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So I'm reading Chapter 12 (of Minna no Nihongo I) and ran across this sentence:

空港までバスと電車とどちらが速いですか。

It's translated as:

Which is the faster way to get to the airport, by bus or by train?

Why isn't the sentence written this way?

空港バスと電車とどちらが速いですか。

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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In this type of sentence, まで means "all the way to ~" with emphasis on the journey. The question is asking which is faster to get to the airport, but in order to judge this, you have to consider the whole route. xref this post for more information.

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Basically に is used with a verb, so you can rephrase the sentence with a proper verb, for example 着く. The following sentences have almost the same meaning as the original one using まで.

空港にバスと電車とどちらが速く着きますか。

バスと電車のどちらが速く空港に着きますか。(more natural)

空港に行くのに、バスと電車とどちらが速いですか。

However, you cannot use に to modify a noun (バス or 電車) or an adjective (速い). It is grammatically incorrect. You can say 空港まで速いか but cannot say ×空港に速いか. Also, you can say 空港までのバス but cannot say ×空港にのバス.

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