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I'm reading a JLPT N5 graded text (to practice reading with kanjis) and I understand all of it except for the following sentence:

ペットとしてしいくするのはかんたんです。

I don't understand the として in that sentence. I looked it up on http://jgram.org and it's listed as an N2 level expression, so I guess it's quite advanced. I read the definition ("indicates the capacity, role, or function of someone or something"), but I don't get how it fits into the sentence (I understand it as 'Breeding a pet is easy')

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〜として in this sense is like you said: in the role/function/capacity of. You can often remember it As (a) 〜. So in this sentence, it might be easier to understand if you translate this way.

  • ペットとして[飼育]{し・いく}するのは[簡単]{かん・たん}です。 → Having/Raising/Keeping X (whatever animal) as a pet is easy. (I think 飼育 is probably one of these definitions here more than "breeding", but without more context from the passage... See comments below.)

Here are some other examples that might help:

  • あの人はがんばる会社員としてよく知られている → That guy is well known as a hard-working employee.
  • これは母じゃなくて、友達として言いますけど... → I'm not telling you this as your mother, but as a friend...
  • として扱う → Treat someone as an enemy
  • 飼育 for "having pet" is perfectly OK. It's not "raising" (if I believe my E-J dictionary tells me that "raise" is only used for livestock) here. – broccoli forest Jan 16 '15 at 17:59
  • "Keeping" is one possible translation. – snailboat Jan 16 '15 at 19:02
  • In my mind, "raising"/"having"/"keeping" an animal are pretty interchangeable in English. Thoughts? – istrasci Jan 16 '15 at 19:39
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    @broccoliforest your E-J dictionary is wrong about "raise". You can most definitely raise a pet, like a hamster or a dog. You can even raise children. All of these are natural expressions -- at least in AmE. – virmaior Jan 17 '15 at 0:57
  • Thank you. Raising children is OK too, but when it comes to animals, it says "of livestock". It seems I shouldn't trust them too much. – broccoli forest Jan 19 '15 at 0:57

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