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に Particle (Reason / Purpose)

に Particle (Reason / Purpose)

に Particle (Reason / Purpose) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: In order to do X / To do X


  • Verb ます-Form + に
    • E.g. はなしに [In order to speak]
    • E.g. べに [In order to eat]


  • に (Reason / Purpose) marks the reason or purpose for some movement and is thus paired with verbs that indicate movement from one place to another (e.g. [To go], [To come], はいる [To enter], る [To exit]). For example, if Joe is going shopping, ‘shopping‘ is the reason that Joe is ‘going‘, so the structure ものしに can be paired with the movement verb , as in the below example.
    • E.g. ジョーがものしにきます。[Joe is going shopping (i.e. Joe is going out for the purpose of going shopping).]
  • A common usage of this construction is to invite someone to go out for a drink or a meal.
    • E.g. みにきましょうか。[Shall we go out for a drink?]
    • E.g. べにこうか。[Shall we go out to eat?]
  • Verbs such as あるく [To walk], はし [To run], and およぐ [To swim] represent manners of movement rather than movement from one place to another, so they are not usable with に (Reason / Purpose).
    • E.g. *わたしさくら公園こうえんあるいた。[I walked through the park to see the cherry blossoms.] It is ungrammatical use に (Reason / Purpose) with a verb that indicates a manner of movement, such as walking.
    • E.g. わたしさくら公園こうえんった[I went to the park to see cherry blossoms.]
  • If the main verb in a Verb ます-Form + に structure is a する verb such as 質問しつもんする [To ask a question] or 仕事しごとする [To work], the ます-Form of する (i.e. し) can optionally be omitted.
    • E.g. 大山おおやまさんは仕事しごとしにった。[Oyama-san went there to work.]
    • E.g. 大山おおやまさんは仕事しごとった。[Oyama-san went there to work.] In this example, し is dropped.
    • E.g. 学生がくせい質問しつもんしにた。[A student came to ask a question.]
    • E.g. 学生がくせい質問しつもんた。[A student came to ask a question.] In this example, し is dropped.
  • ために expresses essentially the same thing as に (Reason / Purpose), the differences being:
    • (1) ために can be used with any verb and not just with verbs of movement.
      • E.g. わたし子供こども写真しゃしんるためにカメラをった。[I bought a camera in order to take pictures of my child.]
    • (2) when ために is used with a verb of movement, the direction of movement (i.e. where the subject is going) must be specified unless it is clear from the context.
      • E.g. *ぼくさけむためにった。[I went in order to drink sake.] This example is unacceptable because the sentence does not articulate where the subject is actually going.
      • E.g. ぼくさけむために友達ともだちいえった。[I went to my friend’s house in order to drink sake.] This example is acceptable because it clearly expresses both the reason AND direction of movement.
    • (3) ために generally indicates a fairly important purpose, whereas に (Reason / Purpose) can be used to convey an insignificant purpose. Thus, it is more natural to use に (Reason / Purpose) to express casual reasons or purposes.
      • E.g. 喫茶店きっさてんへコーヒーをみにった。[I went to the cafe to drink coffee.]
      • E.g. *喫茶店きっさてんへコーヒーをむためにいった。[I went to the cafe for the purpose of drinking coffee.] This sounds strange because it implies that drinking coffee is a crucial purpose. Generally speaking, going to a cafe is chill and casual.

Example Sentences:

わたしはデパートへおくものいにった。[I went to the department store in order to buy gifts.]

そこへなにをしにくんですか。[For what purpose are you going over there?]

村井むらいさんはひるごはんをべにうちへかえった。[Murai-san returned home in order to eat lunch.]

WILD Examples:

The opening line of this song goes line this: ありったけのゆめをかきあつめ、さがものさがくのさ [Gather up all your dreams, we are going off in pursuit of the things that we’re searching for]

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