354 - べく

In a future N3 lesson, we'll look at ~べきだ, which means something like "should."

プロポーズの時は婚約指輪を用意するべきだ
プロポーズ の とき は こんやく ゆびわ を ようい する べきだ。
You [One] should get an engagement ring before proposing.
Literally: "(marriage) proposal + の + time + は + engagement + ring + を + preparation + do + should."
Note: You can also say エンゲージリング for "engagement ring."

The grammar point we're looking at today is somewhat similar.

And by "similar," I mean that I have a bad habit of wrongly assuming that today's N1 grammar point has the same meaning of the N3 grammar point described above.

In reality, though, their meanings happen to be quite a bit different...


JLPT N1: べく (thinking to; for the purpose of)

As often happens with our N1 grammar points, this is a rather formal expression, and it is common in written language.

First, let's see an example:

3時までに仕事を終わらせるべく、休憩をとらずに働き続けた。
さんじ まで に しごと を おわらせる べく、 きゅうけい を とらず に はたらき つづけた。
Thinking to finish work by 3 o'clock, I kept working without taking any breaks.
Literally: "3 o'clock + until + に + job / work + を + finish + べく, + breaks + を + not take (and) + に + continued to work."

So we have:

Thinking to do A, I did B.

And in Japanese, that becomes:

A do べく, I did B.


Some verbs we'll see in this lesson:

終わらせる
おわらせる
to finish; to end
Note: This is the transitive version of the intransitive verb 終わる (おわる), which also means "to finish; to end." But since 終わらせる is a transitive verb, it means that the subject of the sentence is causing something to end, like in our example above. Something is not finishing/ending naturally (e.g. "the movie ended").

治す
なおす
to cure; to heal; to fix
Note: When we "fix" things that are not health-related (e.g. not colds, sore throats, etc.), then we use a different kanji: 直す (なおす).

集中する
しゅうちゅうする
to concentrate
Literally: "concentration + do."

So if we want to say:

Thinking to finish...
Thinking to cure...
Thinking to concentrate...

Then we can say:

終わらせるべく...
治すべく...
集中するべく...


Oh, and if you haven't noticed already, the construction is:

V るべく

Yep, just a verb in plain/dictionary form. That's it!


Although "thinking to" or "for the purpose of" are probably the closest translations of べく in isolation, in certain contexts it seems to me that "hoping to" is a better translation:

風邪を治すべく栄養のあるものを食べてよく寝ているのですが、なかなかよくなりません。
かぜ を なおす べく えいよう の ある もの を たべて よく ねている のですが、 なかなか よく なりません。
Hoping to cure my cold, I've been eating nutritious food and getting lots of sleep, but I just can't seem to get better.
Literally: "cold + を + cure / heal + べく + nutrition + の + has + things + を + eat (and) + well + sleeping + の + です + が, + (not) easily + better + not become."

In fact, sometimes べく is best translated as just "to," "in order to," "so that," and so on:

勉強に集中するべく、テレビも漫画もゲームも全部捨てた。
べんきょう に しゅうちゅう する べく、 テレビ も まんが も ゲーム も ぜんぶ すてた。
I threw away my TV, my manga, and my games in order to focus on my studies.
Literally: "studies + に + concentration + do + べく, + TV + も + manga + も + games + も + all + threw away."

Note that you can't use requests, commands, or anything like that for the B sentence. For example, it would be strange to end that last sentence with ...捨ててください (すててください // please throw away).


Careful!

Like in our previous example, we can have ~するべく, because する is a verb in plain/dictionary form.

However, sometimes ~するべく will get contracted to just ~すべく, like this:

パスポートを申請すべくパスポートセンターまで行ったが、閉まっていた。
パスポート を しんせい す べく パスポートセンター まで いった が、 しまっていた。
I went to the passport center to apply for a passport, but it was closed.
Literally: "passport + を + application + do + べく + passport center + until + went + が, + was closed."
Note: Remember that すべく is an abbreviation of するべく. Both versions are acceptable.

That's it for this one.

I think it's one of the easier N1 grammar points. And though it is a formal expression common in written language, I have come across べく a number of times in the Japanese-speaking world... unlike some other N1 grammar points we're still forced to study. *_*

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