Wild Nihongo!
にしては

にしては

にしては Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: For X / For a(n) X / Considering that

Construction: 

  • Noun + (X / だった) + にしたは
    • E.g. 先生せんせいにしては [Considering that X is a teacher]
    • E.g. 先生せんせいだったにしては [Considering that X was a teacher]
  • Verb informal + にしては
    • E.g. はなすにしては [Considering that X speaks]
    • E.g. はなしたにしては [Considering that X spoke]

Notes:

  • 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 おれ白人はくじん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. 高山たかやまさんは日本人にほんじんにしてはおおきい。[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. 毎日まいにちマックを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 particle. The literal meaning of にしては is “If one makes it…”.

Example Sentences:

ボブは日本語にほんごをよく勉強べんきょうしているにしては下手へただ。[Considering that Bob studies Japanese often, he isn’t very good at it.]

八月はちがつにしてはすずしいですね。[Considering that it’s August, it’s pretty cool.]

これは日本にほんくるまにしてはおおきいですね。[Considering that this is a Japanese car, it’s big, isn’t it?]

かれはレスラーだったにしてはからだちいさい。[Considering that he was a wrestler, his body is small.]

青木あおきさんはアメリカに10ねんいたにしては英語えいごがあまり上手じょうずじゃない。[Considering the fact that Mr. Aoki was in America for 10 years, he’s not very good at English.]

WILD Examples:

This is from a Japanese wiki-style page about Christopher Robin. You can see the following sentence highlighted in red: フレンドリーで子供こどもにしてはあたまかしこ [He’s friendly, and for a kid he is clever.]
Listen for this line at 0:50: 予知夢よちむにしてはきれいすぎっ、現実げんじつ現状げんじょうちょうきびしい [It’s too beautiful for a prophetic dream, the actual situation is super severe]

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