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If I wanted to say "The teacher who made the kids write a letter to their friend in the hospital", how should I write it?

Are 2 にs ok in the same sentence?
Would 病院にいる友達に子供に手紙を書かせた先生。be acceptable?

If there are no particles, how should I interpret a causative like 書かせた人

Would it be

  1. The person who made someone else write
  2. The person who was made to write by someone
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    病院にいる友達への手紙を子供に書かせた先生。 Jun 15, 2016 at 13:29
  • 「子供に、入院してる友達宛てに手紙を書かせた…」でもいいかと。
    – chocolate
    Jun 15, 2016 at 22:55

1 Answer 1

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This sentence would be at least understandable if you change the word order and write like this:

子供に病院にいる友達に手紙を書かせた先生

It's because this sentence will be parsed like this (with "nesting"):

[子供に[病院にいる友達に手紙を書か]せた]先生

The "病院にいる友達に手紙を書く" part should be written as one verbal phrase because that's the action the child has to take.

This question is more or less similar: Multiple "wo"s in a sentence?


That said, it would be much better if you can avoid multiple に's like this. Multiple に both marking a person is hard for even native speakers to understand. The simplest way to fix this is using へ instead.

  • 子供に病院にいる友達手紙を書かせた先生
  • 子供に病院にいる友達への手紙を書かせた先生
  • 病院にいる友達への手紙を子供に書かせた先生
    (This is okay, as @優しいエイリアン suggested, because への modifies 手紙, and 病院にいる友達への手紙 is one noun phrase)
  • [*] 病院にいる友達へ手紙を子供に書かせた先生 (wrong)
    (Can you see why this is wrong? へ modifies the verb 書く. The "nest" structure will be broken if you write like this)

And I see nothing wrong with sentences like this:

  • 子供に夜にお菓子を食べさせるのは良くない。
  • 夜に子供にお菓子を食べさせるのは良くない。
  • 夜にお菓子を子供に食べさせるのは良くない。
    (uncommon word order, but perfectly makes sense)
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  • I see, sometimes though I find some sentences where the particle does not refer to the first verb after it. "病院にいる友達へ手紙を子供に書かせた先生 " I found a sentence similar to this once, that is why I used it an example. Thanks. Anyway for the second part of the question could you help me out?
    – Splikie
    Jun 15, 2016 at 14:47
  • If there are no particles how should i interpret a causative like this 書かせた人 The person who made someone else write The person who was made to write by somoene"
    – Splikie
    Jun 15, 2016 at 14:50
  • 書かせた人 always means "person who made (someone) write", and 書かされた人 is "person who was made to write".
    – naruto
    Jun 15, 2016 at 14:50
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    Yes.................................. Jun 15, 2016 at 14:52
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    @Splikie: And 僕に書かせられた人 is the man who was forced by me to write . Jun 15, 2016 at 14:57

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