せっかく / わざわざ Japanese Grammar Lesson
Grammar Type: Adverb
Essential Meaning: At great pains / With effort / Take the trouble to / X is rare and precious
- せっかく is simply an adverb that means “At great pains” or With effort“. It tends to co-occur with のに (Even Though) or のだから (i.e. “Because it is the case that…“). The implication is that someone will happen because of one’s pains / efforts or in spite of one’s pains / efforts.
- E.g. せっかく日本語を三年間も勉強したのだから、是非一度日本へ行ってみたいと思います。[Because it is the case that I studied Japanese for as long as three years, I certainly want to visit Japan at least once.] In this example, the speaker wants to visit Japan because of the great pains he or she has taken to learn Japanese.
- E.g. せっかくアメリカまで行ったのにニューヨークに行けなくて残念だった。[Even though I made the effort of going all the way to America, I unfortunately wasn’t able to visit New York.] In this example, the speaker was unable to visit New York in spite of the great pains he or she took to get to America.
- The structure せっかく + の + Noun may be used to form a noun phrase. The meaning of せっかくの X is that X is a rare or precious thing that ought to be taken advantage of.
- E.g. せっかくの旅行 [A rare trip]
- E.g. せっかくのチャンス [A precious chance]
- The structure せっかくですが may be used to politely decline some opportunity or offer, and せっかくですから may be used to politely accept some opportunity or offer.
- E.g. せっかくですが今日は忙しくていけません。[I appreciate the offer, but I’m busy tomorrow and can’t go.] In this example, the speaker politely declines an offer.
- E.g. せっかくですから遠慮なくいただきます。[Since you went through all the trouble, I will take it without hesitation.] In this example, the speaker politely accepts an offer.
- わざわざ is another adverb with a similar meaning to せっかく, but the nuance of わざわざ is that someone intentionally takes the trouble to do something, although it is not necessary to do so. It often has the nuance of going out of one’s way do to someone a favor.
- E.g. せっかく近くまで来たのだから寄りました。[Because I was had come to the area anyways, I stopped by to visit.] わざわざ would be unacceptable in this case because the speaker doesn’t specifically take the trouble to go to the hearer’s neighborhood. The speaker just so happened to be in the area.
- E.g. わざわざ新しい車を買った。[He went to the trouble of buying a new car.] In this example, せっかく would be improper because buying a car is a situation that can only arise via specific and intentional volition.
- E.g. わざわざ持って来てくれてありがとう。[Thank you for doing me the kindness of bringing this to me.] This is an example of an intentional act of kindness, which requires わざわざ rather than せっかく.
せっかく会いに行ったのに友達はいなかった。[Even thought I went through the trouble of going there to meet up, my friend wasn’t there.]
せっかくいい大学に入ったのだからよく勉強するつもりだ。[Because I went through the effort of getting into a good university, I intend to study hard.]
せっかくの日曜日なのに働いた。[Even though it was a precious Sunday, I worked.]
せっかくアメリカまで行ったのにニューヨークに行けなくて残念だった。[Even though the the effort of going all the way to America, I unfortunately wasn’t able to visit New York.]
せっかく日本語を三年間も勉強したのだから、是非一度日本へ行ってみたいと思います。[Because it is the case that I studied Japanese for as long as three years, I certainly want to visit Japan at least once.]
せっかくの旅行が病気でだめになりました。[My precious trip didn’t work out because I got sick.]
せっかくですが今日は忙しくていけません。[I appreciate the offer, but I’m busy tomorrow and can’t go.]
せっかくのチャンスだからデートしたらどうですか。[Since it’s a rare chance, why don’t you date her?]
せっかくですから遠慮なくいただきます。[Since you went through all the trouble, I will take it without hesitation.]
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