から vs ので: More Clarification Please!

I am having some real difficulty distinguishing から and ので and I could use some help. Bunpro says から emphasizes causes and ので emphasizes effects, but honestly I have no idea what that means. In the sentence “because it is Saturday, I want to go on a trip,” the cause is Saturday (the first part of the sentence) and the effect is going on a trip. “Because it is Saturday” is first, and that’s where the Bunpro blank is, so so I would assume から, right? Because it emphasizes causes. WRONG. It’s ので.

To make this even more complicated, every other source I consult about this says something different. This site says:

The conjunctions kara (から) and node (ので)both express reason or cause. While kara is used for reason or cause of a speaker’s volition, opinion and so on, node is for existing (existed) action or situation.

So this seems like から is about opinions and ので is about existing actions. This makes sense on the face of it. “Because it is cold, I stayed home”? ので , because it’s about staying home, an action. “This car is old, so I want a new car”? から, because wanting a new car is an opinion.

However, when you look at that Bunpro sentence from earlier (“because it is Saturday, I want to go on a trip,”), this logic falls apart. Wanting to go on a trip seems like an opinion, and not an action (since it isn’t actually happening), so から is the obvious choice. But it’s ので! I just don’t get it.

If someone could please explain this to me, I would be eternally grateful!

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In the Bunpro sentence, the reason is that it’s Saturday. That’s a fact, not an opinion or desire. So it’s ので

The reason in the car sentence is that it’s old. Which is your opinion of the car. It might not be old to someone else. So it’s から

It seems like you’re looking at the part of the sentence that isn’t the reason to decide between the two.

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Just saw another example sentence on Bunpro: “Because tomorrow is Monday, I will go to work.” It seems just like the Saturday sentence, but it uses から instead of ので. That’s the problem I keep running into–the rules seem to make sense, until there’s an exception.

From what I’ve read, this is one of those differences that are sometimes even debated among native speakers, to a degree. The DoBJG lists out a lot of nuances, but personally, focusing on those at this stage is just going to confuse someone. With more immersion over time, you’ll probably pick up some of them. For the gist of it however, I remember stumbling upon this reddit thread when i first googled 'ので vs から’

https://www.reddit.com/r/LearnJapanese/comments/d9bqwh/ので_vs_から/

hjstudies’ comment is really helpful and i think you’d greatly benefit from watching the youtube video he’s linked. it’s a little simplified, but i think at this point it’ll help. one of the mods here can chime in to add onto this thread in case something i linked or said was wrong, but it’s seemingly helped me differentiate the two along the way. hopefully after you’re doing watching you can see why から would make a little more sense here than ので, but just remember the differences are usually very small and i don’t think someone would bat an eye if you used either or.

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Thank you, that video was great! I’m still a little confused, but I’ll follow the advice to just use から conversationally and understand when someone uses ので.

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It may help to create some exaggerated sentences in your head to try and understand the two.

“Because I got ran over by a car yesterday, I have a headache”

“Since I got a C on the test, I’m no longer allowed to play with my friends and have to sweep the floor every night”

Stupid, but for the sake of simplicity hahaha I hope the exercise will help ya a little bit.

Here is how I feel about them :

ので is composed of の and the particle で. So it almost means “With that… since…”. Because the cause happened to exist, there is an effect that also happened to exist.

から emphasizes a direct correlation (a very normal “because”). The cause happens, so the effect happens.

“私は魚が好きなので、その食がおいしそう。”

Connotation : “Since I (happen to) like fish, I (happen to) think that this meal looks good”

“私は魚が好きだから、その食がおいしそう。”

Connotation : “Because I like fish, it makes me think that this meal looks good”

Anyone, feel free to correct me if I’m defining them wrong, this is the best way I found to explain the nuance.

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I’m so glad this post exists because I thought it was just me!

The reason I struggle with the difference is because (kara? node??) I don’t actually understand the difference in English, I think.

I can’t tell the difference in either language here. They are both the same to me.

So which is kara and which is node?

Thanks for linking to this - I haven’t watched this yet, but will try to this weekend. Hopefully I can exorcise this ghosts!

