Sometimes when I see verbs in a sentence that uses it as a subject or noun rather than an event or verb which explains what happens in a sentence. E.g.:

  • 私は食べるのが好きです。
  • 金曜日、日本へ行っては思う。

In the two examples,the verbs are expressed in different ways but both are treated as nouns. In the first example 「食べる」 is expressed as 「食べるのが」 but 「行く」 is expressed as 「行って」 in the second example.

What is the difference between these two sentences?

  • 1
    Could you explain what do you mean in English by your two examples? – broccoli facemask - cloth Feb 10 '15 at 11:25
  • The two most basic ways to turn a verb into a noun are to add こと or の after the verb (each has limitations and exceptions). The って example you're giving is doing something far more complicated than letting you use 行く as a noun... – virmaior Feb 10 '15 at 11:30
  • I've encountered these sentences in Japanese textbooks, the first sentence means "I like to eat" or "I like eating" while the second means "In friday, (I) think I will go to Japan." I might be wrong as I'm trying to remember them from the top of my head, rather than copying it directly from the book. – Teco Feb 11 '15 at 11:51
  • While I know how nominalizing works with の, I don't fully understand how て form works so I used google translate to get these two closer examples: 食べるのは好きです。 食べては好きです。 They both translate to "I like to eat" – Teco Feb 11 '15 at 12:09
  • A Google search brings up very few instances of 行っては思う. My guess is that you are recalling the phrase incorrectly. In any case, as per my answer, ては means 'if' – VeryCommonName Feb 11 '15 at 12:27

私は食べるのが好きです means "I like eating" and 食べるの functions as a noun but 行って(は) as in 金曜日、日本へ行っては思う is not a noun but an adverb or a verb in an adverbial form, and it means "Every friday I go to Japan and think".

As for 金曜日、日本へ行っては思う, first, は is not a particle to denote the subject of the sentence here, so the sentence doesn't mean "the act of going make me think" or something. This は following a て form means you automatically repeat those sequential actions of going and thinking.

  • 思う : I think
  • 日本へ行って、思う : going to Japan, I think (there)

Now 行っては… means the actions above occur repetitively, and if you regard the preceding action as a condition for the following one, you can translate it into "Every time I go to Japan, I think".

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  • So how exactly do these verbs interact? If the second sentence means "Every friday I go to Japan and think" (I probably got the example wrong, as I'm trying to remember it rather than copying it from where it was written), does it mean the act of going to Japan makes me think, or does it mean I go to Japan and happen to think while I'm there? – Teco Feb 11 '15 at 11:55
  • I edited the answer. – user4092 Feb 12 '15 at 13:12

I will assume you already have a relatively good understanding of the verb+の form as a nominaliser. It is similar to verb+こと.

Regarding ては, have you come across the verb+てはいけない structure before, meaning "do not do x"? This is probably the most common usage of the ては form, at least for beginners. It is essentially saying "if you do x, it will not do". In other words, ては is yet another conditional form.

From A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar. p.463:

The conjunction TE WA is used to connect an action or state presented as a topic and a negative comment.


そんなに勉強しては、体をこわしますよ。 = If you study that hard you will ruin your health.

あの男は来ては邪魔になる。 = If he comes he will get in our way

So this is the theory behind it. I'm not sure about the example you gave though, I wonder if it should be 金曜日、日本へ行ってはどう思う? And if that works, whether it has a negative or cynical nuance as per the above explanation from ADIJG.

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  • What does 「金曜日、日本へ行ってはどう思う? 」 mean? – l'électeur Feb 10 '15 at 23:04
  • I wondered if it could mean something like 'What do you think if we go to Japan on Friday' based on my thoughts above. A native speaker would have to tell us if it is natural or not. – VeryCommonName Feb 11 '15 at 12:23
  • 'What do you think if we go to Japan on Friday' would be 「金曜日、日本へ 行ったら どう思う?」. On the other hand, 「金曜日、日本へ行ってはどう?」 is "How about going to Japan on Friday?" – user4092 Feb 12 '15 at 13:23

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