I've got a question regarding difference in usage of 辞書形+ように and 辞書形+ために with verbs' dictionary forms, i.e.

  • 飛行機に乗り遅れないように、前日早寝したのです。
  • 彼は質問をするために手を上げました。

The notion I get is that the first is used with non-action verbs, while the latter form is used with action verbs. Am I correct?

  • 1
    My non-native intuition says this. In the sentence "Aよう・ためにB", ように is used when the speaker means that B should entail or ensure A, and ために is used when the speaker means that B happens with the intention of A happening. In other words, in your first sentence, the speaker is implying "going to bed early ensured that I would definitely not miss my plane", and in the second, "I raised my hand with the intention of asking a question". The first sentence implies that the speaker was not late for the plane. The second sentence doesn't imply that the speaker managed to ask a question.
    – Billy
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 12:07
  • @Billy: Comments are not for answers
    – istrasci
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 14:20
  • 2
    @istrasci If you know that I'm right, then post it as an answer. I am very unsure.
    – Billy
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 0:29

4 Answers 4


I find SSB's explanation rather complicated. It sounds correct but the most useful explanation I remember is that ために is used for situations where the speaker/actor has control, or ability to make something happen ("in order to"). ように is used when you cannot control the situation ("so that"). (分かるように勉強する: you cannot guarantee that you will come to understand but you study so that you may understand)

In your examples, you go to bed early to ensure you do not oversleep, but you cannot be sure it won't happen because you cannot wake your self up.

You raise your hand because that is the custom to ask a question. The teacher will notice and respond.

(There is a better English explanation in "A students guide to Japanese Grammar" by Naomi Hanaoka McGloin but this is how I remember it.)

  • 2
    My grammar book says for ~ように: 「~」には話す人の意志を表さない動詞(意志を含まない同志や可能の意味を表す動詞など)が来る. So I think that's the key (which @ssb also mentions).
    – istrasci
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 22:29
  • Sorry to come in a post from a long time ago, but I have a question then if somebody who understand the notion is willing to answer. Why in my textbook, it says "大学に合格できるように一生懸命勉強しています。" Because the speaker has a clear control over the success of his/her exam or not (by studying hard). Is it because you can't be "sure" 100% that your work will pay off? I got another example "働くために学校をやめた。" so here, there is still a chance of not finding work even though he stopped school. If someone can help me on this notion, kinda tricky for me to understand... Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 18:45
  • @Marion Fuchs, it is because potential verbs such as できる are non volitional verbs.
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 15:36

ために is used with verbs that indicate volition in order to express an intention to produce a desired result. ように does not use verbs of volition and simply states a condition that is a desired result without implying direct fulfillment of those conditions through a specific exerted effort.

There's an explanation here that explains it pretty well, so I'll translate some of what it says:

First they give some example sentences:


Examples a and b both use verbs of volition as in "in order to protect nature" or "in order to travel around the world." Examples c and d, on the other hand, use verbs of possibility or intransitive verbs. It's stating a condition rather than an intention as the goal. Note that in d the change in subject does not affect the 'intentionality' of the verbs.

When creating these sentences we have to think about what the attitude is toward the end result. For example in b the kind of thought process is "I want to travel around the world. Therefore I saved 500 man yen." Compare this to example d where the thought process is more like "It's nice if the whole class understands what the teacher is saying. Therefore the teacher spoke slowly."

So it's about intentional actions versus desired conditions.

Now to offer my own two cents to this, your original instinct about action verbs I think isn't wrong. I'm not sure if "action verb" and the Japanese term 意志動詞 overlap perfectly, but I'm assuming that most volitional verbs are indeed action verbs. It's more important to think about the distinction between conditions and volition, though.

So in your examples, the first one expresses that the condition brought about by not being late for your plane is a good one, and you are taking that action as a step toward fulfillment of that condition. "乗り遅れる" would not normally be considered a volitional verb because the lateness kind of implies something that you don't want. It's a negative verb that is basically another way of saying like, 間に合って指定された時間に乗れる, which ultimately is a condition. If you just use 乗る then things are different. In the second, "answer a question" is not a condition. It is an action that you are doing out of your own volition, a desire to answer the question, and you are raising your hand as a direct means to achieve that.

  • I just hope it's clear! If any of it is poorly worded or confusing let me know.
    – ssb
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 16:37

I've checked the online grammar appendix to the widely known 初級日本語 book published by 東京外国語大学 留学生日本語教育センター.

It states that for the 辞書形+ように construction can be used with either verbs in potential forms or something that we have no control over, for example drying up clothes:


  • 服が乾くように、火のそばに持って行きました。

  • 帰ってすぐ寝られるように、部屋に布団を敷いておきました。

Meanwhile, the ない+ように construction can be used with both volitional and non-volitional verbs.

辞書形+ために, on the other hand, is merely used to show the goal of actions stated in a sentence.


Ok. I have read the explanation from some of the post I found and here's what I got. I'll be talking about the usage as "In order to" only since ように・ために have other meanings as well.

  1. ~ように is used when Verb in front of it is a potential dict form. e.g. いける, なれる
  2. ~ために is used when Verb in front of it is a dictionary form. e.g. いく, なる So in this case, ために sounds more of a serious intention of things to happen, instead of just "can, able to, could".
  3. Since ために is for something you can control, that means you cannot use it if the subjects are two different person/ things. e.g. 子供はいい学校に行ける ために, 彼女は一生懸命働きます。 You can't use ために since The mom and child are different subjects, which means her mom still have no control whether her child can go to good school or not regardless of how hard she work.
  4. For Verb with ない form, it's USUALLY use with ように。

My Japanese is a beginner level, but hope this helps.

  • If I am not mistaken, you cannot use ない with ために or のに, leaving ように as the only option.
    – 悪戯猫
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 17:53

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