Wild Nihongo!
としては

としては

としては Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: For X / Relative to X (standard of comparison)

Construction: 

  • Noun + としては
    • E.g. 先生せんせいとしては [For a teacher]

Notes:

  • としては is comparable to the English “For…” or “For a…“. It introduces a standard to which something is compared or contrasted. Sentences such as “You ski well for a beginner“, “Demetrious Johnson punches hard for a flyweight“, or “For a Japanese apartment, this is quite spacious” can be expressed in Japanese with としては. In these sentences, beginner, flyweight, and Japanese apartment are used as the standards to which the subjects are compared. Typically, the subject falls into the same category as the standard of comparison (i.e. if the standard of comparison is beginners, the subject will fall into the category of beginner), but this is not necessarily the case.
    • E.g. このステーキは日本にほんのステーキとしてはやすい。[This steak is cheap for a Japanese steak.] In this example, Japanese steaks are the standard of comparison. Relative to this standard, the steak that the speaker is eating is cheap.
  • としては closely resembles the expression にしては, but there are some slight differences. Namely:
    • (1) X にしては pre-supposes that the subject in fact falls into the category of X. In the sentence “For a Japanese house, this is quite spacious.“, if にしては is used, the speaker is pre-supposing that the house is in fact a Japanese house. But if としては is used, the house may not actually be Japanese.
      • E.g. ジョンソンさんは日本語にほんご一年生いちねんせいとしては日本語にほんご上手じょうずだ。[Mr Johnson is good at Japanese for a first year student.] In this example, the speaker uses first year students as a standard of comparison, but Mr. Johnson may or may not actually be a first year student.
      • E.g. ジョンソンさんは日本語にほんご一年生いちねんせいにしては日本語にほんご上手じょうずだ。[Mr Johnson is good at Japanese considering that he’s a first year student.] In this example, the fact that Mr. Johnson is a first year student is pre-supposed by the speaker.
    • (2) にしては can be used when the identity of the subject is mysterious or unknown. としては can not be used in this manner.
      • E.g. これはほんにしてはかるすぎるね。[This is too light for a book, isn’t it?] In this sentence, the identity of the object is unknown, and the speaker supposes that it’s a book for the sake of comparison.
      • E.g. *これはほんとしてはかるすぎるね。[This is too light for a book, isn’t it?] としては can not be used when the identity of the subject is unknown.

Example Sentences:

このステーキは日本にほんのステーキとしてはやすい。[This steak is cheap for a Japanese steak.]

ジョンソンさんは日本語にほんご一年生いちねんせいとしては日本語にほんご上手じょうずだ。[Mr Johnson is good at Japanese for a first year student.]

これは日本にほんのアパートとしてはおおきいほうです。[For a Japanese apartment, this one is on the big side.]

WILD Examples:

This is an online review for a Royal Host restaurant (a Japanese restaurant chain). The tagline of the review says: 上品じょうひんなメニューもある! ファミリーレストランとしてはすこたか [They also have a top-tier menu option. For a family restaurant, it’s a little expensive.]
This is another online review for a restaurant in Ginza. The tagline says: 銀座ぎんざにしてはリーザなブルで美味おいしいおてん [For Ginza, it’s a reasonable and delicious restaurant.]

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