Verbs of Change: Naru

4Person Business Man
RunPhoto/Getty Images

There are many verbs that express change in Japanese. The most basic one is, "naru (to become)". The verb "naru" is used in [Noun + ni naru] and [basic Verb + you ni naru].

"~ ni naru"

  • Michiko wa kyonen bengoshi ni narimashita. 道子は去年弁護士になりました.
    • Michiko became a lawyer last year.
  • Yamada-sensei wa rainen kouchou ni narimasu. 山田先生は来年校長になります。
    • Mr. Yamada will become principal next year.
  • Tomoko wa hirou no tame, byouki ni narimashita. 智子は疲労のため、病気になりました。
    •  Tomoko became sick from fatigue.
  • Mada natsu ni narimasen. まだ夏になりません。
    •  Summer has not yet come.

In these sentences, the words, "bengoshi" "kouchou" "byouki" and "natsu" all express the resulting state. As for the fourth example, the subject is omitted.

Nature's seasonal changes, such as it getting hotter and spring arriving, are described using " naru". For example, "natsu ni narimashita 夏になりました", which literally means, "it has become summer". The English expression would be "summer has come".

Change in Adjectives

Change in state may be expressed not only by nouns, as seen in the examples above, but also by adjectives. When accompanied by adjectives, they take adverbial form. As for the I-adjective, replace the final "~ i" with "~ ku" to make the adverbial form.

Ookii 大きい (big) ---- ookiku (naru) 大きく(なる)
Atarashii 新しい (new) --- atarashiku (naru) 新しく(なる)
Atsui 暑い (hot) --- atsuku (naru) 暑く(なる)
Yasui 安い (cheap) --- yasuku (naru) 安く(なる)

As for Na-adjective, replace the final "~ na" with "~ ni".

Kireina きれいな (pretty) ---- kireini (naru) きれいに(なる)
Yuumeina 有名な (famous) --- yuumeini (naru) 有名に(なる)
Genkina 元気な (healthy) --- genkini (naru) 元気に(なる)
Shizukana 静かな (quiet) --- shizukani (naru) 静かに(なる)

Here are some examples with adjectives:

  • Koinu wa sugu ni ookiku narimasu. 子犬はすぐに大きくなります。
    • The puppy will become big quickly.
  • Atatakaku narimashita ne. 暖かくなりましたね。
    •  It has gotten warm, hasn't it?
  • Ano mise wa totemo yuumei ni narimashita. あの店はとても有名になりました。
    • The store has become very famous.

"~ you ni naru"

"~ you ni naru" usually indicates a gradual change. It can be translated as, "come to ~; it has come to be that ~; has finally become" etc.

  • Nanshii wa nihongo ga sukoshi hanaseru you ni natta. ナンシーは日本語が少し話せるようになった。
    • Nancy is finally able to speak Japanese a little.
  • Youyaku kanojo no kimochi ga wakaru you ni narimashita. ようやく彼女の気持ちがわかるようになりました。
    • I've finally come to understand her feelings.
  • Hiroshi wa nandemo yoku taberu you ni narimashita. 博は何でも食べるようになりました。
    •  Hiroshi has come to eat everything well.
  • Chichi wa sake o nomanai you ni natta. 父は酒を飲まないようになった。
    •  My father has reached the point where he doesn't drink sake.
  • Muzukashii kanji mo yomeru you ni natta. 難しい漢字も読めるようになった。
    •  I have come to read even the difficult kanji.

"You ni" by itself can be used as an adverbial phrase, along with other verbs (not just, "naru"). For example, "Kare wa nihongo o nihon jin no you ni hanasu 彼は日本語を日本人のように話す。 (He speaks Japanese like a Japanese person.)"

"~ koto ni naru"

While, "~ you ni naru" describes a shift or change, focusing on the result itself, "~ koto ni naru" is often used when someone's decision, or an arrangement, is involved.

It translates to, "it will be decided that ~; come about ~; turn out that ~". Even if the speaker decides to do something, it sounds more indirect and more humble to use this structure rather than using, "koto ni suru (decide to do)".

  • Watashi wa raigetsu kara ginkou ni tsutomeru koto ni narimashita. 私は来月から銀行に勤めることになりました。
    • It has been decided that the bank will employ me next month.
  • Rainen go-gatsu ni kekkon suru koto ni narimashita. 来年五月に結婚することになりました。
    • It's been arranged that I will get married next May.
  • Nihon dewa kuruma wa hidarigawa o hashiru koto ni natteiru. 日本では車は左側を走ることになっている。
    • In Japan, cars are supposed to be driven on the left side.
  • Kyou Tanaka-san ni au koto ni natte imasu. 今日田中さんと会うことになっています。
    • It's been arranged that I'm going to see Mr. Tanaka today.
  • Maiku wa nihon de eigo o oshieru koto ni naru deshou. マイクは日本で英語を教えることになるでしょう。
    • It may turn out that Mike will teach English in Japan.