One of my JLPT books, 総まとめ文法N2, uses the following examples to explain the grammar pattern ところだ:

  • お忙{いそが}しいところをすみません。(=忙{いそが}しいのに) → I am sorry to bother you at this busy time.

  • 会{あ}いたいと思{おも}っていたところです。(=今{いま}ちょうど思{おも}っていました) → I was just thinking that I wanted to see you.

It also mentions that ところ could be followed by particles へ・に・を or nothing. But it does not give any example or any explanation on the difference between them.

I have a few questions:

  • Does ところを always imply the meaning of のに in the meaning of "although"?

  • What is the difference between ところに and ところへ? Is ところへ more elusive than ところに?

In another document (related with N3) I see the following explanations:

  • ところを allows to use the whole sentence like a noun.
  • ところへ something comes from the situation.
  • ところに something happens in the current situation.

The given examples were:

  • これから寝{ね}ようとしたところへ友{とも}達{だち}が訪{たず}ねてきた。 → When I was trying to sleep, a friend came by.

  • こっそりタバコを吸{す}っているところを妹{いもうと}に見{み}られた。 → My sister saw me while I was smoking in secret.

According to my professor, ところに and ところへ are somewhat the same. But I am still wondering whether there is a difference or not?

  • Possible duplicate of Particles following ところ (に, を, and で) – istrasci Oct 20 '14 at 15:33
  • 1
    @istrasci, I have seen this question but, I think this is not exactly a duplicate. – 永劫回帰 Oct 20 '14 at 15:35
  • 3
    I don't think it's a duplicate either. The other question doesn't talk about ところへ, and it doesn't explain whether these sentences are the same. – snailplane Oct 20 '14 at 17:39
  • Thanks for supporting my question. And thanks istrasci for correcting my furigana typos. – 永劫回帰 Oct 20 '14 at 20:00

"Does ところを always imply the meaning of のに in the meaning of "although"?"

No, it does not. 「ところを」 has two different meanings/usages.

Usage #1: 「だが」 or 「のに」 as you said.

「このシャツは、いつもは3,000[円]{えん}のところを、[今日]{きょう}は1,980円で[売]{う}っている。」 = "Although they usually sell this shirt for 3,000 yen, they are selling it for 1,980 yen today."

「いつもは[電車]{でんしゃ}で[会社]{かいしゃ}に[行]{い}くところを、[今日]{きょう}はタクシーで行った。」 = "I usually go to my office by train but today, I went by taxi."

Usage #2: To describe a particular situation, conditions, circumstances, etc.

「チヨ[子]{こ}がほかの[男]{おとこ}といるところを[見]{み}てしまった。」 = "I happened to see Chiyoko with another guy."

"What is the difference between ところに and ところへ ? Is ところへ more elusive than ところに ?"

Each has two different meanings/usages.

Usage #1: As an idiomatic expression describing (1)Two things happening simultaneously. (2)One thing happening immediately after another. (3)One thing starting while another thing is in progress. Roughly speaking, however, it is two things happening at the same tme.

In this usage, 「ところへ」 and 「ところに」 are completely interchangeable IMHO. I would say that saying otherwise is nitpicking. At least in Japan, you will not experience any trouble by using the two interchangeably whether you are in school or in business.

「チヨ子に[電話]{でんわ}しようとしたところへ(or に)、ミチ子から電話がかかってきた。」 = "Just when I was going to call Chiyoko, Michiko called me."

Usage #2: As a regular "noun + に/へ" format with 「ところ」 happening to be the noun. This is where a slight difference in nuance could be discussed.

A textbook explanation would be that 「に」 tends to focus on the destination while 「へ」 tends to focus on the direction. Even in this usage, however, most native speakers use the two interchangeably in many cases.

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  • How about 「ところで」? Is it interchangeable with 「ところに・ところへ」? You did mention a difference in this comment but I wonder if the difference is due to the tense of the verb coming before ところ rather than whether に or で follows ところ. – 3 to 5 business days Oct 20 '14 at 21:22

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