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What is the purpose of に in 特別に上映が始まり?

Here is the full sentence:

このうち、北京中心部の映画館では、公開を心待ちにしてきた人たちのために、日付が変わった午前0時から特別上映が始まり、未明にもかかわらず、大勢の若者たちが詰めかけました。

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In Japanese, both verbs and adjectives conjugate as you know, I hope.

「特別{とくべつ}」 is the 連用形{れんようけい} (continuative form) of the na-adjective 「特別()」.

「特別」("specially") can modify verbs and adjectives while 「特別」 can only modify nouns.

In the sentence in question, 「特別に」 modifies the verb phrase 「上映{じょうえい}が始{はじ}まり」.

(「始ま」 is the 連用形 of the verb 「始ま」, by the way. 連用形 is extremely important.)

"the show specially started at midnight"

More naturally, perhaps:

"a special show started at midnight"

This is a good example of how direct translation might not work well in the target language.

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  • I see. Still, since ​特別(な)is used to modify the verb why is it not used before it, instead of before 上映 which is a noun. The whole expression (上映​が​始り) does not seem to me to be a fixed phrase which would not allow this. I thought that adjectives which modify verbs tend to go before the said verb (having in mind structures similar to this one). It seems this is not necessarily so. In that case, how do you choose where to place them and would it make any differece to the meaning of the sentence?
    – user18849
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 19:10
  • First, in my answer, I clearly stated that 特別な modifies nouns, not verbs. Second, words do not always modify the words that directly follow them. There can be "other" words in between.
    – user4032
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 2:59

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