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The i-adjective 遠{とお}い means far, distant. From what I know, I can make an adverb out of an i-adjective by replacing い with く, which should give me 遠く.

Now, the word 遠く is also a noun itself, which is interesting. This is nicely explained in this question.

Now, in the song Yume Sekai (ユメセカイ), by Haruka Tomatsu, we have:

遠くに聞こえた鐘の音が少し寂しくて

[...]

It looks like 遠くに is working as an adverb here. Is this correct? If this is the case, then can both 遠く and 遠くに be used as adverbs, with the same meaning?

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No, 遠く is a noun meaning "distant place". The sentence means "The sound of a bell heard in the distance was a little melancholy".

Compare:

遠くにある建物 A building in the distance

遠くから見える灯台 A lighthouse visible from afar

どこか遠くへ行きたい I want to go somewhere far away

  • So, checking if my understanding is correct: rather than 遠くに being an adverb in my example sentence, in this case 遠く is working as a noun, and に is just the に-particle, right? Please confirm if my understanding is correct. Also, although it is not the case in my sentence, 遠く can indeed be an adverb formed from 遠い, in other cases? – Pedro A Jun 24 '17 at 21:55
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    Yes, 遠く has two roles. What I'm going to say would need some modification, provisos, etc, if it were intended as a complete account, but will do as a good starting point. 遠く has two roles: when modifying a verb or い adjective it acts as an adverb; when followed by a particle such as に、から、へ, it is a noun meaning "distant place", "the distance". I think your uncertainty arises from the fact that you are familiar with adverbial phrases consisting of "non-い" adjectives + に, such as きれいに、比較的に, so that 遠くに looks as though it combines two adverb-forming features, く and に, so should be an adverb. – Graham Healey Jun 25 '17 at 9:31
  • I see! So, in the end, although 遠くに might look like an adverb, it is not an adverb, right? It is just a noun followed by the に particle... Right? This is the last confirmation I need, I think. – Pedro A Jun 25 '17 at 17:53
  • Well, a noun + に turns into an adverb.. – jarmanso7 Aug 28 at 17:59

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