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I am triing to figure out the use of をする in 学習の助けをするおもちゃ translated as toys to help you learn in this article

I learned a bit about noun + する / をする in this post but for what i understand so far we use 助ける which is a verb not a noun. Furthermore from my beginner point of view 学習の助け would already mean "help to learn" all by itself isn't it?

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    助け is a noun meaning "help". The question is then why not say 学習の助けるおもちゃ. I"m not a native speaker, so I'll leave it to a native speaker to fully explain this. But, 助けるおもちゃ kind of might give a creepy vibe, like the toys are somehow possessed and perform the help, like something out of a Stephen King novel. Somehow, 助けをするおもちゃ sounds more natural, "toys which are an aide to learning".
    – A.Ellett
    Mar 8 at 16:34
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I must first point that Japanese text in the article you cited has a few not fully natural places, including the very phrase 学習の助けをするおもちゃ you asked. I don't know if it is because the writer tries to reduce grammar level or due to their fluency.

学習の助け is a common expression to mean "learning aid" or "aid to learning", and 助け is a noun "aid, assist, helping hand" as you said. If you want to literally translate toys to help you learn, you have several options:

  • 学習を助けるおもちゃ "toys that (will) help learning"
  • 学習を助けるためのおもちゃ "toys for helping learning"
  • 学習の助けとなるおもちゃ "toys to be aids to learning"
  • 学習の助けのためのおもちゃ "toys (made) for aids to learning"

However, the collocation 学習の助けをするおもちゃ (which would be "toys work as aids to learning") is extremely rare*, especially for inanimate objects which are not self-aware to do something. 助け can certainly connect to ~をする much more often as a base of compounds: 手助けをする, 人助けをする..., but I'd rather recommend remembering ~の助けとなる as a set phrase for your meaning.


* FYI I only got 90 hits on Google.co.jp.

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  • I think now i understand why 学習の助けをするおもちゃ sounds unatural. For the use of となる (vs になる) i understand it emphasizes the finality / goal so that's why you suggest it as more appropriate for inanimate objects ? It sounds more like "toys that are made to help learning" right ?
    – xavier
    Mar 10 at 10:19
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    @xavier Yes, something like that. なる is like "become, going to be" which may or may not be volitional. So if faithful to the Japanese nuance, it's like "toys that are there to help learning". Mar 10 at 10:42
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Note that there is no る after 助け. 助ける is a verb ("to help", "to support"), but 助け without る is a noun ("a help", "an aid", "a support"). It's an example of masu-stem as a noun. 学習の助け is a noun phrase made by joining two nouns using の ("a learning aid/support"). That's why you can attach をする to it.

You can rephrase this to 学習助けおもちゃ. Now 助ける is used as a transitive verb, and there is を instead of の. Your second link has an explanation. See also: Jlpt/n5q5: 弟は部屋◯掃除をしました。◯: の versus に option

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  • My mistake for the "noun vs verb" use of 助け. I think i now better understand the usage. But i still don't understand why not use 学習の助けるおもちゃ ? Does it relates to what @A.Ellett says ?
    – xavier
    Mar 9 at 11:06
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    @xavier の links two nouns. 学習の助けるおもちゃ would be parsed as [学習]の[助けるおもちゃ], or "[helping toy] for/of [studying]", but this makes little sense. To join a noun and a transitive verb, you have to use .
    – naruto
    Mar 9 at 11:33
  • Now i'm confused. First i don't understand : are you saying 学習の助けるおもちゃ is ungrammatical ? Or is it grammatical but sounds weird ? And secondly : are you saying 助けるおもちゃ is considered as a verb ? If so could you please explain a bit why.
    – xavier
    Mar 9 at 14:36
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    @xavier 助けるおもちゃ is a noun phrase because おもちゃ is a noun (do you understand how relative clauses work in Japanese?). When you see の, we expect a noun or a noun phrase follows. But in 学習の助けるおもちゃ, what directly follows の is a verb (助ける), so we have to find the next noun (おもちゃ) and consider anything in the middle as a modifier that modifies おもちゃ. In other words, 学習の助けるおもちゃ is basically the same as 学習のおもちゃ ("toy of study") but おもちゃ is modified by a relative clause 助ける. The result is "a study toy which helps something", which is technically grammatical but makes little sense.
    – naruto
    Mar 9 at 14:48

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