In this post I’d like to go over the meaning and uses of the Japanese phrase “として”. Although it mean seem like this is the combination of the particles ”と” and “して”, the meaning of “として” isn’t the same as simply combining the meaning of these two. So I suggest you think of this a complete separate word. (In same cases this is true to a certain extent, like the combination of ”に” and ”も”).
“として” is used to represent someone’s qualifications, position, or a certain state. This may sound a little confusing, but fortunately most of the time you can just think of it as English “as” since the meaning is pretty close.
- I’m saying this as someone with experience.
- (I feel) He is a failure as a human being for doing that type of thing.
- I think it’s beautiful as a work of art.
- My dream is to work as a professional.
Since “として” modifies a verb it can be considered an adverb in this usage.
A phrase made with a noun plus として can be used to describe another noun using の。
- I thought about my life as a man.
As with many other particles (such as に), the particle は (pronounced “wa”) can be added after it to indicate a certain condition applies for this case, but not for something else.
- She is good as a friend but…. (the implication is she is not good as something else, possibly as a lover)
- It’s good as an idea, but I feel it cannot be put into real practice.
The particle も can also be put at the end of として to mean “also as”:
- It is also interesting as a SF (science fiction) movie.
This pattern can be used more than once just like the も can be (in the form 〜も〜も):
- I can respect her both as a women and as a human.
There are some cases where you may see として, but rather than the above usage it is instead a “te” form of the pattern “(volitional form) + とする”, which means “to try to do something”.
- The robber tried to run and slipped.
There is another completely different use of として, which is when it is used to mean “… assuming”. This is similar to the expression “〜とすると”, and can be recognized because the word before として is usually a verb in the dictionary form (i.e. っする), whereas in the “as” usage discussed about the word is always a noun.
- Assuming you are going out shopping, what time will you come back?