のに (noni) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]

Author Sandro Maglione for article 'のに (noni) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]'

Sandro Maglione

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のに (noni) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]

The particle のに (noni) means even if, however, despite, and in certain situations it also takes on the meaning of in order to, so as.

Actually the meaning of のに is the same for both of its translations: (A) のに、(B) indicates that given (A), it resulted in (B).

In this post we learn more about the meaning of のに, how it is formed, and when のに is used through real example sentences.


What is the structure of the particle のに

In reality, the のに particle is in made up of two other particles:

The meaning of のに derives directly from the two particles it is composed of:

  • の is used to nominalize what is indicated in the first part of the sentence
  • に is used to indicate a destination, to reach what has been said

We can break down an example sentence to understand this meaning:

(かれ)(いそが)しいのに、ゲームをしている。

Even though he has a lot to do he is playing video games.

  • (かれ)(いそが)しい: he has a lot to do is the first part of the sentence, which indicates the context or the current situation
  • の: nominalizes the previous sentence, it can be translated with the fact that..., the thing that... (makes the sentence a noun)

(かれ)(いそが)しいの

The fact that he has a lot to do

  • に: indicates the destination that leads to what is indicated in the second part of the sentence, we can translate it with ...led to...

(かれ)(いそが)しいのに

The fact that he has a lot to do has led to...

  • ゲームをしている : he is playing video games indicates the current situation. In this case the result is illogical and unexpected, for this reason のに translates as even if, despite

If, on the other hand, what is indicated after のに was a direct action aimed at reaching the destination stated in the first part (for a specific purpose), then のに could be translated as for the purpose of, in order to:

(かい)(しゃ)()くのにバスと(でん)(しゃ)使(つか)っている。

In order to go to work, I use the bus or the train.

To use のに to indicate a purpose のに must be preceded by a volitional verb in its dictionary form.

のに to indicate "even if"

The first use of のに is to indicate something that happened despite another event.

のに is a connective particle ((せつ)(ぞく)(じょ)()) and as such it can follow verbs, adjectives, and nouns. Before のに with an adjective ending in な or a noun you must add な:

Verb+のに
Adjective[い]+のに
Adjective[な]++のに
Verb++のに

The second sentence must be contrary to what is indicated in the first.

(いそ)いでいるのに、バスが()ない。

Although I hurried, the bus didn't arrive.

In this example we see how the first part of the sentence indicates the action of hurrying ((いそ)ぐ) to make sure you don't miss the bus. However, the use of のに indicates that something unexpected happened, which is then specified in the second part of the sentence: the bus didn't come (バスが()ない).

It is often possible to omit the second part of the sentence when it is obvious or you prefer not to say it explicitly.

(かな)()ちだったらいいのに。

It would be nice if I were rich.

In the example we see that のに is at the end of the sentence. The rest of the sentence is in fact omitted because it is obvious or implied:

(かね)()ちだったらいいのに、(いま)(かね)がない。

It would be nice if I were rich, even if now I don't have any money.

たらいいのに and ばいいのに are two expressions that use のに with たら and ば (conditional forms)

(まい)(にち)()めばいいのに。

It would be good if you read every day.

のに to indicate "for the purpose of"

This second use of のに is the same as seen before with even if: what changes is the relationship between what was said in the first sentence (before のに) and the result indicated in the second part.

In this usage のに must follow a volitional verb in the dictionary form:

Verb[Dictionary form]+のに

When のに translates for the purpose of, the second part of the sentence means something that is necessary for the first part to happen.

宿(しゅく)(だい)をするのに、3()(かん)がかかる。

Doing homework takes 3 hours.

We note that, unlike the use of のに translated as even if, in this case the second part of the sentence is not contrary to what was said in the first part.

In fact, what has been said in the second part follows directly to specify what is necessary so that what has been said can be achieved.

Difference between のに and に

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Examples of のに

(やく)(そく)をしたのに、(かの)(じょ)()なかった。

Even though he promised he didn't come.

ダイエットをしたのに、(ふと)りました。

Even though I went on a diet, I gained weight.

(わたし)日本語(にほんご)(しん)(ぶん)()むのに()(しょ)使(つか)う。

I use a dictionary to read the newspaper in Japanese.

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