781 - ようにする

JLPT N4: ようにする (try to...; make a point of...)

In our last lesson, I mentioned that the word "try" is pretty versatile.

I mentioned:

(1) "trying" in the sense of testing: "Have you ever tried fugu?"

(2) "trying" in the sense of working (hard) to accomplish something: "I'm trying to beat this game on Insane difficulty."

...but I did not mention (3) "trying" in the sense of attempting to maintain some kind of desired habitual action: "I try to exercise at least three times a week."

That third meaning overlaps with the second meaning a bit, yeah? The same could be said for ~ようとする, which we saw in the last lesson, and ようにする, which we're looking at in this lesson. (Note that there is no in front of ようにする, because we're not talking about the volitional form Vよう.)

One of my grammar books translates ようにする as "make a point of..."

I'm not sure how I feel about that translation. If I say, "I make a point of exercising at least three times a week," it sounds like I am consistently (maybe always?) accomplishing this, right?

If I say, "I try to exercise at least three times a week," it sounds like I'm simply attempting to accomplish this repeatedly. Maybe I do accomplish it most weeks; maybe I've never accomplished it before. We don't know. ← This, I think, is closer to the meaning we're getting in our ようにする sentences below.


Enough of your babbling, Niko! Make with the examples.

Right, sorry:


お酒を飲むときは、同じ量の水を飲むようにしましょう
おさけ を のむ とき は、 おなじ りょう の みず を のむ ようにしましょう。
When drinking alcohol, let’s [we/you should] try to drink equal amounts of water, too.
Literally: “alcohol + を + drink + time / when + は, + same + amount + の + water + を + drink + ように + let’s do.”

Translating ようにする is tricky. Look at what would happen if we removed it from the above sentence:


お酒を飲むときは、同じ量の水を飲みましょう
おさけ を のむ とき は、 おなじ りょう の みず を のみましょう。
When drinking alcohol, let’s [we/you should] drink equal amounts of water, too.
Literally: “alcohol + を + drink + time / when + は, + same + amount + の + water + を + let's drink.”

The translation isn't all that different, yeah? I put "try" in the version with ようにする, but it didn't really change the meaning all that much.

The important thing to note is that in the version with ようにする, it is clear that the speaker intends for this to be a habitual action. She is not only talking about drinking an equal amount of water right now or tonight. She is talking about trying to drink an equal amount of water whenever drinking alcohol.


Here's another example:


ライターやヘアスプレーは、使い切ってから捨てるようにしてください。
ライター や ヘアスプレー は、 つかいきって から すてる ようにして ください。
Please do not throw away things like lighters or hairspray until you’ve used them up completely.
Literally: “lighter + や + hairspray + は, + use up / use completely (and) + から + throw away + ように + do (and) + please.”


As you can see here, we don't necessarily need to have the word "try" in our English translation. The important thing is conveying that the action which is aimed for is a habitual one.

That said, there are times when I think that it is entirely necessary to include "try" in our English translation in order to preserve the meaning of the Japanese sentence:


わたしは食べた後はすぐ歯を磨くようにしている
わたし は たべた あと は すぐ は を みがく ようにしている。
I try to always brush my teeth right after eating.
Literally: “I + は + ate + after + は + right away + tooth / teeth + を + brush / polish + ように + am doing.”


🐻 Builder Bear 🐻

As you may have already inferred from our example sentences, you can put an un-conjugated verb in front of ようにする

V るようにする
try to VERB; make a point of VERB-ing

But what about when we're describing an action that we are habitually avoiding?

In that case, you can put a verb in plain present negative form right before ようにする

V ないようにする
try not to VERB; make a point of not VERB-ing

Here's an example of that usage:


子供の前では、汚い言葉遣いをしないようにしています
こども の まえ で は、 きたない ことばづかい を しない ようにしています。
I (try to) avoid using foul language in front of (my) children.
Literally: “child + の + in front of + で + は, + dirty + speech / wording + を + don’t do + ように + am doing.”

And another:


揚げ物を作るときは、火から目を離さないようにしましょう
あげもの を つくる とき は、 ひ から め を はなさない ようにしましょう。
When deep-frying food, let’s [you/we should] keep our [your] eyes on the stove.
Literally: “deep-fried food + を + make + time / when + は, + flame + から (=from) + eye + を + not part (from) + ように + let’s do.”

And another!


なるべく無駄遣いしないようにしているけど、ときどき使わない物を買ってしまう。
なるべく むだづかい しないようにしている けど、 ときどき つかわない もの を かって しまう。
I try my best not to be wasteful, but sometimes I do buy things I don’t use.
Literally: “as much as possible + wasting + don’t do + ように + am doing + けど (=but), + sometimes + don’t use + thing + を + end up buying.”


If you're feeling at all confused by this lesson, it may help to check out these other NDLs covering ように, too:
- [NDL #359] - JLPT N3: ように (so that)
- [NDL #716] - JLPT N3: ようにして

Happy studies, fellow student. ^_^




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