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  1. と as "and": This follows the Noun+と+Noun(と) pattern:

猫がいる

There is a dog and a cat.

  1. と as "with":

友達遊ぶ。

Play with friend.

  1. Combining both senses at once: Here the first と is being used in the "and" sense, while the second is being used in the "with" sense:

公園に行きます。

I'm going to the park with my father and mother.

Question: Do native Japanese view these two uses of と as one, singular concept? Or do they view them as two seperate things that just happen to both use "と"?

I ask because if I squint my eyes I can kind of see the "and" usage of と being subsumed by the "with" usage:

犬と猫がいる

=> There is a dog with a cat.

父と母と公園に行きます。

=> I'm going to the park with my father, with my mother.

As far as I can tell, these convey basically the same meaning as the original translations. So I'm wondering if the fact that English speakers parse と as either "and" or "with" is some quirk of our language, and not the way actual Japanese people see it?

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    I don't really know how native speakers view this question, but arguably I think considering these to be two separate ideas is more a quirk of English than anything inherent in the concepts themselves. If you consider と to mean something along the lines of "along with", for example, then the same translation works pretty well in all of these cases. However, it is also true that と can function grammatically in two different ways (noun-noun connector vs verbal particle), so there could arguably be some level of conceptual distinction between those two uses, I dunno.
    – Foogod
    Dec 23, 2022 at 18:29

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This question is hard to answer logically. A native speaker of a language doesn't try to analyze the role of a function word like you do. Have you ever wondered how many roles the English preposition with has from the perspective of a foreigner? Some of them may seem quite similar to someone, but other people may not agree with them.

That said, putting aside uncommon literary sentences and complicated sentences like this, one verb cannot take the same particle twice for the same purpose (e.g., パンをステーキを食べる and 彼に彼女に会う are incorrect). I suppose many untrained native Japanese speakers would intuitively feel those two と's are at least slightly different.

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  • Fascinating RE the "one verb cannot take the same particle twice for the same purpose" rule. I had never noticed it.
    – George
    Dec 22, 2022 at 4:17
  • I think that does still really depend a lot on the particle involved, though. For example, も is arguably commonly used repeatedly for the same purpose in many sentences. は can also be used repeatedly in many situations...
    – Foogod
    Dec 23, 2022 at 18:20

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