917 - によって (because of)

JLPT N3: によって (because of; due to; owing to)

I find this usage of によって to be less confusing than some of the other ones that we've been studying. (Scroll to the bottom of this lesson for a full list.)

The version of によって that we're seeing in this lesson is used to refer to the cause of something. If we had to translate this によって into English, perhaps we'd say that it means "because of," "due to," or "owing to."

In the context of a specific sentence, however, the translations can vary quite a lot. Here, we're expressing the meaning of によって by using the word "With" in our English translation:

北海道新幹線の開通によって、帰省が楽になった。
ほっかいどう しんかんせん の かいつう によって、 きせい が らく に なった。
With the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, going home (to visit my family) has become a lot easier.
Literally: “Hokkaido + shinkansen + の + opening (of a new road, railway, etc.) + によって, + returning home + が + easy / not a hassle + に + became.”


I suppose I could have put "Due to the opening of..." but using "With the opening of..." sounded a bit more natural to me.

Anyway, first we have a certain situation:

北海道新幹線の開通
ほっかいどう しんかんせん の かいつう
the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen
Literally: “Hokkaido + shinkansen + の + opening (of a new road, railway, etc.)”


...which is resulting in a certain outcome:

帰省が楽になった
きせい が らく に なった
going home (to visit my family) has become a lot easier
Literally: “returning home + が + easy / not a hassle + に + became.”


...and we're connecting the two with によって

北海道新幹線の開通によって、帰省が楽になった。
ほっかいどう しんかんせん の かいつう によって、 きせい が らく に なった。
With the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, going home (to visit my family) has become a lot easier.
Literally: “Hokkaido + shinkansen + の + opening (of a new road, railway, etc.) + によって, + returning home + が + easy / not a hassle + に + became.”


And the word directly before によって is a NOUN.

 

Everything making sense so far?

I hope so. Because there's not a lot more explaining I can do... other than to give you some more example sentences...

彼女は教師に暴力を振るったことにより、高校を退学になった。
かのじょ は きょうし に ぼうりょく を ふるった こと により、 こうこう を たいがく に なった。
She was expelled from high school on account of violence toward a teacher.
Literally: “she + は + teacher + に + violence + を + exercised / exhibited + thing + により, + high school + を + expulsion from school + に + became.”
Note: 暴力を振るう (ぼうりょく を ふるう) is a common phrase meaning something like "to use violence," "to resort to violence," etc.


↑ Note that saying により is pretty much the same thing as saying によって. Using the ます-stem (=より) instead of the て-form (=よって) just gives the sentence a somewhat stiffer-sounding nuance. I doubt you'd need to use this much in your own Japanese, but you may encounter it, particularly in written language.

 

Sometimes, we won't have any word that corresponds to によって in our English translation:

彼との出会いによって、僕の人生は大きく変わった。
かれ と の であい によって、 ぼく の じんせい は おおきく かわった。
Meeting him completely changed my life.
Literally: “he + と + の + meeting + によって, + I + の + life + は + majorly / in a big way + changed.”


Yeah, I guess I could have put, "Due to my meeting with him, my life changed completely." But that sounds a bit like over-translation to me.

 

Last of all, note that if によって is inside of a noun phrase — in which case it will be sandwiched between two NOUNS — it will change to による

による飛行機の遅延や欠航は、珍しいことではありません。
きり による ひこうき の ちえん や けっこう は、 めずらしい こと ではありません。
It is not rare for flights to be delayed or canceled due to fog.
Literally: “fog + による + airplane + の + delay + や + flight cancellation + は, + rare + thing + ではありません (=is not).”


The noun phrase here is:

による飛行機の遅延や欠航
きり による ひこうき の ちえん や けっこう
flights delayed or canceled due to fog.
Literally: “fog + による + airplane + の + delay + や + flight cancellation”

 

Finished!

And not just with this lesson, but will all of the によって lessons:

☑ によって (depending on)
☑ によって (through)
☑ によって (by)
☑ によると (according to)
☑ によっては (some)
☑ によって (because of)

You're a veritable Japanese grammar master!