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Friday, April 8, 2022

~koto ni suru ~ことにする - Meaning in Japanese

In Japanese, ~koto ni suruことにする (also spelled事にする, koto こと, plus ni に adverbial copula, plus suru する) means "to decide" or "to make it so" that things will turn out in a way when the relative clause qualifying koto is in nonpast form (future tense), or "to pretend" things have turned in a way when the relative clause is in past form.

  • Tarou ga shinu
    太郎が死ぬ
    Tarou will die. (in the future.)
  • {{Tarou ga shinu} koto ni} suru
    太郎が死ぬことにする
    [I] will decide/make it so that {{Tarou will die (in the future)}}. (e.g. I'm writing a story and was deciding whether he lives or dies, and I'll make it so he dies.)
  • {{Tarou ga shinu} koto ni} shita
    太郎が死ぬことにした
    [I] decided/made so that {{Tarou will die (in the future)}}. (I already changed the story, or already decided it, but he hasn't died yet.)
  • Tarou ga shinda
    太郎が死んだ
    Tarou died. (in the past.)
  • {{Tarou ga shinda} koto ni} suru
    太郎が死んだことにする
    [I] will pretend/make so that (in the future) that {{Tarou has died (in the past)}}. (I'll tell everybody that's what happened, even if that's not true..)
  • {{Tarou ga shinda} koto ni} shita
    太郎が死んだことにした
    [I] pretended/made so that (in the past) that {{Tarou died (in the past)}}. (we managed to hide the truth by manipulating the newspapers and mass media, so now everybody thinks he died.)
私はなにも聞かなかった事にするわ! ま またね源蔵さん!
Manga: Kemono Michi けものみち (Chapter 4)

Grammar

See the article about suru する for details on grammar. This article is mainly for examples.

The phrase ~koto ni naru ~ことになる (unaccusative) forms an ergative verb pair with ~koto ni suru ~ことにする (causative), i.e. if you X koto ni suru, that means you "cause" X koto ni naru.

  • {tabako wo suwanai} koto ni shite-iru
    タバコを吸わないことにしている
    [I] have been making it so that {[I] don't smoke cigars}.
    • Is the causative of:
    • {tabako wo suwanai} koto ni natte-iru
      タバコを吸わないことになっている
      Things have been turning out so that {[I] don't smoke cigars}.
    • In both sentences the fact that "I haven't been smoking cigars lately" is the same, but with ni suru we have a causer—I've been deliberately keeping myself from smoking—while with ni naru there's no explicit causer—that's how things have been for a while now for some reason.

Examples

私はなにも聞かなかった事にするわ! ま またね源蔵さん!
Manga: Kemono Michi けものみち (Chapter 4)
  • Context: a furry declares his love for a married kemono character who apparently wears only an apron. Unsure of what to do, she runs away.
  • watashi wa {nanimo kikanakatta} koto ni suru wa!
    私はなにも聞かなかった事にする
    I'll pretend {[I] didn't hear anything}!
    (>//w//< *blushes through fur*)
    I'll pretend you didn't tell me this!
    • I won't even tell my husband about it!
    • Let's forget this happened, okay?!
  • ma, mata ne, Genzou-san!
     またね源蔵さん!
    [Goodbye], Genzou-san!
    • mata - "again," as in "see you again," can be used to say bye.

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