There's a long sentence describing the differences between transitive and intransitive verbs in a Japanese grammar book:

自動詞と他動詞の違いは、自動詞の場合は、自然力の影響などで出来事が起こったのであって、そこには人間などの意志 (意図) は含まれていない、ととらえられているのに対し、他動詞の場合は、人間などが意志 (意図) 的にその出来事を引き起こした、ととらえられているというところにあります

First, what is the nuance of ending this sentence with ~というところにあります instead of a simpler ~ことです, for example? It translates literally to "The difference is in the place of ..." which does make it sound "generalized", but I'm not sure if that's correct. What might a natural-sounding English translation be?

Second, in the section describing intransitive verbs, what's the nuance of 「起こったのであって」, versus something simpler like 「起こって」? My best guess is it's the continuative form of 「のである」 with the explanatory の, but I'm not sure.


1 Answer 1


You can rather straightforwardly translate 違いはXある to "the difference exists/lies in X". X can be a noun phrase or a noun clause (i.e., "in that ~"). This ところ refers to an abstract "point", but it can be replaced to こと here. I think there is no significant difference in meaning.

Simpler example:

  • 違いは処理速度にある。
    The difference lies in its processing speed.
  • 違いは処理が速い(という)ことにある。
    The difference lies in that it processes faster.
  • 違いは処理が速い(という)ところにある。
    The difference lies in that it processes faster.

という is optional.

You're correct that の in 起こったのであって is an explanatory-の. I believe you already understand the importance of this type of の in Japanese. In addition, if you simply used 起こって, it would look like you are describing two successive or connected actions ("happen and then ~", etc.). Compare:

  • 彼は泳いだのであって橋を渡ったのではない。
    It's that he swam, not that he crossed the bridge.
  • (?) 彼は泳いで橋を渡ったのではない。
    (?) It's not that he crossed the bridge by swimming.

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