715 - ようになる

JLPT N4: ようになる (start to ~; become such that ~)

~ようになる comes after present-tense plain form verbs (=Vる) when saying that "become such that VERB" or "start to VERB."

"Become such that VERB?"

Yeah, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, does it?

Examples help:


コーヒーをやめたら、よく眠れるようになりました
コーヒー を やめたら、 よく ねむれる ようになりました。
After I quit coffee, I started sleeping well.
Literally: “coffee + を + if / when (I) quit, + well + can sleep + ように + became.”


First, a change happened when I quit drinking coffee:

コーヒーをやめたら
コーヒー を やめたら
After I quit coffee // When I quit coffee
Literally: “coffee + を + if / when (I) quit”


I found that I could sleep well:

よく眠れる
よく ねむれる
(I) can sleep well
Literally: “well + can sleep”


To describe this change to the state of being able to sleep well, I say:

よく眠れるようになりました
よく ねむれる ようになりました。
I started sleeping well.
Literally: “well + can sleep + ように + became.”


And my whole sentence, then, is:


コーヒーをやめたら、よく眠れるようになりました
コーヒー を やめたら、 よく ねむれる ようになりました。
After I quit coffee, I started sleeping well.
Literally: “coffee + を + if / when (I) quit, + well + can sleep + ように + became.”


Back when I was attending a language school in Japan, one of my teachers showed the class a sentence like the one we just saw. Then she told us that ~ようになる gets attached to verbs that express ability (like 眠れる [ねむれる // to be able to sleep], which is the potential form of 眠る [ねむる // to sleep]).

I'm not sure if this was the teacher's fault or mine, but I walked out of that class thinking that ~ようになる was only used when describing a change of ability.

Imagine my confusion, then, when I later came across sentences like this:


最近、野菜や果物もアマゾンで買うようになりました
さいきん、 やさい や くだもの も アマゾン で かう ようになりました。
Recently, I also started buying things like fruit and vegetables on Amazon.
Literally: “lately / recently, + vegetables + や + fruit + も + Amazon + で + buy + ように + became.”


Uh, 買う (かう // to buy) is not in the potential form. That's something that I have complete control over.

What gives?!

Well, ~ようになる can be used when expressing changes in abilities, customs or routines, and just the overall state or condition of something.

In the example above, it is being used to describe a change in a custom or routine. It's a bit similar to ~始める (~はじめる), which we've seen in a previous N4 lesson: [NDL #553] - JLPT N4: ~始める. A key difference is that ~始める can also be used to describe something that you only do one time.

For example, that lesson I just mentioned has this sentence in it:


みんな揃ってから、食べ始めよう
みんな そろってから、 たべはじめよう。
Let’s wait for everyone before we start eating.
Literally: “everyone + is all present (and) + from, + let’s start to eat.”


There are cases when ~始める and ~ようになる are more or less interchangeable, though. For example, this sentence was also used in that previous lesson:


最近、ジムに通い始めました
さいきん、 ジム に かよいはじめました。
I started going to the gym recently.
Literally: “recently, + gym + に + began attending / started commuting to.”


But we could make this very similar sentence:


最近、ジムに行くようになりました
さいきん、 ジム に いく ようになりました。
I started going to the gym recently.
Literally: “recently, + gym + に + go + ように + became.”


Why did you change the verb from 通う (かよう // to commute) to 行く (いく // to go)?

How do we know which to use, ~始める or ~ようになる

How do they differ in nuance?

What are all of the situations in which they are interchangeable?

In answer to these questions, I will tell you: Please don't ask me such difficult questions. I don't know! Aggghhh!!!


The main difference between these two seems to be that ~始める puts focus on the moment a change occurred, whereas ~ようになる seems to put more focus on the fact that this is a new state of things, be that a change in ability, an ongoing custom, or just a new way that things are done.

For example, we could also say:


来年から、東京・モントリオール間に直行便が飛ぶようになります
らいねん から、 とうきょう・モントリオール かん に ちょっこうびん が とぶ ようになります。
Starting next year, a direct flight between Tokyo and Montreal will begin operating.
Literally: “next year + から, + from + Tokyo-Montreal + between + に + direct flight + が + fly + ように + becomes.”




👷 Construction 👷

I alluded to this earlier, and we've already seen a few examples, so maybe you're already figured this out, but ようになる comes after the present tense of a plain form verb:

V るようになる
start to VERB


Have you been paying attention?

If not, you're in no trouble at all, young student.

