Or maybe I should have titled this post, “Adult Topics に関して (ni kanshite).”
Ni kanshite (～に関して) is a Japanese grammar function that’s pretty easy to get the hang of. But it’s also pretty easy to use it in a way that makes your Japanese sound fairly unnatural.
Ni Kanshite / ～に関して
Meaning of Ni Kanshite
Translated directly, ni kanshite means something like, “concerning; with regard to; about; on.”
There are still many unknown things regarding this incident.
The structure in place here is:
Noun + に関して
日本語能力試験に関して = “concerning the JLPT”
When a noun follows, ～に関して becomes ～に関する:
(I) have a book about global warming.
Noun + に関する + Noun
In formal speech, ni kanshite can be changed to ni kanshimashite:
Mr. Walker is going to explain in regards to the problem.
The difference between ni kanshite and ni tsuite
This is where it’s easy to sound a little bit unnatural when speaking Japanese (an ever-recurring problem for us foreign learners).
As far as meaning goes, ni kanshite and ni tsuite are pretty much interchangeable.
However, there are a couple of differences:
- ni tsuite is less formal than ni kanshite.
- ni kanshite tends to only be used with “adult topics.”
“Adult topics” might be a little vague. Overall, ni kanshite just has a less conversational tone than ni tsuite, so it tends to be used primarily for serious discussion topics and when referring to “grown up” level subjects.
That’s why I used fun examples talking about global warming and stuff. -_-
So you probably don’t want to use ni kanshite with regards to ice cream, handstands, getting drunk, and the like.
no koto vs. ni kanshite
No koto, when combined with a particle, expresses pretty much the same idea as ni kanshite, only it is strictly used in informal situations.
Also, no koto, when used this way, doesn’t come before nouns, so you won’t ever see Noun + のこと + Noun.
What I don’t understand about ～に関して
In one of my Kanzen Master books, with regards to ni kanshite, it says:
This sentence might be translated to, “Unlike ni tsuite, ni kanshite attaches to words discussing broad topics, as opposed to situations where a clear, simple answer (e.g. age, nationality, etc.) emerges.
A better translation might say: “Ni kanshite, unlike ni tsuite, is never used to mark topics with simple answers.”
If that is what they’re trying to say, an example like the following would use ni tsuite, not ni kanshite: “With regards to the color, it was blue.” A color is either blue or it’s not. A person is either 65 years old, or they’re not. Maybe that’s what they mean? Such an explanation does tend to overlap with ni kanshite only being used for adult-level topics. Maybe “adult-level” actually means “complicated?” Personally, I don’t like examples like this color one, because in that kind of sentence I would just use は, or another topic marker. Confusing!
I am still looking for more sources discussing this. Anyone have a clear explanation? I will super kansha shimasu, if so.
More info on ni kanshite
Some places where they discuss this lovely compound particle and related topics:
- A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar (p.252-254)
- New Kanzen Master JLPT N2: Grammar (p.34)
You probably have no idea how excited I get when someone comments…
Good luck with your studies, everyone.
p.s. Here’s my free course, bundled with awesomeness (and love):