908 - にわたって

JLPT N3: にわたって (throughout)

You may already know this, but the verb 渡る (わたる) means "to cross over" or "to go across." For example, we saw this sentence in an N4 lesson:

あの橋を渡ると、交番があります。
あの はし を わたる と、 こうばん が あります。
If you cross that bridge, there’s a police box at the other side.
Literally: “that + bridge + を + cross + と, + police box (=a small neighborhood police station) + が + there is.”


The verb 渡る (わたる) can also mean something like "to span" or "to cover." This is closer to the meaning we're seeing in this N3 grammar point:

When appearing as にわたって, the meaning becomes something like "throughout" or "all across."

An example:

ペンギンは南極大陸だけでなく、南半球の広範囲にわたって生息しています。
ペンギン は なんきょくたいりく だけ でなく、 みなみはんきゅう の こうはんい にわたって せいそく しています。
Penguins aren’t just found in Antarctica, but also across much of the southern hemisphere​.
Literally: “penguins + は + Antarctica + only + でなく, + southern hemisphere + の + broad area + にわたって + inhabiting + are doing.”


(↑ Curious about だけでなく? We covered it back in this N3 lesson.)


The pattern is:

[span of distance, space, time, etc.] + にわたって + [something is the case]

In the sentence above, the "span of distance/space" is 南半球の広範囲 (みなみはんきゅう の こうはんい), which we can translate as "much of the southern hemisphere."

Then comes にわたって, "throughout" or "across."

Then comes "the case" in question, which here is 生息しています (せいそく しています), "are inhabiting."

much of the southern hemisphere にわたって are inhabiting
→ are found across much of the southern hemisphere; are found all throughout the southern hemisphere

 

The word that appears directly before にわたって will always be a NOUN.

In the previous sentence, the NOUN was 広範囲 (こうはんい // broad area; vast range). If we want to be nitpicky, we could say it is the NOUN phrase 南半球の広範囲 (みなみはんきゅう の こうはんい // much of the southern hemisphere). Whatever.

In the following example, the NOUN appearing directly before にわたって is 数キロ (すうキロ // several kilometers):

その川の土手には、数キロにわたり桜並木が続いている。
その かわ の どて に は、 すうキロ にわたり さくら なみき が つづいている。
Cherry trees line the bank of that river for several kilometers.
Literally: “that + river + の + bank + に + は, + several kilometers + にわたり + cherry tree + row of trees + が + is continuing.”


That doesn't say にわたって. It says にわたり

Yeah, but ending with a ます-stem (=わたり) is basically the same thing as using the て-form (=わたって). This gives the sentence a stiffer nuance. You'd be more likely to encounter this in written Japanese.

Anyway, the nuance given by including にわたり in the sentence above is that the cherry trees line the river bank continuously for several kilometers. In other words, we're emphasizing that these trees continue for a long distance.

 

This next part is a bit confusing.

When にわたって is part of a NOUN phrase, we will put it in plain present or plain past form.

For example, the following sentence has this NOUN phrase:

長期にわたるストレス
ちょうき にわたる ストレス
prolonged stress
Literally: “long-term + にわたる + stress”


Here's the full sentence:

長期にわたるストレスは、認知症を引き起こす可能性があるらしい。
ちょうき にわたる ストレス は、 にんちしょう を ひきおこす かのうせい が ある らしい。
Apparently, prolonged stress can cause dementia.
Literally: “long-term + にわたる + stress + は, + dementia + を + cause + possibility + が + there is + apparently.”


The nuance is that we're talking about stress continuing for a long period of time. We thought the phrase "prolonged stress" captured that pretty well.

I have one grammar book that just says, "We use にわたる/にわたった when it appears before a NOUN."

That's a bit misleading, though, because it is coming before a NOUN in our previous examples, too. For instance, 桜並木 (さくら なみき // row of cherry trees) is a NOUN, yeah? But that NOUN is part of a completely separate phrase:

桜並木が続いている。
さくら なみき が つづいている。
(a) row of cherry trees continues
Literally: “cherry tree + row of trees + が + is continuing.”


In the "stress" example, though, にわたる is smack-dab in the middle of a NOUN phrase:

長期にわたるストレス
ちょうき にわたる ストレス
prolonged stress
Literally: “long-term + にわたる + stress”


Here's another example of this type of thing:

彼の全生涯にわたった研究は、今日の医療にも大きく貢献している。
かれ の ぜんしょうがい にわたった けんきゅう は、 こんにち の いりょう に も おおきく こうけん している。
The research he dedicated his life to greatly contributed to the medical treatments we have today.
Literally: “he + の + whole life + にわたった + research + は, + today + の + medical treatments + に + も + greatly + contribution + is doing.”
Note: In this sentence, 今日 is こんにち and not きょう because we are talking about "today" in general. That is, the meaning is "nowadays," "these days," etc. It is not talking about this exact day we are living in right now, which is 今日 (きょう), "today."

 

What do you think? Not too confusing, I hope?

Re-reading may help if you're not getting it. Or you can always come back to the lesson again in the future.