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ごとに / おきに

ごとに / おきに

ごとに / おきに Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: Every (expresses an interval)

Construction: 

  • Time Interval Noun + (ごとに / おきに)
    • E.g. 三時間さんじかんごとに [Every 3 hours]
    • E.g. 三時間さんじかんおきに [Every 4th hour]
  • Spacial Interval Noun + (ごとに / おきに)
    • E.g. えきごとに [Every station]
    • E.g. えきおきに [Every other station]

Notes:

  • おきに and ごとに both express the idea that something is repeated at specific intervals, whether that be intervals of time (e.g. “Every 5 minutes“) or intervals of space (e.g. “Every other station”).
  • There is a very subtle difference between おきに and ごとに.
    • X + おきに expresses the idea that there is X amount of time in between each action or that there is X amount of space in between each object. This concept of “space between” derives from the verb おく. For example, この電車でんしゃ二駅ふたえきおきにまる means “As for this train, there are two stations in between every stop.” Or in other words, it means “This train stops at every third station.
      • E.g わたし二日ふつかおきに花子はなこっている[I’m seeing Hanako every third day.]
    • X + ごとに expresses the the idea that an action or object will occur once in every set of X units of time / space. This is essentially how native English speakers use the word “Every“. For example, in the sentence “There is a Starbucks every 3 blocks“, the implication is that in any particular set of 3 blocks, a Starbucks will occur once.
      • E.g. 一課いっかごとに試験しけんがある。[There is a test every chapter.]
  • When using specific units of time (e.g. “Seconds“, “Hours“, “Minutes“) rather than periods of time (e.g. “Two days“), there is no difference between ごとに and おきに.
    • E.g. 電車でんしゃ五分ごふん(おきに/ごとに)る。[The train leaves every five minutes.] Because 5 minutes is a specific unit of time rather than a period of time, おきに and ごとに are interchangeable.
    • E.g. わたし二日ふつかおきに花子はなこっている。[I’m meeting with Hanako every 3rd day.] 二日ふつか [Two days] is a period of time, so おきに and ごとに are not interchangeable in this case.おきに indicates that there are two days in between every day that the speaker meets with Hanako. 
    • E.g. わたし二日ふつかごとに花子はなこっている。[I’m meeting with Hanako every other day.] 二日ふつか [Two days] is a period of time, so おきに and ごとに are not interchangeable in this case. ごとに indicates that in every set of two days, the speaker meets with Hanako once.

Example Sentences:

わたし三時間さんじかんごとにくすりんだ。[I took medicine once every 3 hours.]

正月しょうがついえおきに門松かどまつてる。[During New Year’s, every other house hangs up pine tree decorations.]

一課いっかごとに試験しけんがある。[There is a test every chapter.]

学期がっきごとに先生せんせいがかわる。[The teacher changes every semester.]

木村きむらさんはひとごとに挨拶あいさつしている。[Mr. Kimura greets every person he meets.]

三日みっかおきににテニスをしています。[I am playing tennis every 4th day.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line at 3:23: きみのメールを1ぷんチェックしちゃう毎日まいにちだよ [I check for messages from you every other minute, every day]
Listen to this lyric from 0:22: 松竹まつたけたてて、かどごとに [Matsutake are put up in front of every door] Matsutake are a type of traditional New Year’s decoration involving bamboo and pine. They are generally referred to as 門松かどまつ.

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