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I encountered several sentences where に was used—from my deduction of the context—to enumerate things. For example a character about to go somewhere, checks his bag if he has everything he needs :

I tried searching this grammar but couldn't satisfy my curiosity. Why and how に is used to enumerate things? I understand that it is basically used to tell the time, place, directions, cause, ect... But I'm lost on how to understand it used in that way.

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See 中上級を教える人のための日本語文法ハンドブック, page 58. –  snailboat Jun 20 '13 at 12:16
@snailboat Thanks for your answer that's an interesting book, I'm self-taught and doesn't have knowledge on books that could help me now, I mostly rely on Japanese online dictionaries like Weblio. I found the answer after posting my question, in the Related articles "Differences between listing particles と, や, and に". The user "SomethingJapanese" posted a link to the entry on Goo dictionary that did the job for me (at the bottom of the page with the 4 on black field) –  Mymji Jun 20 '13 at 22:00

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The parallel marker に is used when you're putting together a list of related things (nouns), adding each one as you go. In particular, it gets used if you're trying to think of things (like when you're at a restaurant, trying to think of what food you want to get), and that includes when you're trying to recall at least two things from memory (like if you're trying to remember the names of a couple old friends).

I'm not a native speaker, so I won't try to make up my own examples. I'll take a couple from the 日本語文法ハンドブック:


In this example, the speaker is trying to think of which food they'd like. They list three: 大根, にんじん, and トマト. Note that the last item doesn't have . Also pay attention to the えーと、それから which helps give you the impression that the speaker is trying to think of the items--that's the sort of situation in which you tend to run across .

Let's look at another example:


Here again, the speaker is trying to call to mind a list of items. In this case, there are two smaller lists, but they function as one larger list: ローマ and フィレンツェ form the first list, and then the speaker thinks of ミラノ and ヴェネツィア as well, adding them as a second list. In each case, is left off the end of the list.

Another example, this time from a video game (Gameboy Wars Advance 2):


The speaker remembers Max and Ewan from the first game, but he hasn't seen them in quite some time. Because he used to list the names, you get the sense that he's calling their names to mind from memory. In this case, again the list only has two items, and again is omitted from the last item in the list.

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One of the easiest examples of this is to describe the structure of kanji. 例:込 → しんにょう はいる、見 → め ひとあし、持 → てへん てら. –  istrasci Jun 21 '13 at 3:16
Thank you very much for your clear and thorough explanation–I can understand it properly now! I couldn't hope for better answers! –  Mymji Jun 21 '13 at 3:29

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