1

Can someone explain the use of こと and ことに in these sentences please?

しかし、たくさん歩いても、動物を見つけることが出来ません。
However, even though they walked a lot, they were not able to come across any animals.

二人は山を降りることにしました。
The two men went down the mountain.

Many thanks!

2

verb + ことができる means "to be able to do verb".

This is a set pattern that you will see all the time. You can try and break it down. こと is nominalising the preceding verb phrase. You could translate it as "act of". So literally "the act of verb-ing is possible".

verb + ことにする is another set phrase. This one (among other meanings) means "to decide to do verb".

I find this one harder to break apart. If you really stretch your imagination then you could convince yourself that "Make it into the act of verb-ing" means "decide to verb", but it's best just to learn it as a set phrase.

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