2

I saw this sentence on a Japanese teaching site:

事故は先週に起こった
The incident occurred last week

I feel very uncomfortable with the に on 先週. This post and this post seem to back up my discomfort. Is this sentence ungrammatical/unnatural or am I missing something?

2
  • 1
    Can you tell me which Japanese teaching site? – Jimmy Yang Apr 15 at 23:59
  • 1
    @JimmyYang It was Duolingo. It has a lot of stuff which seems unnatural to me, but it's good for improving my terrible listening skills so I keep ploughing through it. – user3856370 Apr 16 at 0:10
9

As a native speaker, I also feel uncomfortable with 事故は先週に起こった, which can be said to be a little unnatural but probably cannot be said to be ungrammatical. 先週 plays the role of an adverb in this sentence, so its natural sentence will be:

  • 事故は先週起こった。

But as a writer, I would like to avoid this, because I don't like the awkward sequence of Chinese characters of 先週 + 起. So I like this sentence transcribed like this with the use of punctuation marks.

  • 事故は(、)先週、起こった。
  • 先週、事故は起こった。(very natural to me)

This point might be trivial for other Japanese, but I am always wondering how to use this kind of noun phrase used as an adverb. In order to avoid this (discomfort), I prefer the following to the above sentence.

  • 事故は先週のあいだに起こった。(a little longer, but very natural to me)

After answering this question, I hit upon the following sentence.

  • 先週起こった事故は、すごかった。

This sentence with に in it is, no doubt, grammatical and quite natural. I have no idea of the cause of the difference in naturalness and grammaticality between this and the above sentence (事故は先週に起こった).

1
  • 1
    Very interesting point about consecutive kanji lining up in that way. For me, that's perhaps the most informative aspect of this answer (and the use of commas). – A.Ellett Apr 16 at 14:26
3

文法的には間違ってはないと思います。 使い方によっては不自然に感じられるかもしれません。 おそらく日本人が 「事故は先週に起こった」 と聞けば、「先週」という部分が強調されているように感じると思います。つまりいつ起こったのかを強調したいときには、「先週」に「に」をつけるのは自然です。 例えば誰かに 「事故はいつ起こったのか?」 と質問されて、それに答える文として 「先週に起こった」 というのならしっくりくる表現です。

先週を強調しない言い方なら 「先週、事故が起こった」 と言うと不自然には感じません。

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.