Expressing the Purpose of Actions in Japanese

Want to talk about why you’re doing something in Japanese?

For example, going to the store to buy bread, or working hard to get a promotion.

Today, we’re going to learn how to make a sentence that is used to state the purpose of an action

You’ll need to take a look at this article to learn the different ways you can express the purpose of your actions.

For example, going somewhere to do something and completing an action for the purpose of something else.

Let’s get started!

purpose of action in Japanese

Purpose of Actions | Place に verb に行く

Purpose of Actions | ため (に)

Purpose of Actions | ために…にいく

Purpose of Actions | FAQ’s

Purpose of Actions | Place に Verb に行く(いく)

First, let’s learn a special form to say “I’m going to somewhere to do something.”

The sentence structure is: Place に Verb に行く(いく)

But the verb has to be in the “masu-form” stem.

You conjugate the verb preceding に行く like you would for the masu-form.

Look at an example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
図書館に本を借りに行く。としょかんにほんをかりにいく。Toshyokan ni hon wo karini iku.I’m going to the library to borrow a book.  

So to make the verb form for 借りる(kariru), you get rid of the る and put ます – except for this form, you then remove the masu and add に行く to the masu-form verb stem.

Another example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
スーパーに買い物をしに行った。スーパーにかいものをしにいった。Supa ni kaimono wo shini itta.I went to shop at the supermarket.

As you can see, you only change the last verb bit into its masu-form, so from 行くto 行きます.

And if you have to change the tense of the sentence you must only change the tense of the verb by changing 行きます to 行きました.

Do NOT say 借りましたに行きました。

If you want to put something extra, just conjugate the いく bit.

You can also use different forms of the verb 行く.

Take a look at some examples:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
東京へなにしに行くの?とうきょうへなにしにいくの?Tokyo e nani shi ni iku no?What are you going to Tokyo for?
今夜餃子を食べに行きましょう!こんやぎょうざをたべにいきましょう!Konya gyouza wo tabeni ikimashou.Let’s go to eat Gyoza tonight.

Purpose of Actions | ため(に)

For “in order to do something,” we use the word ため. It is used directly after the dictionary form of the verb.

For example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
やせるために毎日運動する。やせるためにまいにちうんどうする。Yaseru tameni mainichi undou suru.I exercise every day in order to lose weight.

So here, “in order to lose weight” is stated by using “lose weight” + ために.

Another example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
本を読むためにキンドルを買った。ほんをよむためにキンドルをかった。Hon wo yomu tameni kindoru wo katta.I bought a Kindle to read books.

You can also use this construction with nouns:

You just have to add “no” after the noun you want to use.

So it becomes: Noun + の + ために 

For example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
バレンタインデーに彼のためにケーキを作った。バレンタインデーにかれのためにケーキをつくった。Barentaindee ni kare no tameni keeki wo tsukutta.On Valentine’s Day, I made a cake for my boyfriend.

Purpose of Actions | ために…にいく

You’ll be surprised to know Place に Verb に行く and ため(に) can also be merged together!

So now when we’re talking about going somewhere to do something, you could say:

ために…にいく

But, in this case, only a dictionary-form verb is placed before ために instead of a noun.

For example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
医者になる ために 一生懸命勉強しています。いしゃになるためにいっしょうけんめいべんきょうしています。Isha ni naru tame ni isshoukenmei benkyoushite imasu.I am studying very hard in order to become a doctor.
強くなるために毎日運動しています。つよくなるためにまいにちうんどうしています。Tsuyoku ni naru tameni mainichi undou shite imasu.I am exercising every day to become stronger.

And that’s it, an introduction to the ways to express the purpose of actions in Japanese

Don’t forget to also check these lessons if you want to take your Japanese level a bit further, or if you need to brush up on your skills:

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How can I express the purpose of my actions in Japanese?

There are a variety of grammatical constructions you can use to express the purpose of your actions in Japanese, such as place に verb にいく、ため(に), and ために。。。に行く。

Check out the article to learn about them in more detail.

What does ため(に)express?

ために expresses the purpose of an action.

What does Place に Verb に行く(いく)mean?

Place にverb にいく expresses going somewhere to do something.

What does ために…にいく mean?

ために。。。にいく expresses going somewhere for the purpose of a particular action.

Where can I learn more Japanese Grammar?

We regularly publish Japanese grammar lessons in our Japanese Grammar Bank.

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