753 - ともあろう

JLPT N1: ともあろう (for one such as...; for such a prestigious...)

ともあろう is a fun grammar point to study because it can be used in some dramatic situations.

More on that in some later examples, though.

First, see if you can figure out the meaning of ともあろう in this sentence:


教師ともあろうが、そんな嘘をついてはいけない。
きょうし ともあろう もの が、 そんな うそ を ついてはいけない。
One such as a teacher cannot lie like that.
Literally: “teacher + ともあろう + person + が, + that kind of + lie + を + must not tell.”
Note: The teacher who lied is the listener.

You'll notice that the following pattern is being used:

NOUN 1ともあろう NOUN 2

Both of these nouns refer to the same person or thing. Specifically, it's a person or thing that is respected by the speaker... but who [that] is not living up to that high level of expectation.

In the above example, the speaker respects teachers, so she is appalled that "you" (=a teacher) have told a lie like that.


教師ともあろうが、そんな嘘をついてはいけない。
きょうし ともあろう もの が、 そんな うそ を ついてはいけない。
One such as a teacher cannot lie like that.
Literally: “teacher + ともあろう + person + が, + that kind of + lie + を + must not tell.”
Note: The teacher who lied is the listener.


Let's look at another example. This time we're not mentioning a certain respected position or title.

Rather, the speaker is just showing that "you" (the listener) are a respected person that has acted in a way that you, of all people, shouldn't have:


あなたともあろうがどうして犯罪の手助けなどしたのですか。
あなた ともあろう ひと が どうして はんざい の てだすけ など した のです か。
Why would one such as yourself aid in a crime like this?
Literally: “you + ともあろう + person + が + why + crime + の + helping + the likes of + did + のです + か.”
Note: The nuance is that "you" did in fact aid in this crime.


With ともあろう, we don't always need to be talking about a person that is highly esteemed.

Here we are talking about a place that is evaluated as being highly safe. However, something has happened that conflicts with that high evaluation:


警察署ともあろう場所で殺人が起こったなんて信じられない。
けいさつしょ ともあろう ばしょ で さつじん が おこった なんて しんじられない。
I can’t believe that a murder was committed at a police station, of all places.
Literally: “police station + ともあろう + place + で + murder + が + occurred + to think that (=なんて) + cannot believe.”


I doubt you'll hear ともあろう used very much in everyday language.

It still might be fun to try it out from time to time, though.

Also, there's a chance you'll hear it being used in a video game or anime, where the following sentence, for example, would be appropriate:


王子!次期国王ともあろうお方が何をしているんですか!!
おうじ! じき こくおう ともあろう おかた が なに を している んです か!!
Prince! You’re the heir to the throne. What are you doing?!
Literally: “prince! + next term + king (of a country) + ともあろう + person + が + what + を + are doing + んです + か!!”
Note: The nuance is that the prince is doing something that is not befitting of the future king of the nation.


When I hear language like this that is not super-common but that I still want to use, I often try to use it in a joke when talking with friends or family.

Usually I mess up the grammar, and what I'm saying doesn't make sense. Even when I do get it right, people don't always know that I'm joking.

Ahh... I guess humor is one of the hardest things to master in a foreign language, after all...