Major Conjunctions in Japanese

But: だけど

This is the last lesson in the compound sentence section. By conjugating verbs, you can express various things such as sequential, parallel, and simultaneous actions. On the other hand, you can also express the same things by using conjunctions. In this lesson, you will learn some major conjunctions in Japanese.

Explanation for How Japanese Conjunctions Work

Table of Contents
Sequence: そして and それから
Parallel: それに, そして, and それから
Reasons: だから, なので, and そのため(に)
Actual Conditions: すると
Reverse Conditions: なのに, が, けど, けれど, けれども, and ところが

You may treat this lesson as a review because we won’t introduce new grammar, but how to reword what you have learned by using conjunctions. Therefore, if you have difficulty understanding conjunctions, you may have to read the previous lessons once again. Conjunctions don’t have any conjugation and should be simple enough to master here.

Sequence: そして and それから

はんっていえに(かえった / かえりました)。
はんを(った / いました)。そしていえに(かえった / かえりました)。

そして and それから express sequences of events and are the counterpart to …て. Both of the above examples have the same meaning, which is “I bought a meal and went home.” However, …て sounds more natural when the length of the sentence is short.

In general, そして and それから are used in the same way. However, それから has another function, which is to express the phrase “since then.” The following example means “I came to Japan one year ago. Since then, I have been studying Japanese.”


Parallel: それに, そして, and それから

あさはんはごはんみそしるさかな(だ / です)よ。
あさはんはごはん、みそしるそれにさかな(だ / です)よ。

それに, そして, and それから all have the same meaning and can make parallel lists. When you list nouns, the parallel marker と is equivalent. Both of the above examples mean “Breakfast is rice, miso soup, and fish.”

You have a case where actions are listed. In that case, the te-form is equivalent to the conjunctions それに, そして, and それから. The meaning in the example below is "My mother will cook, and my father will do the washing."

ははりょうしてちち洗濯せんたくを(する / します)。
ははりょうを(する / します)。そしてちち洗濯せんたくを(する / します)。

As you learned, …し also has the function of making a parallel list. Thus, you can replace it with one of the conjunctions それに, そして, or それから. The following examples mean "The teacher is tender and beautiful."

先生せんせいやさしいれい(だ / です)。
先生せんせいやさしい(です)。それかられい(だ / です)。

Reasons: だから, なので, and そのため(に)

つかれたからいえに(かえる / かえります)。
つかれた / つかれました)。だから・なのでいえに(かえる / かえります)。

だから and なので are the counterparts to …から and …ので. They take over the function and thus express the same meaning as the originals; both of the examples here mean “I got tired, so I will go home.”

…ために has the function of expressing causation. そのため(に) can express the same thing. However, as you learned, you need to drop に and cannot make requests, invitations, commands, or other such expressions in this context. The examples mean “Since there was a flood yesterday, [we are] closed today.”


Actual Conditions: すると

1月いちがつきゅうさむく(なった / なりました)。
1月いちがつが(た / ました)。するときゅうさむく(なった / なりました)。

すると works the same as …と when you introduce something that happened in the past. Both of the examples mean “January came, and then it suddenly got cold.”

Reverse Conditions: なのに, が, けど, けれど, けれども, and ところが

なかいたのにものが(ない / ありません)。
なかいた。なのにものが(ない / ありません)。

なのに is the counterpart to …のに. Both of them express reverse conditions with a nuance of complaint or surprise. The examples mean “Despite the fact that I’m hungry, there is no food.” Japanese people sometimes add それ like in それなのに. This is slightly more formal than なのに.

You can just use が, けど, けれど, and けれども as conjunctions, though we sometimes attach だ to them like in だけど. They can express reverse conditions without implying complaint and surprise, like “I’m hungry, but there is no food.” In this context, there are other conjunctions with the same meanings, which are でも and しかし. Keep in mind; they are very frequently used.

なかいたけどものが(ない / ありません)。
なかいた。(だ)けどものが(ない / ありません)。

ところが is a similar conjunction to なのに. ところが also expresses reverse conditions and cannot be used with the speaker’s feelings, such as volition, invitations, requests, judgments, etc. The difference is that ところが implies unexpected results.

なかいた。なのにものが(ない / ありません)。
=> Implies complaint or surprise
なかいた。ところがものが(ない / ありません)。
=> Implies unexpectedness

With this following example, なのに is not suitable because the speaker just tells the fact and doesn’t complain. が, けど, けれど, and けれども might be better, but there is no implication. Here is the situation where ところが comes into play. You can express unexpected results.

Japanese people are punctual. However, there are also tardy people.


Sequence そして, それから And
Parallel それに, そして, それから And
Reasons だから, なので, そのため(に) Because, since, so
Actual Conditions すると And, then
Reverse Conditions (Complaint or Surprise) (それ)なのに But, however
Reverse Conditions (Plain) が, けど, けれど, けれども But, however
Reverse Conditions (Unexpected Results) ところが But, however

Don’t follow the English translations, even though we have shown them in the table. English conjunctions such as “and” and “but” are very powerful. In Japanese, you have to choose a proper conjunction depending on the context. By understanding each characteristic, you will be able to naturally connect sentences. Anyway, this is the last lesson in the compound sentence section. Great job!