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I was randomly browsing this page and came across this sentence:

砂糖{さとう}は作{つく}るものしだいで使用{しよう}します。

This recipe happens to have a French equivalent

  • En fonction des recettes, on utilise du sucre.
  • Depending to recipes, we use sugar. (literal translation)
  • In some recipes we may use sugar. (A little more glossed)

so I can say for sure what was the intended meaning.

But, what bothers me is that I have always been told that 次第で(は) is always followed by something that will change -- generally an increase/decrease, or a decision/choice. But here I have the feeling that 使用します is neither a choice or a decision it is merely a prescription: the recipe tells you to do that.

I think that the sentence can be rewritten (with minor changes in meaning) to:

砂糖は作るもの/料理によって、使用されます。

My question is the following:

  • Are によって and 次第で interchangeable in this context?
  • If yes what is the most natural option?
  • Is there any difference between しだいで and 次第で, the former seeming a little softer and childish (if at all I can consider しだい as childish)?
  • Any reason for using kanji for 「しだい」 in your question when it is written in kana in the original? The author may actually have MEANT to write it in kana for a reason. – l'électeur Feb 4 '16 at 2:01
  • @l'électeur, no particular reason, I did not even notice (at the time) that it was written in kana in the original. The only intent to write in kana would be to make it softer but then in brings up again the question of which is the softest in しだい, によって and 次第 by guess would be 次第〉しだい〉によって but it seems really subtle. – 永劫回帰 Feb 4 '16 at 2:09
  • edit to be more faithful to the original. – 永劫回帰 Feb 4 '16 at 2:10
  • By the way, 使用します is not strange at all, is rather usual and natural than 使用されます. – Toshihiko Feb 4 '16 at 15:44
  • 2
    I agree with Toshihiko, and actually just remember I wrote a post about using present tense when giving instructions (recipes, etc.) selftaughtjapanese.com/2015/12/28/… – Locksleyu Feb 5 '16 at 12:56
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Q1: Is there any difference between しだいで and 次第で, the former seeming a little softer and childish (if at all I can consider しだい as childish)?

Sometimes writing in kanji is called 閉じる and writing in hiragana is called 開く. There are no strict official rules on how to write something in kanji or in kana. This decision is difficult even for native speakers so there are several guides about this written by editors.
But, there are some tendencies, and it is possible to change how readers feel. With a lot of kanji, a document would become official and hard.

Grammatically, しだい has two types: a noun and a suffix. In general, a noun tends to be written in kanji, and a suffix tends to be written in hiragana.

事の次第

金しだい

But, as I said, this is not a strict rule, and you may choose either.
At least, it does not look childish in this case.

Q2: Are によって and 次第で interchangeable in this context?

Before that, I would like to explain the difference between によって and によっては.

Well, I talked with a few natives, and they agreed, but I only found a few Chinese sites explaining this. http://www.360doc.com/content/13/0704/17/6753995_297640602.shtml

国によって生活習慣が違う。(Each country has its own customs.)

In this case, all countries are different in their own way. This means "Depending on."

国によっては豚肉を食べない。(There are some countries whose people do not eat pork.)

In this case, the other countries are the same. This means "Only in a certain condition."

So, if I say,

国によっては生活習慣が違う。

it implies some countries have different customs (, but others are the same).

So, to me,

砂糖は作るものによって、使用されます。

sounds a little bit strange.

砂糖は作るものによっては、使用されます。

sounds good because there are only two options: to use or not to use.

To me, 次第で can be used in both two meanings above.

砂糖は作るもの次第で使用します。

If there are a lot of options, it is natural to use によって.

砂糖は作るものによって、量が変わります。(The amount of sugar to use depends on what to make.)

砂糖は作るものによっては、量が変わります。(In some cases, the amount of sugar to use may change.)

These are interchangeable with examples below respectively.

砂糖は作るもの次第で、量が変わります。

砂糖は作るもの次第では、量が変わります。

(At least, to me.)

Q3: 使用します or 使用されます。

I think these three are all grammatically ok.

砂糖は料理に使用します。

砂糖を料理に使用します。

砂糖は料理に使用されます。

  • Great answer, I didn't realize the difference between 〜によって and 〜によっては – Locksleyu Feb 6 '16 at 4:08
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+50

によって vs 次第で

There are many ways to describe the difference between them. Let me give a picture first.

enter image description here

X 次第 could be explained like "depending on how X acts/becomes", or typically the cause-effect relationship is unknown, or by chance, or the result that is brought about is not clear from the first impression of X or hard to explain beforehand, or the event causer has free will so that you couldn't know before the next move, and so on.

