I understand from my previous question on the N1 に N2 construction that it is usually a phrase with omission of a verb (eg パンにバターをぬる makes パンにバター, which comes from パンにぬる and バターをぬる). If this is the case then how can we apply this logic to the following sentences?:

  1. 日本の朝食といえば、ご飯にお味噌汁でしょう When you talk about Japanese breakfast, rice and miso shiru must come in to the pcture.

  2. 私は、家ではたいていジーンズにTシャツを着ています。 I mostly wear jeans and T-shirt around the house.

My text book’s explanation of both these sentences is 「N1とN2の組み合わせ」which might work in the same way as:

セーターとスカートを組み合わせる|match a sweater [and a skirt / with a skirt]

But this does seem as good as パンにバターをぬる. The best I can come up with is changing にto と in sentences 1 & 2 as follows:

  1. 日本の朝食といえば、ご飯とお味噌汁を食べるでしょう。

  2. 私は、家ではたいていジーンズとTシャツを着ています。 

Reference: 総まとめ 文法 N1 p110 (I have not managed to find any other references to this.)

1 Answer 1


Problem: if you're already saying N1にN2 "usually" implies the omission of a verb, then doesn't that mean this case you're trying to apply that logic to may not fit that case? So...maybe don't try to apply that logic to those sentences.

Your textbook seems to be describing this use of に as listing items that go together.

The same way the classic American breakfast, "bacon and eggs", is a set, so is "rice and miso shiru", and in Japanese, using に to list them instead of と specifically implies that they "go together" (a la "bacon and eggs"). Likewise, "a t-shirt and jeans" is a fairly common set.

So yes, when に is used for listing, you can basically just substitute と for に, but you're also losing a bit of nuance if you think they're exactly the same.


The huge difference between パンにバター(をぬる) and N1にN2 (=組み合わせ) is that, in the former, パン and バター have different roles, as the indirect object and the direct object respectively; in the latter, both N1 and N2 have the same role (the object, in your sample 2; I'm not sure what you call whatever comes before a copula).

To think of it another way, in your sample sentences, you can substitute a phrase like "these things" for N1にN2 and the sentence remains basically equivalent. But since パン and バター are playing different roles, you can't substitute a single phrase for パンにバター and get an equivalent sentence.

  • Thank you, I've reworded the question, please take a look - i am trying to tie down the nuance you refer to.
    – Tim
    Aug 26, 2012 at 13:54
  • @Tim I expanded the answer with why the bread/butter example is a false parallel. Otherwise, I'm not sure how I can help you understand better. =/ If you ask me, the "nuance" is just that N1 and N2 form a set, of things that usually go together. Aug 26, 2012 at 14:51
  • Thank you - you've made the difference quite clear. I was looking for something that does not exist but I see that now.
    – Tim
    Aug 26, 2012 at 23:26

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