にしては Japanese Grammar Lesson
Grammar Type: Particle
Essential Meaning: For X / For a(n) X / Considering that
- Noun + (X / だった) + にしたは
- E.g. 先生にしては [Considering that X is a teacher]
- E.g. 先生だったにしては [Considering that X was a teacher]
- Verb informal + にしては
- E.g. 話すにしては [Considering that X speaks]
- E.g. 話したにしては [Considering that X spoke]
- にしては means “Considering that” or “For”. It expresses the idea that some situation is contrary to generally agreed-upon expectations or deviates from the norm in some way. To illustrate the concept, in the song “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” by The Offspring, the protagonist believes that he is cool and hip contrary to the general expectation that white guys are neither cool nor hip. In Japanese, this song title can potentially be expressed as 俺は白人にしてはイケてんだって [They say I’m pretty cool considering the fact that I’m white]. Other examples in which にしては would be appropriate include “It’s very warm considering the fact that it’s January”, “This laptop is cheap for a MacBook”, “She eats a lot for a 100 pound woman”, or “He is pretty fat considering the fact that he does jiu jitsu every day”.
- E.g. 高山さんは日本人にしては大きい。[Takayama-san is big for a Japanese person.] In this example, Takayama is big. This is contrary to the general expectation that Japanese people are small.
- Verbs can also precede にしては, as in the below example.
- E.g. 毎日マックを食べるにしてはかなりやせているね。[You’re pretty skinny consider the fact that you eat McDonald’s every day.]
- Grammatically, にしては is comprised of the て-Form of にする + the contrastive は particle. The literal meaning of にしては is “If one makes it…”.
ボブは日本語をよく勉強しているにしては下手だ。[Considering that Bob studies Japanese often, he isn’t very good at it.]
八月にしては涼しいですね。[Considering that it’s August, it’s pretty cool.]
これは日本の車にしては大きいですね。[Considering that this is a Japanese car, it’s big, isn’t it?]
彼はレスラーだったにしては体が小さい。[Considering that he was a wrestler, his body is small.]
青木さんはアメリカに１０年いたにしては英語があまり上手じゃない。[Considering the fact that Mr. Aoki was in America for 10 years, he’s not very good at English.]
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