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Sorry if it seems like a silly question but since I'm studying Japanese through immersion I have no idea if this is common knowledge or not.

The particle に when used alone can have many different functions besides its original function of indicating directions so I wonder if phrases like 「にとって」「に対して」「に於いて」「について」「によって」 originally added these functions to に and are used instead of に alone to clear up ambiguity when needed?. For example によって seems like it explains the に used for passive sentence and において explains the time and location function of に. If that's the case then is there a difference between にとって and just に in this sentence?

私にとって、漢字の勉強はとても楽しい

私に漢字の勉強はとても楽しい

Also are there any に phrases I should be aware of besides these things?

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私に漢字の勉強はとても楽しい is unnatural.

you might say 私に漢字の勉強はとてもいい活動だ

So no, the addition of a verb adds meaning that に on its own doesn't have. に is a very versatile particle because it makes the following verb interact with a space or category. So in combination, に gives information to よる、とる、おく、etc. which then in turn modify the next verb phrase, while on its own, it directly interacts with the next verb phrase, if that makes any sense.

However, you are not completely wrong in the sense that the meaning of に doesn't disappear when you combine it with a verb (that's what it does after all). But it's not that に has taken it's meaning from the expression with the added verb.

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  • Why is 私に漢字の勉強はとてもいい活動だ more acceptable than 私に漢字の勉強はとても楽しい?
    – jarmanso7
    Jul 2 at 1:21

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