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Context: Speaker is devising means to butter up/get closer to employer who requests them to find certain items on a mission and thus pass a test.

「この距離を限りなくゼロにする。 相手が気を許し秘密の共有をも求めて来るほどに 必ず探し出す」

"I shall reduce that distance to zero, until the employer feels that he can trust me with his secrets... I will pass this test." [show's translation, 探し出す refers to finding said items]

I know that the pattern「Verb Phrase A + ほどに + Verb Phrase B」means "the more (Verb Phrase A), the more (Verb Phrase B)", but it seems like ほど here is just stating an extent, such as "I will track them down to the extent that the employer let's down their guard and they even come to request sharing their secrets". My question is if this is mostly accurate and how this differs from a pure ほど.

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  • Your understanding is correct. Whatever the usage of ほどに is, my impression is that に can be omitted and both basically mean the same thing.
    – sundowner
    Jan 7 at 1:20

2 Answers 2

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More generally, my impression is that the primary sense of ほど is as a noun, albeit a relatively abstract one. Deriving the sense ほどに "to the extent that" (in a hypothetical, more regular and logical English, "limitly") from ほど "limit, bounds" is straightforward (compare 本当). I guess that use of ほど as a 副詞 is a later development resulting from repeated dropping of the に in casual speech; and that treatment of ほど as a particle is more of a reanalysis.

"I will track them down to the extent that the employer allows it..." - in my mind, that really means the same thing as "I will track them down, and the more the employer allows it, the more I will do so". So yes, in that sense, ほど is stating an extent; and there is no contradiction - that's where the sense of the idiom comes from.

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This sentence doesn't sound correct to me (but I can imagine it appearing in Anime or something). The closest correct sentence would be: 相手が気を許し秘密の共有を求めてくればくるほど見つかりやすくなる or 相手が気を許し秘密の共有を求めてくるほど見つかりやすくなる or 相手が気を許し秘密の共有を求めてくるほどに見つかりやすくなる but the last one is a stretch.

A more natural use case is 水がかかるほどに体が重くなる or 水がかかるほど体が重くなる. The former is basically a bit more dramatic and also implies something occurring repeatedly.

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