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Consider the sentence

宏と花子は同時に結婚する。

This sentence apparently means

Hiroshi and Hanako will marry simultaneously.

Question: Is と being here used in the "with" sense, or the "and" sense? It seems to me it's ambiguous.

  1. If と as "with" is being used: I assume this means that Hanako is marrying "with" Hiroshi (e.g., they are marrying each other)?
  2. If と as "and" is being used: I assume this means that Hanako "and" Hiroshi are both marrying simultaneously, not necessarily to each other.

The fact that the sentence includes "同時に" makes me inclined to think (2) is the correct interpretation, since if they were marrying each other, "同時に" would be redundant, no?

1 Answer 1

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This と is simple "and". If other senses are intended, it should be near the word it modifies, like this:

  • 花子は同時に結婚する。
    Hiroshi and Hanako will get married at the same time.
    (They each are marrying another person, because saying 同時 makes little sense if they are marrying each other)
  • 花子は同時に宏と結婚する。
    At the same time (as some other event), Hanako marries Hiroshi.
  • 花子は宏と同時に結婚する。
    Hanako marries (someone else) at the same time as Hiroshi's marriage.

Since word order in Japanese is flexible, you may insist 宏と花子は同時に結婚する is technically ambiguous, but other interpretations are extremely unlikely when there is no other context.

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  • "花子は宏と同時に結婚する" is the most surprising. I get that 宏と is right before 同時に, but the use of と ("with") still makes me want to parse it as "Hanako is doing marriage with Hiroshi" ("Hanoko is marrying Hiroshi").
    – George
    Dec 22, 2022 at 2:18
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    @George と is the particle used when comparing things (~と違う, ~と似る, ~と比べる, ~と同じ, ~と並ぶ), so と right before 同時 almost certainly modifies 同時.
    – naruto
    Dec 22, 2022 at 2:21

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