We all know that に indicates the position of the object (i.e. where it is). I just came across a sentence where の was used to indicate position with respect to objects.

ねこはテーブルの上。In here the cat is on the table.

So, my question is shouldn't we use に instead of の as a position marker. Thereby making the sentence to :

ねこはテーブルに上. The cat is on the table

like we do in other scenarios? (Eg. 店は角にあります "shop is on the corner"or あそこに家があります "The house is over there"). In these scenarios (as that of examples), we are marking the position as well, like we are doing when we indicate the position of the cat.

1 Answer 1


We all know that に indicates the position of the object (i.e. where it is).

Well, not exactly. に indicates the location of existence, but in connection to verbs. In other words it indicates the location that a verb happens, or where you intend the verb to happen. You cannot, therefore use に to indicate where an item is.

In your example sentences 店は角にあります, and あそこに家があります, your verb is ある, or to exist (for inanimate objects). You will probably learn more about this later, but 家があります is actually a verb phrase, meaning that the に in the sentence still modifies ある, even though there is a noun (家) between the particle and the verb.

As you have probably no doubt learned by now, の is a possessive term for nouns (i.e. 'my radio'). While many grammar books will tell us the location of a noun can also be denoted by の (like this one), I prefer to think if the の as possessive still.

So when we say things like ベッドの上, I think 'the bed's top.' Using the の to indicate position describes where an item is. の cannot be used to modify a verb, as is with the case with に.

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