i was wondering what may be the difference in nuance between 右へ曲がる and 右に曲がる ?

Example: Take a right turn and you'll see the library.

1) 右へ曲がると、図書館がある。

2) 右に曲がると、図書館がある。

As for [noun-location] with the verb 行く, the へ should be used when we want to emphasis the direction, and the に particle is used when we want to emphasis the location (Source: When going somewhere, is there any difference between e (へ) and ni (に)?)

Does this work the same way for 右[へ・に]曲がる? (Since 右 is the direction itself and not a location?)

Or is it true that we can treat 右 and 左 as locations themselves and we can say 右へ行く and 左へ行く?

In fact if we say "Turn to the right (standing on the spot) and you will see the painting." there isn't even any direction nor location at all is it?

  • It is better if you explain how this question is different from the questions “When going somewhere, is there any difference between e (へ) and ni (に)?” and “How to use へ (-e), に (-ni), まで (made) and の方 (no-hō) with destination and direction?” Otherwise I propose to close it as a duplicate. Jun 13, 2011 at 20:04
  • 1
    @Tsuyoshi Ito Maybe it's because my Japanese isn't as good, but the answers on the other two questions about the difference between へ and に seem awkward when trying to apply to 曲がる in an English explanation. Or at least, I don't understand when ~へ曲がる would be more appropriate than ~に曲がる.
    – Troyen
    Jun 14, 2011 at 1:39
  • @Troyen: I think that that is a legitimate justification. Pacerier, if you agree with Troyen’s explanation, please include it in the question (probably better in your own words). The current question lacks an explanation of the difference from related questions, and that is not good. Jun 14, 2011 at 1:49
  • @Tsuyoshi i've updated the question
    – Pacerier
    Jun 15, 2011 at 2:22

2 Answers 2


In English terms, when saying 左{ひだり}に曲{ま}がる you're saying "turn to the left", and when you say 左{ひだり}へ曲{ま}がる, you're simply saying, "turn left."

Which, as Troyen pointed out in his comment, is still a little vague because the difference in English is also subtle. So much so that I have to concede that there is a fair amount of individual perception here on what the English terms mean, and the Japanese may also have a degree of overlap.

Which means that native speakers might have different assumptions about the subtleties, but, on the upside, you can probably interchange the terms to some degree and will most likely be understood.

Having given all that qualification, I believe the two terms can be looked at this way:

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In the case of , there is a conceptual point up ahead which one turns to, designated "the left". Critical to note, though, is that it is not the destination. Think of it like being in a car and telling the driver to turn to the left at an intersection. You can not begin turning until the intersection, and you are not going to stop at the intersection either.

In the case of , there is no conceptual point which defines the point of turning, one is simply going to turn. Imagine being on the open water in a boat, and if you wanted to turn left, you would simply begin doing so. (Though you should tell the captain you want to turn 左舷{さげん}("port") because, for reasons I've never understood, nautical people have different words for left and right.)

Just for clarity and comparison, note how 左{ひだり}へ曲{ま}がる is different from 左{ひだり}へ向{むか}う. 向{むか}う would mean to turn on your axis, to face left, regardless of your forward momentum. 曲{ま}がる, which also means "twist" or "bend", is referring to the course ahead of you, and not turning on an axis.

Hope that helps.

  • Heys thanks for the help =D Btw in the last paragraph, do you mean that it is possible for 「左へ曲がる」 to mean "axis turning" as well, or is the meaning of 「左へ曲がる」 unambiguously "moving the course"?
    – Pacerier
    Oct 3, 2011 at 11:17
  • @Pacerier: As far as I know 「左へ曲がる」 is about the course you're on, and would not refer to turning on your axis. I'll edit my answer for more clarity.
    – Questioner
    Oct 3, 2011 at 16:37
  • @Questioner (Though you should tell the captain you want to turn ​左舷 さげん ​("port") because, for reasons I've never understood, nautical people have different words for left and right.) --- I know this is old, but I do know the answer to this sub-question. Right and Left refer to your person, Port and Starboard refer to the boat. If you were facing aft talking to the helmsman and said go left, the question arises, "Whose left?". Port and Starboard solve that.
    – Escoce
    Feb 27, 2018 at 16:42

I think it's not much different than the other threads (to which I will not link). I would say it's nothing more than 右に being "turn right" and 右へ being "turn to the right" or "turn right-ish".

  • btw i've updated the question.. take a look at it
    – Pacerier
    Jun 15, 2011 at 2:23
  • I would think its like turn to the right vs turn toward the right. Nov 30, 2018 at 20:01

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