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I finally started going through some JLPT N1 grammar the other day, and one of the ones I'm looking at has me a bit confused: the ~にあって・~にあっても form. The book describes its usage as such:

~のような特別の状況・時期・場所だからこそあることが起こる

The 時期 and 場所 parts I can understand, but my problem is with the 状況 side of things. The problem this arose on was this:

木村氏は(  )にあって、日々多忙なスケジュールをこなしている。

The choices(the ones that make sense, that is) are:

1 一国の指導者

2 一国の指導者という立場

The answer is #2 - can anyone explain to me why? It seems like the first one is describing a 状況, but apparently not - at least, not more than 立場 does. Or is that 立場 referring to a place?

EDIT - Since 立場 is the right answer, can someone say why 一国の指導者 is not actually a 特別な状況? Also, why does 立場 fall into the proper category?

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  • Your reasoning seems to support the right answer. 指導者 is not a 状況, 時期, 場所, but 立場 is. Then, that should lead you to answer 2. What is wrong with it?
    – user458
    Sep 13, 2011 at 15:23
  • Well, I didn't think 立場 was any of them. I was thinking of 国の指導者 as a 特別な状況 - perhaps I should ask why it isn't. Sep 13, 2011 at 15:50
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    指導者 is an occupation or a property of a person; it is not a situation. 立場 means situation (within a sociological context).
    – user458
    Sep 13, 2011 at 15:54
  • Are both correct, but the second one better? Because in "Frenglish", I'd definitely call "指導者" a "situation".
    – Axioplase
    Sep 14, 2011 at 2:58
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    I think that the confusion lies in how strictly to interpret the "must be a situation/time/place" rule. "指導者の立場" qualifies (you can conceive of someone "being there", using the metaphor of physical place), but "指導者" does not (you cannot "be there"; you can only "be one"). Similarly, "being The Situation" is a situation, but The Situation himself is not a situation. I hope this is all quite clear now.
    – Matt
    Sep 14, 2011 at 3:21

1 Answer 1

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To be clear, answer 1 is grammatically incorrect, not just inferior.

It might be easier to grasp if you think of a 状況 here as something you find yourself “in”, rather than something you “are”. The difference is being in the position of a leader, instead of being the leader.

Note that the problem here has nothing to do with this special definition/usage of ~にあって・~にあっても. The distinction is simply between 〜にある and 〜である.

彼は指導者である — He is the leader

彼は指導者という立場にある — He is in the position of a leader

〜という状況 (situation) and 〜という役目 (role) are also fine, because you are in a situation, in a role, etc.

Accordingly, the following sentence is grammatically correct, and means exactly the same thing:

木村氏は一国の指導者 あって、日々多忙なスケジュールをこなしている。

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  • Although ある is possible for people as well, I personally prefer いる. For this particular expression, I also found both googling. But is this somehow a special case where にある for people is more common than usually?
    – dainichi
    Feb 28, 2012 at 10:50

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