Here is an exercise problem in my grammar workbook.

今度の試験には、出ると予想していた__が出なかった。(A.こと B.もの C.ところ)

The correct answer is C.ところ. What does ところ mean here? Does it mean “part” or “section”? I imagine that the context could be something like this. The speaker had anticipated that a particular section from the syllabus would be tested in the exam.

But could I select “A.こと”? Then I would translate the sentence as “in this exam, the thing that I had thought would be asked didn’t come up.” Would that make sense?

  • Is there some preceding context? If really this line alone, I don't think you can choose a correct answer... – broken laptop Feb 1 at 8:34
  • @brokenlaptop Unfortunately there only is this standalone sentence. Would both こと and ところ make sense in the absence of any context? – Cabbage Feb 1 at 11:31
  • So is there no actual context to support your imagination you said? If so, all three look fine to fill in with each different connotation, though I'm not sure they have any "correct grammar" things. – broken laptop Feb 1 at 12:24
  • @brokenlaptop There is no context. That’s why I had to imagine the context. By the way, I didn’t realize that もの would work, but now that you said all THREE would work, what would もの mean? – Cabbage Feb 2 at 6:27
  • Without context, they can only have very vague meanings, to the degree that you can refer to the same thing by any of them. こと is like "content(s) that —", もの "item(s) that —", and ところ "point(s)/range(s) that —". – broken laptop Feb 3 at 5:22

ところ is definitely the most common way to say it. I think it has to do with the fact that in Japan, exams are a lot about what's written in the textbook (so ところ roughly means "where in the textbook" so to say).

出ると予想していたことが出なかった sounds unnatural although I can't quite explain why. I think it's simply because ところ is used (rather than because it would be wrong in terms of grammatical rules). 出ると予想していた定理が出なかった is fine, so こと must work in theory I think.

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