What is the deal with ~のが

So, I’ve been studying Japanase for well over a year now. Genki I is childplay, but I struggle with ~のが. Even my Japanse friend couldn’t help me with it. I use Ankii for Genki I. Simple translations of sentences. By often ~のが pops up and I have absolutely zero clue!

e.g.: ジェームスさんは人話すのが苦手です。

I would translate it as: Jim has trouble speaking with people(/strangers). But what part does ~のが fill in grammaticly? Thanks in advance WK Buddies!

That’s called nominalization. It’s basically turning a topic or subject phrase into a noun. This page has a pretty good explanation of how it (and こと) works:



It’s making 話す a noun so you can and the が苦手

similar in English to

James is bad at speak

James is bad at speaking


~のが and ~のを when paired with verbs turns the verb into a noun.

In the case of your example, his speaking (noun, subject) was bad (action, defined by the verb です).

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が is a subject marker. It doesn’t mark indirect objects in sentences. The definition of an indirect object is something that is affected by an action. Example: My dad gave a present to me. In this case “me” is the indirect object, “present” is the direct object, and “dad” is the subject. This example can easily be translated to Japanese: 父プレゼントを(私に)くれた。
However with talking about preferences, abilities and such in Japanese, the logic cannot flow nicely into English. This can be seen in the OP’s example

“James is bad at speaking with people.” “at speaking with people”= a complement for “bad”
But the Japanese literally means: “As for James, speaking with people is a weak point [for him].” In this case “speaking with people” is the subject.

For obvious reasons, this wording is not natural for English speakers to say.


Thanks for the replies. I thought ~のが was one grammar particle, but it are two seperate particles. I’m sure to be checking that link foobrew posted. :slight_smile:

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Exactly this.

is the same.

Turns out the blurred statement is not correct. See below:

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Does that article even mention the construction ~ことができる? I have never heard anyone say that ~のができる is interchangeable with it (or that it even exists, to be honest). Where did you see that?

Does what you say also implies on ~ごとがある?

I learned it many years ago and hear it all the time, would have to search a source…

Where do you live? I’ve never heard it before your post. I live in Kobe. I suppose it’s possible it’s dialectal, but I can’t find anything searching.

I was in Osaka 10 times over the past few years and have a japanese room mate. I speak the language for 20 years now.

The article says that verb+の = verb + 事
And verb+事ができる is a well known construct, right? From there you can deduce verb + のができる

ことができる isn’t just a slapping together of nominalization + できる, it’s its own grammatical construction. But if you can find something that says のができる can be used, I’d be interested to see it.

I don’t know what you mean by that.

Sorry mate! Had a brainfart right there.

Did you mean to type ことがある?

ごと is its own grammar point which is why it’s confusing.

Anyway, on the other part of the thread, のが and ことが are not fully interchangeable.

@Zenguro This is a good page on the difference: grammar - What is the difference between the nominalizers こと and の? - Japanese Language Stack Exchange

ことができる is a set contruction by itself, and の can not just be substituted. In fact there is only a single result when Googling it, and that looks like it’s because of というの

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Thanks for the tip. I found that single occurrence too. I’m quite surprised that this mistake was not revealed earlier XD

It’s good to know when you are wrong :smiley:

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I meant just that. I was just done working a 11-hour shift, so maybe that explains my brainfart a little bit. I really have to read more about the normalisation of the ~の particle. Perhaps there is something in my Grammar Dictionary about it.

If you’re asking “is ~のがある” to mean “I have done ~ before” then yes, there is no such construction as that.

Going along with @MichielElshout 's question, it’s probably because in both those sentences, while の is very unnatural, it can still be understood. And that’s a big place where natives just won’t usually correct you.