I 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


or something like that.

Could someone help me out here?


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? – Delectable Tea Nov 13 '16 at 20:00
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    @DelectableTea good question. See: this related QA – Amani Kilumanga Nov 14 '16 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'. – Delectable Tea Nov 14 '16 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?」? – Felipe Chaves de Oliveira Nov 14 '16 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. – Delectable Tea Nov 14 '16 at 22:49

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