In Particles used with verbs, Japanese grammar guide by Tae Kim:

Note that we cannot use the 「へ」 particle with verbs that have no physical direction. For example, the following is incorrect. • 医者へなる。 (Grammatically incorrect version of 「医者になる」.) This does not mean to say that 「へ」 cannot set out towards an abstract concept. In fact, because of the fuzzy directional meaning of this particle, the 「へ」 particle can also be used to talk about setting out towards certain future goals or expectations. • 勝ちへ向かう。 Go towards victory.

how is the first sentence going against what the writer says in the second part? isnt it setting out a future goal? thanks for the help in advance

  • なる is not a verb that has physical direction. 向かう is such a verb; 勝ち is the abstract concept. there's no contradiction here.
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 13:19
  • @A.Ellett but in order to use なる to mean become, you need to make the noun, adjective into an adverb right? きれいに、美味しく and so on, can you use へ particle to make a na adjective into an adverb at all? Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 13:22
  • so if i use a verb that has a direction such as  来る i can use the へ particle the noun?
    – Hamzeh
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 15:02

1 Answer 1


This explanation says that you can use へ to describe both physical or mental goals/directions. In English へ roughly corresponds to towards or in the direction of ~.

  • 日本へ行く to go to/toward Japan (physical destination)
  • 西へ行く to go towards west (physical direction)
  • 勝利へ向かう to aim towards victory (abstract goal)
  • 解決へ近づく to come close to resolution (abstract goal)

So in these examples, you are "moving", either physically or mentally.

On the other hand, in 医者になる ("to become a doctor"), there is no goal or direction, either physically or mentally. なる refers to an instant change of state, as in 信号が赤になる ("the traffic light turns to red"). Nothing is moving. Certainly you cannot translate 医者になる using "towards a doctor".

Anyway, に and へ are often interchangeable.

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