Two Grammar questions

I’ve been reading and listening to The Cut-tongue Sparrow to improve my speaking and grammar, and there a couple of sentences I have questions about.

First of all:


The problem I have is with the 洗濯に使おうと用意していたのり phrase. I understand, by context, that it means “the starch that had been prepared to be used for the laundry”, and I know all of the vocabulary, but have never seen this grammatical construct before. I’m especially confused by what appears to be the volitional (使おう) and the (と) particle. Is there a name for this grammatical structure, or can anyone provide a link to a study point?

The second part I’m a bit thrown by is the following passage:



I included quite a bit there, to give context, and show that the story is being told almost entirely in the past tense. But then why, in the bolded sentence, does it seem to switch into present tense? Should it not be 帰ってきたおじいさんは、雀を探しましたが、家にはいませんでした。?

Any insights, comments, or rants are appreciated.

Here is a random link that explains the first one. Just google Japanese grammar volitional とする.

The answer to the second question is that when people tell stories in Japanese, they sometimes take the present tense, which, in my mind, has the effect of putting you into the story.

Is there a reason you think it’s that, rather than (よ)うと/が?ようがようと-you-gayou-to/

I’m not going to say I understand the whole thing, I just woke up, but it looks more like (よ)うと/が to me than ようとする.

At the end of the day, (よ)うと is the fundamental grammar, while (よ)うとする is a bit of a fixed / set phrase.

Verb + (よ)うと+verb creates an adverbial phrase with と that basically shows an intention / attempt to do something.

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Thanks for all the responses!

It looks like these are all the same grammar point, with ようとする being a specific case of the more general ようと construction. This is mentioned at the end of the article tel003a posted:

Though we use the verb 「する」 to say, “to do attempt”, we can use different verbs to do other things with the attempt. For instance, we can use the verb 「決める」 to say, “decide to attempt to do [X]”. Here are some examples of other actions carried out on the attempt.

(1) 勉強をなるべく避けようと思った。

  • I thought I would attempt to avoid studying as much as possible.

(2) 毎日ジムに行こうと決めた。

  • Decided to attempt to go to gym everyday.

It sound reasonable to say there’s a relation, but I don’t know if “they’re the same grammar point” is exactly the way to put it. I was just reading this yesterday.

@Leebo I think you make a good distinction. I guess I kind of lump them together and kind of infer the する even when it isn’t there.

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