One of a list of facts Harry Potter learns about Quidditch from a book:

He learnt that ... the Seeker is normally the smallest and fastest player, and big accidents easily happen to the Seeker ...

I'm confused by がなり in this sentence. I'm assuming this is particle が plus the 連用形 of なる but, if so, what is the 選手 becoming? There is nothing marked by に.

My best guess is that there is an implied シーカーに before なり. So a clunky translation would be "As for the seeker, the smallest and fastest player usually becomes it/the seeker". Is this correct? I don't think I've seen such a construct before.

  • I wonder if it is failed attempt to use classical grammar, either copula なり or certain auxiliary verb indicating hearsay or conjecture based on what is heard ("it sounds like, it is said that")...
    – Arfrever
    Commented Feb 26 at 20:10
  • I've updated the title, since an "object" is technically marked with を, which なる doesn't take. Meanwhile, なる does take に to indicate what the subject turns into, and that is more commonly described in English as the "indirect object". Cheers! Commented Feb 26 at 21:02
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    @EiríkrÚtlendi Ha! I debated whether to write indirect object and figured an indirect object was a type of object so it didn't matter. I regret being lazy now. Commented Feb 26 at 21:04
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    I think your interpretation is fine; the indirect object is (or is implied to be) シーカー.
    – Axe
    Commented Feb 26 at 22:10
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    From Japanese grammar's viewpoint, there is nothing direct or indirect, though. The verb なる takes two "arguments," including the one marked with が. If one (一番小さくて速い選手) is given, the topic (シーカー) must be the other, which would be marked with に if not topicalized. I'm not sure "implied" is the right word here. The translator could have kept に before は and that would have avoided this confusion, of course. And there seems to be no reason to think といえば is better than は in the following part.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Feb 26 at 22:55

1 Answer 1


Your understanding is basically fine.

なり is 連用形 of なる (to become) and used as 連用中止 (e.g this question).

As for the structure, it is essentially the same as the following.

Slightly generalizing, topicalising objects by moving the phrase to the front of sentence make sentences like the one in question ('objects' are in は-phrase).

Putting the sentence in the normal standalone form,

  • 普通一番小さくて速い選手がシーカーになる

Moving シーカーに to the front, it becomes

  • シーカーは普通一番小さくて速い選手がなる

It can be 'シーカーには...', too.

Some examples:

  • 彼は残り物を食べた → 残り物は彼が食べた (using 残り物を is possible, but をは is impossible)

The difference between these are pretty much the same as He ate the leftover and as for the leftover, he ate it.

  • 背の高い人はキーバーに向いている → キーパー(に)は背の高い人が向いている

The former is talking about tall people in general, the latter about goalkeepers.

  • Thanks. It's weird. I'm perfectly fine with を marked objects being promoted to the topic but, for some reason the に marked one threw me off. Commented Feb 27 at 20:57

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