Usage of に evaluation please?

Hey WaniKanians

Long time listener first time poster (not that long actually). Love this website and so grateful for how easy the learning system is.

I’ve had a bit of a light bulb moment with the illusive に particle and just wondering if someone could evaluate my grammar. I usually use ChatGPT for small evaluations but sometimes I find it just agrees with me so I’d like an opinion from a more seasoned Japanese linguist.

Firstly I apologise, I know there are an abundance of these types of posts so I hope I don’t upset too many people, this is just the way I seem to understand it so I need to cater the question and sentence as I understand it so I can try and visualise its use better.

としょかんに わたしと あってください。

Supposed meaning: Please meet me at the library

Breakdown of sentence in my mind:

toshokan ni - at(to?) the library
watashi to - with me
atte kudasai - please meet

Second sentence:

わたしの まちは 夕べに きれい です。

Supposed meaning: My city is pretty at night(evening)

Breakdown of sentence in my mind:

watashi no machi - my city
yuube ni - in[/at] the evening
kirei desu - is pretty

Have I got this right? Is this my light bulb moment for a use of the particle that I didn’t have to memorise out of some fixed grammar flash card?

So very grateful for your time and assistance in advance!

ありがとう!

When “at” means “location where an action occurs” then it should be で rather than に.

図書館としょかん わたしってください

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Ah yes you are correct. I actually thought “to meet” would be more of a direction/movement verb (since you “move towards” someone to meet) but now that you mention it で does seem to sound better in my head.

Any input for the second sentence?

I think に definitely makes more sense than any other particle in that position, but the real question is… should you even use a particle in this case? To be honest, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen 夕べ used to mean ‘the evening’, so I’m not too sure. (It’s valid, but I feel like ‘yesterday evening’ is a more common meaning for this word, though in that case, you’d probably use different kanji i.e. 昨夜; one of my Japanese dictionaries, the 8th edition of the Shinmeikai, suggests 夕べ sounds a little more old-fashioned than 夕方 for ‘evening’.) However, the key thing is this: ‘evening’, like ‘morning’ or ‘yesterday’, is a relative point in time. It depends entirely on your current frame of reference, notably on what day it is. On the other hand, something like ‘13 May’ is quite absolute, especially if you know which year you’re talking about. In Japanese, the more absolute a point in time, the more it’s typically used with に. Therefore, it’s common to see time expressions like 5月13日 (on May 13) and 朝 (in the morning), but not the reverse. My bet would be that you shouldn’t use に with 夕べ, and that it’s more commonly used alone as a time marker.

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Thank you so much for this response. Didn’t think I’d get two replies so soon.

Back to the drawing board for me I think :smile:.

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The に particle would work great here if you wanted to meet the Library itself with a friend. “Please meet the library with me.” Normally with 会う・あう the に particle marks the person met.
友達に会った・ともだちにあった ・I met a friend.

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Understood, the confusion for me (and others probably) comes from the abstractness of movement in the Japanese language. I feel like you have to think like if thing or person A has to move to thing or person B then it doesn’t matter if it’s a human or an envelope then it’s still in the act of movement.

For ex. if I’m not mistaken, お母さんに玉ねぎをくれる - I gave my mother onions. I don’t feel like a “location” was really given, but I guess the act of the onions moving to point B makes “mother” the location.

Alternately, 父にとけいもらう - My father gave me a watch, again the watch was received from my father so it has moved from point A to point B. I’m trying to remove the English nuances to try and embrace this abstract idea of movement in the Japanese language, but again it’s probably a time thing and I just need to let myself run the gauntlet and read enough examples until it all falls into place.

Even のる or the general idea that “attachment” to something (riding a bike, putting something on the wall) is also a に particle use feels like I have to constantly be thinking.

It’s hugely rewarding to be in the process of learning this language, but there are a lot of nuances you need to get over coming from other languages, I guess :P.

On reflection of this thread I feel like if I really wanted to use に perhaps the purpose indicator would have been more suitable… としょかんにともだちをあいにいく might’ve worked?

Anyway, just rambling now. Feels so good to be on a forum where people actually post though!

The issue with this sentence is that, to have that meaning, the verb needs to be あげる.
くれる = someone gives to me
あげる = I give to someone
(also if it’s “gave” in past tense, it would be あげた)

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My bad wrong verb but same idea

Just noticed the を. This would also need to be に, since あう is intransitive.

としょかんにともだちにあいにいく would be okay.

