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Yesterday I learnt about verb + ところ, meaning about to do something. For example:

料理を作るところです
About to cook food

Today I saw a sentence like this:

問題を知るところから始まる

I'm not sure if it translates to "start from about to know the issue", because that sounds a bit weird to me. If doesn't, what does the ところ in the sentence above mean?

Furthermore, do the first example 料理を作るところです or other verb + ところ(です) constructs ever mean something other than "about to do [something]"? How do I differentiate?

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Here 「ところ」is just used metaphorically as a point in time or a juncture in events. Have you seen/heard something like:

恐怖が終わるところから人生が始まる
Life begins where fear ends

See, they even made a shirt with these words.

問題を知るところから始まる

Just means: "(something) begins when the problem is understood." Possibly the omitted subject could be "our task" or "the real issue". For example, "The real work only begins when we understand the problem."

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  • May I know in this case, with and without ところ the meaning will still same? Example: 恐怖が終わるところから人生が始まる and 恐怖が終わるから人生が始まる
    – jiale ko
    May 1 '21 at 23:12
  • @jialeko When you use a verb (dictionary form or past tense) + から, the から doesn't mean "from", it is a different usage of から that means "because". 「恐怖が終わるから」means "because the fear is ending/will end"
    – Eddie Kal
    May 2 '21 at 0:08
  • I see... Now i understand why this sentence need ところ, may I also know normally how do I differentiate if the ところ doesn't mean "about to do"? Because in my example here it still in verb+ところ form, so I'm a little bit confusing...
    – jiale ko
    May 2 '21 at 3:19
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    @jialeko You can think of these usages as the same one. In both 帰るところだ (I'm about to go back) and 帰るところから始まる (something will start after someone returns), the ところ has the same function: marking a point in time that is determined by the verb phrase that it is attached to. There is another construction you may or may not have encountered: ~ているところだ (in the middle of doing something). If you look at ところ in all of these, it has the same function really.
    – Eddie Kal
    May 2 '21 at 3:33
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    @jialeko Another way to think of this is to not think of ところ as meaning "about to do", but rather as meaning more "at the point of":「料理を作るところです」= "at the point of cooking food" (about to do it),「問題を知るところから」= "(starting) from the point of knowing the issue", etc.
    – Foogod
    May 5 '21 at 19:30

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