のに (In Order To) Japanese Grammar Lesson
Grammar Type: Conjunction
Essential Meaning: In the process of doing X / For the purpose of doing X / In order to do X
- Verb informal nonpast + のに
- E.g. 話すのに [In order to speak]
- In this context, のに means “In order to” or “In the process of” and implies that an action is undertaken in order to further some time or labor intensive process.
- E.g. 私は日本語の新聞を読むのに辞書を使う。[In order to read Japanese newspapers, I use a dictionary.] The implication of this example is that reading Japanese newspapers is a time-intensive process.
- のに (In order to) looks basically identical to のに (Even Though), but the presence or lack of a disjunctive meaning in the sentence determines which version of のに is being used. In other words, it should be clear from context whether “In order to” or “Even though” makes more sense. Another differentiator is that のに (In order to) can only be preceded by informal, nonpast, volitional verbs.
- E.g. 毎日漢字を勉強しているのによく覚えられない。[Even though I’m studying Kanji everyday, I cannot memorize them well.] This example is clearly an instance of のに (Even Though) because the situation would not make sense with “In order to” (i.e. “In order to study Kanji everyday, I cannot memorize them well” makes no sense).
- When the のに clause is used as the topic of a sentence (e.g. “Xのには”), the の is often omitted in conversation.
- E.g. すき焼きを作るには何が入りますか。[In order to make sukiyaki, what do you use?]
- When the main verb is a verb of motion, the sentence may resemble に (Reason / Purpose). The differences between のに (In order to) and に (Reason / Purpose) are that (1) のに (In order to) implies a relatively lengthy process, while に (Reason / Purpose) doesn’t. (2) With のに (In order to), the speaker is often critical of the amount of time, money, or effort being spent. に (Reason / Purpose) doesn’t have this connotation. (3) のに (In order to) can only be used with a verb of motion if the destination is specified explicitly. This restriction doesn’t apply to に (Reason / Purpose).
- E.g. 映画を見に銀座へ行った。[I went to Ginza to see a movie.]
- E.g. 英語を見るのに銀座へ行った。[In order to see a movie, I went all the way to Ginza.] This sentence can be interpreted as being critical of the idea of going all the way to Ginza to see a movie. This is based on the fact that のに implies a lengthy process.
- E.g. *映画を見るのに行った。[I went in order to see a movie.] This is ungrammatical because the destination must be made explicit when using のに with a motion verb.
- のに (In order to) is also similar to ために. The difference is that ために simply implies purpose, while のに implies some sort of deliberate process.
- E.g. *生きるのに食べる。[I eat for the purpose of living.] This sentence is strange because living is incongruous with the concept of a deliberate process.
- E.g. 生きるために食べる。[I eat to live.]
私は日本語の新聞を読むのに辞書を使う。[In order to read Japanese newspapers, I use a dictionary.]
このレポートを書くのに１ヶ月かかりました。[In order to write my report, it took 1 month.]
会社に行くのにバスと電車を使っている。[In order to go to work, I use a train and a bus.]
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