In an anime I was watching the other day, I heard the bellow phrase. I don't remember whose name it was or which anime it was, so I'll just replace it with a generic name:


The speaker was Alice, and it was translated as "Alice knows [about it]". I find this odd. Wouldn't the に particle refer to the thing that the person is "understanding" or "knowing" in that instance? I am confused why it's not



1 Answer 1


分かる is a potential verb, and therefore takes に.

Note that this sentence would be much more natural if there is a topic marker, は:

アリスには(それが)分かっている。 Alice knows (it).

In case you don't know why ~ている is used, check this.

  • I'm a bit confused, wouldn't the potential be 分かられる? Commented Nov 13, 2016 at 20:00
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    @DelectableTea good question. See: this related QA Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 1:01
  • Ah so it technically already is a potential of "to divide [split into parts]". I guess "to be able to divide" could just mean "understand" as it relates to knowledge, i.e. the ability to 'divide' the knowledge from non-discerned or non-discerned knowledge. In other words, the ability to discern what is true and false, i.e. be able to divide truth and falsehood, is the same as 'understanding'. Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 1:10
  • I'm a bit confused, I thought わかる used が 「日本語がわかる」, is it because に is marking the indirect object? like [(僕には)日本語がわかる」, same for [僕の友達に何をしている?」? Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 2:13
  • Feel free to correct me experts: Isn't "Japanese" the object in the English sentence "I [can] understand Japanese". Let me take out は so we can focus on the に - 僕に日本語が分かる - Even though Naruto mentioned that this is less natural, one can still illustrate the point. Potential verbs describe a "state of feasibility" (Tae Kim) and the に is marking who "has" that state, or to put it in Kim's terms the "target" of the state of feasibility. Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 22:49

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