How can I tell what tame means?

Tame, pronounced "tam-ay", can express both cause and purpose.

Shukkin tojō no jiko no tame, kaisha ni okureta. (出勤途上の事故のため、会社に遅れた。)
I was late for work because of an accident on the way (to work).

Here tame shows that the cause of being late was the accident.

Gogo no kaigi no tame, ittan kaisha ni modoru. (午後の会議のため、いったん会社に戻る。)
I'm going back to the office for a while for a meeting in the afternoon.

Here tame shows that the purpose of going back to the office is the meeting in the afternoon.

In a sentence of the form A no tame B (Aの+ため+B), if A precedes B, for example if the accident precedes being late to work, then tame shows a cause. If B precedes A, for example if the going back to the office precedes the meeting, then tame expresses purpose.

If the past tense is used before tame, then tame must mean a cause. For example

jiko ga okotta tame, kaisha ni okureta. (事故が起こったため、会社に遅れた。)
I was late for work because there was an accident.

If the present tense is used before tame, then tame may mean either a cause or a purpose.

Kodomo ga ensoku ni iku tame hayaku okite bentō wo tsukuru (子どもが遠足に行くため早く起きて弁当を作る。)
I'm going to get up early to make a lunch box because my kid is going on an excursion.

Here tame gives the reason for getting up early, to make the lunch box.

Kodomo o ensoku ni ikaseru tame hayaku okite bentō wo tsukuru (子どもを遠足に行かせるため早く起きて弁当を作る。)
I'm going to get up early and make a lunch box so that my kid can go on an excursion.

Adding the particle ni to tame does not change the meaning, so tame ni simply clarifies the purpose or cause. If there is a clear cause and effect relationship between A and B, then not using ni is more natural. The following examples express the cause or purpose of a person who has never once been late for work,

Shukkin tojō no jiko no tame ni, kaisha ni okureta. (出勤途上の事故のために、会社に遅れた。)
I was late for work because of an accident on the way (to work).

or a person who usually never goes back to the office after leaving on business.

Gogo no kaigi no tame ni, ittan kaisha ni modoru. (午後の会議のために、いったん会社に戻る。)
I'm going back to the office for a while for a meeting in the afternoon.

However, tame ni wa (ためには) only ever expresses purpose.

Gogo no kaigi + no / ni shusseki suru + tame ni wa, ittan kaisha ni modoranakereba naranai. (午後の会議+の/に出席する+ためには、いったん会社に戻らなければならない。)
I have to go back to the office for a while + for / to attend + a meeting

Acknowledgements

This article is a translation and rewrite of an article by Japanese teacher S. Izuha.[1]

External links

References

  1. 「ため/ために/ためには」 by 泉原省二

If you have questions, corrections, or comments, please contact Ben Bullock or use the discussion forum / Privacy

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