I am having a hard time trying to parse the following passage, in particular the に particle highlighted in bold:

天皇が行っている主な活動には、政府が決めたことを天皇の名前で発表して儀式を行うこと(大臣の認証任命式など)や、災害  あって苦しんでいる人々に会いに行って励ましたり、賞をもらった人をお祝いしたり、外国を訪問したり、外国からのお客様と迎えたりといったことがあります。

Factoring out clauses irrelevant to the discussion:

天皇が行っている主な活動には、災害  あって苦しんでいる人々に会いに行って励ましたりといったことがあります。

I suspect this is a case of に as a dative subject marker, because for it to be the location marker for 人々, the verb should be いる and not ある. I am not sure on how to parse this bit:


I would rather say


The other possibility I am considering is that あって corresponds to the verb 遭{あ}う as in 事故に遭う, so the に would be the indirect object marker in this case. But I am not sure at all.

  • あって is the present tense form of ある(有る)which means "being existent". The sentence literally means "people that suffers (being)in disasters" (from disasters). にあって is a conjunction/expression meaning "in", "at", ...
    – vdegenne
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 14:58
  • 2
    @vdegenne it turns out it's not the verb ある (有る) but the verb あう (遭う). See the answer below for more info. However, at the beginning I parsed the sentence as you did in your comment, but afterwards noted that ある can't be used for people. For the usage you describe, it should be いる if the subject is animated (people, animals, etc.) , as I said in the original question.
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 15:04
  • @jarmanso7 - The problem is not that. 災害にある or 災害にいる is not idiomatic. 災害 is an event, not a place or situation you can be in.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 4:42

1 Answer 1


Since あう in 災害にあう is 遭う as you guessed, it is the indirect object marker.

I think 'dative subjects' mostly appear in permission/causation constructions.

  • 子供読書させたい I want to make my kids read books.
  • 国民は政府これ以上増税を許さない The people won't let the government increase taxes any more.

(I'm not familiar with the concept though.)

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