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From a Bunpro grammar exercise regarding the "-がち" grammar point.

それは初心者にありがちのミスですね。

The given translation is: "That is a mistake beginners tend to make."

If the sentence were:

それは初心者のミスですね。i.e. "That is a beginner's mistake.", that makes perfect sense to me. But the addition of the にありがち after the 初心者 really throws me off. Bunpro just taught me that the "-がち" mean "to be prone to", "to tend to", so if I were to very literally translate the original it would be:

"That, mistake of tends to exist for beginner, is."

Is that the correct way of thinking about it? Is the に really indicating something like "for"?

1 Answer 1

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がち indicates a tendency. So, ありがち suggests a tendency for the existence of something. So, ありがちのミス means a "mistake that has a tendency to be made". に is often used in this manner to show the locus of what's being talked about.

You could translate this as "for", but approaching it this way will eventually catch you up. Just learn to recognize this usage for what it is and not try to translate it literally.

The first translation you gave, "This is a mistake which beginners tend to make" is correct.

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  • So you're suggesting that the に here is the simple "location marking" role? i.e. "mistake that has a tendency to exist in beginners"? Oct 5, 2023 at 18:06
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    @Valevalorin Kind of. We don't say things this way in natural English. But this sort of construction is linguistically present in a lot of languages. The に here is not being used locatively. It is more akin to its use when showing the agent of an action (though there is no agent here because there is no action, just a tendency). I would just recommend making a mental note of this grammatical pattern and not try to create an English equivalent. As I said in my answer, such an approach will ultimately hinder you in learning Japanese.
    – A.Ellett
    Oct 5, 2023 at 18:39
  • Interpreting the に as "by" (like in the case of a doer of an action) was an approach I thought of when trying to parse this, but given that there wasn't a passive verb I figured that that couldn't be correct, but it seems that maybe that is the more appropriate way of thinking about it. Oct 5, 2023 at 18:51
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    There's little to no point in trying to come up with English preposition equivalents to Japanese particles, or to prepositions in other European languages for that matter. In my experience, this is one of the messiest and most exception-riddled areas of any natural language (and English is especially bad here). Oct 5, 2023 at 23:36
  • I see no problem in translating に as 'in': 'apt to be found in a beginner'.
    – N. Hunt
    Oct 6, 2023 at 22:19

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