The sentence:

私に verb (for example: 行ってほしくない) + ほしくない

This means "(someone) don't want me to go"

Can anyone give me a bit of an insight why the に particle is used here. How I think of the に particle is as follows. When using the に particle, the next verb (after the に) acts towards whatever preceeds the に particle, in this case, it acts on 私 which very literally translates to "don't want/wish to come to me".

I can't seen to understand why the に particle can be used in this manner. Any help will be appreciated.

A bit of an unreasonable question, but I thought I'd ask anyways. Can anyone recommend me some material/ video that explains all the usages of に particle. I found https://www.wasabi-jpn.com/japanese-grammar/japanese-particle-ni-clear-up-all-doubts-you-may-have/ but I don't see any explanation of に particle used in the fashion of the sentences above.

1 Answer 1


You say:

When using the に particle, the next verb (after the に) acts towards whatever preceeds the に particle...

which suggests that you think of に as meaning 'to' in some sense. But I would say that it can just as often mean 'from'.

Tanaka bought me a book.
Literally: I received book buying from Tanaka.

田中さん寿司を食べられた。 Tanaka ate my sushi (and I'm miffed about it).
Literally: I received sushi eating from Tanaka.

Your sentence works the same way:

somebody doesn't want me to go.
Literally: Somebody doesn't want (the act of) going from me.

Maybe somebody has a clever way of fusing these two seemingly opposite meanings (to/from) into a glorious whole, but I'm happy to think of them separately and let context tell me which meaning to apply.

Aside: I'm no expert but my understanding is that using ほしい with a third person is wrong, and that in this case you should use something like もらいたがっている instead.

  • Thanks for the answer. I suppose context is really the best way to tell whether the に particle indicates "to" or "from". Giving an example sentence, 田中に行ってほしくない can either mean "don't want to go to tanaka's place" or it can mean "don't want tanaka to go"
    – Newbie
    Jun 10, 2019 at 7:40

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