Japanese Grammar

Japanese Supplementary Subordinate Clauses: XをYに


Last time, you learned compound verbs, e.g. “いてこんのことをかんがえよう (Let’s calm down and think about things in the future)” and “おちゃした (We drank down a glass of green tea).” By utilizing compound verbs, you can express actions in a more sophisticated way. Then, if you’d like to say, ”Let’s think about things in the future on the premise that I will change my job,” how should you do it? In this lesson, you will learn a way of expressing supplementary subordinate clauses by using particles.

Explanation for How the Irregular Sentence Pattern XをYに Works

Table of Contents
Four Main Functions
Related Compound Particle: として

The sentence pattern XをYに has only nouns with particles; however, it will certainly work as a supplementary subordinate clause in spite of the lack of predicates. For the sake of simplicity, you may roughly consider it as XをYにする which means “to change X to Y.”

Four Main Functions

XをYに basically expresses four things which are situations, reasons (aims), roles (functions), and possession. Although the usage is simple, multiple use of particles make sentences difficult to read. We will mark subordinate clause in color as below. With this sentence pattern, English translation doesn’t work well. Please focus on the original Japanese phrase XをYに [する].


[わたしは] このケーキを さい ダイエット(する / します)
  Direct Object Target of Change  
[Topic / Subject] Subordinate Clause: Situation Verb
[I] will be on a diet as [I] will make this piece of cake the last one [I eat].

The first function is to express situations which include time, space, and positions. If you reword the above example, it will be like, “このケーキを最後にして、ダイエットする (I will make this piece of cake the last one I eat and then I will be on a diet).” Here are more examples.

てんしょく前提ぜんていこんのことをかんがえ(よう / ましょう)。
Let’s think about things in the future on that premise that [I’ll] change [my] job.
テレビにたのをきっかけにしゅ目指めざし(た / ました)。
[I] aimed to be a singer with the appearance on TV as a trigger.
ビーチをかいじょうコンサートを(した / しました)。
[We] held a concert as [we] made the beach a venue.
ほん人口じんこう2008にせんはちねんをピークにって(いる / います)。
The population in Japan is decreasing after the peak in 2008.

Reasons and Aims

[わたしは] びょう わけ 欠席けっせき(した / しました)
  Direct Object Target of Change  
[Topic / Subject] Subordinate Clause: Reason Verb
[I] was absent as [I] used sickness as an excuse.

The second function is to express reasons and aims. If we reword the above example, it will be like, “病気を言い訳にして、欠席した (I used sickness as an excuse and then I was absent).” Here are more examples.

体格たいかくゆうゆめあきらめ(た / ました)。
[I] gave up [my] dream due to [my] build.
JLPTジェイエルピーティー N1エヌイチもくひょうほんべんきょうして(いる / います)。
[I] am studying Japanese with the aim to pass JLPT N1.

Roles and Functions

[わたしは] なかさんを パートナーに たたかった / たたかいました
  Direct Object Target of Change  
[Topic / Subject] Subordinate Clause: Role Verb
[I] fought (something) with Tanaka-san as [my] partner.

The third function is to express roles and functions. If we reword the above example, it will be like, “田中さんをパートナーにして戦った (I got Tanaka-san as my partner and I fought something).” Here are more examples.

井上いのうえさんをべん裁判さいばんを(した / しました)。
[I] sued (someone) with Inoue-san as my lawyer.
ほんをお土産みやげ友達ともだちいえに(った / きました)。
[I] went to [my] friend’s house with a book as a present.


[わたしは] はな かた って(いた / いました)
  Direct Object Location of Existence  
[Topic / Subject] Subordinate Clause: Possession Verb
[I] was waiting with flowers in [my] hand.

The fourth function is to express possession. Here, the interpretation is different from other ones. You need to consider XをYに as XをYに持(も)つ. Thus, if we reword the above example, it will be like, “花を片手に持って、待っていた (I had flowers in my hand and was waiting).” Here are more examples.

おおきなけつむねあいさん(した / しました)。
[I] participated in the game with a big resolution [in my heart].
友達ともだちさけりょうあそびに(きた / きました)。
[My] friend came [here] to hang out with bottles of alcohol in [his] hands.


Related Compound Particle: として

We’d like to introduce a related compound particle which is として here because you can replace it with the に of XをYに. First of all, let us explain the basic function.

として: Standpoint and Capacity

[わたしは] しゃとして ボブに アドバイス(する / します)
[Topic / Subject] Capacity Target Verb
[I] will give Bob advice as a doctor.

The function is to indicate standpoints or capacities. This is the counterpart to “as” in English. If you combine は with として, you express your opinions while emphasizing that you are speaking as an individual position (*look at the fourth example).

ほんだいひょうとしてオリンピックに(る / ます)。
[I] will participate in the Olympics as a representative of Japan.
[I] don’t want [you] to treat [me] as a foreigner.
ほんはジブリがあるくにとして有名ゆうめい(だ / です)。
Japan is famous as a country which has Ghibli.
しゃとしては、そのけん賛成さんせいでき(ない / ません)。
As an individual doctor, [I] cannot agree with that opinion.

There is a compound particle similar to the として + は, which is にとって. When you express your subjective opinions, にとって indicate whose concern it is like “for me.” In this context, words which indicate objective opinions such as “famous” and “popular” cannot be a predicate. It should be adjectives or nouns which indicate subjective opinions, e.g. “美味しい: delicious” and “宝物: treasure.”

ぼくにとってほんしょく美味おいしく(ない / ありません)。
For me, Japanese cuisine is not delicious.
わたしにとって、このしょたからもの(だ / です)。
For me, this dictionary is a treasure.

として Works as Supplementary Subordinate Clauses

うみかいじょう として コンサートを(した / しました)。
JLPTジェイエルピーティー N1エヌワンもくひょう として ほんべんきょうして(いる / います)。
井上いのうえさんをべん護士ごし として 裁判さいばんを(した / しました)。
友達ともだちがおさけりょうとして あそびに(きた / きました)。

として is interchangeable with the に of XをYに only when it works as XをYにする. That is to say, you cannot use として when it works XをYに持つ.


  1. XをYに indicates supplementary subordinate clauses.
  2. When it indicates situations, reasons (aims), and roles (functions), XをYに works as XをYにする.
  3. When it indicates possession, XをYに works as XをYに持つ.
  4. として is interchangeable with the に of XをYに [する].

This may be the last lesson related to particles. When XをYに is used, there are several particles in a single sentence and learners often get confused with their functions. You have already learned all that you need to know in order to read such sentences. Please try to analyze each function one by one. You’ll definitely be able to figure them out. Next, you will learn Japanese interjection. That’s important to express your emotion.

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