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I casually used を in the sentence クマを会いました。I was corrected with クマに会いました。Checking references and sample sentences I found no を examples. I think there is something fundamental about を and に that I do not understand. Can this be explained? And yes, I met a bear the other day.

I realize this is related to indirect objects. The bear is the indirect object the "I" met. So に is used with certain verbs in indirect object sentences but I think this is only part of the explanation. Comments welcome.

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It has to do with the etymology of the verb 会う. It has the same origin as 合う, and its core image is that of something coming close to something else. (合う describes a desirable result of that.) The particle に can be understood as indicating the target of that somewhat directional movement.

By the way, if the other party is a person, you can also use と.

昨日、彼女と会いました。

This sounds like the meeting was prearranged by both parties, and therefore, 昨日、クマと会いました sounds surreal. For the same reason, と is not suitable for an accidental encounter with someone. It should be に as the target marker.

I don’t think you should doubt your understanding of を and に just because of this. You should simply treat it as a special case where English and Japanese express the same idea differently.

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I cannot explain well, but I will give you some sample sentences.

I found a bear. 私はクマを見つけました。
I ate a bear. 私はクマを食べました。 

I talked to a bear. 私はクマに話しかけました。
He looks like a bear. 彼はクマに似ています。

I guess, if the object and the subject are on equal terms, we use "に."

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