I have the following sentence from this article (at the very bottom):


This answer leads me to think that the verb is the one in the latter part of the sentence, giving


which leads me to interpret the full sentence as

It's also been revealed that government funds have been used for club expenses.

If that is indeed the right interpretation, then why not swap the clauses around, and make it instead something like this?



As @Mindful said, this sentence is perfectly natural in Japanese in word order, since Japanese word order is much freer than most Western European languages.

But in this case, there is a reason to take this specific order, because


intuitively suggests that such conduct is a fraud, while the connotation is not immediately clear in:


This is a pragmatic construction of [purpose modifying noun] + [noun] + [actually did other arguments] + [verb]. Grammatically, [purpose] + [noun] is but an argument of [verb], but placing them in this order implies the [noun] serves [verb] in some unintended, unexpected, or inappropriate manner (out of original [purpose]).


In this light, 政治に使うお金 could be translated not only as "fund for political activity" but "fund supposed for political activity" for better understanding. There are more factors that determine the word order in a sentence, but generally, such a nuance will disappear if the [purpose] part comes after [actually did] elements.

  • 1
    +1, great answer. This is exactly the kind of information my answer was missing. – Mindful Feb 6 at 4:08

First of all, your given interpretation is correct - the article is talking about money intended for political use being used at hostess clubs.

If that is indeed the right interpretation, then why not swap the clauses around, and make it instead something like this?

I'm not sure an answer specific to this particular example exists (although perhaps a native speaker will come along and surprise me), but the very general answer is "because there was no need to, and this was the natural way to write it in Japanese". I assume you're asking this because you feel that the given order of clauses in the sentence is either ambiguous or hard to read, but I don't really think that's true - or at least not to the extent that this sentence needs to be rewritten.

  1. The comma after in 政治に使うお金を、 is a very strong signal that the next part of the sentence is not going to be directly related to the thing before the comma. This is a fairly common pattern in written Japanese, and can apply to more particles than just , like 上司に、今週中に報告書を提出しなさいと言われました (I was told by my boss to turn in a report this week).
  2. If you look at language as pure syntax, you will find a lot of ambiguities. Consider He saw her on the hill with the telescope. This looks like fairly natural English to me, but it could mean that he used a telescope to see her, he saw her holding a telescope, or in particularly esoteric interpretations that he saw her on a hill that had a telescope on it. Native speakers unconsciously disambiguate most sentences like this using context or just common sense, and they are mostly only a problem until you get used to working in the language.
  3. This particular sentence is not actually that ambiguous. Even without the comma, お金を遊ぶ is a sufficiently bizarre construction that it can probably be ruled out as the intended meaning purely on the verb/noun combination. Barring that though, the meaning is relatively obvious given the article context.

Which is all just to say: you could certainly rewrite the sentence the way you've described, but this is mostly a matter of style/preference. Certainly it's pretty hard to make the argument that your provided rewrite is in some way objectively better.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.