Wild Nihongo!


ことになる Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Phrase

Essential Meaning: It has been decided that / It will be decided that / It has come to be that


  • Verb informal nonpast + [ことになる / ことになった]
    • E.g. はなすことになる [It will be decided that X will speak]
    • E.g. べることになった [It was decided that X will eat]


  • ことになる conveys the idea that some decision or arrangement is or will be made by some unspecified agent other than the speaker. This is similar to the passive voice in the sense that the decision affects the speaker in some way, but the person who actually makes the decision is not relevant. ことになる translates to “It has been decided that“, “It has been arranged that“, or “It has come to be that…“.
  • In very humble speech, a speaker can use ことになる to describe a purposeful decision. ことになる is indirect and therefore humble.
    • E.g. 今日きょう山田やまだ先生せんせいうことになっています。[It’s been decided that I will be meeting with Yamada-sensei today.] Depending on the context, the decision to meet with Yamada-sensei could have been made by an unspecified agent, or it could be a humble personal decision.
  • The stative form ことになっている indicates that some decision or arrangement was made by an unspecified agent in the past and remains in effect through the present. This form may convey established rules, customs, et cetera.
    • E.g. スミスさんは日本にほん英語えいごおしえることになっている。[It was decided some time in the past that Mr Smith will teach English in Japan.]
    • E.g. 日本にほんではくるまみち左側ひだりがわはしることになっている。[In Japan, it’s an established rule that cars drive on the left.]

Example Sentences:

わたし来年らいねん大阪おおさか転勤てんきんすることになった。[It was decided that I will be transferred to Osaka.]

わたし来月らいげつから会社かいしゃ務めるつとことになりました。[It was decided that I will begin working for a company next month.]

来年らいねん六月ろくがつ結婚けっこんすることになりました。[It has been decided that I will get married next June.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line at 2:00: さようならすることになるなら、もっとやさしくしとけばよかった [If it’s the case that this is goodbye, I wish I had treated you more kindly.] Apparently the singer’s girlfriend is the one who made the decision that they would part ways.

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