Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 3: 4/18

こと

Converting a verb into a noun

Can also express something that is concrete - a fact.

Structure

Verb + こと

Details

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    Standard

  • 使用域

    一般

About こと

In a very similar way to のは, こと is used in Japanese for nominalization (creating a noun-like phrase). However, unlike のは, which is a combination of two particles, こと is a noun. To use こと, just add it to the end of a verb in its dictionary form.
こと (or (こと) in its kanji form) is a noun that is often translated as 'thing', and in this way, literally means 'the thing that is (A)' when used for nominalization.
  • 近所(きんじょ)迷惑(めいわく)になることてはいけない
    You should not do things that will cause annoyance to your neighbors. (That which is 'causing a problem in the neighborhood')
  • ファックスすること(きら)
    I dislike things like faxing. (That which is 'faxing')
  • (かね)使(つか)()ないこと大事(だいじ)です
    It is important to not use too much money. (That which is 'not using too much money')
As we can see from these examples, ない can also be used between the verb and こと, to form a 'not' statement. There are other auxiliary verbs that may be used with こと in this way, but ない is the most common.
Although this lesson discusses こと pairing with the dictionary form of verbs, it can actually pair with any standard verb form. Standard form just means anything that does not finish with the polite ます.
Fun Fact
Unlike もの (another noun used to describe 'things'), こと is a noun that is frequently used to describe things that are 'intrinsic'. This basically means things that are describable, but not necessarily always observable (feelings, conditions, events, etc.).
Caution
When a sentence (usually short) finishes with こと, it quite often has the nuance of being a rule, or command. This こと is not actually a noun, but a sentence ending particle.
  • 1.クラスメイトいじめないこと。
    1. Do not bully your classmates.
こと as a particle will almost never be written in the kanji form. However, it does originate from the same word.

Examples

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    日本語(にほんご)(はな)こと(むずか)

    Speaking Japanese is difficult.

    スポーツすること()

    I like playing sports.

    ダンスすること(たの)

    Dancing is fun!

    (おお)(こえ)(しゃべ)らないこと

    Not talking loudly.

    フォークじゃなくて、お(はし)使(つか)うこと

    Not using a fork, using chopsticks.

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こと – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (18 in total)

  • Superpnut

    Superpnut

    I think this grammar point needs a bit more of an explanation. I read each forum posts and checked the links and I think it basically means to add “ing” after something?
    Because I don’t even have a guess to what “Conversion of a Verb into a Noun” means, and under information all you have is "No specific context information for こと” which isn’t exactly helpful.
    Most of the explanations are just stating the difference between の and こと as “nominalizers” but you guys gotta understand, I’m stupid. I don’t have a clue what a nominalizer is.

    So could someone tell me if I’m on track with こと being kind of like “ing” after a word? Or give please show me an english parallel so I know what I’m being shown

  • nekoyama

    nekoyama

    Converting a verb into a noun means taking a verb and somehow creating a noun from it by transforming it in some way. In English, there are many ways to do this, for example:

    • The verb “educate” can be converted to the noun “education” by adding the nominalizing suffix “-ion”
    • For the verb “sail”, we can use its gerund “sailing” as a noun, which is formed in the same way as the present participle by adding “-ing”
    • For the verb “fart” we can just use the existing noun “fart” with no changes

    Like you wrote, adding こと to a verb in dictionary form results in a noun with a similar meaning as the gerund in English:

    • 食べる to eat → 食べること eating
    • 歌う to sing → 歌うこと singing

    But it’s not 100% the same as adding “-ing” because the present participle is also formed by adding “-ing” and looks identical, but does completely different things that こと can’t do.

    Anyway now that we have a noun instead of a verb, we can use...

  • Superpnut

    Superpnut

    You a hero for this one

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