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Dad has just given a useless answer to a question. Next we have:

これが情けないことに、父ヒロシの答えなのだから、がっくりである。
This, pathetically, is dad's answer, and it is disappointing.

Not sure if I'm parsing this correctly. On my first reading I tried to make これ the subject of 情けない but I couldn't make any sense out of it. The comma made me think that これが情けないことに was a single unit. If this is the case, how can I understand this construction? How does これが fit in?

I abandoned that line of thought and decided that これ actually went with the middle part of the sentence, i.e. これが父ヒロシの答えなのだ and that 情けないことに was more of a parenthetical comment. Is this the correct parsing? If so, why is the comma placed where it is? I know that commas don't really serve any grammatical purpose in Japanese but this one seems really misleading/confusing.

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  • Do you understand what <adj>+ことに means?
    – istrasci
    Jun 9 at 21:46
  • @istrasci I thought that it effectively adds an 'ly' to the adjective e.g. unfortunate -> unfortunately. And that it is used to express how someone feels about a situation. Jun 9 at 21:50
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    Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/61712/5010
    – naruto
    Jun 9 at 23:09

1 Answer 1

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You are right in that これが is the subject of 父ヒロシの答えなのだ.

情けないことに works as a sentence adverb that modifies the whole sentence. Generally this is the case with phrases ending in ことに. Some examples:

  • 幸運なことにPS5を買うことができた Luckily I was able to buy PS5.
  • 彼は残念なことに試験に落ちてしまった Unfortunately he failed the exam.

In terms of translation, what is... or to be... may be similar sometimes. (e.g. what was unfortunate.)

I guess a source of confusion is that in English you can use enclose such phrases with commas, but in Japanese doing the same is a little odd even if not impossible (i.e. in this case using "、情けないことに、").

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  • It doesn't surprise me that putting commas either side of 情けないことに is weird, but if I had written this sentence I'd have put 情けないことに first, i.e.: 情けないことにこれが父ヒロシの答えなのだ. Would that be wrong? Would it have a different nuance to the original sentence? Jun 10 at 15:06
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    @user3856370 You can put 情けないことに first. It sounds the same to me. Also, you can put it at the last (or as another one-phrase sentence) like これが父ヒロシの答えなのだ。情けないことに。 (The first "。" could be a "、".) But for the particular sentence (chibimaruko-chan?) it sounds overly literary. It sounds like deploring seriously.
    – sundowner
    Jun 11 at 2:03

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