619 - ものだ (should)

JLPT N2: ものだ (should)

There are lots of ways to say that someone "should" do something in Japanese.

The trick is to figure out how all of our different options for saying this differ in nuance.

In the case of ものだ, it means "should" with the nuance that what should be done is based on moral standards or common sense.

In other words, this is "should" in phrases like, "you should be kind to others" or "you should appreciate your health while you're young."

It is not, however, "you should buy this samurai sword" or "you should lend me $6,000."


An example:


お年寄りや妊婦には、優しく接するものだ
おとしより や にんぷ に は、 やさしく せっする ものだ。
One should be kind and caring to elderly people and pregnant women.
Literally: “elderly people + や + pregnant woman + には, + kindly / gently + come into contact with / attend to + ものだ.”


When we're beginners, we all learn that もの means "thing," so phrases like this might seem a bit odd to you at first.

It makes a little more sense if we imagine that this もの is not 物 (もの // thing) but rather 者 (もの // person). But that still is a bit strange in a literal translation.

In half-literal land, I guess we could imagine that the above sentence is saying "You will (→should) be a person who is kind and caring to elderly people and pregnant women."

Or you could do what I did, which is just memorize this sentence-ending without trying to understand it from a literal perspective.


Making Sentences

This one is easy to form:

V るものだ
V ないものだ
= should VERB



お世話になった人には、感謝するものだよ。
おせわ に なった ひと に は、 かんしゃ する ものだ よ。
You should feel grateful to people that have helped you.
Literally: “was indebted / received help from (=assistance + に + became) + person + には, + gratitude / thanks + do + ものだ + よ.”



In spoken language, ものだ often gets abbreviated to もんだ, like this:


若いうちは、たくさん勉強するもんだ
わかい うち は、 たくさん べんきょう する もんだ。
You should study a lot while you’re still young.
Literally: “young + within / while + は, + a lot + studying + do + もんだ.”


Last but not least, we have our first example with V ない coming before ものだ(well, ものです) in what was a very hard sentence for me to translate:


自分がされて嫌なことは、人にしないものですよ。
じぶん が されて いや な こと は、 ひと に しない ものです よ。
One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.
Literally: “oneself + が + is done (and) + unpleasant / disagreeable + thing + は, + person + に + don’t do + ものです + よ.”


When I first tried to translate this, I was trying to make sentences like this sound natural: "You shouldn’t do unpleasant things you’ve had done to you to others."

...and I was failing miserably.

Then it occurred to me that this is the Golden Rule, yeah? Well, the negative version of it at least. So I took a look at Wikipedia and saw some of their versions of it:

- One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.
- One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.
- What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself.

When I was taught the Golden Rule as a kid, they gave me the version that is often used to quote Jesus (who himself was referring to the Torah): "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I thought about using that version in the translation, too, but I figured that using modern language would be wiser.

Anyway, this is just a preview of some of the issues you'll run into if you ever decide to become a translator. ^^


That's it for this one.

勉強するもんだ!

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