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から (Reason / Cause)

から (Reason / Cause)

から (Reason / Cause) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Conjunction

Essential Meaning: Because / Since

Construction: 

  • Sentence 1 informal + から, Sentence 2
    • E.g. ねむいから、る。[Because I’m sleepy, I will sleep.]
  • Sentence + から + だ
    • E.g. ねむいからだ。[It’s because I’m sleepy.]

Notes:

  • から (Reason / Cause) works similarly to the English subordinating conjunction “Because“. It is used to construct sentences such as “Because of X, Y” or “A: Why Y? B: Because X“. In other words, Sentence 1 indicates a reason or cause for the situation in Sentence 2. Note that the から clause always precedes the main clause.
  • Because the から clause is a subordinate clause, its verb generally takes an informal form. But in very formal speech, it is acceptable to use a formal form.
    • E.g. 今日きょういそがしいですから明日あしたてください。[Because I’m busy today, please come tomorrow.]
  • The main clause (i.e. Sentence 2) may be omitted and replaced with the copula だ if its content is obvious or known to the hearer through context. One common situation when Sentence 2 may be dropped is when answering a “Why?” question, because it would be unnecessary and redundant to repeat the question back to the asker. The copula must match the formality level of Sentence 1.
    • E.g. 来年らいねん日本にほんきますからだ。[It’s because I’m going to Japan next year.] This sentence is ungrammatical, because the verb きます is in a formal form, and the copula だ is in an informal form.
    • E.g. 来年らいねん日本にほんくからだ。[It’s because I’m going to Japan next year.] This sentence is OK because く is informal and だ is informal.
  • In question-answer situations, the expression may be further abbreviated by dropping the copula altogether.
    • E.g. 来年らいねん日本にほんきますから。[Because I’m going to Japan next year.]
    • E.g. あたまいたかったから。[Because my head hurt.]
  • In very formal situations or when formally explaining matters of fact, you can say からです instead of ですから. But in regular conversation, ですから can come across as overly proper or even condescending. It’s kind of like saying “Duh” or “You might not know, but let me tell you…“; it basically assumes that the hearer is ignorant of the topic.
    • E.g. *日本にほんだいきだからです。[I quite enjoy Japan.] This example is not ungrammatical, but it sounds overly prim and proper due to からです.
    • E.g. このひと暗殺あんさつされました。きらわれていたからです。[This person was assassinated. It’s because he was disliked.] It is acceptable to use からです in this case because the speaker is merely relaying a fact. Facts don’t necessarily require a soft, conversational tone.
    • E.g. 休日きゅうじつですから。[Because it’s a holiday.] This example sounds normal and conversational.
    • E.g. *休日きゅうじつだからです。[You may not know this, but it’s because it’s a holiday.] This example is a bit offensive because the speaker is assuming that the hearer doesn’t know it’s a holiday and is condescendingly explaining this fact to the hearer.
    • E.g. 田中たなかくんはモテるですね。かっこいですから。[Tanaka-kun is popular, isn’t he? It’s because he’s cool.] This example sounds natural.
    • E.g. *田中たなかくんはモテるですね。かっこいからです。[Tanaka-kun is popular, isn’t he? You may not know this, but it’s because he’s cool.] This comes across as condescending due to からです.

Example Sentences:

来年らいねん日本にほんくから日本語にほんご勉強べんきょうしている。[Because I’m going to Japan next year, I’m studying Japanese.]

A: どうして日本語にほんご勉強べんきょうしているんですか。B: 来年らいねん日本にほんくからだ。[A: Why are you studying Japanese? B: Because I’m going to Japan next year.]

春子はるこは17だからまだおさけめない。[Because Haruko is 17, she can’t drink yet.]

今日きょういそがしいですから明日あしたてください。[Because I’m busy today, please come tomorrow.]

A: どうして昨日きのう学校がっこうやすんだんですか。B: あたまいたかったからです。[A: Why were you absent from school yesterday? B: Because my head hurt.]

WILD Examples:

At 2:40, listen for this line: あさゆめだからむねはなれない [Because it’s a superficial dream, I can’t get it off of my chest.] The context of this line is that the speaker is unable to forget his first love to whom he never expressed his true feelings.
The opening line of this song goes like this: カラスがえたからころします、さらにさるえたからへららします [The crows have increased in number, so we’ll kill them. Moreover, the monkeys have increased in number so I we’ll diminish them.]

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