Grammar Info
N3 Lesson 2: 3/22

even so, however, even though, but

(Expectation) Phrase + ところ + (Unexpected Result) Phrase
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使用域 一般
ところが is a 接続詞(せつぞくし) (conjunction) in Japanese that is a combination of the noun, ところ ‘place’, and the 接続助詞(せつぞくじょし) (conjunction particle) が. It is used to highlight that (A) was expected, but the unexpected result (B) occurred. It is usually translated as ‘however’, or ‘despite that’.
ところが is most often used at the beginning of a new sentence, before highlighting something that is contrary to what was described in the previous sentence.
  • 今日(きょう)は早(はや)く起(お)きないといけなかったから9時(じ)寝(ね)た。ところが、目覚(めざ)ましがならなかったから寝坊(ねぼう)した。
    I had to wake up early today so I went to sleep at 9pm. However, my alarm didn't go off, so I overslept.
  • 新(あたら)しい洗濯機(せんたくき)買(か)った。ところが、洗濯機(せんたくき)大(おお)きすぎて家(いえ)入(はい)らなかった
    I bought a new washing machine. However, it was so big that it didn't fit in my house.
This use of が in Japanese is referred to as 確定(かくてい)逆接(ぎゃくせつ), which basically means ‘a contradictory conclusion’.
Because ところが highlights a result that is unexpected, it can only be used for things that are beyond the control of the speaker. However, if the speaker is trying to do something, but assumes that their attempt may result in failure, ところが can be used to show that they were unexpectedly successful.
  • 友達(ともだち)勉強(べんきょう)手伝(てつだ)い頼(たの)んだら嫌(いや)がると思(おも)っていたところが、喜(よろこ)んで手伝(てつだ)ってくれた。
    I thought my friend was not going to like it if I asked him to help me with studying, however, he did so without hesitation.
Fun Fact
Sometimes, ところが is referred to as a 接続助詞(せつぞくじょし) (conjunction particle) itself, disregarding the combination of ところ and が. This is similar to ところで, another conjunction particle that has a slightly different meaning, and is frequently translated as ‘by the way’.
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I thought that the Japanese team would win. However, they lost.
That person seemed extremely nice. However, they had ulterior motives.
[There is more to that person than meets the eye]
According to my friend, the test was difficult. Even so, he got a perfect score.
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