Connective Structure

Various ways of connecting two or more phrases. I originally grouped these in with particles, many of which can also act as connectors, but they don't really fit there. Many of these are simply に (ni) followed by a -te form verb.

Entries on this page are sorted in Japanese directionary order.


限り (kagiri)

As long as, to the extent that:

X限りY indicates that Y holds true for as long as the situation X describes remains true, or that Y is true to the extent that X is. When X is a negative condition, this is very similar to English "Y unless (positive equvalent of X)". 限り comes from the verb 限る (kagiru), which means to limit or restrict.

See also だけ (dake) and 程 (hodo), which can similary be used to describe the extent of something, though not in the same way.

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かと言って (ka to itte)

Even though:

Xかと言ってY translates roughly to "Y even though X," but is used in fairly specific circumstances. For what I've been able to find, its usage seems to be restricted to when introducing an alternative or alternate viewpoint that is perhaps no less undesirable than the one(s) already mentioned, and it must always be followed with a negative conjugation. Possible English parallels would be "but then," "even so," and "on the other hand."

Also see the related phrase と言っても (to itte mo).

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からと言って(も) (kara to itte (mo)), からと言ったって (kara to itta tte)

Just because... doesn't mean:

Xからと言ってY (X kara to itte Y) translates to "Just because X doesn't necessarily mean Y" or "X may be so, but (not) Y." Y will often end with a phrase like とは限らない (to wa kagiranai, is not limited to) or というわけじゃない (to iu wake ja nai, doesn't mean that). も (mo) may appear to heighten the contrast, and からと言ったって (kara to itta tte) is a spoken casual, and perhaps more emphatic, equivalent to からと言っても.

This may appear at the beginning of a sentence as だからと言って (da kara to itte), and as with many two-part phrases, the second half is sometimes dropped in spoken language, leaving the conclusion implied.

Not to be confused with:

For "Just because X happened, Y happens", see ばかりに (bakari ni).

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からには (kara ni wa)

Because it is so:

Use XからにはY (X kara ni wa Y) when X is known to be true and leads to a conclusion Y, which may be a simple statement, an imperative, or any number of other things. It often translates to "since", "now that", or "as long as", depending on context.

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くせに (kuse ni)

Even though (derogatory):

くせに (kuse ni) in a phrase XくせにY carries essentially the same basic meaning as のに (no ni), making the phrase mean "Y even though X", but expresses this with more disdain. Think of it as putting the "spite" in "despite". Since くせ (kuse) is a noun, follow other nouns with の (no) and -na adjectives with な (na) when attaching くせに. The noun literally refers to a (bad) habit or quirk, and its kanji, 癖, rarely appears when used this way.

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じゃなくて (ja nakute)

Not ... but ...:

The phrase XじゃなくてY indicates that X fails as an appropriate description and that Y does a much better job of it. This often translates to "not X but Y" or "Y, not X".

Using this phrase rejects X as incorrect or otherwise objectionable. When X isn't necessarily wrong, but Y is more accurate or otherwise preferable, use と言うより (to iu yori) instead.

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ついでに (tsuide ni)

Might as well use the opportunity:

XついでにY (X tsuide ni Y) means that X is something you're doing that makes it convenient to do Y, so you go ahead and do Y as well, even though it wasn't necessarily in your plans to begin with. Like many other connective phrases, it may appear at the beginning of a sentence rather than just in the middle of one. This phrase can also be used in conversation to transition to a related topic.

ついでに may also be written with kanji as 序でに, but it's typically left as kana.

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と言うより (to iu yori)

Not so much ... as ...:

If you describe something as Xと言うよりY (X to iu yori Y), you mean that Y more accurately describes it than X, or, in other words, that it's not so much Y as it is X.

Note that this doesn't refute X outright. While there clearly needs to be some degree of contrast between X and Y for there to be any reason to comment on them, they shouldn't be completely opposed either. Using Xと言うよりY doesn't necessarily mean that X is incorrect, just that Y is more correct or a better fit. To say that X is wrong entirely, use じゃなくて (ja nakute) instead.

