対処(たいしょ
Approach which depends on the time and circumstance

22. お(かね)によって、(ひと)()わるものです。
People change depending on money.

23. この仕事(しごと)販売数(はんばいすう)によって給料(きゅうりょう)()わります。
As for this job, one's salary changes depending on sales.

24. 板前長(いたまえちょう)(うで)によって、寿司(すし)(あじ)()し悪しが左右(さゆう)されます。
The quality of the flavor of sushi is dependent on the skill of the chef. 

25. (ふく)まれる材料(ざいりょう)によって、いろいろな(あじ)のラーメンがあります。
There are many flavors of ramen based on the ingredients put in it. 

26. (ひと)によって(かんが)えが(ちが)います。
Opinions vary from person to person.

27. 挨拶言葉(あいさつことば)はその()天気(てんき)によっていろいろ()えばよい。
It's best to say that there are various greetings based on the weather of the day.

28. 曜日(ようび)によって授業(じゅぎょう)()わります。
Classes change depending on the day of the week.

29. (ひと)によって()きなものと(きら)いなものは(こと)なります。
One's likes and dislikes differ from person to person.

30. 「でも、すごいのよ。二階(にかい)(ひと)(ある)くと、天井(てんじょう)がみしみしって()るの。窓枠(まどわく)()だし、風向(かざむ)きによってはかたかた()って、すきま(かぜ)(はい)ってくるみたい。ドアなんか、鍵なんかなくても体当たりすれば開きそうよ」
“But, it’s dreadful! When the people on the second-floor walk, the ceiling creaks. The window frame is made of wood, which makes it clatter in the wind, and it’s like a draft is coming in. The door, it seems like it’ll open if you charge at it even if there wasn't a lock."From 冷たい誘惑 by 乃南アサ.

The work was done by Mr. Kato.


~ず is an old negative auxiliary, and when it is paired with ~による, the resulting phrase gives a meaning of "in any situation everything/despite/regardless".

31. 何事(なにごと)によらず注意(ちゅうい)肝心(かんじん)だ。
No matter what, attention is crucial. 

32. (だれ)によらず(ひと)不始末(ふしまつ)尻拭(しりぬぐ)いなどしたくはないよ。
No matter who it is, I don't want to reap the harvests off other people's misconduct.



Also seen as ~によりますと in extremely polite/formal speech, the most common usage of this is to mean "according to".

33. 新聞(しんぶん)によると台風(たいふう)接近中(せっきんちゅう)だった。
According to the newspaper, the typhoon was approaching.   

34. (天気(てんき)予報(よほう)によりますと、明日(あした)()れるそうです。
According to the weather report, it'll clear up tomorrow. 

35. ニュースによると、(あさ)()れだそうだ。
According to the news, morning will be clear skies.

36. 電灯(でんとう)発明(はつめい)はエジソンによるとされている。
The invention of electric light is credited to Edison.


A more direct and personal means of saying "according to" is ~によれば.




古事記(こじき)日本書紀(にほんしょき)記紀(きき))によれば、 伊弉諾尊(いざなぎのみこと)男神(だんしん))、伊弉冉尊(いざなみみこと)女神(めがみ)二柱(ふたはしら)大神(おおがみ)による国生(くにう)みの神話(しんわ)は、日本(にほん)国土誕生物語(こくどたんじょうものがたり)です。(わたし)たち日本人(にほんじん)祖先(そせん)は、日本(にほん)国土(こくど)神様(かみさま)がお()みになり、()みやすく()(くに)(つく)りあげられたものと(しん)じていました。ですから、日本(にほん)国土(こくど)()日本人(にほんじん)は、すべて神様(かみさま)()としてかたく(むす)ばれている意識(いしき)が非常に強かったのです。
For Mothers

According to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki (Kiki), the tale of the birth of our nation by the two-great kami Izanagi (male kami) and Izanami (female kami), is the creation story of Japan. Our Japanese ancestors that the kami created the Japanese land to make a great and easy to live country. That is why Japanese people living in the land of Japan felt a strong and tight binding connection to the land as all being children of the kami.

Citation Note: From かみさまのおはなし. 


~によったら would directly translate as "if it were according to." It is most common in the set phrase ことによったら, meaning "perhaps."

38. {ことによると・ことによったら}列車(れっしゃ)停止(ていし)するかもしれません。
Perhaps the train might halt.