Japanese expression:  というのも “to iu no mo”

By | November 2, 2020

In this post I want to go over the expression というのも (“to iu no mo”) as it is something you will probably hear eventually if you listen to enough native speech. It can also be written in kanji as と言うのも, though perhaps the hiragana representation is a bit more common. I will be focusing on when this phrase is used at the beginning of a sentence.

Let’s look at all the pieces of this expression independently:

  • と (to): This particle has a variety of uses, but here it is being used to quote what comes before it. However when this phrase is at the beginning of the sentence, it is referencing to something that was just said (usually the previous sentence).
  • 言う (iu): The verb “to say”, usually pronounced “yuu” instead of “iu” in this expression.
  • の (no): Another particle with many uses, but here it is used a normalizer to turn a verb into a noun, in other words to talk about the action in question.
  • も (mo): While “mo” is frequently used to mean “also”, it also can simply be used for emphasis, like the word “even”. But in this phrase it doesn’t contribute much to the overall meaning, which can make this phrase confusing the first (or second) time you hear it. In fact, というのは (to iu no wa) is a phrase that can be used with the same meaning as というのも.

Putting all this together, this phrase can be roughly translated as “as for saying that”, where “that” is what was just said or written. However, in practice this phrase has a more specific meaning: it is used to describe the reason or cause of something that was just mentioned.

Let’s look an an example:

  • 僕にとっては日本語ってとても簡単だ。と言うのも、毎日10時間勉強するからだ (boku ni totte wa nihongo tte totemo kantan da. to iu no mo, mainchi juu jikan benkyou suru kara da)
  • To me, Japanese is really easy. That’s because I study 10 hours a day.

Notice that to express the reason for something requires more than simply “to iu no mo”, “kara” is also used at the end of the sentence. If you omit “kara” the sentence would feel somehow incomplete.

To me, “to iu no mo” sounds a little intellectual, meaning that you would not likely hear it said by young children. I’ve heard this said by college students and in presentations done by professional IT people. A simpler, more down-to-Earth word that means mostly the same thing in this context is だって (datte). You can also use なぜなら (naze nara) or the more lengthy なぜかというと (naze ka to iu to).

Finally, I should mention that というのも can also be used for other meanings, especially when it is not at the beginning of a sentence. For example:

  • まあ、日本で留学するというのもありますね。 (maa, nihon de ryuugaku suru to iu no mo arimasu ne)
  • Well, there is also the possibility of studying abroad in Japan.

Here, the “mo” has a stronger meaning of “also”, and the “to iu no” is acting as a long-winded normalizer of the verb phrase “日本で留学する”. In this case, you can abbreviate “to iu no mo” as simply “tte no mo”.

You may have noticed that in my translation I used the word “possibility” which is not literally present in the Japanese text. That’s because I feel it sounds a bit more natural than “Well, there is also studying abroad in Japan,” although (as always) a proper translation depends on the exact context.

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