I'm reading a story and two siblings are playing 'hide and seek'. The younger one, after finding a hiding place, says:


ここなら means 'if here' that is, from the context, 'if I hide in here...'

The rest of the sentence, I can tell, have the general meaning of "if I hide in here, my brother will absolutely not find me". But breaking down the sentence to pieces... what is the role of お兄ちゃんには? お兄ちゃん is not a location so に has little sense (to me) when applied to it.

What's going on?

Thank you very much.

1 Answer 1


This に is not a location marker. In this article about the particle に:


"Ni" indicates an agent or a source in passive or causative verbs. It translates into "by" or "from".

  • 母にしかられた。 I was scolded by my mother.
  • トムに英語を教えてもらった。 I was taught English by Tom.

The verb in question, 見つかる, is categorized as a passive-like verb (受動詞) by some linguists, and it functions as if it were passive even though there is no れる/られる. Such verbs include (but are not limited to):

  • ~に見つかる to be found by ~
  • ~に教わる to be taught by ~
  • ~に捕まる to be caught by ~
  • ~に負ける to be defeated by ~
  • ~に破れる to be defeated by ~
  • ~に知れる to come to be known to ~

List taken from this article.

Practically, I think you can forget the grammatical term and just memorize that these verbs always take に.

  • Does 付ける also constitute a passive-like verb (受動詞)?
    – George
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 6:05

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