Jinshin-jiko-no sei-de densha-ga okureta (The train was late because someone had an accident.)

Situation 1: Mr. Sere bumps into Yuri after leaving the office. They decide to go to a restaurant to have dinner together.

セレ: 今日は、さんざんだったよ。朝は事故のせいで電車が遅れて、会議に遅刻するし、会議は異常に長引くし、夜は残業させられるし…。

ゆり: でも、そのおかげで、晩御飯をいっしょに食べられる。

Sere: Kyō-wa, sanzan-datta-yo. Asa-wa jiko-no sei-de densha-ga okurete, kaigi-ni chikoku-suru-shi, kaigi-wa ijō-ni nagabiku-shi, yoru-wa zangyō saserareru-shi.

Yuri: Demo, sono o-kage-de, ban-gohan-wo issho-ni taberareru.

Sere: Today was a terrible day. This morning the train was late because of an accident and I was late for the meeting, which went on for an incredibly long time and so I had to work overtime this evening.

Yuri: But because of that we can eat dinner together!

Today, we will introduce the meanings and usages of the noun せい (because of), which expresses someone’s belief about the cause of something. Using the pattern XせいでY, a speaker can express that X caused Y and that it was undesirable. Since せい is a noun, X is the noun-modifying form of a noun, adjective, verb, phrase or clause. Y is a phrase or clause. Example: 道(みち)が暗(くら)いせいで、電柱(でんちゅう)にぶつかってしまった (I bumped into a utility pole because the road was dark). The antonym of せい is おかげ, which is used when Y is desirable, as Yuri uses it in Situation 1.

Situation 2: Continued from Situation 1.

セレ: 会議が長引いたのは、小岩のせいなんだ。

ゆり: ああ、よくセレがうわさしている人ね。また強硬に反対したの?

Sere: Kaigi-ga nagabīta-no-wa, Koiwa-no sei-na-n-da.

Yuri: Aa, yoku Sere-ga uwasa-shite-iru hito-ne. Mata kyōkō-ni hantai-shita-no?

Sere: Koiwa is to blame for prolonging the meeting.

Yuri: Oh, he’s the one you often talk about, isn’t he? Did he strongly object to your suggestion again?

To emphasize the cause (X), the pattern YはXせい is used as in Mr. Sere’s sentence in Situation 2, or as in: 若者(わかもの)が結婚(けっこん)できないのは、社会(しゃかい)のせいだ (Society is to blame for young people that cannot get married). When Y is a clause it has to be changed to a noun-modifying clause that ends in の, as in this example. For avoiding assertion, an idiomatic phrase Xせいか is put at the top of the sentence, as in かぜのせいか、鼻水(はなみず)が出(で)る (I have a running nose, maybe because I have a cold).

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Mita’s colleagues are worried about him.

グレイ: 三田(みた)さん、どうしたの? なんだか元気(げんき)がないみたい。

三田: じつは、昨日(きのう)飲(の)み過(す)ぎたせいで、頭(あたま)が痛(いた)いんだ。

グレイ: 元気がないのは、二日(ふつか)酔(よ)いのせいだったのね。

田町: また失恋(しつれん)したのかと心配(しんぱい)してたのよ。

グレイ: でも、お酒(さけ)に強(つよ)い三田さんが二日酔いなんて、めずらしいね。

三田: 昨日は、すごく飲んだから。じつは…、昨日は秘書課(ひしょか)の橋本(はしもと)さんと最初(さいしょ)で最後(さいご)のデートだったんだ。すぐふられちゃって…。

田町: あ、やっぱり失恋のせい!

セレ: (はいってくる。) 三田くん、神田(かんだ)くんが合(ごう)コンのメンバー募集(ぼしゅう)しているよ。

三田: あ、行(い)く、行く! サンキュー、セレくん!(でていく。)

グレイ: ふうん、三田さんの立(た)ち直(なお)りの早(はや)さには、いつも感動(かんどう)する…。

Gray: Hey, Mr. Mita, what’s the matter with you? You look a little down.

Mita: Actually, I have a headache because I drank too much last night.

Gray: I see — you look down because you have a hangover!

Tamachi: We were worried about you, we thought that you had been having love troubles again, but I’m relieved that it was only our imagination.

Gray: But, it’s not like you to have a hangover — you can usually handle your liquor.

Mita: Yeah, I drank too much last night. To tell you the truth, yesterday was my first and last date with Ms. Hashimoto from the secretary section; I was quickly rejected.

Tamachi: Oh, lost love caused his hangover after all!

Sere: (Coming in) Mita, Mr. Kanda is now seeing those who want to attend the group date he organized.

Mita: Oh, I will be joining! Thanks, Sere. [Mita leaves.]

Gray: Hmmm, I’m always impressed how fast Mr. Mita recovers.

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