Japanese grammar: The pattern 「〜上で」

By | June 26, 2015

The Japanese character 上 has a basic meaning of “up” or “above”, and is pronounced “ue” when written by itself. In Kanji compounds, it is often pronounced as “uwa” (上着, uwagi) or “jou” (上陸, jouriku).

“上” does have some other usages, and this time I’d like to discuss the expression “〜上で”. This can be used to mean result of something, given the condition specified by the “〜” part. This is explained in the Japanese dictionary as “…を条件に入れて, …した結果”.

Here is one such example of that usage:

  • しっかり勉強した上で判断したい。
  • I want to decide after properly studying it.

You also can use の上で after a noun to express a similar meaning, although there are a few set phrases that this pattern is commonly used with. Here is one:

  • 承知の上でやったことです。
  • It’s something I did with full understanding.

My translation above is somewhat literal, you could also say “purposefully” or “intentionally”

Another use of ”〜上で” is similar to “when”. It is commonly used when you want to talk about something that is necessary or important when doing something.

  • 生きていく上で大切なことは一つだけ。
  • In life there is only one important thing.

You can also use 上で to modify another noun with の.

  • 使用する上での注意点。
  • Thing(s) to be careful about during usage。 (sentence fragment)

上 can also be tacked on after some nouns, to represent some action that takes place “on” them. A common usage of this is ネット上, where ネット (netto) is a short form of “internet”

  • ネット上でできないことってあるの?
  • Is there anything you can’t do on the net?







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3 thoughts on “Japanese grammar: The pattern 「〜上で」

  1. kei

    Thanks for sharing this pattern! I don’t really use it, and honestly I don’t think I understood it before this post. I will try to interject it in my daily conversation!

    1. locksleyu Post author

      Sure, glad it was helpful. I probably should have mentioned in the post, but this phrase isn’t exactly something you commonly hear in everyday life conversation, at least not at home. I would expect to hear it in a more formal setting, like a workplace. Although today I was able to use the phrase “承知の上で” at home without any problem.

      1. kei

        Yes, it definitely is appropriate for more formal situations than not, but it could be useful in everyday conversation with those of higher status!


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