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The following passage comes from a word game that's indirectly describing the story of Little Red Riding Hood (赤ずきん)

男に質問を繰り返す女。 とある質問男は態度を急変させ、 それ以降、 質問されることはなくなった。 何があった?

I had the part

とある質問に男は態度を急変させ

explained to me by a Japanese speaker that the に in "とある質問に" is saying this particular question caused the sudden change in attitude

How does this usage of に to specify the cause of a action differ from で being used to specify the cause of an action, like in the following:

風邪で今日は休む

In my mind, if the original text was written using で instead of に (とある質問男は...), it still looks correct to me and I don't understand a difference in nuance between the two either.

1 Answer 1

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The use of this type of に is limited to the cause of a psychological reaction.

In your example, とある質問に and とある質問で are completely interchangeable, and I can feel no difference. In simpler and fixed phrases like ~に驚く and ~に怒る, に should be used.

休む is not a psychological reaction, so you cannot say 風邪に会社を休む.

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  • 彼の怪しい笑顔に不安になった Here I'm trying to describe how my anxiety rose when I saw this guy's suspicious smile (maybe it looks like he's up to no good). Perhaps it could also be described with で but here my reaction is a non-volitional, psychological response to his face so does に here work?
    – hulapoll1
    Oct 23, 2023 at 21:31
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    @hulapoll1 Yes, and に would be more natural in such a simple case.
    – naruto
    Oct 24, 2023 at 3:49

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