I'm reading this article and there is a sentence towards the end that looks like this


I'm not entirely sure about the meaning of this sentence as I could read it several ways. How wrong is my translation?

My translation breakdown:

  1. 自動で走る電車の研究 = The research of the automatic train
  1. JR東日本が将来働く人が足りなくなる

    人が足りなくなる → People will become insufficient

    JR東日本が将来働く人が足りなくなる = People who do future work will become insufficient for JR Eastern Japan

  1. 考えて始めました

    考えて → 考える → to think

    始めました → 始める → to start 考えて始めました = started to think

Final sentence


The research of the automatic train has started thoughts about if people doing future work for JR Eastern Japan will become insufficient.

  • I think your question is answered in the linked question. If this doesn't answer your question, we can also reopen this question for more detailed answers.
    – Earthliŋ
    Jan 12, 2019 at 6:24
  • @Earthliŋ I reviewed the linked question, while I feel like its in the same area and doesn't directly answer my question it has helped enough to point me in the right direction. I'm now more concerned with if my translation is correct. What edits do I need to do in order to have the community check this? Jan 12, 2019 at 19:52
  • Actually, we have a policy against checking translations, but you can still ask whether you parse/understand the sentence correctly as long as you give your own translation. I would suggest you start adding a more direct translation as a working translation (verbs go to verbs, subject to subject, etc.) because your translation is quite free, but doesn't quite capture the meaning correctly as far as I can tell. You could also look at the search results for ~くなる to help you with translating 足りなくなる.
    – Earthliŋ
    Jan 12, 2019 at 20:07
  • @Earthliŋ I have made edits to my question that I believe follows policy. Please let me know if this is wrong or what else needs to be done to reopen the question Jan 12, 2019 at 21:18

1 Answer 1


You're not parsing the sentence correctly.

JR東日本が is the subject of 始めました.
自動で走る電車の研究 is the object of 始めました.

In 将来働く人が足りなくなる, 将来 modifies 足りなくなる, not 働く.

考え始めました means "thought ~~ and started" or "started, thinking ~~". "Started to think" would be 考え始めました.

You can parse it this way:


≂ JR東日本が、『将来働く人が足りなくなる』と考えて、自動で走る電車の研究を始めました。
(The は has replaced/absorbed the を. 自動で走る電車の研究 is the topic/theme of the sentence, so it's marked with the は and moved to the front.)

"JR Eastern Japan thought that [the number of] working people would become insufficient in the future and started researching automatic trains." / "JR Eastern Japan started researching automatic trains, thinking they would become short of workers in the future."

  • 少し英語を変えさせていただきましたが、Chocolateさんの意味を変更してしまった場合、please feel free to change/adjust as needed!
    – virmaior
    Jan 13, 2019 at 5:13
  • @Chocolate Thanks for the explanation. One thing I don't understand is why does 将来 modify 足りなくなる instead of 働く? I would think that 将来 would modify the next verb in the sentence which is 働く, but this is wrong. So how can I tell? Jan 13, 2019 at 7:56
  • @Tylersan ~くなる here is used to talk about something that will happen in the future. Here it's used to mean "will become ~~ in the future", 「将来~~くなる」. If 将来 modified 働く then it'd be unclear when 足りなくなる will happen.. it'd sound like 「将来の働き手が、今足りなくなる」"They now become short of future workers", which doesn't really make sense in this context.
    – chocolate
    Jan 13, 2019 at 12:48
  • @virmaior ありがとうございます^^ "JR Eastern Japan started the researching automatic trains" ←この the は、あってもなくてもいいのですか?
    – chocolate
    Jan 13, 2019 at 12:51
  • ないほうがよいとおもいます。「the」があると、複数な固定な自動で走る電車の研究で、ないほうは自動で走る電車という概念の研究. For me at least "the" sounds a bit unnatural unless they are studying multiple self-driving trains that exist in other places and collating that. Without the "the", they are looking at the idea of driverless trains and their feasibility....
    – virmaior
    Jan 13, 2019 at 13:02

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