From Google searches, I can see that all three particles と, に and が are used with 出会う, but are there differences when using each of the particles or are they interchangeable?

For ease of explanation, would anyone please explain the differences in nuances among the following clauses:


N.B. I tried to use the logic from > What is the difference between 〜となる and 〜になる? < but saying that と is quotative when used with 出会う simply doesn't make sense to me.

2 Answers 2


Consider the similarity and the difference between the following English expressions:

  • I and you met (or You and I met)
  • I met you
  • You met me

The first one handles the two people as a group and as the subject. The second one is describing from the viewpoint of I; you is the "destination/target" of meeting. The third one is the same construction but from the viewpoint of you.

Your third example does not sound quite right unless you add 私と, and if you do so, it will correspond to the first English example.

  • (私と)あなたが出会う 'I and you meet'

For the second and the third of your examples, the subject is omitted, which is okay, and they both correspond to the second English example with a slightly different nuance. means 'with', whereas means 'to'. So the word-to-word translation will be something like:

  • (私が)あなたと出会う '(I) met with you'
  • (私が)あなたに出会う '(I) met to you'

They both may not sound grammatical in English, but that is how Japanese works. Whatever difference you can feel between with and to is the difference between the Japanese sentences. In reality, the difference is so subtle so that you do not have to care. In practice, you can think that your second and third examples are interchangable.

  • Since 出会う is intransitive, isn't the が simply act like を (since を is restricted to transitive), similar to "(私は)これが分かる"? So isn't just (私は)あなたが出会う?
    – Lukman
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 11:25
  • @Lukman Note that ...は is in many cases a phrase that is made into a topic, and has a different realization if not topicalized. In your two examples in the comment, 私は would have been 私に if not topicalized. In constructions that express potential, the subject-object become ...に...が instead of the usual ...が...を, as in your 私にこれが分かる. 出会う does not fit into this construction. You can say 私にあなたが出会う, but that is rather the same as あなたが私に出会う, with the ...に phrase moved to the front, as in 私がそのご飯を食べた becoming そのご飯を私が食べた.
    – user458
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 13:25

Aに出会う means that A is the person that crosses your path。
困難に出会う is an example from 広辞苑, which I believe is correct…

Aと出会う means the same thing, and has a lot more occurrences on google.

Aが出会う means that A is the subject, and that he'll bump into someone. There is no problem with this one.

Based on use of particles と/に with 会う, I thought that the correct form was "に出会う" but I suddenly have a doubt. Japanese people around me don't seem to agree on which is natural either. At least, と could be used to emphasize, に could be used to refer to a specific person. According to a colleague of mine, the nuance is the same as that of the verb "会う".

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