366 - ことになっている

Allow me to apologize in advance.

Because today's grammar point, though not too complicated of a concept, tends to require somewhat lengthy example sentences.

Accordingly, the sentences are a bit long in this lesson. But I think that you'll find that if you just take your time reading through them, the language being used is not too complicated.


JLPT N3: ことになっている

~になる means "to become ~," yeah?

And こと means something along the lines of "thing," though it can also be a bit like the suffix "-ing" in English.

We talked about this in a recent lesson: [NDL #358] - JLPT N4: ことがある.


Next, let's note that the present progressive form of ~になる will be:

"is becoming"

Casual: ~になって

Less Casual: ~になっている

Formal: ~になっています

Humble: ~になっております


Putting all of this together, we get:

~ことになっている
"~ thing... is becoming..."

...huh?

Yeah, we're gonna have to use our superhuman powers of inference to understand that this means:

"the case that..." or "the custom that..." or "the way things are done..."

In other words, we can end a sentence with ~ことになっている when we want to say "~ is the way that it is."

So we use it to discuss established ways of doing things that are non-negotiable.

For instance:

娘の保育園では、月曜日と水曜日と金曜日の週に3回、お弁当を持参することになっています
むすめ の ほいくえん で は、 げつようび と すいようび と きんようび の しゅう に さん かい、 おべんとう を じさん する ことになっています。
At my daughter's nursery, she needs to bring her own lunch three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Literally: "daughter + の + nursery + では, + Monday + と + Wednesday + と + Friday + の + week + に + three times, + bento [=boxed lunch] + を + bringing + do + ことになっています."

Did you get overwhelmed by that example?

Well, let's break it apart:

娘の保育園では、
むすめ の ほいくえん で は、 
At my daughter's nursery,
Literally: "daughter + の + nursery + では,"

月曜日と水曜日と金曜日の週に3回、
げつようび と すいようび と きんようび の しゅう に さん かい、
three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
Literally: "Monday + と + Wednesday + と + Friday + の + week + に + three times,"

お弁当を持参することになっています
おべんとう を じさん する ことになっています。
she needs to bring her own lunch
Literally: "bento [=boxed lunch] + を + bringing + do + ことになっています."

The non-negotiable way of doing things in this case is, "bringing a bento."

The current system in place at the nursery requires that kids bring their own bento lunch three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Since it is a system, a requirement, a way of doing things, I used the word "needs" in the translation.


Construction

You may be happy to know that attaching ~ことになっている to the end of sentences is not all that complicated.

Our structure is:

V る V ないことになっている

In other words, it attaches to the present tense of verbs in the plain form.

That's why, in this lesson, we have things like:

することになっています
使わないことになっている

By the way, the reading of 使わない is つかわない, meaning "don't use."


Let's try another example:

私が通っている語学学校では、授業中は日本語しか使わないことになっている
わがし が かよっている ごがく がっこう で は、 じゅぎょうちゅう は にほんご しか つかわない ことになっている。
At the language school I'm attending, we can't use anything but Japanese in the classroom.
Literally: "I + が + am commuting + language school + では, + while in class + は + Japanese (language) + しか + don't use + ことになっている."

Note: しか, meaning something like "only" or "nothing but," can only be used with negative verbs. For more on negative-only phrases, check out this lesson: [NDL #38] - Can't get you out of my head.

In this translation we have the word "can't" to clarify that we're expressing a rule, a set way of doing things. The Japanese expresses this with ~ことになっている.

We often describe customs / non-negotiable ways of doing things in English simply by using the present tense of verbs:

我が家では食事中、テレビをみたり携帯をさわったりしてはいけないことになっている
わがや で は しょくじちゅう、 テレビ を みたり けいたい を さわったり して は いけない ことになっている。
In our house, things like watching TV and looking at your phone are not allowed during meals.
Literally: "our house + では + during meals, + TV + を + (things like) watching + mobile phone + を + (things like) touching + must not do + ことになっている."

Note: ~てはいけない is commonly used to express the idea of "must not ~." We'll see it in another lesson eventually.


Level-Up Time

Remember earlier in this lesson when I said that the humble form of なっている is なっております

Well, something else worth mentioning is that in highly formal sentences, the に in ~ことなっている will change to と.

Example:

申し訳ございません。診察の受付は午前のみということなっております
もうしわけ ございません。 しんさつ の うけつけ は ごぜん のみ という こととなっております。
I'm terribly sorry. We only accept walk-ins (for medical examinations) in the morning.
Literally: "I'm terribly sorry (lit. it's inexcusable). + medical examination + の + reception + は + morning / a.m. + only + という + こととなっております."

Note #1: See that the に in ことなっています has become a と, and います, which is formal, is being changed into the humble (i.e. super formal) おります, giving us ことなっております.

Note #2: Translating the usage of 受付 (うけつけ) here was kind of a nightmare for me. Technically it means "reception," like at a reception desk. But the nuance here is that the listener tried to walk in for a medical exam in the afternoon, but the afternoon is appointments only. There will still be someone at the reception desk in the afternoon, but he or she probably won't be able to help you unless you have an appointment. You may be interested to know that the phrase "受付は午前のみ" shows up almost 80,000 times in google search results, usually on hospital websites.

That's all for this one.




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