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In my understanding, the particle の can be used to concatenate two nouns, such as

  • 私の本
  • アメリカの選手

Today, I found

  • 先生へのプレゼント
  • 私達からのプレゼント

Why can の be preceded by へ and から (or maybe other particles) when concatenating two nouns?

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  • 先生のプレゼント means "present from teacher", 先生へプレゼント means "present to teacher ... (something something)", 先生へのプレゼント means "the present for teacher". の puts the emphasis on the present, not on the action of giving a present.
    – deceze
    Aug 13, 2015 at 12:13
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    Japanese postpositions can't qualify nouns like English prepositions so this is the workaround. 先生へプレゼント doesn't sound too bad because プレゼント could also be a gerund. Aug 13, 2015 at 14:53
  • @broccolifacemask I thought I understood what you meant by "Japanese postpositions can't qualify nouns like English prepositions" when earlier today I first read this comment and the same point you made in an answer. But I think I'm still not 100% sure and feel quite hazy on this. Can you give some examples? As for English prepositions, do you mean something like "a present for the teacher"? But if by "prepositions qualifying nouns" you are referring to how "for" and "present" are connected, "present" isn't modified by "for" though, but rather by the prepositional phrase "for the teacher".
    – Eddie Kal
    Jan 13 at 1:55
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    @EddieKal Yes technically I should have said "a prep. phrase modifies the precedent noun", and "Japanese postp. except の cannot modify". As for an example, "Flowers for Algernon" is usually understood as "flowers that are to be given to Algernon"; but you can't say like *アルジャーノンへ花束 without の in this sense. Its actual JP title is more rhetorical: アルジャーノンに花束を "(Give) flowers to Algernon(!)", where both are equally arguments of an invisible predicate. (Though a phrase ~を ending itself has an optative connotation.) Jan 13 at 6:24

1 Answer 1

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The function of の is still more or less the same. It's connecting two nouns, but with a different relationship given by the preceding particle.

先生へのプレゼント - a present to the teacher
私達からのプレゼント - a present from us
東京への道 - a path to Tokyo

Without の, you wouldn't be able to connect the nouns grammatically (at least without being wordy), and without the other particle you lose the specific relationship. The first sentence, for example, would mean "teacher's present", not "present to teacher".

It isn't just へ and から that can be combined with の. Most other particles can too, in the usual form "particle + の".

女性との会話 - conversation with a girl
学校での事故 - incident at school

However, が, を, and に do not follow the same pattern as the others. が and を are removed entirely, and に is replaced by へ.

すし作る → すし作り方
使う → 私使い方
東京行く → 東京への行き方

の is not the only particle which can be compounded. You've already seen this with は and も, which follow the same pattern as の: particle + は/も, except が and を which are dropped. (に stays the same with these, though.)

東京行く → 東京にも行く
すしを作る → 私すしを作る

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