464 - こと (should)

JLPT N3: こと

What we're looking at in this lesson is pretty simple: You can add こと to the end of phrases when you want to say "(you) should [phrase]," "(you) cannot [phrase]," "be sure to [phrase]," and so on.

That is to say, we use こと to state rules and official instructions.

It is often written in handouts, on whiteboards, etc. for students, employees, and so on. However, it can also be used in spoken language, though not as commonly.

Here's an example:

使ったものはもとの場所に戻すこと
つかった もの は もと の ばしょ に もどす こと。
After using things, be sure to put them back where they were.
Literally: “used + thing + は + origin / source + の + place + に + put back + こと.”

Without こと, this sentence would (somewhat awkwardly) mean:

使ったものはもとの場所に戻す。
つかった もの は もと の ばしょ に もどす。
After using things, one puts them back where they were.
Literally: “used + thing + は + origin / source + の + place + に + put back”

Since the person writing this sentence wants to clarify that this is the way things should be done, they add こと to the end:

使ったものはもとの場所に戻すこと
つかった もの は もと の ばしょ に もどす こと。
After using things, be sure to put them back where they were.
Literally: “used + thing + は + origin / source + の + place + に + put back + こと.”

Unless most grammar points that we look at, this is one that I did not learn while reading books and being a Japanese study nerd. Instead, I learned it from Rei one day.

If I recall correctly, I was stepping out to go drinking with friends, and she said:

飲みすぎないこと
のみすぎない こと。
Don't drink too much.
Literally: "not drink too much + こと."

Now, how is this different from saying something like...

飲みすぎないでね。
のみすぎないで ね。
Don't drink too much, OK?
Literally: "not drink too much (and) + ね."

...?

Well, the version with ~ないでね is a softer, more friendly request.

When Rei used こと, though, it sounded like she was stating a rule. That is, she was jokingly saying something along the lines of "the rule is to not drink too much."

Unless you're a teacher or something writing rules and instructions on a whiteboard, you might want to shy away from using this one in spoken Japanese... unless you're confident that you can pull it off in a somewhat joking way.


🚜 Grammar Time 🚜

Here are the grammatical constructions:

V ること

V ないこと

NOUN (that can attach to する)こと

In other words, before こと you can put (1) a plain positive or negative present tense verb or (2) a noun that can be used with する.

Examples:

出勤すること
しゅっきん する こと
should go to work; must go to work
Literally: “going to work + do + こと.”

しないこと
しない こと
shouldn't do; must not do
Literally: “don’t do + こと.”

持参こと
じさん の こと
should bring; should take
Literally: “bringing + の + こと.”

This will be easier if we look at full sentences...



明日は全員8時までに出勤すること
あした は ぜんいん はちじ まで に しゅっきん する こと。
Tomorrow everyone should get to work by 8 o’clock.
Literally: “tomorrow + は + all members + 8 o’clock + until + に + going to work + do + こと.”

本をやぶいたり汚したりしないこと
ほん を やぶいたり よごしたり しない こと。
Do not tear or soil the books in any way.
Literally: “books + を + things like tearing + things like making dirty + don’t do + こと.”
Note: For example, this rule might be written in a library.

昼食は各自持参こと
ちゅうしょく は かくじ じさん の こと。
Everyone should bring their own lunch.
Literally: “lunch + は + each individual + bringing + の + こと.”


OK. We made it through another lesson.

You know what to do now.

勉強すること
べんきょう する こと。
You should study.
Literally: "studying / studies + do + こと."




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