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The sentence I encountered was originally:

「砂を噛むように味のない。」

Which I would translate as follows:

(Something) lacks taste so much that it is just like chewing on sand.
*Don't try this at home.

I began to wonder if I changed the particle の with a different particle, when would the meaning actually change, and when would it become ungrammatical.

Below are the variations I can think of, and that which appear grammatical to me, along with the meanings I think they have. The translation may well be unnatural.

砂を噛むように味がない。
(There is / This is) no taste like chewing on sand.

砂を噛むように味がある。
The taste that is like chewing on sand exists. This has the taste like chewing on sand.

砂を噛むように味である。
This taste is like chewing on sand.

砂を噛むように味 では/じゃ ない。 This taste is not like chewing on sand.

Again, I try to retain a more literal translation irrespective of naturalness, because I think this helps comparing the difference.

I believe this may be an issue many beginners such as yours truly encounter. I would really appreciate it if anyone could take a stab at this for me. Thank you so much!

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I think 砂を噛むように味のない is bit unnatural, because a noun is necessary after 味のない like 砂を噛むように味のない昼飯.

砂を噛むように味がない is natural.

砂を噛むように味がある would be grammatically correct, but it is not appropriate for a metaphor of taste.

砂を噛むように味である(はない) is unnatural. It is 砂を噛むような味である(はない). You must change continuous form ように to attributive form ような.

  • Thank you so much for the answer. However, I still have trouble deciding the meaning of each variation. {砂を噛むように}味がない: tasteless; {砂を噛むような味}である: tasteless; {砂を噛むような味}はない: not tasteless. Is this understanding correct? もしお暇があれば、ご教授おねがいいたします。 – Yeti Ape May 26 '18 at 11:45
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    砂を噛むように味がない is "It is tasteless like chewing sand. 砂を噛むような味である is "It has (is) the taste like chewing sand". 砂を噛むような味はない is "It doesn't has (isn't) the taste like chewing sand". – Yuuichi Tam May 26 '18 at 12:06

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