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Once upon a time, an enthusiastic student of mine talked to his Japanese friend and was told that Particle Koto could be always interpreted as 'Matter'. Of course, I suspected neither my student nor his Japanese friend. However, as a matter of fact, in Japanese, can Particle Koto be always interpreted as 'Matter'? Really? Even we are foreigners, we can of course quote the research results from some Japanese linguists to verify if “Particle Koto” could always be interpreted as 'Matter' or not.

According to Japanese grammar, could Particle Koto(こと)always be written in Kanji ことand interpreted as 'Matter' ?

Dr-Kindaichi-Kyousuke

Dr. Kyōsuke Kindaichi

(1882~1971)
Japanese linguist
Dr. Kyōsuke Kindaichi (Japanese: 金田一京助きんだいちきょうすけ, 1882 ~ 1971) was a famous Japanese linguist from Morioka, Iwate Prefecture. He was a recipient of the Order of Cultural Merit in 1954. He also had authored a Japanese dictionary called Shinsen Kokugo Jiten in which he pointed out that:

Whenever Koto is activated its nominalizing functionality, it can neither be written in Kanjiことnor be interpreted as 'Matter'.

7 examples are:

𝟏

たまに遅刻ちこくをすることもある。
Eng: Once in a while, I am late.💯
If you translate the Koto into matter, then: "Once in a while, I am a late matter." You have changed the original meaning and is undesirable. This sentence structure maybe appear in
JLPT N3 and will be mentioned in the Intermediate Course I.

𝟐

いたことがある
Eng: I have heard that.💯
If you translate the Koto into matter, then: "I have heard that matter." Nobody will understand. This sentence structure maybe appear in
JLPT N5 and will be mentioned in the Beginner Course I.

𝟑

こたえることはない
Eng: No need to answer.💯
The original sentence is same as "~ない方がいい" suggesting you not do something. If you translate the Koto into matter, then: "No answer matter." You have changed the original meaning and is undesirable. This sentence structure maybe appear in JLPT N3.

𝟒

毎朝まいあさ体操たいそうをすることにしている
Eng: Every morning, I am used to doing exercises.💯
If you translate the Koto into matter, then: "Every morning, I am used to doing exercises' matter." You have changed the original meaning and is undesirable. This sentence structure maybe appear in
JLPT N3 and will be mentioned in the Intermediate Course I.

𝟓

すぐかえってくるということ
Eng: It is said that one will be back in a minute.💯
If you translate the Koto into matter, then: "One will be back in a minute's matter." You have changed the original meaning and is undesirable. This sentence structure maybe appear in
JLPT N3 and will be mentioned in the Intermediate Course I.

𝟔

上達じょうたつ早道はやみちはよく練習れんしゅうすること
Eng: The shortcut to excellence is drilling thoroughly.💯
The original sentence is same as "方がいい"suggesting you do something. If you translate the Koto into matter, then: "The shortcut to excellence is drilling matter thoroughly." You have changed the original meaning and is undesirable. This sentence structure maybe appear in JLPT N3.

𝟕

無駄話むだばなしをしないこと
Eng: No idle talk.💯
It is a indirect imperative sentence asking you to do or not to something. If you translate the Koto into matter, then: "No idle talk matters." You have changed the original meaning and is undesirable.