The Particle に III: The Conjunctive に 

第331課: The Particle に III: The Conjunctive に 

The conjunctive particle に is usually ignored in Japanese studies, but it is not that difficult. In this lesson, we will learn all about how exactly it is used. Some of its usages are actually really important. 

Basic Understanding

In Classical Japanese, に was used along with を and が almost interchangeably to mean “but”. Or, it would be after the 連体形 of verbs just as other case particles could. So, just as のに has two interpretations in Modern Japanese, the conjunctive に had two potential meanings.

1. 十月晦日みそかなるに、紅葉もみじ散らでさかりなり。
Though it’s already the end of the tenth month (of the lunar calendar), colored leaves have not scattered; they’re at peak.
From the 更級さらしな日記.

The first usage we will look at is how this に is used to show a prelude to an utterance. The most common example of this is the phrase ようするに, which essentially means “long story short” or “in brief”. The next most common example is 思うに, which means “presumably/upon thought”. The similar 考えるに meaning “in considering” is not used as much. You can also say 推測すいそくするに (in presuming) and 想像するに (in imagining). These phrases are often used in formal situations as well as in arguments. Rarer examples show up in writing.

2. 思うに、喧嘩けんかは僕のせいだった。
      Upon reflection, the fight was my fault.

3. 思うに、これがAさんの本性ほんしょうなのだ。
     Presumably, this is A-san’s nature.

4. ひびきから想像するに、バタフリーというポケモンはちょうのような姿をしているのだろう。
    Imagining from its sound, the pokemon named Butterfree probably has the appearance of a butterfly.

5. 考えるには、ポケモンと一緒に戦って成長することが一番大事である。
    In consideration, battling and growing with one’s pokemon is most important.

6. この記述から想像するに、ホエルオーはスタジアムよりも大きいね。
    Imagining it from this description, Wailord is bigger than a stadium, right?

7. 要するに、これがあなたの言いたいことでしょう。
    In short, this is what you want to say, no?

8. 状況じょうきょうから推測するに、その位置も安定している。
    Judging from the conditions, that position is also stable.

9. 思うに、ポケモンは本能的ほんのうてきに進化するのだ!
     Upon thought, pokemon instinctively evolve!

10. 要するに、このゲームはポケモンという生き物をつかまえて、育てて、対戦するゲームなんだね。
In short, this game is a game you catch creatures called Pokemon and then raise and battle with them.

11. 見た目から推測するに、ピカチュウは電気タイプのポケモンだろう。
      Judging from appearance, Pikachu is probably an electric type pokemon.

12. 調査結果から推測するに、今回の噴火が起こった原因はヒードランの復活のためでしょう。
Judging from the investigation results, the case of this last eruption is probably due to the revival of Heatran.

13. 要するに、モンスターボールでポケモンがつかまえられる。
      In short, you can catch pokemon with pokeballs.

14. 私が考えるに、このあんには問題がある。
      In my thought, there is a problem in this plan.

15. この大きさから(想像)するに、このかいは100年は生きてきたのだろう。
      Judging from the size, this shellfish has probably lived at least 100 years.

16. 要するに、注意しろということだ。
      Long story short, this is about paying attention.

17. 要するに、答えはノーだった。
      In short, the answer was no.

18. 地理的に予想するに寒そうな場所だね。
     Judging geographically, it seems like a cold place.  

19. 想像(する)にかたくない (書き言葉)
      Not difficult to imagine

Verb + に + Negative Potential

The pattern “verb in 連体形 + に + same verb in negative potential” is extremely common in Japanese and can essentially be used with any verb you can put in the potential form. What this pattern means is that although you want to do X, you can’t for whatever reason. Usually, the reason is circumstantial.  

20. 売るに売れないものだ。
      It’s something I can’t sell even if I wanted to.

21. 今朝からずっと雨で、行くに行けない。
      It’s been raining ever since this morning, and so I just can’t go.

22. 歌うに歌えない歌詞
      Lyrics that one just can’t sing

23. 行くに行けない雰囲気になった。
      The atmosphere became one that I couldn’t go.

24. 帰るに帰れないかもなあ。
      Looks like I/we can’t go home…

25. トイレに行くに行けない状況になった時は、精神的にかなりきつい。
It’s psychologically very tense whenever you’re in a situation you can’t go to the restroom.

26. 泣くに泣けないぼんミスだった。
      It was a trivial mistake too bitter to cry about.

27. すに越されぬ大きな川
      A river impossible to traverse


~ようにも show supposition and is equivalent to “しても”.  It is extremely common and is often followed with something that relates to incapability. This can also be found in the negative as ~まいにも.  This, though, is not really used anymore.

28. 起きようにも起きられなかった。
      I couldn’t get up even if I tried.

29. プールの中で歩こうにも中々抵抗ていこうで歩けない。
      Even if you walk inside a pool, you can’t quite walk even with significant resistance.

30. 歌を歌おうにも高音こうおんが出にくい。
      Even if I try to sing the song, it’s hard to reach the high tones.

31. 急ごうにも急げる体でもない。
      I’m not in the physical condition to be able to hurry.

32. 履歴書りれきしょを書こうにも電話番号の記入は必須ひっすだから、携帯が無いと履歴書を作れない。
Even if I were to write a resume, because phone number is a required field, if I don’t have a cellphone, I can’t make a resume.

33. 今から就職活動しようにも、やりたい事もないし資格とかも持っていない。
Even if I were to start looking for a job now, there’s nothing I want to do or really have the   qualifications for.

34. じゅくで学んだ事を復習させようにも、ほとんど時間が確保出来ない。
Even if I were to have (the students) review what they’ve learned in cram school, I could not secure hardly any time.

35. 家出をしようにもお金がないよ。
      Even if run away, you don’t have any money.