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In the sentence

友人に彼女ができると辛い

I'm a bit unclear as to what と辛い is actually supposed to mean (or even if it's supposed to separately be と and 辛い).

As far as my understanding goes:

彼女ができる means something like "become (someone's) girlfriend"

辛い in this context, I think, means "painful"/"bitter"

So perhaps "(someone) was hurt by becoming girlfriend to friend" (in other words, they broke up?) What's the use of と辛い here?

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2  
Spend a weekend studying this 「と」; It is worth it. –  非回答者 Aug 7 at 10:47

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This looks to me like a case of the conditional と, basically meaning 'if/when'. The sentence then breaks down like this:

[[友人に彼女ができると]辛い]

You've got 彼女ができる a bit wrong - it's not 'become a girlfriend' but rather 'get a girlfriend'. You have to figure out what 友人に is doing here, also. The '[someone] gets a girlfriend' doesn't have a marked subject or agent in English, but it has a subject in Japanese that isn't the agent, so the agent (in this case 'a friend') is added with に. So 友人に彼女ができる is 'a friend gets a girlfriend', and 友人に彼女ができると is then 'when a friend gets a girlfriend'. The whole sentence then works out to something like 'it's tough when your friend gets a girlfriend'.

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You know what 辛【つら】い means in this context, but the interpretation of the first half of the sentence is not correct. "友人に彼女ができる" means "a friend gets a girlfriend".

  • 友人が彼女になる My friend become a girlfriend (of me, or someone else)
  • 彼女から友人に戻る Become from a girlfriend to just a friend (break up)

This sentence, as a whole, means "It's a painful thing that my friend gets a girlfriend". The speaker is saying this out of jealousy.

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Perhaps this is confusion between 辛い and 幸い. 辛い is "hard", "bitter", "spicy", but と幸いです is kind of "I would be happy if...".

Also there's possibility the speaker actually meant that it becomes hard (to be a friend) when your friend gets a girlfriend. Then 辛い is pretty much on its place.

And, finally, できる, or more often できちゃう is sometimes used as a substitute for 妊娠する which is "to get pregnant", but this is not the case in this sentence.

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Your second possibility here seems most likely: It's hard when your friend gets a girlfriend. Given the kakariai in the asker's sample sentence, I don't think this has anything to do with pregnancy. –  Eiríkr Útlendi Aug 7 at 1:20
    
I think so too regarding "it is hard", however it is useful to add some additional information just to give a perspective. :) –  Rilakkuma Aug 7 at 1:27
    
aren't you confusing 辛い with 幸い? –  pqnet Aug 7 at 11:21

The way I understand it, it's more like the person was saying that "it hurts when your friend becomes your girlfriend".

It refers to the fact that how we treat our romantic partners is fundamentally different from how we treat our close friends. To turn your friend into a romantic partner means to lose something, perhaps that sense that you would still be friends even if you don't do something together regularly.

As you may have guessed, (X)と辛い following something means that "it hurts to (X)" or "it hurts when (x)", depending on the context.

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