910 - をとおして (throughout)

JLPT N3: を通して (をとおして // throughout)

を通して (をとおして) means pretty much the same thing as を通じて (をつうじて), which we saw in the previous lesson.

That is, it describes a continuous state across a period of time. Accordingly, we'll often translate it as "throughout."

An example:

北海道では、1年を通して様々な作物が育ちます。
ほっかいどう で は、 いちねん をとおして さまざまな さくもつ が そだちます。
In Hokkaido, a wide variety of crops are grown throughout the year.
Literally: “Hokkaido + で + は, + one year + を通して + various + crops + が + are raised.”

 

So, there is not a single difference between を通して (をとおして) and を通じて (をつうじて)?

Uh... sort of...

I was on the fence about even mentioning this, but it is comparatively more common to describe continuous states that are intentional using を通して (をとおして).

For example, in the following sentence, the speaker and her husband chose to stay up all night talking:

子供の教育について、夫とを通して話し合った。
こども の きょういく について、 おっと と よる をとおして はなしあった。
My husband and I spent the whole night discussing our child’s education.
Literally: “children + の + education + about (=について), + husband + と + night + を通して + discussed.”


Conversely, in our lesson on を通じて (をつうじて), we had a sentence where the continuous state is not "intentional." It is something out of a person's control:

この国は1年を通じて雨が多い。
この くに は いちねん をつうじて あめ が おおい。
This country gets a lot of rain all year round.
Literally: “this + country + は + one year + を通じて + rain + が + many.”


The reason that I was hesitant to even mention this tendency toward intentional states with を通して (をとおして) is that it's not a rule, so to speak. を通して (をとおして) might be used when talking about a continuous state that is not dependent on the intention of a person, as we saw in our first example:

北海道では、1年を通して様々な作物が育ちます。
ほっかいどう で は、 いちねん をとおして さまざまな さくもつ が そだちます。
In Hokkaido, a wide variety of crops are grown throughout the year.
Literally: “Hokkaido + で + は, + one + year + を通して+ various + crops + が + are raised.”


↑ I say that this sentence does not describe an "intentional" state because we are using the verb 育つ (そだつ // to grow; to be raised), which is an intransitive verb. In other words, the agent performing the action of "growing" is 作物 (さくもつ // crops). It is not something like "people" or "farmers." (If this sounds confusing, you might want to go back to our Bunkai Beast lesson on (in)transitive verbs.)

In contrast to the tendency toward using を通して (をとおして) for intentional continuous states/actions, we also saw を通じて (をつうじて) being used for something that could be described as "intentional" in our previous lesson:

彼は2年間の浪人生活を通じて、一度も弱音を吐かなった。
かれ は にねんかん の ろうにん せいかつ をつうじて、 いちど も よわね を はかなかった。
During the entire two years he spent as a rōnin, he didn’t complain once.
Literally: “he + は + two year (period) + の + rōnin + lifestyle + を通じて, + once + も + complaint + を + didn’t say (something unpleasant).”
Note: 浪人 (ろうにん) is not referring to a "master-less samurai," but rather to a student who didn't pass their university entrance exams and therefore has to wait to take them again at a later date.


↑ Not complaining is something under his control. It is an intentional act — well, an intentional avoidance of an act. ^_^


Anyway, let's just not overthink it.

It's probably fine to just lump を通して (をとおして) and を通じて (をつうじて) together in your mind as both meaning "throughout."

 

Two more examples:

彼女の成績は、高校3年間を通して常にクラスで一番だった。
かのじょ の せいせき は、 こうこう さん ねんかん をとおして つねに クラス で いちばん だった。
She got the best grades in class throughout all three years of high school.
Literally: “she + の + grades + は, + high school + three + year (period) + を通して + always + class + で + number one + was.”


息子は4年間の留学期間を通して1度も日本に帰って来なかった。
むすこ は よ ねんかん の りゅうがく きかん をとおして いちど も にほん に かえって こなかった。
Throughout the whole four years my son studied abroad, he didn’t come back to Japan once.
Literally: “son + は + four + year (period) + の + study abroad + time period + を通して + once + も + Japan + に + return (and) + didn’t come.”

 

Finished!

But we're not done with を通じて (をつうじて) and を通して (をとおして) just yet. We're going to explain a slightly different usage of these in the next two lessons.