I am trying to remember if the following sentences have the meaning of "it is a custom/habit."


(1) "Taking one's shoes off before entering a house is something they do in Japan."
(2) "In a formal business situation in Japan, people always exchange business cards when they do their self-introduction."
(3) "In Japan, on March 14, men give chocolate to women."

I am trying to think of how to say "something is a habit". Has anyone seen this grammatical structure (verb+ものです。), or something similar, that has my desired meaning? At the least, I am 97% sure I've heard the sentence "家に入る前に、靴を脱ぐものです".

2 Answers 2


These are grammatically correct, but perhaps 「~ものです」 is stronger than you might think. Especially I think the third example is too strong; it's something like "Every guy is expected to give chocolates..."

White Day in Japan is not that obligatory, so I'd recommend 「日本社会では、3月14日に、男性が女性にチョコをプレゼントする(という)習慣があります。」

(BTW, あげる is usually written in hiragana when it means "to give." And giving chocolates on White Day is rather uncommon.)

  • The clarification about White Day is very useful. thank you.
    – user312440
    Jul 8, 2014 at 14:01

Yes, this pattern exists, and it is similar to ~べき, indicating a type of social or moral obligation/expectation (as opposed to one's own opinion). I suppose it can have the nuance of something being a habit or custom, but I'd say only if it's something pretty much accepted by everyone. You wouldn't use this referring to one's personal habits or customs.

  • 日本では、家に入る前に、靴を脱ぐものです。 → In Japan, you must/should take off your shoes before entering a house.
  • 日本業界では、自己紹介をする時に、名刺を交換するものです。 → In the Japanese business world, when you introduce yourself, you should exchange business cards.
  • 日本社会において、3月の14日に、男は女の子にチョコを上げるものです。 → In Japanese society, it's expected that men give women chocolates on March 14th.

I think you could say "It's customary to ~" in these examples and it would be appropriate because those are things that every Japanese person does.

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