Language | WELL SAID

Getting things straight and getting things done in Japanese with ‘n desu kara’ and ‘n desu kedo’

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Takako ga juku ni iku-tte kimeta-n dakara, yasumanai de ikinasai. (Takako, you decided to go to cram school, so don’t skip it, go.)

Situation 1: Takako, a junior-high school student, tells her father that going to cram school is too much trouble.

たか子:  塾に行くの、めんどくさいなあ。

父:  たか子が塾に行くって決めたんだから、休まないで 行きなさい。

Takako: Juku ni iku no, mendokusai nā.

Chichi: Takako ga juku ni iku-tte kimeta-n dakara, yasumanai de ikinasai.

Takako: Going to cram school is too much trouble.

Father: Takako, you decided to go to cram school, so don’t skip it, go.

This week we will introduce the proper use of Xんですから、Y and Xんですけど、Y. The construction Xんですから、Y (the casual version is Xんだから、Y) means “Y because X,” where X is a matter both the speaker and listener know about. The speaker uses it to inform that “the listener knows X but their understanding of the consequences is not sufficient.” If the speaker uses Xんですから、Y when the listener does not know X, it can seem pushy or assertive. In this kind of scenario, Xので、Y or Xんですが、Y is adequate.

In Xんですから、Y, element Y is the speaker’s wish, intent, judgment, request or order, such as 〜たい, 〜はずだ, 〜ほうがいい and 〜てください. Example: 田中(たなか)さんがここで待(ま)ち合(あ)わせるって言(い)っていたんだから、ここに来(く)るはずだよ。(It was Mr. Tanaka who said to meet here, so he should be coming).

Situation 2: A tourist asks Ms. Tamachi for directions to Tokyo Station.

観光客: すみません、東京駅へ行きたいんですけど、道を 教えていただけませんか。

田町: あ、はい、ここをまっすぐ行って右に曲がれば、 駅が見えますよ。

Kankōkyaku: Sumimasen, Tōkyō Eki e ikitai-n desu kedo, michi o oshiete itadakemasen ka?

Tamachi: A, hai, koko o massugu itte migi ni magareba, eki ga miemasu yo.

Tourist: Excuse me, I’m trying to go to Tokyo Station. Would you mind telling me the way?

Tamachi: Oh, yes, go straight here and when you turn right, you’ll see the station.

When you ask for a favor or advice, the pattern Xんですが、Y or Xんですけど、Y is adequate. X is the explanation of the reason or situation, and Y is a request or asking for advice. This pattern is used only when X is a fact that the listener does not know. Example: このサイトにログインできないんですけど、どうしたらいいでしょうか (I can’t log in to this website, what should I do?).

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. and Mrs. Shiba are trying to guess the murderer in a mystery drama.

妻:  この男(おとこ)は事件(じけん)があった時間(じかん)にパーティーに出席(しゅっせき)していたんだから、犯人(はんにん)のはずはないよ。

夫:  そうだねえ。でも、この男は彼女にものすごい借金(しゃっきん)をしていたんだから、彼女を殺して借金をなくしたいと思(おも)っていたに違(ちが)いないよ。

妻:   ところで、私(わたし)たち、あしたは早(はや)く家(いえ)を出(で)るんだから、もう寝(ね)たほうがいいんじゃない?

夫:  うん、そうだけど。結末(けつまつ)がわからないと寝られないな。

妻:  そうね。もう荷造(にづく)りは終(お)わったん でしょう?

夫:  うん、あ、あした、ジャケットを持(も)っていきたいんだけど、どこにあるかな?

妻:  あしたは暑(あつ)くなるって天気予報(てんきよほう)で言(い)っていたんだから、ジャケットはいらないよ。

夫:  そうか。…あ、ほら、やっぱりこの男が犯人だよ!

妻:  ほんとにミステリーが好(す)きねえ!

Wife: This guy can’t be the suspect because he was at the party at the time the incident occurred.

Husband: That’s right. But this guy had borrowed a lot of money from her, so he must had been thinking of killing her and wanted to clear his debts.

Wife: By the way, we are going to leave the house early tomorrow, so we’d better to get to bed.

Husband: Yeah, but I can’t sleep until I know the ending.

Wife: Yeah. You’ve already finished packing, haven’t you?

Husband: Yup. Oh, I want to take my jacket tomorrow. Where is it?

Wife: The weather forecast said it’ll be hot tomorrow, so I don’t think you’ll need a jacket.

Husband: I see … Oh, look, he’s the criminal, just as I thought!

Wife: You really love mysteries, don’t you?