438 - をもって (by / with)

Pop quiz!

Try translating this sentence:

新郎新婦の入場です。みなさん、盛大な拍手をもってお迎えください。
しんろう しんぷ の にゅうじょう です。 みなさん、 せいだいな はくしゅ をもって おむかえ ください。

Too difficult?

OK. Well how about this: Try filling in the gaps in the following translation.

新郎新婦の入場です。みなさん、盛大な拍手をもってお迎えください。
しんろう しんぷ の にゅうじょう です。 みなさん、 せいだいな はくしゅ をもって おむかえ ください。
Now, please welcome our new bride and groom _____ a big round of applause!
Literally: “bride and groom + の + entrance + です. + everyone, + grand + applause + をもって + please greet / receive.”

Let's imagine that I actually know how to write fill-in-the-blank translation questions, in which case the answer to the question above is indisputably: "with."

新郎新婦の入場です。みなさん、盛大な拍手をもってお迎えください。
しんろう しんぷ の にゅうじょう です。 みなさん、 せいだいな はくしゅ をもって おむかえ ください。
Now, please welcome our new bride and groom with a big round of applause!
Literally: “bride and groom + の + entrance + です. + everyone, + grand + applause + をもって + please greet / receive.”



JLPT N1: をもって (by / with)

We can use をもって in written language to describe the means by which something is done.

In the example above, everyone welcomes the guests with / by giving them a big round of 拍手 (はくしゅ), "hand-clapping."

Wait, "written language?" That example above doesn't sound like it's using written language.

Yeah, it's not. Let's just say that using をもって for an announcement at a wedding is... uh... special. Because, you know, a wedding is a special event. It warrants the use of fancy written language.

Generally speaking, though, をもって will be used in written Japanese.


Constructing phrases with をもって is comparatively easy, considering some of the crazy stuff we have to memorize in other lessons. All we have to do is put a noun in front of it!

Nをもって

拍手(はくしゅ // hand-clapping; applause
拍手をもってはくしゅをもって // by clapping hands; with applause

書面(しょめん // document; letter
書面をもってしょめんをもって // in writing


Example!

詳しい日程は後日、書面をもってお知らせします。
くわしい にってい は ごじつ、 しょめん をもって おしらせ します。
A detailed schedule will be provided in writing at a later date.
Literally: “detailed + schedule + は + a later date, + document / writing + をもって + notification + do.”


Note that をもって tends to mean something like "by" or "with," but it is not typically used when talking about familiar, concrete methods for doing something.

For example, you can welcome a bride and groom by raising your glasses or by greeting them one person at a time. Similarly, you could provide a detailed schedule via an email or a phone message.

Conversely, if you are mailing a contract, it's expected that you will use the postal service, so this sentence would sound strange:

× 契約書を郵便をもって送ってください。
× けいやくしょ を ゆうびん をもって おくって ください。
× Please send the contract by mail.
× Literally: “(written) contract + を + postal service + をもって + please send.”

In this case, we could just say:

○ 契約書を郵便で送ってください。
○ けいやくしょ を ゆうびん で おくって ください。
○ Please send the contract by mail.
Literally: “(written) contract + を + postal service + で + please send.”

That doesn't make sense? Yeah, I'm not sure I totally get it either.

Luckily, nobody cares. Especially not lazy students like us! (Or only me?)


One extremely common way of using をもって is in the idiomatic phrase 身をもって (みをもって).

Literally meaning "with one's body," this phrase is often translated as "firsthand" or "through one's own experience," as in the following sentence:


彼女が怒った時の恐ろしさを、わたしはをもって知っている。
かのじょ が おこった とき の おそろしさ を、 わたし は み をもって しっている。
I know firsthand just how scary she can be when she’s angry.
Literally: “she + が + got angry + time / when + の + terror / scariness + を, + I + は + firsthand / through one’s own experience + (I) know.”


If you are a die-hard NDL fan, you're probably freaking out right now because you'll know that I once made a stupid mistake using the phrase 身をもって, thus inspiring the following lesson: [NDL #120] - Getting Laughed At... In Person.

"Die-hard NDL fan?" you ask.

Hey, I can dream.

Oh, but speaking of that lesson above, you'll see that I only very subtly mentioned that there are multiple kanji possibilities for もって. If you're a kanji nerd, get out your notebook:

The もって in 身をもって is actually NOT 持つ (もつ // to carry). Written with complete kanji, 身をもって is actually 身を以て.

So maybe this lesson should've been called を以て. Sorry...


It is also quite common to attach すれば ("if one does") or しても ("even if one does") to をもって, as in the two following examples...


彼女の美貌をもってすれば、落ちない男はいないだろう。
かのじょ の びぼう をもって すれば、 おちない おとこ は いない だろう。
Just going by her beauty, there’s not a single man that wouldn’t fall for her.
Literally: “she + の + beauty / good looks + をもって + if one does, + not fall (in love) + man + は + there is not + だろう.”


現代医学をもってしても、治療が困難な病気はたくさんある。
げんだい いがく をもって しても、 ちりょう が こんなんな びょうき は たくさん ある。
Even with modern medicine, there are still many illnesses that are difficult to treat.
Literally: “modern / present-day + medicine + をもって + even if one does, + medical treatment + が + difficult + illness + は + many + there are.”


All good? I hope so, because this is the end of the lesson.

If you're still feeling lost, then maybe try to "brain をもって" and read this lesson once more. If you're still lost after that, you can blame me. Or the grammar gods.

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