How do you say “the way things are” in Japanese?

I have a story where the phrase “it’s just the way things are” is pretty important and I’m curious what could be it’s Japanese equivalent that means the same thing.

The English dictionary defines ”the way things are” as:
a situation or condition that someone or something is in at a particular time

It doesn’t really have negative nor positive connotations.

I found this in a Japanese dictionary:

うきよなら

Noun

  1. the way of the world; the lay of the land; the inescapable circumstances (of life); (just) the way things are​

Is this valid? I am looking for the closest possible overlap with the English meaning so I am not looking for synonysm like “can’t be helped” etc.

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It’s not the exact translation, but there is a concept in Japanese しょうがない or しかたがない, which means “it can’t be helped” or “that’s just the way it is”.

Sometimes a phrase can’t be translated word-for-word to another language, しかたがない…

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I have always used and listened japanese people saying しかたがない

dont know if there is a more recent word/phrase for that.

I mentioned this exactly in my original post because I am not looking for shouganai here. I know of it but it carries a different meaning. it usually carries the connotation that something, usually bad, is accepted as nothing can be done. the way things are is more neutral in this sense.

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I think this might be more what you’re looking for perhaps? それはそれで - Jisho.org

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hm, promising but the part might not be what was expected or hoped implies that this might also have a negative connotation?

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Looking at these HiNative answers, it seems to be an abbreviation それはそれでいい ? In other words, “it’s okay the way it is” or something, I guess. 【それはそれで】 を使った例文を教えて下さい。 | HiNative

Here is another explanation with a bit more nuance: 【それはそれで】とはどういう意味ですか? - 日本語に関する質問 | HiNative

Maybe that helps you better decide whether it fits your usecase…

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Maybe this? I’m not sure how “common” it would be, though. Just offering another potential option, but something along the lines of そういうものだ or そういうものです might be what you’re after?

The contracted form also shows up on Jisho with that sort of definition.

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I didn´t find many hits of native uses of this while googling around.

浮世の習い is what I would go with as a general expression for that sentiment. Not that I recall encountering it myself. So while the sentiment seems applicable, I don´t know how uncommon it is. So it may still be awkward to use in practice.

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セラヴィ? :slightly_smiling_face:

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To be honest, whilst not explicit in the phrasing (or the definition you quote) I would argue that “it’s just the way things are” is not actually neutral in normal usage. I think in most case it would be used in a mood of acceptance, to say you can’t change or worry about something which is less than ideal. So carrying a similar level of negative connotation as 仕方がない.

I can also see it being said in exasperation to a child who keeps asking why (“but why is the sky blue?” “It is just TWTA.”), or to possibly to reinforce social or other norms (“but why can’t boys wear dresses?” “They just can’t, it is just TWTA”) and even in that case I’d say it carried a sense of social conservatism, hence my example.

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I’m thinking it might be something with まま?It does convey things staying the same without implied judgement.
There’s these example sentences from jisho for example:

物事をあるがままにうけと受け取れ
Take things as they are.
物事はありのままにみ見るようにしなさい
Try to see things as they are.

Or are you looking for something like ‘status quo’?

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this feels closest to what I’m looking for! thanks

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thanks, but I don’t agree with those points. saying something with emotion or intonation doesn’t change the original connotation. the meaning changes because of the emotion behind those words. the way things are is an entirely neutral statement in it’s own. like you said, the sky is blue is just how things are. if that’s a positive thing (someone likes blue) or a negative (someone hates blue) is up for personal preference. a negative connotation would be “the sky is blue, it can’t be helped” which admits defeat or acceptance of something that is different from what someone hoped for.

PS. boys can totally wear dresses if they want, it’s up to them.

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Thanks, I take your point, and I agree that tone of delivery and connotations of words are different. That said I think words and phrases also have a typical usage, which has an impact on how they are understood. Typically I see TTWTA used in a certain way, so it would be surprising to see it used in a positive sense, that could be effective, or it could be jarring depending.

P.S. on boys and dresses I couldn’t agree more, but it illustrates my wider point. I can’t imagine someone saying “boys can wear dresses TTWTA”, because it clearly goes against a lot of unwritten social norms, you wouldn’t say TTWTA, unless you were describing and relying on apparently “normal” practice. That’s why I don’t think it is a neutral phrase.

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