Meanwhile, X による could be explained like "depending on what X falls under", implying each type of X automatically evokes each result, or you already have roughly grasped the rule of correspondence between X and what happens, or you can easily recognize the nature of X or classify what kind of X it is, and so on.

Of course, in most ordinary situations, the two can be used interchangeably because things are often multi-faceted; they could hardly be as different as he hit you in the jaw with his fist or you hit him in the fist with your jaw. But sometimes you cannot swap them:

○ 誰に味方するかはあなた次第だ
× 誰に味方するかはあなたによる

The reason why you can't use による is because あなた (2nd person singular) always indicates the only person, you're not able to classify you into "what type of you". On Google.co.jp, "かはあなた次第" has at least 425,000 hits, while "かはあなたによる" and "かはあなたによります" add up to only 15 altogether.

○ 場合によっては抹殺することも許される
? 場合次第では抹殺することも許される

場合 typically stands for "categorized cases", thus it doesn't go well with uncategorized conditions of 次第. Again, Google returns 11,900,000 hits for "場合によって", but only 4,890 for "場合次第", where most of them are seemingly using the word as a synonym of 状況 "situation".

Now in this context...

砂糖{さとう}は作{つく}るものしだいで使用{しよう}します。

If you're sure that it means:

  • Depending to recipes, we use sugar. (literal translation)
  • In some recipes we may use sugar. (A little more glossed)

then, I'm afraid it's not the best choice of words.

If there's a filler question,

砂糖は作るもの(      )使用します。

I'd prefer:

によっては = 次第では > 次第で > によって (order of preference)

I'd like to have は because 作るもの(料理) suggests a wide variety of choices, while 砂糖を使用する is merely a yes or no. This situation gives a strong motivation for using the contrastive は, and greatly discourages using non-は versions because we expect a statement about how it changes directly after these phrases. The examples below are much better:

砂糖は作るものしだいで使ったり使わなかったりします。
砂糖は作るものによって使ったり使わなかったりします。

Although I can get the meaning of the original sentence with 次第で/によって, in principle they're more likely to be used for other situations.

砂糖は作るものしだいで使用します。 How (much) you use sugar depends on what you make.

砂糖は作るものによって使用します。 What kind of sugar you use depends on what you make.

By the way, come to think of what you wrote:

I have always been told that 次第で(は) is always followed by something that will change -- generally an increase/decrease, or a decision/choice.

I think this is true for によって too, so I don't think it would guide you on when you should use which one.

次第 vs しだい

I think it's somewhat related to this question I answered a while ago: Why are a high proportion of basic Japanese words written in hiragana? Using hiragana instead of kanji here isn't necessarily for softening or making it childlike, but possibly because they think it's grammaticalized enough.

This "depends on; up to" sense of しだい(で), as well as "gradually" しだいに, is clearly more used in hiragana than other uses — the original noun for "order, process, procedure" or 形式名詞 one for "what makes it how it is that; the background of; the story so far that" (e.g. 緊急事態につき、お電話差し上げた次第です。) — being more distant from its original meaning.

But there are no rigid rules, so in this case whether you use kanji or hiragana is あなた次第.


† In this link I manually excluded a keyword 信じる because there are so many results related to a book title "信じるか信じないかはあなた次第".

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I feel that generally speaking ~によって and ~次第で have a very similar meaning. On this page you can see a post which discusses these where someone comments that ~次第で has a more stiff/formal feeling. While I wouldn't say that ~によって is exactly the most informal word (It expresses a higher level concept that I don't think children would use too often), I agree that ”次第で” feels stiff.

It is also good to note that 次第 has other meanings such as "circumstances" and you can even see the example sentence "次第によっては” in this dictionary entry.

The explanation of 次第で in the sense we are talking about is described as "それによって決まる様子", which again confirms these two are very similar.

So in summary I don't see any major difference here.

Edit: Apparently this answer wasn't sufficient so I am adding more details.

There is a specific thread about this talk on Japanese subreddit here.

Here is a key part of that thread:

... 次第 can only be used with planned sequences and cannot be used in any situation implying any kind of surprise or unplanned sequence or be used in the past tense. 次第 and による overlap in the "depending on X" meaning but による has additional meanings of "cause" or "source". When using these forms with the "depending" meaning. 次第, as a sino-Japanese word, carries a little more formality than the pure Japanese による and thus would naturally appear more in formal conversations and in writing.

However after doing this research I still feel that in the example given in this question, there is no major difference.

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