898 - によって (depending on)

JLPT N3: によって (depending on)

This is our first of six N3 lessons covering varying forms and uses of the phrase によって.

I don't think that the different uses of によって are all that hard to learn, personally. But, yeah, it's a versatile grammar point.

We'll just cover one usage at a time.

 

In this lesson, we're looking at how によって roughly corresponds to the English phrase "depending on."

Consider the following example:

時と場合によって、メガネとコンタクトを使い分けています。
とき と ばあい によって、 めがね と コンタクト を つかいわけています。
Depending on the time and situation, I wear either glasses or contacts.
Literally: “time + と + situation + によって, + (eye)glasses + と + contact + を + am using (different things) for different purposes.”
Note: 時と場合によって is a set phrase.


Getting technical, our sentence pattern is:

NOUN expressing multiple possibilities + によって + differs from thing to thing, person to person, etc.


"NOUN expressing multiple possibilities?" Yeah, it's a bit wordy. But this is the same in English. For example, there are a wide variety of "times" and "situations," which is why we can say "Depending on the time and situation."

Let's say you have a favorite pen, though. "My favorite pen" is a NOUN phrase expressing only one possibility, so we can't say "Depending on my favorite pen." It sounds weird.

If your favorite pen is frequently changing, then that would be a different story: "Depending on my favorite pen that week, the color of my notes changes."

Uh... yeah.

Moving on...

 

👷 Construction 👷

Here's a cleaner breakdown of our grammar pattern:

NOUNによって


And here's another example using it:

前学期の成績によって生徒を三つのクラスに分けた。
ぜんがっき の せいせき によって せいと を みっつ の クラス に わけた。
We divided students into three classes based on their grades for the previous term [semester].
Literally: “previous school term + の + grades / results + によって + students + を + three (things) + の + class + に + divided.”

 

If there is a NOUN coming directly before and after によって, we say による instead:

NOUNによるNOUN


For example, let's say that we're designing variations of a new product for our company. In discussing possible paths we could take for product design, features, etc, someone says...

世代による好みの違いも考慮に入れるべきです。
せだい による このみ の ちがい も こうりょ に いれる べきです。
The fact that preferences differ depending on the generation should also be taken into consideration.
Literally: “generation + による + preferences + の + difference + も + consideration + に + insert / put in + should (=べきです).”

 

If によって is at the end of our sentence, then it won't be in て-form.

Instead, you could say による or, as we see below, によります.

The following dialogue takes place at a zoo between a visitor that is taking a tour and a caretaker of the gorilla exhibit...

 Visitor: 
ゴリラの好きな食べ物は何ですか。
ゴリラ の すきな たべもの は なんです か。
What kind of food do gorillas like?
Literally: “gorilla + の + liked + food + は + what + です + か.”

 Caretaker: 
ゴリラによります
ゴリラ によります。
It depends on the gorilla.
Literally: “gorilla + によります.”

 

Like I mentioned earlier, we still have to cover a lot of other uses of によって.

We're making progress, though!
Discussion

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