Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 3: 12/17

ところを

When, While, In spite of (the circumstances), Regardless of (the circumstances)

Structure

Verb + ところ(を)
[い]Adjective + ところ(を)
[な]Adjective + ところ(を)
Noun + + ところ(を)

Details

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About ところを

Being a combination of the noun ところ 'place' or 'situation', and the adverbial particle を, ところを is a grammar construction that will be used in order to express 2 primary meanings. The first is 'in spite of (A)', or 'regardless of (A)'. This nuance of ところ will be that the speaker is politely acknowledging the situation that someone else is in, and apologizing for interrupting them in that moment.
ところを may come after any structure that could pair with a noun. This means verbs in their standard forms, い-Adjectives, な-Adjectives followed by な, or nouns followed by の.
  • 先輩(せんぱい)(やす)んでいるところを(もお)(わけ)ないんですけど、エクセルの使(つか)(かた)(おし)えてください。
    Senpai, I'm sorry to bother you while you are on vacation, but could you please teach me how to use Excel?
  • (いそが)しいところをすみませんが、相談(そうだん)したいことがあるので(すこ)しだけ時間(じかん)いいですか。
    I am sorry to bother you while you are busy, but I want some advice. May I have some of your time?
  • 多忙(たぼう)ところを対応(たいおう)いただきありがとうございました。
    Thank you for taking time out in spite of you being busy.
  • (いそ)ぎのところを恐縮(きょうしゅく)ですが、何時(なんじ)ぐらいに()こうに()くか(おし)えてもらってもよろしいでしょうか。
    I'm sorry to bother you when you are in a hurry, but may I ask what time you expect to arrive over there?
The second meaning that ところを is often used for will simply be 'when (A)', or 'at the time of (A)', with a focus on being a situation in which the action of (A) is interrupted by (B). This may have either a positive or negative nuance.
This use of ところを will appear exclusively after verbs in any of their standard forms.
  • 警察(けいさつ)()げるところを目撃(もくげき)された。
    I was seen by the police while I was fleeing.
  • (はは)悪戯(いたずら)をしているところを()られてしまった。
    My mother caught me while I was playing a prank.
  • (かれ)強盗(ごうとう)をしていたところを(まわ)りの(ひと)目撃(もくげき)されていたので、どこにも()げれなかった。
    Since he was seen when he was robbing the store, he had nowhere to run.
The を itself may be omitted when used to express either of these meanings.
Fun Fact
ところを is occasionally split into two different grammar points depending on the source. However, it is important to remember that the underlying meaning of both of these is the same. ところ marks the place or situation, while を marks how that situation is being utilized either positively or negatively. When it comes to apologizing, the speaker themselves is the one 'using' that moment with を, and is therefore acknowledging that.

Examples

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  • 先生(せんせい)からの返信(へんしん)(れい)():「お(いそが)しいところを、ご返信(へんしん)ありがとうございます。」

    Expressing gratitude to a teacher for their reply: 'In spite of being busy, thank you for your reply.'

    ところ is generally used with expressions like お忙しい, お出かけ, お急ぎ, お疲れ, 疲れている, お楽しみ, ご多忙, べき, お休み, Noun + 中, etc.

    • 目上(めうえ)(ひと)(たず)ねる:「お(いそ)ところを恐縮(きょうしゅく)ですが、このプロジェクトについてのご意見(いけん)をお()かせ(ねが)えませんか」

      Asking a superior: 'I hate to trouble you when you are in such a hurry, but could you let me hear your opinion about this project?'

      • メール:「ご病気(びょうき)(ちゅう)ところを(おそ)()りますが、田中(たなか)先生(せんせい)携帯(けいたい)番号(ばんごう)(おし)えていただけますでしょうか。」

        Email: 'I am awfully sorry to trouble you when you are ill, but could you tell me Mr. Tanaka's cell number?'

        Noun + 中のところを is a relatively common pattern.

        • (えき)放送(ほうそう):「この電車(でんしゃ)は、3(ぷん)(おく)れて到着(とうちゃく)いたします。お(いそ)ところを、ご迷惑(めいわく)をおかけいたします。」

          Station announcement: 'This train will arrive three minutes late. We apologize for the inconvenience while you are in a rush.'

          • 会議(かいぎ)での冒頭(ぼうとう)挨拶(あいさつ):「皆様(みなさま)本日(ほんじつ)はご多忙(たぼう)ところを()しいただき、ありがとうございます。」

            Greetings on the outset of a conference: 'Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for coming today despite being so busy.'

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            ところを – Grammar Discussion

            Most Recent Replies (1 in total)

            • wrt7MameLZE33wlmpCAV

              wrt7MameLZE33wlmpCAV

              I came across another usage of ところを・とこを that doesn’t match up with this grammar point at all, which makes me wonder if they should be regarded as different senses entirely.

              The source is A Dictionary of Japanese Particles by Sue Kawashima (published by Kodansha). The entry is on pp. 217, 218.

              ところを

              Indicates that something unexpected has happened or is happening. Colloquial form: “toko-o とこを.”

              English approximation: “although (usually) …”

              And there are three example sentences given, which I’ll reproduce here.

              主人は、いつもなら十時には帰ってくるところを、今度はまだ帰らない。
              Although my husband usually comes home before ten o’clock, he hasn’t come home yet tonight.

              いつもの年なら、今ごろは山は雪で白くなるところを、今年は暖かくてまだ全然雪がありません。
              Although usually at this point, the mountains turn white with snow, this year, it’s warm and there is still no snow at all.

              いつもなら七時には起きるとこを、今朝は目覚...

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