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約40億年前に誕生した生命は、その営みをずっとこの地球上で重ねてきました。しかし、この宇宙には、地球のほかにもさまざまな天体が無数に存在しています。星や太陽を観察することは、宇宙のしくみを知り、わたしたちの住む世界について学ぶことなのです。さあ、夜空をながめ、宇宙について学んでいきましょう。

I'm trying to understand the syntax behind of that sentence. Usually, のです explains something (I know it has a lot of other meanings). But what is actually being explained here? Is "宇宙のしくみを知り" the reason?

Also, in order to be easier to understand, what would be the difference if I remove the のです and say 学ぶことです in that sentence?

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“〜のだ” has four common functions actually:

  • Provide some explanatory context. Thinking of it as similar to ending sentences on “, you see.” in English.
  • Denote a realization the speaker just made, almost always soliloquizing. Think of it as similar to ending an English sentence on “, I see.”
  • It is used to give commands. It also functions as an imperative. It's more common in the negative form with “〜のじゃない” because it's less ambiguous but it does occur.
  • Come with new, often surprising or interesting information to the listener, think of it as ending an English sentence on “, actually.”

This use feels like the last one to me. It comes with a new interesting factoid for the reader. I'd read it as:

Observing the sun and the stars is to learn about workings of the universe, and to study the world we live in actually.

I feel that the function of coming with new, interesting or surprising information can also be captured with “, you see.” in English. It reminds me of a series of pranks by a male Youtuber who disguised himself in female attire and affected a female voice, talked to people and he always ended every interview with “実は…私…男なんです。” where for the final part he dropped back to his normal male speaking voice to shock them. I feel that both “The truth is... I'm... male actually.” or “I'm... male you see.” would serve as a translation to mark the nuance of “〜なんです” over a simple “〜です” there. It does not provide an explanation or a reason but serves to mark information as new and unexpected.

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  • The problem with んです is that there are uses more restricted to written language and others to casual language (like んだよね). I have heard about "telling surprising information to the listener", but I didn't expect it to be used in written language. Thank you. I'm going to share two videos about what you explained here for those who might be interested: 三本塾 -Sambon Juku- (surprising use) and Kaname Naito - How to Use んです?
    – BIG-95
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 16:20

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