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君は学生にすぎない

In Bunpro, this is translated to "You are nothing more than a student."

Can anyone explain why there must be a に after 学生?

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    に過ぎない is a set phrase.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 6:43
  • If its a set phrase, then should I just forget grammar rules and memorize it?
    – Catdog
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 8:23
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    There is also 「○○に過ぎる」 "to exceed something/to be better than something". As to the question why に, you are comparing something against a target or standard.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 8:27

1 Answer 1

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The particle に has many roles, and it can mark a subject of comparison. It's explained as the 11th definition of に in デジタル大辞泉:

11 比較・割合の基準や、比較の対象を表す。「君―似ている」「一日―三回服用する」

Examples:

  • AはBに勝る
    A is superior to him
  • AはBに劣る
    B is inferior to him
  • AはBに似ている
    A resembles B
  • AはBに足りる
    A is enough for B
  • 身に余る
    more than one deserves (set phrase)

That being said, ~に過ぎない is a fixed set phrase you have to memorize. It's always used in this form including the negation. 学生に過ぎる will never mean "You're more than a student".

Although highly bookish, there is also a pattern ~に過ぎる (e.g., 慎重に過ぎる "to be too cautious", 身に過ぎる "more than one deserves"). See: 「慎重すぎる」 and 「慎重に過ぎる」 - is there a difference?

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