My friend and I were having a debate.

Basically, the line 「あんたは一人でこの家から学校に通っている。」 in an anime was translated as "And you live here alone, attending school."

A direct literal translation of the Japanese seems to give a different English sentence. However, my question is: XからYに通っている the normal way of saying "(You) attend Y"? He seems thinks that saying "You go back and forth from home to school" is a weird, if not too wordy, way to say "attending school".

(Added after Chris' answer:)

I'm providing the whole response from the character in the anime (for context).


The subtitled translation:

The Yuumura family of three bought this house half a year ago and moved in. Soon after, your parents went to America to their new job posts. And you live here alone, attending school.

  • I put the verb "went" in the right place. But you think the sentence sounds that bad?
    – dotnetN00b
    Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 17:35
  • 1
    I agree that it would have sounded more natural for that phrase to be: Soon after, your parents went to their new jobs in America.
    – dotnetN00b
    Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 20:06
  • 1
    Why is this tagged "learning"?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 11:28
  • @AndrewGrimm: Because I'm using this anime to learn and this particular phrase would said differently in English. But if you disagree, then I wouldn't mind clarification on when to use the "learning" tag.
    – dotnetN00b
    Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


First of all, note that attend is not equivalent to enroll. A quick Google search on "define: attend" reveals the following meanings (emphasis mine).

  1. Be present at (an event, meeting, or function).
  2. Go regularly to: "all children are required to attend school".

"Attend" emphasizes the act of going somewhere regularly, as does 通{かよ}う. In other words, I would say that X大学に通{かよ}っている normally means "I commute to university X" (which is in line with the definition of "attend" above) and X大学の学生です is the correct way of saying "I am a student at university X."

Further Information

Let's break down the sentence 「あんたは一人でこの家から学校に通っている」.

  1. Without context, I would probably translate it as "You are commuting to school from this house by yourself."
  2. Assuming that you're using the verb 通{かよ}う instead of 通{とお}る—which is usually used to mean "passing through"—I think that this sentence is emphasizing the act of going to school rather than the act of being enrolled in school.

As stated above, if you want to emphasize the fact that you're enrolled at university X, I would use a phrase like "X大学の学生です." If you want to emphasize the fact that you're commuting there every day, I would say "X大学に通っています." In either case, あなたは, 一人で, and この家から are all superfluous and can generally be implied from context.

Now that you've made it clear that this line comes from an anime and is not intended to be a stand-alone statement, the sentence (and superfluous information) makes a bit more sense. Remember, Japanese is an extremely contextual language and the proper translation will often require a few sentences of context. In this case, the sentence is emphasizing

  • the change in topic from the Yomura family to "you" through the use of あんた (which additionally hints that the speaker is a woman)
  • that "you" are commuting to school alone even though other people don't (not enough context to say who "you" are being compared with in this case)
  • that "you" are commuting from this house instead of another one (again, not enough context to say precisely which other houses "your" house is being compared with, but presumably the fact that it's your house is important)

Note that all of this information is added for emphasis but in a normal conversation would not be strictly necessary.

  • 通っている is the ~ている form of both 通る(とおる) and 通う(かよう). And they both have the meaning "to attend (church, school, etc.)"
    – Flaw
    Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 6:29
  • Yes, but かよう is closer in meaning to "commute" than "attend." So while you can say "I go to school by myself" it emphasizes the action of going there instead of the fact that you're a student. Which fact do you want to emphasize? Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 6:37
  • 3
    @Flaw: The meanings of とおる and かよう are almost disjoint. We never say “学校にとおっている.” Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 10:19
  • @Chris: Just to be accurate, that dialogue comes from the anime Noir, episode 1. Not a movie.
    – dotnetN00b
    Commented Oct 10, 2011 at 6:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .