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I have a question about the に particle.

I was never told that it was possible to do something like this:

私は妹に新しいおもちゃを買いました。

I thought you HAD to say 私は妹のために新しいおもちゃを買いました。

よい子【こ】になるには早寝【はやね】早起【はやおき】するコトです。

How come に is used with a verb here like なるに?

Is that possible too?

How often am I allowed to do that?

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1 Answer 1

It seems there are really 2 questions here:

私は妹に新しいおもちゃを買いました。

is completely standard. に binds to a noun and marks is as indirect object, i.e. you bought the toy to or for the/your little sister.

In the other sentence, something else is going on:

よい子になるには早寝早起するコトです。 In order to become a good child, you have to get up early and go to sleep early.

The easiest way is to read this as a fixed construction ~には~ used for expressing "In order to something, you have to something / something has to happen". Note that you can't use には to mean "in order to" generally, the "have to" part needs to be there, e.g.

*よい子になるに(は)早寝早起した
He got up early and went to sleep early in order to become a good child

is ungrammatical. It would have to be e.g. よい子になるために早寝早起した

A bit of background is that Japanese used to have zero-nominalization, i.e. you were able to attach case particles to verbs as is they were nouns. In modern Japanese, this is not generally felicitous, but survives in many fixed constructions.

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But a Japanese person just sent me these examples " なるに× なるには○     よい子になるには / 早寝早起きすることです。   To be a good boy / you go to bed early and wake up early.   宇宙飛行士になるには / たくさん勉強しなければならない。 To be an astronaut / you have to study hard. 駅に行くには / ここを通ればいい   To get to the station, go this way." That seems contrary to what you are saying (though I still think what you are saying is right) can you clarify? –  Nathan Oct 9 '13 at 2:54
    
Sorry, could you please elaborate on how it is contrary to what I am saying? –  dainichi Oct 9 '13 at 2:57
    
OHHHHhhhh I get it.... so SOMETIMES it is ok... as in above where it uses こと... as you say... but without suru and koto... it does not make sense in modern japanese... is that right? –  Nathan Oct 9 '13 at 2:58
    
Yes, コトです means "you have to" or something like that, so the には construction works, meaning "in order to". But it doesn't work generally. –  dainichi Oct 9 '13 at 3:56

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