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All examples are example sentences from a dictionary.

I read that ワクワクする expresses an instant reaction rather than a state, as in:

彼はその美しい光景を見てわくわくした。

彼女はその有名な歌手に会えると思うとわくわくした。

But here in this following sentence it doesn’t seem to express a reaction of a person. To me it seems more as an adjective.

新しい枕を試すのはわくわくする

I understand this sentence as:

新しい枕を試すのはわくわくすることだ with the “ことだ” dropped. “Trying the new pillow is exciting.” I think のが would also work in that case.

If I wanted to say “I am excited about trying the new pillow” I would say:

新しい枕を試すにはわくわくしている Is this correct?

With には instead of のは and with する instead of している it sounds to me as if I am explaining a habit, something like: I get excited about trying a new pillow.

新しい枕を試すにはわくわくする

I think this other sentence should be fine, but sounds kinda strange to my European ears.

新しい枕を試すのはわくわくしている

This sentence is merely an example sentence out of context I found in a dictionary called “imiwa?”. I’m interested in the grammar nuances. If this sentence seems weird, all my questions could be applied to a different sentence, for example this one I found: “ジェーンを出迎える事はわくわくします。” Or this one I found here on Japanese stackexchange: “ 初めて日本に行くの。すっごいワクワクする!”

Could I also say this as a cleft sentence?

What I am excited about…

ワクワクしているのは新しい枕を試すことだ

What is exciting…

ワクワクするのは新しい枕を試すことだ

What I get excited about…

私がワクワクするのは新しい枕を試すことだ

Is my reasoning correct? This is as far as I got. I am a native speaker of neither Japanese nor English.

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  • Could you explain "why" you are excited from trying a new pillow in this context? Is it because sleeping with a new pillow is a pleasure? Imagining the pillow would bring you something good? A pillow collector? Jun 15, 2022 at 9:21
  • This is a little off-topic but... is ワクワク from the verb 沸{わ}く(to boil)? You're so excited that your heart is boiling, as in really bubbling and can't-hold-yourself-anymore kind of excitement. I'm wondering if that's where the metaphor comes from.
    – dvx2718
    Oct 25, 2022 at 19:32

2 Answers 2

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It's true that the basic meaning of わくわくする is "(for someone) to get/feel excited", not "to be exciting".

新しい枕を試すのはわくわくする。

This may look like "Trying a new pillow is exciting", but actually it's not. Read this as "As for (the act of) trying a new pillow, I (always) get excited", with an implicit "I" as the subject. A more idiomatic translation would be "Trying a new pillow (always) makes me excited".

わくわくすること can be translated "exciting things", as if わくわくする were an adjective meaning "exciting", but its literal translation is "a thing about which [one] gets excited". The subject of わくわくする is a human (implicit "I" or "one"). If you're still unsure, read this answer for adverbial-head relative clauses.

ワクワクするのは新しい枕を試すことだ

This is a cleft sentence whose literal translation is "It is (the act of) trying new pillows that I get excited about". Again, "What's exciting is trying a new pillow" may be a correct and natural translation, but it's not a very literal translation.


Also note that わくわく refers to an excitement about something in the future; in other words, it expresses someone is looking forward to something.

美しい光景を見てわくわくした。

This is a natural sentence if the beautiful scenery foreshadows something exciting in the future, for example, if you are about to start an adventure in the scenery. However, this sentence is not natural if you are simply impressed by a beautiful scenery.

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We can use わくわくしている (excited) only to describe our feeling, not as a property of an object. わくわくする can mean both "excited" and "exciting". Examples:

私はわくわくしている

私は彼女に会えると思うとわくわくする

その研究成果はとてもわくわくするものだ

Note that, in terms of わくわくする used as "exciting", it seems to work best in the present tense. For example, その研究成果はとてもわくわくした in the past tense sounds a bit bizarre to me. その研究成果はとてもわくわくするだろう in the future tense sounds even worse.

新しい枕を試すのはわくわくすることだ with the “ことだ” dropped. “Trying the new pillow is exciting.” I think のが would also work in that case.

Your intuition is absolutely right.

新しい枕を試すにはわくわくする

It sounds strange to me. I don't think there's such a usage in には to express a habit. This sentence doesn't seem to be grammatically correct.

新しい枕を試すのはわくわくしている

It also seems weird to me for the reason that I stated above. We can't use わくわくしている with an object.

私がワクワクするのは新しい枕を試すことだ

I guess this is acceptable, though ワクワクしている might be better. How much we feel strange might depend on each word.

As a side note, being brutally frank, we don't really use わくわく. I don't like the way the word "excited" translates into わくわくしている since we say 超楽しみ, 最高, or おもしろい instead.

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  • only the present tense of わくわくする seems to be able to applied to an object. -- ネット上には「彼女に会えると思うとわくわくする。」「私は(時期)になるといつもわくわくする。」とかありますがそういうのはどうなんでしょう。
    – chocolate
    Sep 25, 2022 at 0:57
  • えっと、「(only the present tense) of わくわくする」で、「わくわくするに関して言えば、過形でも未来でもなく、現在形だけが exciting として使えそう」という意図でした。その後の例でも補足したつもりです。この文は「わくわくする」ことを excited として使うこと、例えば「私は彼女に会えると思うとわくわくする」などを否定しているわけではありません。よって、論理的には矛盾していないと思います。
    – Marronnier
    Sep 25, 2022 at 2:14
  • とはいえご指摘の通り、excited としても多く使われていそうなので諸々修正しました。
    – Marronnier
    Sep 25, 2022 at 3:24
  • 1
    あっ、わかりました!「わくわくする映画」はいいけど、「わくわくしている映画」「あの映画はわくわくしている」や「わくわくした映画」はおかしい、ってことですね。
    – chocolate
    Sep 25, 2022 at 7:04

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