Language | WELL SAID

Use 'tame' in order to show intent in Japanese

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing writers

Ryūgaku hiyō o kasegu tame ni hataraite-iru.

(I am working in order to earn money to study abroad.)

Situation 1: At the office. Mr. Sere speaks to a young part-time worker, Mr. Tanaka.

セレ:田中くんは、まだ大学生なんだって?週4日もバイトに来て、大変じゃない?

田中:いえ、留学費用を稼ぐために働いているので、全然大変だとは思いません。

Sere: Tanaka-kun wa, mada daigakusei na-n datte? Shū yokka mo baito ni kite, taihen ja nai?

Tanaka: Ie, ryūgaku hiyō o kasegu tame ni hataraite-iru node, zenzen taihen da towa omoimasen.

Sere: Tanaka, you’re still a college student, right? Isn’t it tough coming in to work part-time four days a week?

Tanaka: No, I’m working in order to earn money to study abroad, I don’t think it’s tough at all.

The compound conjunction particle ために consists of the noun ため (sake, purpose) and the particle に in order to express intent. In the pattern “XためにY,” where both “X” and “Y” are verbs, “X” takes the dictionary form or the nai-form and can translate as “in order to,” “for the purpose of” or “because”:

日本(にほん)のことを知(し)るために日本へ行(い)く。

(For the purpose of learning about Japan, I will go to Japan.)

母(はは)を悲(かな)しませないためにも、まじめに暮(く)らそう。

(In order not to make Mom sad, I’d like to live an honest life.)

The particles は (a topic marker) or も (also/too) are sometimes added for emphasis.

Situation 2: Mr. Mita is about to leave work when Ms. Gray reads a notice on her smartphone.

三田:じゃ、そろそろ失礼しようかな。

グレイ:あ、「人身事故が起きたために、山手線で大幅な遅れが出ている」って、乗換案内に書いてある。

Mita: Ja, sorosoro shiturei shiyō kana.

Gurei: A, “Jinshin-jiko ga okita tame ni, Yamanote-sen de ōhabana okure ga dete-iru”-tte, norikae annai ni kaite-aru.

Mita: Well, I think I might head off soon.

Gray: Ah, the transfer information that’s written here says, “Due to the occurrence of a personal injury incident, the Yamanote Line is experiencing significant delays.”

The “XためにY” pattern can also express a reason or cause and be translated as “due to” or “because.” In this case, the verb “X” should be in the past tense or ta-form as in Situation 2’s “起(お)きたために.”

“X” can also be a noun, in which case the pattern becomes “XのためにY”:

事故(じこ)のために山手線(やまのてせん)が不通(ふつう)になった。 (Due to the accident, the Yamanote Line became suspended.)

Bonus Dialogue: Mrs. Okubo peeks into her son Mitsuo’s room and finds him playing video games.

母(はは):光男(みつお)、パソコンゲームばかりやっていないで、期末(きまつ)試験(しけん)のために勉強(べんきょう)したら? 大学(だいがく)受験(じゅけん)だって、そんなに先(さき)じゃないし。

光男:僕(ぼく)は将来(しょうらい)一流(いちりゅう)のゲームクリエイターになるために、いろんなゲームを研究(けんきゅう)しているんだよ。

母:ゲームクリエイターになるためには、まずは大学に合格(ごうかく)しないと。

光男:古(ふる)いな。大学なんて、何(なん)の才能(さいのう)もない人(ひと)が、知識(ちしき)や技術(ぎじゅつ)を身(み)につけるために行くんだ。

母:光男は、もう何かゲームを作(つく)ったの?

光男:いや…。でも頭(あたま)の中(なか)にいっぱいアイデアがある。

母:私(わたし)が高校生(こうこうせい)のとき、試験が近づくと、頭の中が小説(しょうせつ)のアイデアでいっぱいになったの。でも、試験が終(お)わると夢(ゆめ)のように消(き)えてしまったなあ。

光男:母(かあ)さんは小説を書(か)くために試験勉強を犠牲(ぎせい)にしなかったからだよ。

母:そうか。もしそうしていたら、光男は生(う)まれていなかったよ。

Mother: Mitsuo, don’t just play video games, why don’t you study for your finals? The entrance exams aren’t too far away, either.

Mitsuo: I’m researching various games in order to become a first-class game creator in the future.

Mother: In order to become a game creator, you have to pass the university (entrance exams).

Mitsuo: That’s so old-fashioned. University is just where people with no talent go to acquire knowledge and skills.

Mother: Have you created any games, Mitsuo?

Mitsuo: No … but I have a lot of ideas in my head.

Mother: When I was a high school student, whenever the exams approached, my head was full with ideas for a novel. But when the exams were over, they disappeared like a dream.

Mitsuo: Mom, that’s because you didn’t sacrifice studying for (your) exams for the purpose of writing a novel.

Mother: That’s right. If I had done that, you wouldn’t have been born, Mitsuo.

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