Japanese expression: “〜からすると” (~kara suru to)

By | August 16, 2021

In this post I will go over the expression “〜からすると” (~kara suru to), including a few examples and related expressions.

To start the discussion, let’s look at a concrete example sentence.

  • からするとかなり古いだろうね。 (iro kara suru to kanari furui darou ne.)

Now let’s look at each piece of the phrase “kara suru to”:

  • から (kara): A word typically placed after a noun to indicate the source of something, similar to English “from”. Depending on the context, can also indicate a reason (similar to  “because”) or the doer of a passive action (ex: “bitten by a tiger”)
  • する (suru): Generic verb used to mean “to do”. Also used to turn nouns into verbs (ex: 勉強する”)
  • と (to): The “to” particle has many uses, but when placed after a verb in the dictionary form indicates a conditional in the sense of “if”.

Putting these things together we get something like, “If we do from…”. Literally this would give us an interpretation like:

  • If we do from the color, it is probably very old.

Just from this you can already probably get a feeling what this phrase means. But to spell it out more clearly, “~ kara suru to” has the connotation of making a judgment, often based on something that is observed (via sight, sound, etc.) Because it is a subjective judgment, what follows the “~kara suru to” usually has word(s) that indicate that something appears to be the case or is a supposition by the speaker. I used だろう (darou) above, but here are a few other ways to end such a sentence:

  • 〜かもしれない
  • 〜ように見える
  • 〜と思われます
  • 〜と思います
  • 〜っぽい
  • 〜みたい

But to get back to our example sentence, let’s make a natural translation to make sure we understand what it means:

  • Judging from the color, it’s probably very old.

However, there is another usage of “~kara suru to” that is a bit different. Take a look at this sentence:

  • 僕からすると、すごくおかしい (boku kara suru to, sugoku okashii)

Here, the “kara” does not indicate some information that is driving a judgment, but rather the source of a certain judgement (often a person). You can think of this in terms of “from the perspective of ~”. Given this understanding, here is one way to translate this example sentence:

  • From my perspective, it’s extremely odd.

Another similar expression is “〜にとっては” (~ni totte wa), which has a pretty similar meaning, though this would only work for the second usage here. In other words, “僕にとっては” would work, but “色にとっては” would feel a little strange.

Another variant is “〜からすれば” (~kara sureba) which is essentially the same thing as “kara suru to” (and can be used in both aforementioned cases). But if you are interested in the differences between “suru to” and “sureba”, check out this article.

“〜からして” (~kara shite) is another option with similar meaning, although it has one major difference. Whereas “~kara suru to” has the feeling of “if…” (and the corresponding mental pause), “~kara shite” has no such pause or sense of “if”. Let’s compare:

  • からするとかなり古いだろうね
    • If I judge from the color, it’s probably very old.
  • からしてかなり古いだろうね
    • Judging from the color it’s probably very old.

I should point out that the translation of the first sentence here actually feels a bit unnatural to me, but I kept it that way to clarify the difference between these two expressions. For that reason, earlier in this post I translated “~kara suru to” as “judging from”.

“〜からして” (~kara shite) actually has another meaning, which is when one example of something is given, and other things are implied. For example,

  • この写真は構成からして全然だめです (kono shashin wa kousei kara shite zenzen dame desu)
  • Everything about this picture, such as the composition, is horrible.

Here, the “kara” specifies not the source of information for a judgment, or the person making the judgment, but rather the starting point of a list of items. Often this usage has a negative connotation, as in the above example.

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