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のは versus ことは

Hi there, I have a question about distinguishing のは versus ことは。Are they perfect synonyms here?

  • 野菜を食べるのは大切です。"Eating vegetables is important."
  • 野菜を食べることは大切です。"Eating vegetables is important."

Thanks for your help!

January 25, 2018



This one is especially helpful. Thank you!


As for your sentences, I would go with the version with "no":

  • 野菜を食べるのは大切です。"Eating vegetables is important."

I read somewhere (but I can't seem to find that site again) that "no" is used in cases when you actually experienced/are familiar with something (you have "perceived" something), otherwise it may sound quite abstract. With "to like" and similar structures, "no" is more common, because of the "perception" reason.

It's an interesting question you asked, not so long ago I've been wondering about the same thing ;) I'm still confusing those two nominalizers, though.


Hi Luke, they have the same meaning but are not always interchangeable. Are you comfortable with reading Japanese articles?


You are sharp. Your question is interesting, and difficult to answer. Those two sentences communicate the same meaning. Japanese people so often use the word "こと" or "事". I need some time to think about my answer.

I asked four my coworkers about your question. Three of them said the two sentences were the same. But, the other said "The first sentence sounds like a mother is saying to make her son eat vegetables. The second sentence sounds like a person is saying a fact to anyone who doesn't know it." I'm not sure what and how to explain about the difference, though.


So it's an example of Japanese context? This was explained a bit in the chapter on language in the Japanese Cultural History Course on Great Courses. There are multiple levels ways of saying things based on politeness. So it sounds like this is such an example. Makes sense then that the second, more polite example has more syllables.

On a side note, I don't remember Duo giving me the Kanji for vegetables . It was always in Hiragana.


The use of こと vs. の is not related to politeness. Both are used to represent something and the nature of that something determines which one is more preferred. の is used when that something tends to be tangible, physiologically perceivable, whilst こと is used when that something tends to be intangible and conceptual. And then along the spectrum a number of cases accepts both.

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