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In the book I'm reading (「キッチン」 by 吉本{よしもと}ばなな) I have found the following sentence:

うしろで雄一がぞうきん手に床をふいてくれていた。

I guess it can be translated to something like (sorry for a quite literal translation): "Behind (me) Yuuichi was wiping the floor with a cloth using his hands".

This sentence has two を. One of them (床をふいてくれていた) I understand as marking the direct object (floor) of the verb (wipe).

I cannot understand what the other を is doing there (ぞうきんを). What meaning does it have? What grammatical pattern is used in here?

1 Answer 1

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You usually can't have two をs in one clause, so when you see one, most commonly one of the following is true:

  1. It's part of a 〜を〜に(して) construction in which して is left out.

    AをBに → AをBに(して)

    You can recognize this one by the distinctive 〜を〜に pattern, often with a comma.

  2. A repeated verb has been left out ("backward gapping"):

    XがAを、そしてYがBを買った → XがAを(買い)、そしてYがBを買った

    Unlike English, in Japanese the last verb is retained rather than the first.

  3. The を links to a verb in a subordinate clause.

    Aを [ BをCして ] Dする

    If you see two をs in a row like this and they don't seem to suggest the same verb is coming up, it's usually a signal that the speaker has started a subordinate clause. Each を links to a different verb.

In this case, I suppose it's probably #1:

うしろで雄一が ぞうきんを 手に(して) 床をふいてくれていた。

Yuuichi was wiping the floor with a cloth in his hand.

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  • I'm still not quite sure on the meaning based on 1. If I'm understanding correctly; A = ぞうきん、 B=手, so that we have: ぞうきんを手にして, meaning; he made the cloth his hand? usually thats what the AをBにするstructure means as far as I know...
    – Pootan
    Jun 7, 2017 at 11:39
  • @Pootan: "手にする" is a set phrase meaning (1) to hold (in one's hand); to take (into one's hand) (2) to own; to obtain. It has nothing to do with "to make somthing".
    – mackygoo
    Jan 21, 2018 at 6:15

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