925 - 反面/半面(はんめん)

JLPT N3: 反面/半面(はんめん // on the other hand

Following our previous two lessons on に対して (にたいして // as opposed to) and に反して (にはんして // contrary to), we're continuing our trend of studying N3 grammar patterns that express contrasts.

This time we're looking at 反面/半面 (はんめん), which we might translate as "on the other hand." This pattern is used when we want to express that there are two opposing sides to something. For example:

この植物は病気に強い反面、寒さに弱い。
この しょくぶつ は びょうき に つよい はんめん、 さむさ に よわい。
This plant is hardy when it comes to disease, but on the other hand, it doesn’t deal well with the cold.
Literally: “this + plant + は + illness + に + strong + 反面,  + coldness + に + weak.”


に反して (にはんして) is different than 反面/半面 (はんめん) because に反して is describing something that goes against someone's expectations, intentions, etc., as in this sentence:

私達の予想に反してジャイアンツが優勝した。
わたしたち の よそう にはんして ジャイアンツ が ゆうしょう した。
Contrary to our expectations, the Giants won the game.
Literally: “we + の + expectations + に反して + (Yomiuri) Giants + が + winning + did.”
Note: The nuance is that the Giants won not one but a series of matches, such as in a tournament.


に対して (にたいして) is somewhat closer in meaning to 反面/半面 (はんめん), but the nuance of a sentence with に対して (にたいして) is a bit more "contrastive," for lack of a better word:

姉は学校ではよくしゃべるのに対して、家では無口だ。
あね は がっこう で は よく しゃべる の にたいして、 いえ で は むくち だ。
My sister is really chatty at school, but she doesn't talk much at home.
Literally: “(older) sister + は + school + で + は + well + chat + の + に対して, + home + で + は + quiet / not talkative + だ.”


We start at the perspective of "A" being a certain way (e.g. "my sister is really chatty at school"), and then we state that "B" does not conform to this (e.g. "she doesn't talk much at home").

With 反面/半面 (はんめん), on the other hand, the sentence has a more "balanced" feel to it. We are simply mentioning two things that just happen to be opposite, like the contrast between 強い (つよい // strong) and 弱い (よわい // weak) in this sentence:

この植物は病気に強い反面、寒さに弱い。
この しょくぶつ は びょうき に つよい はんめん、 さむさ に よわい。
This plant is hardy when it comes to disease, but on the other hand, it doesn’t deal well with the cold.
Literally: “this + plant + は + illness + に + strong + はんめん, coldness + に + weak.”


Because of this "balanced" nuance, sometimes we'll translate 反面/半面 (はんめん) as "at the same time," as you'll see in our next example sentence.

 

When should I use 反面 (はんめん), and when should I use 半面 (はんめん)?

Technically speaking, 反面 is used when the two things being described are in conflict. For example, there is a clear positive and negative being described in this sentence, so 反面 is being used:

この薬は効果的である反面、副作用が大きいというデメリットもある。
この くすり は こうかてき である はんめん、 ふくさよう が おおきい という デメリット も ある。
While this drug is effective, one disadvantage is that it has severe side effects.
Literally: “this + drugs / medicine + は + effective + である + 反面, + side effects + が + big + という + demerit + も + ある.”


On the other hand, the two opposing things being described in the following sentence aren't really in conflict. Feeling nervous isn't necessarily a bad thing in comparison to feeling excited being a good thing. The two feelings are existing in harmony, so to speak, so we can use 半面:

初めての海外旅行なので、楽しみ半面、不安もあります。
はじめて の かいがい りょこう なので、 たのしみな はんめん、 ふあん も あります。
This is my first time going abroad, so although I’m excited, I’m nervous at the same time.
Literally: “for the first time + の + abroad + trip + because (=なので) + excited / looking forward to + 半面, + anxiety / insecurity + も + (I) have.”


Although grammar books and whatnot might tell you that you should be careful about when to use 反面 vs 半面, it could also be argued that there are no "right" or "wrong" uses since this varies based on personal preference. For example, Rei tells me she would have only used 反面 for all of the examples in this lesson.

Long story short: Don't worry about it.

