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The title of this news article is

将棋の[藤井]{ふじい}[聡太]{そうた}さん 今まででいちばん若く「[七段]{しちだん}」になる

Why is 若く used here instead of 若い? As far as I know, い adjectives change into く form when they come before verbs but 「七段」に なる doesn't seem like a verb here. What does this kind of grammatical usage of い adjective signify ? Examples would be nice.

Thank you :)

  • 3
    なる is a verb, and 七段になる is a verb phrase. – Sjiveru May 21 '18 at 18:51
  • 1
    早く家に帰ってくれ! ちゃんと僕の話を聞いてください!などの話もいいじゃないでしょうか – HiBlau May 22 '18 at 10:20
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As Sjiveru says, it's an adverb modifying a verb phrase. Saying that い-adjectives change to く form before a verb is an oversimplification; く form is the adverbial form.

This a tricky sentence because we would use an adjective in English, so let's look at another example.

I ran quickly to the store.

As you can see, "quickly" is an adverb modifying "ran." Now, in Japanese:

 速く店まで走った。

The word order here is perhaps a bit awkward, but you can see that 速く isn't modifying 店, it's modifying 走った. If you changed it to:

速い店まで走った。

It wouldn't make any sense. What's a fast store?

Now, to the original headline:

将棋の藤井聡太さん 今まででいちばん若く「七段」になる

Fujii-san is the youngest Shōgi player to attain 7th level. Or in headline-speak "Shōgi's Fujii Souta-san youngest to attain 7th level"

If you changed 若く to an adjective, it would mean that Fujii-san is "becoming the youngest 7th-level." This is awkward if not ungrammatical, because unlike, say, "black-belt," "7th-level" is somewhat unnatural as a metonymy for "7th-level player".

Note: I know nothing about Shōgi, so I'm not sure if "7th-level" is a natural translation or if we'd say "7-dan" or something else in English!

  • Also, it's pretty cool that the previous record holder was named 一二三。 – mamster May 21 '18 at 23:31
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    This is not a sentence; It is a headline. People here call everything a "sentence". A real sentence in a news article would surely contain the subject/topic marker instead of a space and a 「なった/なりました」 instead of 「なる」 at the end. – l'électeur May 21 '18 at 23:37
  • Fair enough; I'll edit. – mamster May 21 '18 at 23:41
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    It happens to be correct even if it was 一番若い7段, and it's not awkward at all. If you feel awkward, the problem is translating 7 dan into 7th level. In English speaking shogi society, 7段 is called 7th-dan. – user4092 May 22 '18 at 4:05
  • @user4092 Please feel free to edit my answer. – mamster May 22 '18 at 4:18

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