The one who just attacked is Lancer and not [髑髏]{されこうべ}.

防御と反撃。 動作は一呼吸、まったくの同時に行われた。 それを、自分から飛びかかった髑髏に防げる筈がない。

Defense and counter-attack.
Those actions happened in the same moment.
Against that, for the skull who leaped by his own will, it should be impossible to defend.

Shouldn't it be:

2 Answers 2


防ぐ is a transitive verb, so it needs a object like 私が彼の攻撃を防ぐ(I deter his attack). And に防ぐ is incorrect.

防げる is a potential verb of 防ぐ, so both が防げる and に防げる are correct. For example, ドクロが彼の攻撃を防げる、ドクロに彼の攻撃が防げる(The skull can deter his attack).

  • So with the potential the agent can be marked with が or に? I knew about AにはXが出来る was correct, but when I asket if I could say AにXがVpotential was wrong. So "僕がこの本を読める" and "僕にはこの本を(Or が?)読める" are both correct? With every potential form に and が when marking the agent are both correct? Another question what does それを refer to in this sentence? If the potential can use に for the agent than my doubts on それを are cleared to.
    – Splikie
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 13:59
  • が読める is more commonly を読める.1311racco.blog75.fc2.com/blog-entry-1205.html 僕がこの本を読める" and "僕にこの本が(が is more natural than を)読める" are natural. I think それ in your sentence is counter-attack. Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 14:24
  • Could you tell me why there are 2 different ways for potential form. Xが出来る; Xにできる. Is it there a reason? Are there specific situation where one is accetable while the other is not?
    – Splikie
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 14:35
  • Dictionary says に is explained as 動作・作用の行われる対象・相手を表す. So you can say like 私にできる. Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 14:47
  • 1
    I think so but I don't know whether の in this context is equal to が or not. Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 15:20

Note 防げる (can defend) is an adnominal on [筈]{はず}(supposition), together meaning "there cannot be any ways for the skeleton to defend [against the attack]"

I cannot explain why, but it sounds more natural to replace が with に for a potential verb (できる etc.,) especially in an adnominal clause. This is the reason, if you ever call it a reason.


is also OK, but because of [lack of] the above idiomatic structure, not to mention to the repeated が, it sounds a bit awkward. No novelist would choose this option.

Linguists may have tried to explain the reason, but they are probably afterthoughts.

Can you solve this question?

The latter may sound like a challenge or a rhetorical question implying "I guess you cannot!" The former sounds more like a genuine question.


is ungrammatical.

This is all I can [am allowed] to say.

On the other hand,


is ungrammatical.


is acceptable but non-standard.

  • Thank you. It does sound more natural to use に, but I was first told that I needed が with potential and に was wrong, so I started to have doubts. I see it like this: The japanese potential means capability to do, so the place where the capability to do something is the person (に) and what is "being able to be done" is が. As an adnomial you mean that it modifies a Noun? So every noun modifier is an adnomial right?
    – Splikie
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 17:58
  • 1
    Corrected the spelling, adnomial -> adnominal; yes, I meant a noun modifier. Your understanding seems correct but I'm not prepared to say anything beyond that. It's a subtle distinction.
    – nodakai
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 18:11

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