Compound Particles

How to Express Various Reasons: によって, につき, おかげで, and せいで


Last time, you learned how to express various targets, e.g. “学生がくせいたいしてきびしい質問しつもんをした (I asked students a tough question),” and “きょういくかんしての質問しつもんでした (It was a question regarding education).” Compound particles enable you to express detailed nuances with a high level of formality. In this lesson, you will learn ones related to reasons and causation.

Compound Particle Counterparts to the Particle で

Table of Contents
によって: Reasons (Causation)
につき: Reasons in Notification
Compound Sentences: おかげで and せいで
Supplementary Learning: Can the Particle から and に Express Reasons?

In basic grammar, the particle で expresses reasons or causation like “風邪で学校を休みました (I was absent from school due to the fact that I caught a cold).” However, since it has several functions, sentences which include the particle で multiple times sometimes confuse listeners. You can make your speech clearer and more formal by utilizing the following key phrases.

によって: Reasons (Causation)

プロジェクトは ボブの活躍かつやくによって 成功せいこう(した / しました)
Topic / Subject Reason Verb
The project succeeded because of Bob’s activities.

The function is to express reasons or causation with higher formality than the particle で. によって and で are interchangeable in a lot of cases. However, you cannot use によって if the relation between causation and results is indirect.

台風たいふう によって こうが(おくれた / おくれました)。
The flight was delayed due to the typhoon.
あめ によって ものに(けない / けません)。
[I] can’t go shopping due to the rain.
台風たいふう によって どもげんが(ない / ありません)。
[My] child is not lively due to the typhoon.

With the first example above, the relation is very clear and the typhoon is the major reason for the flight being delayed. However, with the second and the third example, there can be other factors. In that case, the particle で is more suitable than によって.

につき: Reasons in Notification

おおあめにつき [わたしたちは] やすみします
Reason [Topic/Subject] Verb: Humble Form
[We] will be closed due to the heavy rain.

The function is to indicate reasons, but the nuance is different from によって. につき  is always used in written notifications when you make requests, commands, declarations, etc. Considering the use of the purpose, につき doesn’t make much sense in past tense. You need to use the particle で in past tense (*the third example).

Due to heavy snow, please slow down.
Private land, so entrance is prohibited.
おおあめ につき  みんな学校がっこうやすんで(もらった / もらいました)。
[I] had everyone take the day off due to the heavy rain.

Compound Sentences: おかげで and せいで

These are not compound particles, but we will address them here because of the similarity of the functions. Please be aware of the difference; compound particles connect to nouns and determine their role, while compound sentences are formed by two sentences connected by key phrases.

Good Causation: おかげで

あめだったおかげで 学校がっこうやすめ(た / ました)
Good Causation Conclusion
[I] was able to be absent from school thanks to the rain.

おかげで indicates good causation and is the counterpart to “thanks to…” in English. The conjugation is to directly attach おかげで to the plain form or the ta-form. However, when you attach nouns in the plain form, you need to add の instead of だ like 雨おかげで.

先生せんせいのおかげでほんはなせるように(なった / なりました)。
[I] became able to speak Japanese thanks to the teacher.
つだってくれたおかけで宿しゅくだいはやく(わった / わりました)。
The homework has finished quickly thanks to [your] help.

By using おかげで or just おかげ, you can express uncertainty about good causation.

先生せんせいのおかげほんはなせるように(なった / なりました)。
[I] became able to speak Japanese maybe thanks to the teacher.
つだってくれたおかけで宿しゅくだいはやく(わった / わりました)。
The homework has finished quickly maybe thanks to [your] help.

Bad Causation: せいで

あめだったせいで 学校がっこうけなかった(です)
Bad Causation Conclusion
[I] was not able to go to school due to the rain.

せいで has the reverse function of おかけで which indicates bad causation. The conjugation is the same, i.e. to directly attach せいで to the plain form or the ta-form. When you use nouns in the plain form, you need to add の instead of だ like 雨せいで.

べんきょうそくのせいでけんに(ちた / ちました)。
[I] failed the exam due to my lack of study.
先生せんせいさんしたせいで、プロジェクトは失敗しっぱい(した / しました)。
The project has failed due to the participation of the teacher.

By using せいで or just せい, you can express uncertainty about  bad causation as previously described for おかげか.

べんきょうそくのせいでけんに(ちた / ちました)。
[I] failed the exam, maybe due to my lack of study.
先生せんせいさんしたせい、プロジェクトは失敗しっぱい(した / しました)。
The project has failed, maybe due to the participation of the teacher.

Supplementary Learning: Can the Particle から and に Express Reasons?

One of the functions of the particle から is to indicate starting points, and the particle に can indicate sources. The functions somehow enable you to express reasons. However, the usage is narrow when compared with the particle で. Let us explain how it works.

から: Time-lag Causation

[わたしは] 運動うんどうそくから ふとった / ふとりました
[Topic/Subject] Time-lag Causation Verb
[I] became fat due to [my] lack of exercise.

The particle から can indicate time-lag causation. With the above example, lack of exercise doesn’t cause you to be fat at once, but if you don’t exercise for a long time, you will eventually become fat. If causation instantaneously results in something, you have to use the particle で (*Look at the comparison between the second and the third example below). Also, you cannot use volitional verbs such as 食べる and 行く as the result.

ぶんちがからケンカが(きた / きました)。
The argument happened due to cultural differences.
からびょうに(なった / なりました)。
[I] developed a sickness due to overeating.
いた / きました)。
[I] have vomited due to overeating.

Another function of  から is to express grounds when giving your opinions or thoughts.

このことからわたしはそのあん反対はんたい(する / します)。
Because of this, I oppose the proposal.
Considering the recent statistics, [I] think Japan’s recession will continue.

に: Triggering an Immediate Emotion/Reaction

[わたしは] 残酷ざんこくけっ いた / きました
[Topic/Subject] Noun Phrase: Trigger Verb
[I] cried because of the cruel result.

The particle に can express reasons with the nuance of it being an emotional trigger. In general, this function appears with verbs which indicate mental states like “泣く: to cry.” Since triggers should be something extraordinary, nouns are usually used with some modifiers. Here, you can replace the particle に with the particle で.

なかさんはおもわぬ失敗しっぱいんで(いた / いました)。
Tanaka-san was depressed about the unexpected failure.
井上いのうえさんの下手へたわけわらって(しまった / しまいました)。
[I] unintentionally laughed at Inoue-san’s poor excuse.


  1. によって expresses reasons (causation) with higher formality than the particle で.
  2. につき expresses reasons in written notifications.
  3. おかげで indicates good causation like “thanks to.”
  4. せいで indicates bad causation like “due to.”
  5. The particle から indicates time-lag causation.
  6. The particle に indicates triggers.

As we mentioned earlier, you can basically express reasons or causation by just using the particle で. However, if you would like to express some nuances in detail or in formal speech, you have to master the usages of the compound particles. Also, please be aware of the difference between compound particles and compound sentences. Only compound sentences have a subordinate clause. Next, you will learn expressions related to space and time.

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