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Why is a に particle following a na-adjective in the following sentence? I know that the particle has several uses, e.g. direction and location of existence, but I don't know the reason why it is being used in this case.

花が綺麗咲いています。

The flower is blooming beautifully.

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Short answer

Here, 「綺麗」 is like English beautifully. You use に for the same reason you use -ly in English.

Long answer

I wouldn't call に a 'particle' here. What it is depends on which analysis you're using:

  1. In the traditional Japanese grammar learned by students in Japanese schools (学校文法), na-adjectives are called 形容動詞, and they're taught that 形容動詞 inflect depending on how they're used:

    • 綺麗 ← This is an adverbial ending, similar to English -ly. It links the adjective to a following 用言 (an independent inflecting word such as a verb or adjective; basically, a word that can function as a predicator).

      綺麗咲く

    • 綺麗 ← This is an adnominal ending. It links the adjective to a following 体言 (an independent non-inflecting word such as a noun).

      綺麗

    • 綺麗 ← This is a conclusive ending. It comes at the end of a clause.

      その花は綺麗

    In your example, 綺麗 is connecting to the following predicate 咲いています. The word 咲く is a 用言, and the に inflectional ending is used to show a relationship to a following 用言, so it's the right choice.

    This isn't a complete list of how na-adjectives can be used, by the way. You should be able to find more discussion in your textbook.

  2. Many modern grammars, including many of the grammars taught to second language learners, treat na-adjectives instead as a special kind of noun (a "nominal adjective" or an "adjectival noun"). In this kind of analysis, に is a form of the copula だ, the same だ you find with nouns. The main difference between the two uses of だ is that with nouns, in most cases の is used rather than な.

    In this analysis, に is considered a separate word rather than an inflectional ending. It still isn't usually considered a 'particle', though. Why not? Because a particle is a function word that doesn't inflect, and だ changes form.

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