I read the post on here from 2011 about the difference between に and には, but I came back still a little confused (especially with all the non-layman grammar words like transitive/nominative/etc).

I have two examples and I think I know how to use には, but I'm wondering if someone could double-check or expand on the subject.


I think Japanese is (more) difficult for Americans (as opposed to other nationalities).

So, in a way, I'm implying that I'm taking into consideration other nationalities compared to Americans in terms of English being difficult, putting emphasis that it is much harder for Americans compared to others.


I think Japanese is difficult for Americans.

This would be just saying that Japanese is hard for Americans, not comparing it to any other country/nationality. So its implied I could also think Japanese is equally as hard for, say, Russian people and that Americans don't necessarily have a harder time.

What do you all think? Would love some feedback to properly understand には better.

  • 1
    That's not really a problem of difference of meanings, but just に doesn't get along with 難しい.
    – user4092
    Jun 5, 2015 at 4:39

1 Answer 1


Hope this does not shock you too badly. If anything, it is at least an honest opinion of a native speaker.

Regardless of one's intended meaning and/or nuance, it sounds much more natural to say:


than to say:

2.「日本語はアメリカ人難しいと思います。 」

To be even more honest, my ears do not accept Sentence #2. Sure, I could easily guess what the speaker/author would have wanted to say but I also know without even thinking that Sentence #2 is not something many native speakers would say in a natural setting. We would use 「には」.

Besides 「には」, one could use 「にとっては」, but not just 「に」.

Moving on to the topic of "Americans vs. Others"...

Sentence #1, all by itself without further context, does not mean or imply that people from other countries have an easier time learning Japanese than Americans do. To mean that, it would need to be mentioned in the surrounding sentences.

The easiest way to express that without even creating a whole new sentence would be to say:

「日本語はアメリカ人には特に難しいと思います。」 or


「[特]{とく}に」 can be placed right in front of 「アメリカ人」 in either sentence.


As an おまけ, here is an example of the "emphatic 「には」 vs. plain 「に」".


I do know that many J-learners would just use 「に」 in the second sentence, too.

  • why is the 2nd sentence not natural? Explanation please?
    – takwing
    Jun 5, 2015 at 17:54
  • Does the second sentence sound wrong in all circumstances? I would have thought it would be ok if you were answering a question "for whom is learning Japanese difficult?"
    – Blavius
    Jun 6, 2015 at 14:39
  • Wow, thanks for the indepth explanation! And of course I'm not shocked, I want honest feedback so that I don't confuse or sound unnatural. I understand your explanation, it really helps me to further understand Japanese particles ^^ So, just to show that (I think) I understand more clearly, does this sentence use には in a proper and natural way: この商品には12柄から選んでください。 Where the には places emphasis on a certain product (imagining a clerk in a store is pointing to something) to choose from, rather than just using に. Thanks so much!
    – Nicole R
    Jun 6, 2015 at 18:54

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