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Today I came across this sentence while watching a documentary with one man guiding another in a job「指導するのはAさんです。」 I understand this as「The person who is (doing the) instructing is A」. From what I learned「指導するのはA」is translated into「The doing of the instructing」which refers to an event not a person.

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This type of sentence is known as a cleft sentence. While this の is technically a sort of a relative clause, it works more as a placeholder. You should recognize this as a special construction, and you always use のは regardless of whether it refers to a person or a thing.

指導するのはAさんです。
It's A who will instruct [you/them].

By the way, also in English, this type of sentence always starts with "It" even if it refers to a person.

(FWIW, this sentence is ambiguous between "It's A who will instruct [you/them]" and "It's A who [you/they] will instruct".)

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    Great point about the ambiguity of the sentence when taken out of context.
    – A.Ellett
    Mar 24 at 4:07
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    @A.Ellett - That ambiguity has little to do with の as 指導する人 is equally ambiguous.
    – aguijonazo
    Mar 24 at 22:31
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    @aguijonazo I know, but it's something that I think English speakers easily overlook.
    – A.Ellett
    Mar 24 at 23:39
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    By the way, also in English, this type of sentence always starts with "It" even if it refers to a person. I could think of several ways to say this that don't begin with "It's"...
    – istrasci
    Apr 18 at 2:35
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I parse this as a sort of eel sentence.

指導する to instruct (do instruction)

指導するの act of instruction

指導するのは as for the instruction,

「〇〇が」Aさんです [...] is A-san.

Context suggests that the missing が-marked part is something like 担当者.

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  • How do you parse 指導するのAさんです? Do you still understand this の as referring to the act, rather than the person?
    – aguijonazo
    Mar 23 at 8:19
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    @aguijonazo if one indeed can say that (naruto's answer seems to argue otherwise) then it does present a challenge to the model, true. Mar 23 at 8:38
  • Of course one can say that. I don’t think naruto will deny it. But 僕が鰻です is also possible. So, it doesn’t mean the の has to be the person. I just thought your argument was unconventional.
    – aguijonazo
    Mar 23 at 9:14
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    @JoshuaGrosso - I'm a native speaker and don't need a reference to know at least this particular phrase is acceptable. You order eel and the waiter brings it but gives it to your friend, then you could say 僕が鰻です to correct them.
    – aguijonazo
    Mar 25 at 19:31
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    @JoshuaGrosso - It does sound somewhat sloppy but perhaps not so much as in English. A more complete version would be 僕が鰻を注文しました. Maybe I should add that in this context 鰻は僕です (for 鰻を注文したのは僕です) would be much more common.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 24 at 6:36
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“〜の” should really be construed to be as wide as possiblein terms of what it can stand for. One can I suppose see the “〜の” as to be able to stand in place for about any noun and simply functions to nominalize the sentence. I can even function as so:

  • “ゲームするのはあんただけだ” -> “You're the only one who plays video games.”
  • “ゲームするのはあんただけだ” -> “You're the only one I play video games with.” [different context, same sentence]
  • “食べるのはこの場所だけだ” -> “This is the only place I eat at.”
  • “パンを切るのはこのナイフだ。” -> “This knife is what I cut bread with.”
  • “行きたいのはこの理由だ” -> “This reason is why I want to go.”

What “〜の” stands for is certainly not limited to the subject or the object and what part of the sentence it stands for is often context.

There are nouns such as “こと” or “人” which are more specific. Indeed, in theory one can also say “ゲームす人はあんただけだ” to mean “whom I play games with" but that honestly sounds a bit weird, one would probably sooner use “相手” there but “〜の” in the right context, when already talking about whom one is playing games with is completely fine, we thus arrive at a situation that depending on context “ゲームするの” can mean any of:

  1. “the one whom [I] play video games with"
  2. “the one who plays video games”
  3. “the place where [I] play video games”
  4. “the computer on which [I] play video games”
  5. “the reason why [I] play video games”
  6. “the fact that [I] play video games”
  7. “playing video games”

And so forth. So “ゲームするのは好きだ。”, “ゲームするのは楽しいからだ。” “ゲームするのはこのパソコンだ。” all have very different interpretations of the first part.

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