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Why must に have something to do with “movement”? I’d liken it more to simply “targeting”, rather than implying movement, similar to the dative case in many languages.

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See this Tofugu post about “to give” for an example of the structure.

This works a bit differently in Japanese. It doesn’t have to be a physical location. I have read about it very recently in Human Japanese, where it’s covered in chapters 23, 25, and 29. You will see に used in contexts that you wouldn’t really classify as a location in English. In Human Japanese, some of the examples are making a phone call (e.g., 母電話した for “I called my mother”) or asking someone a question (先生質問する for “ask the teacher a question”). You also see it with things like 散歩行く (for “go for a walk”), and that’s not a location, either.

I don’t think you need the particle here. This is another thing I have read about recently related to timing and whether you’re giving a relative time or something more precise. This article on 80/20 Japanese has an example graphic with 夕べ in the “Do not need ‘ni’” category. Human Japanese says this parallels a construct we have in English, where you’d use “on,” “in,” or “at” for specific times (“I went on the third of the month”) but not for relative references (“I went last night”).

That’s what Tae Kim calls it, too:

The 「に」 particle can specify a target of a verb. This is different from the 「を」 particle in which the verb does something to the direct object. With the 「に」 particle, the verb does something toward the word associated with the 「に」 particle. For example, the target of any motion verb is specified by the 「に」 particle.

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I would recommend against this, based on my personal experiences.

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You guys have been so helpful. I do have Tae Kims grammar book but it doesnt speak volumes to me. I wish there were more explanations. I do refer to it for clarification sometimes. Im going to check all the resources posted above too.

I do use the genki textbook and use tokini andy as well as misa japanese ammo too both which I love but obviously this is quite a complex learning process.

And yes absolutely chatgpt sucks, but I dont always have something to cross reference a sentence outside of a textbook or youtube video with, but I often I dont trust it anyway lol.

No worries!

While people will argue endlessly about the best way to study, all that matters in the end is whether you want to keep going. Just do what works for you and make sure it’s something you enjoy because it’ll take a very long time to learn Japanese. I’ve studied a few other languages with varying degrees of success and I have realized that the most important thing is being comfortable and consistent; if you don’t like dense grammatical explanations, don’t use them (or use them in moderation), because they’ll just make you resent studying.

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to memorize all the rules at once, though! :slight_smile:

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You are so great thank you for the words of encouragement I genuinely hope its exactly like that.

I have tried to learn languages that are closer to English but ultimately learning a language for no other purpose than just for fun isnt inspiring.

I laugh at the mistakes and giggle at the irony of being in hell, but I love it. Im going to Japan at the end of this year and would love nothing more than to say one good sentence to a native speaker and then smile and nod because chances are Ill have no idea what the response was :grin::grin:. Everything else is a bonus.

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If you have too I recommend:
1/ Use GPT4. GPT3 is completly broken for Japanese and will actively mislead you. But GPT4 is somewhat decent and usually not too misleading.

2/ Try to write as closely as possible to how japanese people would write. ChatGPT has been trained on a huge corpus of native resources, so a sentence like としょかんにわたしとあってください in all hiragana would almost never occurs. In fact I did some test and even GPT4 fumbles sometimes when asked to fix the grammar in としょかんにわたしとあってください. However it never does when asking to fix the grammar in 図書館に私と会ってください。

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Im all for learning resources, if GPT4 is good like you say I would subscribe for sure. As the saying goes you need the right tools for the job so the time saved learning effectively with something that can half guide me in the right direction is worth the time in the long run.

No matter what I wouldnt take chatgpt on its word for the same reason I wouldnt rely on google translate but i had no idea gpt4 was any better.

You can learn to love it, though! The first language I ever tried to learn on my own was Norwegian (many years ago now). It has very limited utility, as there are only on the order of five million speakers and Norwegians tend to have strong English skills. I think it was a lucky choice, though, because it’s very similar to English and I didn’t get totally overwhelmed.

Actually, I am just learning Japanese for fun, too. The only Japanese person I know grew up in the United States and speaks English natively. I don’t know a single person living in Japan and it isn’t useful for my work. I’ve had an international connection at an airport in Tokyo, but I’ve never actually set foot in Japan.

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At least with machine translation, you can usually see weirdness is happening quite clearly

This is deepl, not google translate, but it’s still amusing

While AI chat will boldly make up very reasonable-sounding nonsense with supreme confidence.

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