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Sendai-ni tenkin-suru koto-ni narimashita. (I’m being transferred to Sendai.)

Situation 1: Mr. Tian is chatting with his client, Mr. Kato, after talking business.

加藤: 実は来月、仙台に転勤することになりました。

ティエン: ああ、そうですか…。それはさみしくなりますね。

Katō: Jitsu-wa raigetsu, Sendai-ni tenkin-suru koto-ni narimashita.

Tian: Aa, sō-desu-ka … Sore-wa samishiku narimasu-ne.

Kato: Actually, I’m being transferred to Sendai.

Tian: Oh, really? We’ll miss you.

Today we’ll introduce two similar expressions: ことになる and ようになる. Xことになる shows a decision and literally means “It has been decided that X” or “It will turn out X.” This expression implies that the decision was made by someone other than the speaker. X is a verb in dictionary or nai-form. Examples: うちの近所(きんじょ)にマンションが建(た)つことになった (It’s been decided that an apartment block will be built in my neighborhood); 弟(おとうと)は来年(らいねん)、留学(りゅうがく)しないことになりました (It has been decided that my younger brother won’t study abroad next year). ことになる is also often used when the speaker wants to express a decision indirectly, though the decision was one of their own volition. Example: 来月(らいげつ)結婚(けっこん)することになりました (We are to get married next month).

Situation 2: Ms. Tamachi speaks with Mr. Hakim, a trainee worker.

田町: ハキムさん、日本語がだいぶ話せるようになりま したね。

ハキム: ええ、漢字も少し読めるようになったんです。

Tamachi: Hakimu-san, Nihongo-ga daibu hanaseru yō-ni narimashita-ne.

Hakimu: Ee, kanji-mo sukoshi yomeru yō-ni natta-n-desu.

Tamachi: Mr. Hakim, your spoken Japanese has improved a lot.

Hakim: Yes. I can now read a little bit of kanji, too.

Xようになる expresses the gradual change of a state and means that someone/something has reached the point of X. Verb X (in dictionary form) is often a potential verb and communicates the changing state from being unable to do something to being able to. To negate this expression, X(nai-form without the final い)くなる is usually used. Example: 母(はは)はメガネがないと、小(ちい)さい字(じ)が読(よ)めなくなった (My mother can no longer read small letters without glasses). When X is not a potential verb, it shows a change in habit, as in 転職(てんしょく)したので、毎日 (まいにち)早(はや)く起(お)きるようになった (I changed my job and have started to get up early every morning). In this pattern, X can be a verb in nai-form, as in 最近(さいきん)テレビを見(み) ないようになった (I don’t watch TV these days).

Bonus Dialogue: Continued from Situation 1.

ティエン: たしか仙台(せんだい)には加藤(かとう)さんのご家族(かぞく)がいらっしゃるんじゃありませんか。

加藤: ええ、東京(とうきょう)には単身赴任(たんしん ふにん)で来(き)ていましたので。来月(らいげつ) からは家族と一緒(いっしょ)に住(す)めることになります。

ティエン: それはよかったですね。子(こ)どもさんも喜(よろこ)ばれるでしょう。

加藤: ええ、下(した)の子も、私(わたし)の顔(かお)を ちゃんと覚(おぼ)えるようになると思います。以前 (いぜん)は、私の顔を見(み)ると、泣(な)いていたんですが…。単身赴任の悲(かな)しいところですね。

ティエン: でも、もうそれも終(お)わりですね。

加藤: ただ、残念(ざんねん)なこともあります。東京(とうきょう)の皆(みな)さんにお別(わか)れしなければ なりませんし、夜(よる)遅(おそ)くまで自由(じゆう)に飲(の)み歩(ある)けなくなりました。

ティエン: ははは、それはしかたがありませんね。

Tian: If I remember correctly, doesn’t your family live in Sendai?

Kato: Yes, I left my family there and came to work in Tokyo alone. I’ll be able to live with my family from next month.

Tian: Good for you. Your children will be happy too.

Kato: Yeah, I suppose my younger kid will now be able to remember my face. Before, she would cry when she saw it. It’s one of the sad things about living apart from your family for business reasons.

Tian: But all that’s now coming to an end.

Kato: Well, there are some downsides too. I’ll have to say goodbye to everybody in Tokyo and I won’t be free to drink until late into the evening.

Tian: Ha ha! Well, that can’t be helped.

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