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I was going to give the answer but I’m curious to see if after watching the quick video linked in that reddit thread you’ll be able to answer it yourself! I agree that without additional context and especially if English doesn’t happen to be someone’s first language, spotting the difference can be tough. Really do think that you’ll be able to knock it out of the park after watching and reading it! Best of luck.

I also have difficulties with these two.

On reviews just showing “emphasis on the cause” is not much of a way to make me remember which one to use.

I think it is the same as since and because, they would mean almost the same but the words are different then it would be better to learn them anyway, because people usually say things in a different way right

it is like the “the next day” and “the following day” I guess, just different ways in how people say.

A teacher once explained to me that one shouldn’t use だから or から for own excuses (I overslept, car broke down, dog ate my homework, etc). Those are too strong and make it sound like the problems are also the listener’s problem. Instead, the teacher recommended それで or ので for these occasions.
Why did the teacher make this recommendation? It’s because から emphasizes the cause. By emphasizing the cause, that becomes the focal point of the sentence, just as if you’re pushing it to the listener’s face. IIRC the teacher said this use of から can cause the reaction “Slow down there. Your problems (sleep, car, dog) are your own. Don’t try to involve me in your problems.”

You can see something similar at The Difference Between “から” & “ので” Explained

Using the wrong expression might sound offensive, because it may sound like you are making excuses or avoiding taking responsibility for your actions.

The example sentence they use is simple enough in English:

Hello, I’m sorry, but can I call you back because I’m driving?"

and the author explains how this is perceived with から versus ので:

Using “から” puts emphasis on himself and his actions – therefore, his statement may be perceived as a little selfish. …

… “ので” … puts more emphasis on his situation and circumstances than on his actions, implicating that there is something out of his control responsible for him being unable to talk on the phone right now, ultimately making him sound a bit more apologetic.

Therefore: Using “ので” is appropriate for making requests.

If you use “から” when making a request or asking someone for something, you are putting emphasis on your own needs, actions and opinion, which may implicate your selfishness.

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Now that I look back at my answer, I feel like it doesn’t explain very clearly indeed.

Node puts the emphasis on something happens, and so there is a natural consequence.

Kara puts the emphasis on a consequence that happened because of a specific cause.

They both mean “because”, it’s just a gut feeling difference.

You can read more explanations about it, but don’t spend too much time studying it. This “gut feeling” gets more and more clear as you read examples and progress. :slight_smile:

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I also asked my wife about this (as she’s a native speaker & studied Japanese linguistics).

She explained that the difference is subtle and they can often be interchanged. However, her sense is that you use から for the things that the listener should be able to assume. With ので, that implication is not there.

As you may know, common sense assumptions and observations are huge in Japan. There are many things you should know or observe without anyone needing to tell you. If someone needs to explicitly tell you that you couldn’t make the right assumptions, then what’s going on? Don’t you have any common sense, or what? Everyone who moves to Japan struggles with this, and many native Japanese do as well.

For example, if someone says, “I had a drink, so I’ll take a taxi home”, then with から, this can sound like “I had a drink, right? Didn’t you see that? Don’t you realize what that means? Of course I’m not going to drive back home.”
In my wife’s mind, because から can refer to the common sense assumptions that all Japanese are expected to have, it can makes this be more in-your-face for the listener because you might be implicitly accusing them of not having any common sense. Furthermore, this is what often makes the consequence after からbe optional – it’s supposed to be obvious to you what it is. When you omit the consequence, you’re just gently reminding the listener of what the “common sense” situation is.
For these reasons, you can say that から focuses attention on the reason.

If you say “I had a drink, so I’ll take a taxi home” with ので, it sounds more like, “Well, I had drink (and I have this personal rule that I won’t drive) and therefore I will take a taxi back home.” In other words, the listener was not expected to be able to assume this to be the case.
Since ので doesn’t refer to the common sense assumptions, the listener will expect the consequence to be explicitly stated, otherwise the sentence wouldn’t have any meaning. The speaker’s intent with such a sentence is to communicate the consequence.
For these reasons, you can say ので emphasizes the consequence.

I hope all of this will clarify what it means to “emphasize the cause” vs “emphasize the effect”.

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