The following is an excerpt from a dialogue with my language partner.

For some context: もちろん、学習法は人によって違います。私は多角的に学んでいくのが好きです。本を読む、ラジオや映画を観るのは1人でもできます。この2つは reading と listening の練習になります。文章を書く(writing)も1人でできますが、相手がいる方が楽しいですよね。会話(speaking) の練習も1人でできますが、会話の目的はコミュニケーションなので、相手がいた方がいいです。 コミュニケーションしたいという強い気持ちがあれば、リーディングもリスニングもライティングも、もっとずっと楽しくなります。がんばろうという強い動機(motivation) になるからです。 こうやってメッセージのやりとりをするのも、コミュニケーションの1つですよね。

The two sentences in question: コミュニケーションしたいという強い気持ちがあれば、リーディングもリスニングもライティングも、もっとずっと楽しくなります。がんばろうという強い動機(motivation) になるからです。

My attempt at translation: "When there is a strong

A)...communicationmotivation.. B)...motivation called communication...

Reading and Writing become much more enjoyable. This is because it becomes a ...A) 'let's do this'-motivation." ...B) motivation called 'let's do this'."

The problem is that I very well know that という is in many cases NOT to be translated literally (="he/she/it says or "is called"). I also know that it has many more functions than just marking a designation/description for the following noun. I must also admit though that I'm having a very hard time describing these other functions and therefore my skills handling these cases where the other functions apply are not the best. So, while I understand what she wants to tell me, I don't really know what function という is taking the respective sentences. It also confuses me A LOT how がんばろうという強い動機 works, since here a set expression is attached to the following nominal phrase. I haven't encountered something like that by now.

1 Answer 1


The key word here is apposition/appositive.

「Word/Phrase/Mini-Sentence + という + Noun/Noun Phrase」

What is said on either side of 「という」 is in apposition to the other. To put it most simply, the two sides are in an "A = B" relationship.


「がんばろう」 is in apposition to 「強い動機」.

"a strong motivation to do my best"

Other examples:

「いつか日本に行きたいという夢{ゆめ}」 = "a/the/one's dream of going to Japan some day"

「毎日{まいにち}3時間勉強{じかんべんきょう}しなさいというアドバイス」= "the/one's advice to study 3 hours daily"

What I have often heard from Japanese-learners is that the fact that the verbs preceding the 「という」 can come in different forms (such as imperative, volitional, etc.) throws them off. I think I understand their feeling, but as far as translation is concerned, I would suggest that they use "(noun) to (verb)" or "(noun) of (verb)ing" as I did in all of the examples above. It would be awkward to use something like "let's" in the translation.

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