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(1) 人に薬を注射する。

(2) 人を薬で注射する。

(3) 人に薬で注射する。

A survey of sentences tells me that (1) is certainly grammatical, but (2) & (3) do not occur (At least in the ones I looked at). Both in English and Croatian, structures analogous to (1) & (2) are grammatical ("Inject Y with X", "Inject Y into X"), but (3) is not.

I'm wondering whether this pattern holds in Japanese as well, even though I couldn't find any examples, and if there are other verbs with similar behavior.

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注射する works just like あげる ("to give"), わたす ("to pass"), 見せる ("to show") and so on. It almost never takes a person as a direct object in Japanese.

  • 彼に見せる to show [something] to him
  • 彼を見せる to show him (his picture, etc.) [to someone]
  • 彼女に注射する to inject [something] to her
  • ?彼女を注射する to inject her [into someone]
    (This is almost always nonsense, but acceptable when "her" refers to Ms. Red Blood Cell.)

When で is present, it marks an injecting device (e.g., プラスチックのシリンジで注射する) or a method (e.g., ボーラスで注射する).

The usages and the transitivity of a verb is not always preserved across languages. See this for more examples.

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  • Thank you. By similar verbs I meant ones involving more complicated transference. The best way to put it might be words were the method of transference could be interpreted as a complete action since those could conceivably take "で" (for means of action) or "を” (for the thing being transfered)(Like say, shoot, stab and punch.). I was looking for any pattern which might hold in Japanese. Now that I've had time to think: perfuse (As in an organ with saline), infuse (as in black tea with bergamot) & stuff (As in a turkey.). For the last one (interpret as 詰める) I was able to find "この穴を何かでつ詰めなくては". – ParticularAboutParticles Mar 13 at 21:00
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Hmm... (2) and (3) are not grammatical indeed. I guess we can at least match the word order in Japanese and English sentences in similar nuance, though.

(1) 人に薬を注射する (inject 人 with 薬)

(2) 薬を人に注射する (inject 薬 into 人)

If you always were to translate "with" as "で", it won't work. You can also create similar sentences in Japanese if you ignore that condition.

As for (3), I couldn't understand what you meant. Can you show me incorrect English sentences for (3)?

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  • For (3) it would "I injected into Mark with drugs.". (Technically this could be interpreted as you injecting yourself into Mark by means of drugs, but that would require really unusual context. – ParticularAboutParticles Mar 13 at 20:31
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