I have a sentence in my book like this: 日本が アメリカによく聞かれて困る質問の一つに、”How are you?" は 日本語で何と言うか、というのがある。

and found a similar example here: アメリカでは大学への申込の手続きの一つに「なぜX大学に行きたいのか」ということに関してエッセイを書くというのがあります。

The part I am confused about is the の一つに... in particular, the に part. Why are we placing a location particle next to 一つ... shouldn't it just be xの一つは (One of the X)

  • 4
    @OP Regarding the first example, are you sure it says 日本 and アメリカ instead of 日本人 and アメリカ人?
    – user4032
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 3:24

3 Answers 3


In Samuel Martin's 1975 A Reference Grammar of Japanese, he calls this use of the "copula infinitive" (p.396). But more importantly, he glosses it in English with the word "as":

"As customers we have mostly foreigners, so lots of foreign vegetables like asparagus and broccoli are out for sale."

He also gives an example that closely parallels yours, using 〜の一つ ("as one of 〜"):

"As one of the Hawaiian Islands there is the island of Maui."
= "Among the Hawaiian Islands is the island of Maui."

In this example, "among" is a more natural expression in English, but "as one of" is a little closer to the literal meaning of the Japanese.

As you can see from these examples, isn't really marking a location; it's functioning adverbially.


First, OP needs to get rid of this common misconception among J-learners that に functions only as location marker. It has so many usages; Look the word up in a larger monolingual dictionary.

The に in question is synonymous with ~~として. It expresses the set of qualifications or characteristics that something fulfills to be regarded as an example of that group of things being decribed.

With sentence #1: Group: Questions Americans ask Japanese that Japanese have a hard time answering. Example: How to say "How are you?" in Japanese.

Sentence #2: Group: Procedures for applying for admission to U.S. colleges. Example: Writing an essay on why you wish to study at XYZ College.


If this is wrong, someone please point it out. I'm sure there's a better way to explain. But here's my 2 cents.

The hint is in ある・あります.

somewhereにsomethingがあります。 You could say: 'one of the questions is 'why do you want to go'. That would be は right. Or you could say: 'one of the questions in the University application is 'why do you want to go'. That would be more in line with the bolded part above.

Taking one step further. You could even pop の一つ right off the sentence. It could still be に。And if it said の一つには that would also be OK, and probably a little easier to parse. I think someone else could expand further on this.

  • I understand the grammatical structure... that's actually what's confusing me. Why is it making 一つ the location...
    – Nathan
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 11:45

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