Consider the following:

  • A, B and C came:

    1. AとBとCが来た
    2. AやBやCが来た
    3. AにBにCが来た

What do I need to consider when deciding which of the three (と, や, に) to use?

I think a large portion is determined by the type of verb used. I shall generalise into two groups:

  1. Reciprocal type - marry; meet; be similar
  2. Non-reciprocal type - see; walk; be interesting

Ambiguity may result from using listing particles with reciprocal type verbs:

  • AとBが結婚した (Ambiguous)

    • A and B got married (to each other)

    • A and B got married (independent instances)

  • AやBが結婚した (Not ambiguous)

    • A and B got married (independent instances among others (example-giving nuance of や))

But for these cases:

  • AにBが結婚した
  • AにBが会った

Can they receive listing interpretation similar to AにBにCが来た?
Will に be forced to be dative?

How about when the sentence is rearranged to:

  • BがAに結婚した
  • BがAに会った

Can this receive a listing interpretation?
Will に be forced to be dative?

  • I don't think AにBにCが来た is correct.
    – oldergod
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 8:22
  • 1
    Unfortunately, there seems to be very little discussion of the usage of に in a list, at least that I can find. One paper I found (pdf) says に is used for an increasing list, as in 1本の大根に2本のにんじん. There's also another paper that is titled promisingly (about all 3, と, や, and に, in fact), but is apparently behind a pay wall. (FWIW, I also like sawa's answer.) Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 9:52
  • @SomethingJapanese 1本の大根に2本のにんじん、えーと、それからトマトも (three items) is one continuous expression, I think. Without それからトマトも, I think it degrades.
    – user458
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 10:03

1 Answer 1


I have the feeling that under the relevant usage is used adverbially and implies "remembering the item one after another while listing", and I think it requires at least three items. Two is too short for remembering one after another.

?* AにBが来た
?* AにBが結婚した

結婚する cannot have a dative argument, and I guess the structure of AにBにCが結婚する is Aに[Bに[Cが結婚する]] "C will get married, in addition to B, in addition to A", rather than [AにBにCが]結婚する, so it cannot have the reciprocal interpretation. BがAに結婚した is completely ungrammatical.

If you wanted to do a listing interpretation for 会う, which takes a dative argument, then you can do this:

AにBに(それに)CがDに会った (A, B: listing interpretation, D: dative)
'A, and B, and also C, met D'
AがBにCに(それに)Dに会った (B, C: listing interpretation, D: dative)
'A met B, and C, and also D'

  • 1
    The examples for definition 4 (並助, at the bottom) of the goo entry for に would suggest that two items (AにB) can be sufficient. Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 8:43
  • @SomethingJapanese What I meant was for the listing interpretation of the 並立助詞. For paring interpretations, two is suffient: 豚に真珠, which I think is close to dative usage. In your link definition 4, the first one has three items. Then there are paring ones, and finally a classical one, which is irrelevant for present Japanese.
    – user458
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 8:50
  • I edited to include 会う in the question (because it can take a dative argument and would be a better candidate for comparing).
    – Flaw
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 9:47
  • @Flaw I edited.
    – user458
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 10:11

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