Unless you suddenly want to say "I started sleeping well" in Japanese.

Do you remember how to say that?

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よく眠れるようになりました
よく ねむれる ようになりました。
I started sleeping well.
Literally: “well + can sleep + ように + became.”


If you're starting to feel comfortable with ようになる, don't get too excited yet.

There's more...


When we are expressing a negative change (e.g. "stop VERB-ing" instead of "start to VERB"), we do not use Vないようになる.

So you would not say this:


✕ 毎朝グリーンスムージーを飲むようになって風邪をひかないようになりました
✕ まいあさ グリーンスムージ― を のむ ようになって、 かぜ を ひかない ようになりました。
✕ After I started drinking a green smoothie every morning, I stopped catching colds.
✕ Literally: “every morning + green smoothie + を + drink + ように + become (and), + don't catch a cold + ように + became.”


Instead, you would say:

V なくなる
stop VERB-ing


For the above example, that would be:


毎朝グリーンスムージーを飲むようになって風邪をひかなくなりました
まいあさ グリーンスムージ― を のむ ようになって、 かぜ を ひかなくなりました。
After I started drinking a green smoothie every morning, I stopped catching colds.
Literally: “every morning + green smoothie + を + drink + ように + become (and), + stopped catching colds.”




Here's an example with a negative change to an ability:


あの本を読んでから、水道水が飲めなくなりました
あの ほん を よんで から、 すいどうすい が のめなくなりました。
After reading that book, I couldn’t drink tap water anymore.
Literally: “that + book + を + read (and) + from, + tap water + が + stopped being able to drink.”


One more:


急に家のインターネットが使えなくなりました
きゅう に いえ の インターネット が つかえなくなりました。
The internet at my house suddenly stopped working.
Literally: “suddenly + house + の + internet + が + stopped being able to use.”


And a change to one's custom or routine:


毎朝来ていたお客さんが、突然なくなりました
まいあさ きていた おきゃくさん が、 とつぜん こなくなりました。
A customer that used to come in every morning suddenly stopped visiting.
Literally: “every morning + was coming + customer + が, + suddenly + stopped coming.”




Almost finished. Hang in there.

The last thing we need to point out is that you do not use ~ようになる with verbs that already express change.

For example, you wouldn't say this:


✕ 年をとって、食べ物の好みが変わるようになりました
✕ とし を とって、 たべもの の このみ が かわる ようになりました。
✕ After getting older, the foods I like changed.
✕ Literally: “get older (=year + を + take) (and), + food + の + likes / preferences + が + change + ように + became.”


The verb 変わる (かわる // to change) already expresses a change, so there is no need to add ~ようになる. The change is already being shown inside of that verb:


〇 年をとって、食べ物の好みが変わりました
〇 とし を とって、 たべもの の このみ が かわりました。
〇 After getting older, the foods I like changed.
〇 Literally: “get older (=year + を + take) (and), + food + の + likes / preferences + が + changed.”


While the verb 変わる might seem like an obvious example, sometimes this can be slightly tricky.

For example, in the phrase 体重が減る (たいじゅうがへる // to lose weight; to have one's [body] weight go down), a change is already inherently expressed in the verb 減る (へる // to go down; to reduce). Accordingly, we would not say:


自炊をするようになって、体重が減るようになりました
✕ じすい を する ようになって、 たいじゅう が へる ようになりました。
✕ After I started to cook my own food, I lost weight.
✕ Literally: “cooking for oneself + を + do + ように + become (and), + (body) weight + が + reduce / go down + ように + became.”


Instead, we could just say:


自炊をするようになって、体重が減りました
〇 じすい を する ようになって、 たいじゅう が へりました。
〇 After I started to cook my own food, I lost weight.
〇 Literally: “cooking for oneself + を + do + ように + become (and), + (body) weight + が + reduced / went down.”




I'd like to apologize, because there were A LOT of example sentences in this lessons.

Having a lot of example sentences typically equates to encountering a lot of unfamiliar vocabulary, thus increasing the mental burden of getting through a lesson, yeah?

But you don't have to fly through the lesson. You can take it one sentence―one word―at a time, and slowly trudge along. If you manage to do that, I think you'll agree that the more examples we can include in a lesson, the better.

Before you know it, you'll be saying:


気付いたら話せるようになってました
きづいたら はなせる ようになってました。
Before I knew it, I was able to speak Japanese.
Literally: “when I realized it + can talk + ように + was becoming.”
Note: We're dropping the い from なっていました, which is common to do in spoken Japanese.






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