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An earlier question on JP.SE asked about the usage of the particle「に」for what seemed to be attribution or possession, but I wasn't sure if those were 'official' uses of「に」and I decided to do some digging. I found an explanation on the sentence structure NにNがあります/います where「に」links back to a location where something or someone exists. Scrolling down for alternative uses, I found the following explanation for「Nがあります/Nがいます」in particular:

余裕があれば

「Nがあります」「Nがいます」の形で、所有の意味を表わします。

「太郎さんには子どもがいます。」

I interpreted this as "Using「Nがあります」or「Nがいます」indicates a notion of possession." However, I'm not quite sure as to what「余裕があれば」means in this context. Maybe something like for those who want to learn more or something?

If this is indeed the right interpretation, are these cases inherently implied to follow the「NにNがあります/います」pattern, i.e. is it just a fixed pattern such as 「~は~が~」or is there a more explicit motivation for the usage of「に」in this sense? Or, alternatively, is it unrelated to the initial「に」but more of a use case particular to「が」(this seems unlikely)?

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  • Given that the previous heading was "これだけは覚えよう" you're probably right in saying that "余裕があれば" is for someone who wants to learn more or someone who has some extra time to learn more. – rebuuilt Jul 3 '20 at 15:09
  • Are you asking if it is a fixed pattern that cannot be further broken down, or if it is a sentence pattern which can be explained as a "sum of its parts"? – rebuuilt Jul 3 '20 at 15:15
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    Well, I was wondering if the pattern「NにNがあります/います」in particular expressed the notion of possession, or if it's simply the particle「に」itself. – JansthcirlU Jul 3 '20 at 16:55
  • Please, check this insightful article on Japanese double subject constructions, it may help (see the section "Relationships". Quoting: "When talking about having a relationship with someone, the large subject is marked by ni に or niwa には.") – jarmanso7 Jul 5 '20 at 9:41
  • Very interesting indeed, so the short answer is that it's not just the「に」nor just the「が」that expresses possession, but that it's a complex system of multiple subjects? – JansthcirlU Jul 5 '20 at 9:50

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