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と(は)言って(も) (to (wa) itte (mo)),
と(は)言ったって (to (wa) itta tte), とは言え (to wa ie)

Although:

Xと言ってY (X to itte Y) translates roughly to "Y although X." Another way of looking at it is that whatever is being discussed is X in name (and perhaps only in name), but Y is what really matters.

Using も (mo) heightens the contrast, and と言ったって (to wa itta tte) is a spoken casual, and perhaps more emphatic, equivalent to と言っても (to itte mo). Any of the above may optionally include the topic particle は (wa) after と (to). とは言え (to wa ie), a more formal equivalent, seems to require the は. In all cases, the kanji 言 is optional, and it's not unusual for the expression to use only kana.

Also see the related phrase かと言って (ka to itte).

Not to be confused with:

~と言って may also simply be the -te form of the quoting phrase ~と言う (-to iu); refer to the と (to) particle.

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と思うと (to omou to), と思ったら (to omottara)

No sooner did... but:

Xと思うとY (X to omou to Y) and Xと思ったらY (X to omottara Y) usually mean that X happens, then Y happens either while X is still in progress or immediately after.

Possibly 思う (omou, usually translating to "think" or "believe") functions here in the sense of the first event consciously registering—by the time you realize it's happening, the second event has already started.

The more literal meaning, "if/when (I) think that," or "if (I) thought," sometimes applies instead. However, I've seen many more cases where the more idiomatic usage explained above is the correct one. For the sake of examples, here's one with this other meaning.

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どころか (dokoro ka)

In the wrong ballpark:

XどころかY (X dokoro ka Y) means that X, which is normally something that has already been brought up, does not even come close to adequately describing what Y expands on. In other words, X either grossly underestimates or grossly overestimates the reality of the situation, and Y gives a better description. This often translates to "not merely X but also Y", "Y, let alone X", or "far from X, Y".

どころか follows directly after nouns, adjectives, and verbs.

This meaning may also appear at the end of a sentence in the form どころじゃない (dokoro ja nai).

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として (to shite)

Acting in a given capacity:

Xとして (X to shite) often translates to "as X", "acting as X", or "in the role of X". When referring to people, this is often used to single out one of the many aspects of their identity.

としては (to shite wa) can have a special function that resembles an emphatic version of the simple topic marker は (wa). Though comparable to the topic particle, this usage specifically highlights the topic, usually a person in this case, in contrast to others.

Otherwise, adding the topic particle は (wa) may simply highlight the specific function mentioned as being perhaps special, as it does in the bread paperweight example above (it's a pretty good paperweight, but doesn't seem to be much good otherwise). However, it may also shift the emphasis in a way that makes the meaning closer to "for (an) X".

See also:

にしては (ni shite wa) and わりに (wari ni) both have similar meanings to the "for (an) X" usage of としては, but different nuances. Using XにしてはY implies that Y is unreasonable given X, or that you would expect Y to rule out X as a possibility, often meaning that the fact of Y is enough to make you question whether X is actually true. XとしてはY just objectively describes a divergence between the situation Y and the result expected from X. Similarly, XわりにY expresses an imbalance between X and Y, which usually works out to the same thing.

All of the following, adapted from a line in Final Fantasy VI, translate roughly to "You're awfully short for a soldier." However, each has a slightly different nuance, as noted.

Easily confused with:

When used after a volitional form verb, XとしてY may mean to do Y with the intent of accomplishing X. This is just a form of the volitional + とする (to suru) construct, explained in further detail under the entry for the volitional verb form.

として may also be the -te form of the assumption-making とする (to suru). Refer to that entry for details.

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に関する (ni kansuru)

In reference to:

Xに関する (X ni kan suru) is one way of saying "about X," "concerning X," or "in regards to X." に関する conjugates to the linking form に関して (ni kanshite) when a phrase follows instead of a noun. に関する and に関して are generally reserved for more serious discourse.

This may sound similar to the topic particle は (wa), but X is not the topic of the sentence in this case. Remember that there's a difference between discussing facts about something and having the sentence itself be about that something.