 

👷 Construction 👷

Generally speaking, we just need to put a word in plain form before 反面/半面. For example, the verb なる (to become) is in the plain past form, なった (became), in this sentence:

スマートフォンの普及で生活が便利になった反面、新たな犯罪が次々と生み出されている。
スマートフォン の ふきゅう で せいかつ が べんり に なった はんめん、 あらたな はんざい が つぎつぎ と うみだされている。
While life has become easier thanks to the prevalence of smartphones, they have also given rise to a wave of new types of crimes.
Literally: “smartphones + の + spread / diffusion + で + lifestyle + が + convenient + に + became + 反面, + new + crimes + が + in succession / one by one + と + are being produced / created.”


If the word before 反面/半面 is a NOUN, we'll want to include である after it. This is also the case for na-adjectives, as we have seen:

この薬は効果的である反面、副作用が大きいというデメリットもある。
この くすり は こうかてき である はんめん、 ふくさよう が おおきい という デメリット も ある。
While this drug is effective, one disadvantage is that it has severe side effects.
Literally: “this + drugs / medicine + は + effective + である + 反面, + side effects + が + big + という + demerit + も + ある.”


If we don't include である, then a needs to be included after the na-adjective, like we saw in this example:

初めての海外旅行なので、楽しみ半面、不安もあります。
はじめて の かいがい りょこう なので、 たのしみな はんめん、 ふあん も あります。
This is my first time going abroad, so although I’m excited, I’m nervous at the same time.
Literally: “for the first time + の + abroad + trip + because (=なので) + excited / looking forward to + 半面, + anxiety / insecurity + も + (I) have.”

 

Are 反面/半面 and に対して interchangeable?

You may recall (from this lesson) that に対して (にたいして) is used for somewhat similar sentences to the ones we're seeing here with 反面/半面

アウトドア派の私に対して、夫はインドア派です。
アウトドア は の わたし にたいして、 おっと は インドア は です。
Unlike me, who’s the outdoor type, my husband is more of an indoor person.
Literally: “outdoor + faction / clique + の + I + に対して, + husband + は + indoor + faction / clique + です.”


The difference between 反面/半面 and に対して is that the former is used when talking about two opposing sides of one thing, while the latter is more general.

For example, this sentence was talking about the benefits and drawbacks (=two opposing sides) of a certain drug (=one thing):

この薬は効果的である反面、副作用が大きいというデメリットもある。
この くすり は こうかてき である はんめん、 ふくさよう が おおきい という デメリット も ある。
While this drug is effective, one disadvantage is that it has severe side effects.
Literally: “this + drugs / medicine + は + effective + である + 反面, + side effects + が + big + という + demerit + も + ある.”


But in the sentence we just saw with に対して, we are talking about the qualities of two different people (i.e. not one thing):

アウトドア派の私に対して、夫はインドア派です。
アウトドア は の わたし にたいして、 おっと は インドア は です。
Unlike me, who’s the outdoor type, my husband is more of an indoor person.
Literally: “outdoor + faction / clique + の + I + に対して, + husband + は + indoor + faction / clique + です.”


Seems pretty straightforward, yeah? But it can get kind of confusing because に対して can also be used to describe the two opposing sides of one thing. For example, in this sentence, we're only talking about the speaker's sister (=one thing) and the two differing aspects of her behavior:

姉は学校ではよくしゃべるのに対して、家では無口だ。
あね は がっこう で は よく しゃべる の にたいして、 いえ で は むくち だ。
My sister is really chatty at school, but she doesn't talk much at home.
Literally: “(older) sister + は + school + で + は + well + chat + の + に対して, + home + で + は + quiet / not talkative + だ.”


Rather than worry about whether it's OK to use に対して, it may help to just focus on when not to use 反面/半面, which is when you're talking about two different things. This makes sense because we are talking about the two 面 (=faces; sides) of a single thing.

Sorry if that's confusing!

 


That's all for this one.

Sorry if my explanation about the differences between all these "contrasting" grammar points was a bit confusing. ^_^

I have good news, though. We're done with our N3 lessons on contrasting things. Woo-hoo!