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From this question

Why is に used in 若者が元気に溢れている?

I did few hours ago another one, a bigger one arose.

マフィアは隠れ蓑に合法的な事業を展開している

I know に can be used as an indirect complement but I would have used として since 隠れ蓑に is not the recipient of an action.

Also Can someone explain how is に used as an indirect complement?

  • Think of it as meaning "for". Such uses of indirect complements (datives) are found throughout many languages, here is another one for example: "cui bono" – Derpius Nov 26 '15 at 4:34
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You are correct that you can use として there. This kind of 〜に basically means として. I'm not sure you can call it a complement though, because according to the definitions I just looked up, it seems more like an adjunct. But terminology is not my forté, so I'll just give some examples of the same kind of usage.

  • (私は)息抜き本を読む → I 本を読む as a 息抜き
  • (私は)暇つぶしテレビを見る → I テレビを見る as a 暇つぶし
  • (私は)東京を拠点活動する → I 活動する with [ 東京 as the 拠点 ]
  • (私たちは)結婚を前提付き合う → We 付き合う with [ 結婚 as a 前提 ]

The in the above examples can all be replaced with として.

For many of the words that are often used adverbially like 試しに (試しに買った) or 戯れに (戯れに描いた), you can't replace the with として because those are set phrases. But the meaning of the is basically the same as として.

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So yesterday I was trying to understand this a little better. I think that に is just the answer japanese has to most of the indirect compliments.

There are Transitive and Intransitive verbs


Transitive verbs have

Subject=The one who performs the action
Direct Object=The one which the action acts upon
Verb=An action

僕が林檎を食べる

How do you know which is the direct object?
You could ask this questions:

What is the action?
Who/What is doing the action?
What is being (insert verb)?

So the answers are

What is the action? 食べる
Who/What is doing the action? 僕 (Marked with が)
What is being (食べる )?林檎 (Marked with を)

Sometimes there is a receiver of the direct object:
The indirect object

僕が彼にペンを上げた

What is the action? 上げる
Who/What is doing the action? 僕
What is being (上げる)?ペン
Who is recipient of the Object?彼

This indirect object is marked with に

In my example

マフィアは隠れ蓑に合法的な事業を展開している

What is the action? 展開する
Who/What is doing the action? マフィア
What is being (展開する)?合法的な事業
Who is recipient of the Object?隠れ蓑

You can say that 隠れ蓑 is the recipient of the action but you can say that it answer the te question

as what?

Which is another indirect complement. So as long as there is no other particle that fit the role に can be used. (IF there is a choice you can use another particle which fit the same gramatical role in that situation, but not with the complement of means で)


Intransitive verbs

Here there is no direct object for the action Excluding times when: You get out of a smaller to a bigger place:

建物を出る

You are going trough something

空を飛んでいる

So some verbs have a transitive and intransitive form.

The transitive is used to act upon an object and the intransitive is kinda like a state of being.

Transitive:閉める=To close something
Intransitive:閉まる=To be closed

Some verbs while being intransitive have different meanings. For example:

Intransitive:映える=To shine, To look attractive, To look pretty

映える=To shine

If the meaning is active (The subject is doing an action) You have something like this:

夕焼けが空に映える

What is the action? 映える
Who/What is doing the action? 夕焼け
What is being (映える)? Nothing
Where is the verb happening?空

The sunset shines in the sky

As you can see に here means the location where something takes place.

If the meaning is passive (in the sense that something is doing a state for a lack of a better term). 映える=To look attractive

ジャケットが映えるように三角筋と僧帽筋を鍛える.

What is the action? 映える
Who/What is doing the action? ジャケット
What is being (映える)? Nothing
What is the indirect complement? Nothing

In order for a jacket to look attractive you have to train your deltoids and traps.

When I say indirect complement I mean the answer to every question which is not "Whom?" "What?". (that is how it is my native language at least).

  • It can used to also mean the way you do something when transforming な adjectives into adverbs.
  • It can be used to show company

and has other roles.

Ultimately I think it does not matter the distinction beetween intransitive (active and passive) since I believe you could say, but I am not sure so if there is a mistake please correct me.

僕がジャケットに映えるように三角筋と僧帽筋を鍛える. I,in order to look good in a jacket, train my deltoids and traps.

僕にジャケットが映えるように三角筋と僧帽筋を鍛える. In order for the jacket to look good on me, I train my deltoids and traps.

If I am wrong please correct me.

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