Accordingly, the topic particle has numerous uses that に関する does not, and に関する can conversely be used in some ways that the topic particle cannot, such as in descriptive phrases like the following.

Despite the apparent similarity, I can't come up with a single example where the two are interchangeable.

Also refer to について (ni tsuite), which has a meaning comparable to に関する, but lacks the more serious tone.

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に比べて (ni kurabete), に比べれば (ni kurabereba)

Compared to:

Xに比べて (X ni kurabete) translates to "compared to X." The conditional form equivalent Xに比べれば (X ni kurabereba) also occurs commonly and means essentially the same thing.

The related common phrase XがYと比べ物にならない (X ga Y to kurabemono ni naranai), equates to "Y is beyond all comparison with X." It's not unusual to replace the subject particle が (ga) with the topic particle は (wa), or to add a topic particle to と (to) to result in とは (to wa), or to do both at once.

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にしては (ni shite wa)

Considering that:

Xにしては (X ni shite wa) equates to "for a(n) X" or "considering that X," and expresses contrast between expectation and reality.

Since the は (wa) in にしては is the topic particle, も (mo) can replace it to mean roughly "even for a(n) A".

Using も instead of は doesn't necessarily change the literal meaning much, but it can have a substantial effect on the implications, as these otherwise identical sentences demonstrate:

Try not to confuse this with a different にしても (ni shite mo), which means roughly "regardless of".

See also:

として (to shite) followed by the topic particle は (wa) and わりに (wari ni) both have similar meanings, but different nuances. Using XにしてはY implies that Y is unreasonable given X, or that you would expect Y to rule out X as a possibility, often meaning that means the fact of Y is enough to make you question whether X is actually true. XとしてはY just objectively describes a divergence between the situation Y and the result expected from X. Similarly, XわりにY expresses an imbalance between X and Y, which usually works out to the same thing.

All of the following translate roughly to "You're awfully short for a soldier." However, each has a slightly different nuance, as noted.

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にしても (ni shite mo)

Even if:

Xにしても (X ni shite mo) equates to "regardless of X" or "even taking X into consideration."

それにしても (sore ni shite mo), equating to "regardless of that," or "even taking that into consideration," or more simply "in any case," seems to be by far the most common use of this syntax. にしても by itself is also sometimes used with this meaning.

どうにしても (dou ni shite mo), also fairly common, equates to "in any case".

See also とする (to suru), as the conjugated form としても (to shite mo) is largely equivalent to にしても, and ~ても (-te mo), which equates to "even if", "even though", or "even when".

Easily confused:

Since the は (wa) in にしては (ni shite wa) is the topic particle, も (mo) can replace it in some situations, resulting in a にしても with a meaning not entirely related to this one.

Some cases of にしても occur when a verbed adjective combines with the ~ても (-te mo) verb ending, resulting in "even if (you) make it [adjective]".

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にとって (ni totte)

As far as I'm concerned:

Xにとって (X ni totte) equates to "as far as X is concerned," "to X," or "for X." It restricts the meaning of the following phrase to apply to a specific person or situation, rather than being true in general.

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について (ni tsuite)

In reference to:

Xについて (X ni tsuite) is one way of saying "about X," "concerning X," or "in regards to X." That's basically all there is to it. This usage seems fairly common in topic headings.

This may sound similar to the topic particle は (wa), but X is not the topic of the sentence in this case. Remember that there's a difference between discussing facts about something and having the sentence itself be about that something.

Accordingly, the topic particle has numerous uses that について does not, and について can conversely be used in some ways that the topic particle cannot, such as in descriptive phrases like the following.

Despite the apparent similarity, I can't come up with a single example where the two are interchangeable.

Also refer to に関する (ni kansuru), which has a meaning comparable to について, but a more serious tone.

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によって (ni yotte)

Depending on:

Xによって (X ni yotte) equates to "depending on X." When X is a category or a generic noun with numerous concrete examples, the meaning comes closer to "depending on which X you pick."

