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AはBを気に入る。
AはBが気にいる。

I've read が just emphasises B while を doesn't. Is it only that?

入る is intransitive, then why is the former correct?

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  • Based on examples in jisho it seems that が is the default particle and を is mainly used either when が is for some reason taken by the actor (the person that is doing the liking) - for example because it's 誰も - or for disambiguation because it seems that が is ambiguous - the noun marked by が ca be either the object of the liking or the actor. Oct 5, 2023 at 8:17

1 Answer 1

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Nowadays there are two common structures on 気に入る.

  1. AがBを気に入る
  2. Bが気に入る

From historical perspective, the early form of this expression is BがAの気に入る "B goes into A's mind", which is rarely used nowadays but still common without A or when A marked with particle は or so.

And later, as people began to see 気に入る as one transitive verb (lexicalization), we can say also AがBを気に入る.

Reference: https://cir.nii.ac.jp/crid/1520853834167886976 (This paper also refers to other stuructures, but they seem expressions of transition period, that is, they are no longer common.)

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  • Are you saying that 気に入る is also like a single word, a transitive verb, and not three separate words? Oct 6, 2023 at 3:14
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    Yes. People no longer see it as three separate words but do as something like one transitive verb (not completely, though). As one collateral evidence, inversion that an argument cut into between 気に and 入る (such as *気にBが入る and *気にBを入る) makes no sense.
    – rk03
    Oct 6, 2023 at 5:19

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