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I have read this, this and this, but I still do not understand why 「街{まち}に歩{ある}く」 is not grammatical.

The person who wrote this wanted to say "I will walk to town".

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3 Answers 3

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According to a classic explanation, "pure motion verbs" such as 行く, 来る, 動く, 入る and 移動する can take both ~に and ~へ, but "motion manner verbs" such as 走る, 泳ぐ, 歩く and 飛ぶ tend not to take ~に. Verbs in the latter group do not even need a destination (e.g., 部屋をうろうろと歩く, プールで泳ぐ, 空を飛ぶ).

「駅に行く」が言えるのに、「駅に歩く」と言えないのはなぜ?

That said, there are many cases where ~に is used with 歩く/走る/飛ぶ. This is extensively discussed in this article. The author says that when the manner of a motion or a situation is more focused than the motion itself, ~に歩く tends to be more tolerated. ~に走る/~に飛ぶ tends to be tolerated when the cause of the action is unexpected and urgent.

  • 考え事をしながら駅に歩いている途中で、突然友達に出会った。
  • 急な知らせを受け、私はアメリカに飛んだ。
  • 財布を忘れたことに気づいて、スーパーに走りました。
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  • Thanks a lot for guiding me to this answer! However I still have some confused points after reading:
    – Sheepeagle
    Oct 18, 2023 at 9:46
  • 1. The standard to distinguish"pure motion verbs" and "motion manner verbs" seems unclear to me, since 動く and 移動する also don't necessarily need a direction(e.g., 一歩も動けなかった,遊牧民たちは絶えず移動した). 2. Why can まで be used in "motion manner verbs", where the usage of に and へ are ungrammatical?
    – Sheepeagle
    Oct 18, 2023 at 9:58
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    @Sheepeagle Yes it seems unclear to me, too, but this is not something that can be answered in a few sentences, and I don't understand it fully. Please read the linked article. I feel 移動する purely refers to a place change even when the destination is not explicitly stated, but 動く does not necessarily involve a change in place. Xまで does not require a place change in the first place (e.g., 夜まで勉強する), which I think is why it goes well with 泳ぐ, etc.
    – naruto
    Oct 19, 2023 at 0:59
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I don't know if it will help, but I'll try to rephrase differently what has already been said in your first link above: In Japanese the sense of moving to or from a place is typycally conveyed by basic verbs like 「行く」or「来る」that therefore require a particle like に or へ, while verbs like 「歩く」、「走る」、「泳ぐ」convey the meaning of "passing through", "going across" and as such require the particle を. Therefore, in Japanese you could correctly say 街を歩く「まちをあるく」, but it will mean "I will walk across the town". So, if you want to convey the meaning of going on foot you will have to say exactly that: 街に歩いていく I will go to town walking .

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If you want to say "I will walk to town" I would say 市街{しがい}へ歩く

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    Why does changing 街に into 市街へ make it correct?
    – Blavius
    Mar 29, 2017 at 0:14
  • 市街(town center) is a specifc location that was is walking to. 街を歩く would be walk around (in the) town.
    – paullb
    Mar 29, 2017 at 0:43

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