Japanese Grammar – NI NARU and NI SURU (になる and にする)
|になる (ni naru) and にする (ni suru) are both used to indicate change in Japanese. This change can be intransitive in the case of になる (ni naru), or transitive in the case of にする (ni suru). We can also use them to imply that some kind of decision has been made. I will help you understand the difference with some examples.|
になる (ni naru) indicates change and is similar to “become“
なる naru is a useful Japanese verb very similar to the English word “become“. We need to use the Japanese particle に to make it work that way in a sentence. One thing I want you to notice right away is that it indicates a change all by itself, rather than someone or something inducing the change. In English we would say something like “the flower is becoming beautiful”.
|hana ga kirei ni naru|
|(the flower is becoming beautiful)|
The flower is changing it’s state or condition right before our eyes, and we are describing that change with an adjective. We are not restricted to adjectives, however. Someone or something can also become another noun, as I will show with our first example below.
You might be wondering what the く is doing there in the last example. What’s going on, Keiko! I was introducing one more little rule: we only mark nouns and na-adjectives with に (ni) before our verb なる (naru). If we’re using an i-adjective, then we should use く (ku). Remembering to make that small adjustment will come with time and practice.
になる (ni naru) is intransitive because there is no direct object. In other words, the noun takes on the action all by itself. The Japanese refer to this as a “ji verb” or “自動詞 (じどうし)”. In English we take this concept for granted, but to learn Japanese we need to get a full grip on this because it’s a very important language component.
にする (ni suru) indicates change that has happened by someone or something else.
|Although にする (ni suru) and になる (ni naru) both indicate change, there is one major difference. The difference is that になる (ni naru) indicates something changing by itself (intransitive), while にする (ni suru) indicates something being changed by someone or something else (transitive). Once again, we need to treat a na-adjective slightly different than an i-adjective. |
にする (ni suru) can be used to “decide on” a noun.
|This works great for deciding between delicious nouns, but what if we want to decide on “doing” something? You will need to add ことに (koto) if you plan on using any verbs with this kind of construction. I will explain that in the next section.|
になる (ni naru) and にする (ni suru) can be used with こと (koto) to “decide on” a verb.
こと (koto) is what we call a “nominalizer“. We can use it to change a verb into a noun. We will need to do just that if we want to use になる (ni naru) or にする (ni suru) with verbs. I am going to re-use my last example with the addition of a verb so we can justify using こと(koto).
Since taberu is a verb, we need to add koto to turn it into a noun. Let’s try it now with になる (ni naru).
With this last statement, it’s not clear who made the decision. Perhaps it was a parking attendant, or a property owner. Maybe it was even your passenger (don’t you love backseat drivers?) Whoever made the call, it’s not stated and so it is intransitive. It’s even possible that the spot became available by someone simply leaving it. That’s why I used になる (ni naru).
になる (ni naru) and にする (ni suru) can be used with よう (yoー).
|We use よう (yoー) before にする (ni suru) to express an effort or intention. |
よう (yoー) can be used before になる (ni naru) as well to express a change. However, it does not express the speaker’s intention as it does with になる (ni suru). A good translation is “to become able to”.
|Adding KA and MO to Japanese interrogatives to create new expressions||Japanese Grammar Index||Expressing Cause and Reason in Japanese: KARA|