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I know the rules regarding when to use に with time expressions and when not to. Or at least, I thought I knew the rules. But I watched an ANN news item about Tsukiji market today, and at one point the presenter says「去年に...」. I thought this was not possible grammatically.

Here's the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-smsxUWXys

At 05:00 the presenter says これに対して去年事業者が。。。

I thought it would have to be これに対して去年、事業者が。。。

Is there a definitive guide to which 'time words' will allow に and which will definitely not?

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I found 16 similar instances of 去年に on BCCWJ (excluding ones where に is clearly needed, such as 去年に続いて, 去年に比べて). This is definitely not a large number. Personally, 去年に does not sound terribly bad, and I feel even a native speaker may occasionally say it, especially in speech. But it's still unnatural and you should avoid it when possible. The same is true for 明日に, 昨日に, and so on.

  • I agree that it is probably avoided, but the fact that native speakers use it is somewhat interesting to me. I'd like to know why this is possible at all. – kandyman Oct 19 '18 at 12:12

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