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I've recently begun noticing that occasionally I'll see a dictionary form of the verb followed by the particle に, for example:

1.)まだ学校へ行くには早い時間です。 It's still too early to go to school.

I've been kind of confused by it since from my experience normally the dictionary form of verbs are followed by a nominalizer の or こと before a particle. For example:

2.)まだ学校へ行くのは早い時間です。

3.)まだ学校へ行くのに早い時間です。

What is the general function of に directly following the dictionary form of a verb and how is it generally used? How would sentence 1's meaning differ from sentences 2 and 3?

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    Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/5069/7810, japanese.stackexchange.com/q/13057/7810, japanese.stackexchange.com/q/24326/7810 And I'm surprised I couldn't find a 100% duplicate of this question on this site... Sep 9, 2015 at 6:33
  • 「まだ学校へ行くのは早い時間です。」は、文法的にちょっと怪しいような・・・
    – Chocolate
    Sep 9, 2015 at 6:42
  • @broccoliforest Thanks for sharing the links, I did a bit of a search too expecting to find someone asking the exact same thing.
    – mattb
    Sep 9, 2015 at 16:48
  • @choco I thought the grammar was a little unusual too, this sentence was actually from the core6k sentences from this company iknow.jp I believe they were formerly known as smart.fm. EDIT: Nevermind I had actually misread your response, the sentence 「まだ学校へ行くには早い時間です」 was from iknow.jp。 「まだ学校へ行くのは早い時間です。」 was what I came up with to try and figure out the difference in nuances.
    – mattb
    Sep 9, 2015 at 16:48

1 Answer 1

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Here, には means "in order to" or "for the purpose of". In sentences that use this expression, the predicate often expresses the necessity for or importance of using a specific means. You can use the nominalizer の if you choose to, and it won't change the meaning: まだ学校へ行くのには早い時間です。

This には can also come after a noun, as in このかばんは長旅には便利だ (This bag is suitable for long trips).

There are many other expressions involving に that can attach to verbs (or i-adjectives and other interesting things) including:

にしては

にちがいない

に当たって

にもかかわらず

に従って

に過ぎない

につれて

Source: A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar

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