My question comes from this sentence:


My attempted translation was:

The happiness we definitely had up until 40 years ago we discarded; and on a path of unhappiness, we progress further and further, I feel.

However, I don't understand why both particles へ and と follow. I would have expected just へ, so I don't get what the function of と is. Can someone possibly explain this?

2 Answers 2


The particles へ and に in modern Japanese, when marking a destination, both mean "to", with the implication that the subject actually reaches the destination in question, so they are largely interchangeable in this usage. In pre-modern/Classical Japanese に implied that the subject reached the goal, but へ did not necessarily do so: in other words, へ could mean simply "towards", "in the direction of". That role has been taken on by the combination へと in Modern Japanese, so your sentence means "I feel that we have renounced/abandoned the happiness that we certainly had until forty years ago and are progressing in the direction of unhappiness, in the direction of unhappiness". It may be helpful to think of と as indicating the manner in which something is done, so へと would mean "as though to X". The repetition of 不幸な方へ suggests that the process is ineluctable, so I might go with "moving inevitably towards unhappiness", "advancing all the time towards unhappiness" or "moving ever closer towards unhappiness [although we haven't quite got there yet]". How to translate 放棄 also needs some thought. It suggests deliberately or consciously giving something up - for example, it's the word used in the Constitution for the renunciation of the use of military force.

  • Yours is one of the more interesting answers I've read on this forum, especially with the history lesson thrown in. There is one thing, however, I need for reassurance. Can you point to a source that explains the role of へと. I take it from your answer へ alone could suggest one arrives at the end point, whereas へと more clearly suggests one doesn't, taking over the older function of へ. Please excuse my fussiness, but I every now and then run into difficulties with double particles.
    – Robert
    May 28, 2017 at 2:53

I'm Japanese. 不幸な方へ and 不幸な方へと are same meaning. But I don't say 不幸な方へ不幸な方へ without と. So, roll of と is like that of "so"and ",". Not important but necessary.

  • You mean you can say 不幸な方へ but it's more natural to say 不幸な方へと. If you say it's similar to 'so' and ',', you presumably mean it helps the sentence flow better or it's easier for the listener/reader to comprehend it, even though it's not wrong to say 不幸な方へ .
    – Robert
    May 28, 2017 at 2:46
  • 1
    It's almost correct. If you say 不幸な方へ , 不幸な方へとand 不幸な方へ are same meaning. But if you say 不幸な方へ不幸な方へ, 不幸な方へ不幸な方へと is better than 不幸な方へ不幸な方へ. May 28, 2017 at 10:03
  • Ok. Do you know why?
    – Robert
    May 28, 2017 at 10:34
  • 2
    Not @Sakura Maruyama but here is my take on that. By adding と to the second 不幸な方へ, one could (easily) express a shift in emphasis from a general and somewhat abstract direction of unhappiness to a more "focused" destination of unhappiness that one is headed toward. Not using a と would still be grammatical if grammar is what matters, but that would be a simple and rather conversational use of phrase repetition. In prose writing, however, using that と would make it far more nuanced and flow better because the repetition is productive.
    – user4032
    May 28, 2017 at 12:40
  • So what does a 'focused' direction mean - something inevitable or which you're drawn into? The sentence seems to read more nicely with the to, but I still don't quite get what change of meaning it implies.
    – Robert
    May 29, 2017 at 3:32

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