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近所のバーは友達とお酒を飲むのにちょうどいい場所だ。 The neighbourhood bar is a great place to have a drink with friends.

Does one think of the dependent clause 友達とお酒を飲むのに as modifying the い-adjective ちょうどいい (which then modifies 場所), or does it modify the main clause ちょうどいい場所だ ? I'm aware that nouns can be modified by putting a clause in front (e.g. ぼくが食べたりんご), but to my knowledge this doesn't apply to い-adjectives. Perhaps I'm overthinking this.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

First of all, feel free to think of it however you want, as long as it helps you understand how the sentence works. Secondly, this may not be a question with an objective answer. What follows are several considerations concerning the structure of 飲むのに良い場所だ, shortened for briefness' sake.

【A】→【B】 means that B is modified by A.

To address one of your concerns, i-adjectives cannot be modified by a 連体形-clause the way a noun can be modified. Thus, a sentence like *【酒を飲む→良い】→【場所だ】 is wrong, you need the particle(s) のに. However, it can be parsed as 【酒を飲む】→【良い→場所だ】, with 飲む modifying 場所, but it means something different: A great place, where one drinks Sake.

We could translate the sentence as A place that is great for drinking, which we could choose to interpret either as (A place that is great.)(For drinking.) or equally plausibly as (A place that is:)(Great for drinking.)

In a sense, many particles work like grammatical cases (or some prepositions) in that they establish the relationship of a noun to the sentence. So for drinking marks drinking as the goal of the sentence's verb action; and that is how I think about するのに甲だ.

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+1 the parentheses are really helpful. –  Ataraxia Sep 2 '13 at 15:50
    
Thanks for the well-written answer! What does するのに甲だ mean? Missed it the first time I read your answer. –  Viridian Sep 18 '13 at 11:43
    
「〜するのに甲だ」The 甲 is a general placeholder (like the English "To do X"), so for example, you get the sentence from your question when you set 甲=「恰度良い場所」. The sequence continues 甲・乙・丙・丁 See here ci.lang.japan.narkive.com/dFvajLYs/kou-otsu-hei-means-abc-123 (Also, 甲=こう sounds like こう=like this...) –  blutorange Sep 18 '13 at 19:31
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I think the whole main clause is, as if it were a noun, modified by what precedes it. Within the main clause, ちょうどいい場所だ, ちょうど modifies いい, which, modified, in its turn modifies 場所.

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