Not to be confused with:

The -te form of による (ni yoru), another によって that appears frequently, means something more like "due to".

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による (ni yoru)

Due to:

XによるY (X ni yoru Y), where Y is a noun, means Y due to, by means of, or because of X. Put よる (yoru) in -te form to get によって (ni yotte) for a connective form that links phrases instead. The literary variant により (ni yori) also links phrases.

Not to be confused with:

Another common によって (ni yotte) means roughly "depending on".

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によると (ni yoru to), によれば (ni yoreba)

According to:

Xによると (X ni yoru to) and the more bookish Xによれば (X ni yoreba) both equate to "according to X." They often pair with sentence endings like らしい (rashii) and そう (sou) that indicate secondhand information.

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ばかりに (bakari ni)

Just because:

To say that a (usually bad) result happens thanks to a single cause (mistake), follow the cause, ending in a short past affirmative or past negative verb, with ばかりに (bakari ni), then the outcome.

Not to be confused with:

The particle ばかり (bakari) follows nouns, -te form verbs, and so on, and gives an impression of something being overwhelmingly common, frequent, etc.

After a short past affirmative verb, ばかり (bakari) without に (ni) indicates that an action has just happened.

The longer ばかりでなく (bakari de naku) and ばかりか (bakari ka) are variants on the particle and translate to "not just... but also"

There are two different meanings for the phrase ばかりに (bakari ni). The other one roughly means "as if to do" and usually appears in phrases such as 言わんばかりに (iwan bakari ni).

For "just because X doesn't necessarily mean Y", see からと言って (kara to itte).

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ばかりに (bakari ni), especially 言わんばかりに (iwan bakari ni)

As if to:

Take a short nonpast negative verb, replace the ~ない (-nai) with ~ん (-n), and add ばかりに (bakari ni) to form a phrase that means roughly "as though trying to" or "as if to". The verb conjugation is actually an archaic volitional form rarely found in the modern language otherwise. Any verb that makes sense may be used, but 言う (iu, say) appears the most frequently.

と言わんばかりに (to iwan bakari ni) may be shortened to とばかりに (to bakari ni).

Not to be confused with:

The particle ばかり (bakari) follows nouns, -te form verbs, and so on, and gives an impression of something being overwhelmingly common, frequent, etc.

After a short past affirmative verb, ばかり (bakari) without に (ni) indicates that an action has just happened.

The longer ばかりでなく (bakari de naku) and ばかりか (bakari ka) are variants on the particle and translate to "not just... but also"

There are two different meanings for the phrase ばかりに (bakari ni). The other one is roughly "just because" and usually comes after a short past verb.

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わりに (wari ni)

Even though (contrary to expectations):

わりに (wari ni) in a phrase XわりにY resembles のに (no ni) in that it expresses contrast between expectations and reality, but the nuances are somewhat different. This particular connective seems to be most often used in practice when commenting on someone's behavior or reactions as not matching that person's position, role, or stated feelings. Since わり is a noun, follow other nouns with の (no) and -na adjectives with な (na) when attaching わりに.

Though fairly common in accusational remarks such as the first example below, わりに can also be complementary; the point is that the observation is unexpected given previous assumptions. The noun わり (also 割, though the kanji is rarely used in わりに) refers to a ratio or proportion, so using わりに gives a sense that X and Y are disproprotionate.

X and Y are normally both events that have already occurred or facts that are already established, so it's unusual and awkward to try putting any sense of the future in X.

See also:

として (to shite) followed by the topic particle は (wa) and にしては (ni shite wa) both have similar meanings, but different nuances. Using XにしてはY implies that Y is unreasonable given X, or that you would expect Y to rule out X as a possibility, often meaning that the fact of Y is enough to make you question whether X is actually true. XとしてはY just objectively describes a divergence between the situation Y and the result expected from X. Similarly, XわりにY expresses an imbalance between X and Y, which usually works out to the same thing.

All of the following, adapted from a line in Final Fantasy VI, translate roughly to "You're awfully short for a soldier." However, each has a slightly different nuance, as noted.

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