This is a an example sentence from a JLPT textbook to explain the use of たらしめる:


I understand the meaning, which is something like, "The key element in making a work of art out of ability is imagination."

I have this sentence in my flashcards, and even though I've looked at it dozens of times, it still seems awkward to me.

To make a long story short, it feels like it should be something like:


Is my のは version any more or less grammatical? Is it merely wrong? Does it change the meaning?

If the original sentence is fine, can someone break down for me how the first part of the sentence (up to the end of たらしめる) connects and relates to the end part (要素{ようそ}である)?

4 Answers 4


With respect to the meaning of たらしめる, you can just follow what Matt writes, but let me add a few things.

  • こそ is used to add emphasis to that noun. A literal translation will be It is ... that is ....
  • Your addition of のは simply makes it ungrammatical. 作品を芸術たらしめる is a relative clause that modifies the noun 要素. And your parsing is wrong; 要素である does not come together as one.

So a literal translation will be:

It is imagination that is the element that enables a piece of work to be an art.

In the following, the outer brackets represent the noun phrase, and the inner brackets the relative clause.

It is imagination that is [the element [that enables a piece of work to be an art]].

  • Aha! That である is not directly attached to 要素 was the information that cracked this code for me. I think I can see it now.
    – Questioner
    Sep 27, 2011 at 7:15
  • Is the pattern "AこそBです"? Is こそ attached to A or B?
    – Flaw
    Sep 27, 2011 at 7:27

芸術たらしめる is the causative form of 芸術たる. This たる is the たる discussed here. There are nuances, but basically たらしめる means "cause to be". (Roughly equivalent to ... にさせる in many cases, I think.)

So the sentence is complete as it is:

  • 想像力こそ = "Imagination..." + こそ (こそ is a whole other question)
  • 作品を芸術たらしめる要素 = "the element that causes 'works' 作品 to be(come) 'art' 芸術"
  • である = "... is" (copula)

Put that way, I think you can see that it is similar to a standard "A は B である" sentence, albeit with こそ instead of は. All together, it means, in very literal translation and not attempting to do anything clever with こそ:

  • Imagination (想像力) is the element (要素) that turns 'works' (作品) into 'art' (芸術).
  • 1
    +1 for incredible breakdown of all elements in the sentence
    – Flaw
    Sep 27, 2011 at 11:31

Very good answers, I see. The only thing I would add is that "こそ" adds the nuance that an italicized "the" has in English. "Imagination is the element that turns creations into art."


I would add "に", not のは :)


"Imagination is the element that turns creations into art."

But I'm not very sure, mostly because, I can't parse 芸術 followed by たらしめる.

  • 1
    @sawa: As I said, how should I parse NOUN VERB without particle? Is this verb particular? I can't say "子供を大人ならせる事件" to say "an incident that turned children into adults" or something like that, can I?
    – Axioplase
    Sep 27, 2011 at 9:57
  • @sawa: I don't get it. "たらしめる" is verb according to rikaichan. If it's a verb, then the nouns it refers too need particles. I see none. I don't see "たる" anywhere either, and なる does take particles: "三時なった". Grammatically, my wrong sentence has the same structure as the other, so I don't see why the other would be correct.
    – Axioplase
    Sep 28, 2011 at 1:44

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