Below stand two examples of the structure NをNに. I feel confident that I understand the meaning of both sentences, but I am having trouble identifying a verb that I can associate with the Nを. I am familiar with cases where を marks the temporal or/and spatial space through which some transition takes place and that this is probably the case in both examples, but in both I remain confused about the verb that describes the transition.


Am I correct in thinking that the verb associated with the を in 働いているアリを横目に is 動き回る because the work-shy ants are seen 横目に of the grafters? But then, if the sentence is simplified to:

1b) 働いているアリを横目に黒いアリたちがいる。

then the terminating いる seems to be the only possibility for the verb. Or perhaps 1b makes no sense(?)


Here I suppose that the を in 15歳の子供たちを対象に marks the abstract space of the 15 year-olds, but what about the associated verb? Is it 行う? Here again, the sentence could surely be simplified to something like:

2b) 15歳の子供たちを対象に国際調査だ。

in which case is the associated verb だ?


1 Answer 1


In both cases, you could think the verbs associated with (modified by) NをNに are omitted, which may be the reason you feel the existing verbs (動き回っている/行われた) are 'not clearly associated'.

  • 働いているアリを横目にして(見ながら) putting/looking at working ants in the corner of the eyes
  • 15歳の子供たちを対象にして making 15 year-olds as targets

That said, you can think 動き回っている/行われた is the associated verbs.

  • wandering about with working ants in the corner of the eyes.
  • conducted with 15 year-olds as targets.

Either way, 1b/2b are lacking both of the potential modified verbs and unnatural. 1b may be barely possible but 2b is ungrammatical.

The closet alternative to 2b would be

  • 5歳の子供たちを対象にした国際調査だ.

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