4

みんなが寄ってくるので、教授がハリーをひとり占めにはできなかった
Everyone had gathered round, so the professor was unable to monopolise Harry.

I'm struggling with the grammar of the second clause here. The closest structure I can see is XをYにする i.e. make X into Y, but in potential form. Literally "the professor was unable to make Harry a monopolisation". I also wonder why は is needed.

ひとり占め apparently works as a する verb, so why not simply 教授がハリーをひとり占めできなかった? In fact why not 教授ハリーひとり占めできなかった?

2
  • Compare it with japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/86421/… . I think the two are not the same. May 1, 2023 at 8:13
  • It looks like the quote was from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, though it's unclear whether it's an official translation or not (I found at least 2 different versions, though with the same grammar).
    – Andrew T.
    May 1, 2023 at 12:29

2 Answers 2

3

This sentence is a bit irregular although most native speakers, myself included, wouldn’t notice it unless someone specifically asks about it. What’s irregular is that が makes us parse it this way.

みんなが寄ってくるので、[教授がハリーをひとり占め]にはできなかった。

Syntactically, this is identical to this.

みんなが寄ってくるので、[ひとり占め]にはできなかった。

Usually, if you want to specify who does the monopolization and who they monopolize, you would make a sentence and turn it into a noun phrase, like this.

みんなが寄ってくるので、[教授がハリーをひとり占めにすること]はできなかった。

I would say the original sentence is a somewhat “sloppy” version of this sentence. They mean the same thing.

〜を独り占めする and 〜を独り占めにする are practically interchangeable. In fact, the following sentences both sound completely natural.

みんなが寄ってくるので、[ひとり占め]はできなかった。

みんなが寄ってくるので、[教授がハリーをひとり占めすること]はできなかった。

However, removing に from the original sentence makes it a bit weirder.

? みんなが寄ってくるので、[教授がハリーをひとり占め]はできなかった。

教授が and ハリーを, which are expected to modify some verb, seem more out of place in the noun phrase in the brackets. I suppose に reminds us of the existence of an omitted verb, namely する in the more complete version with a nominalized sentence, and that makes the original sentence easier to understand the way it is intended despite its “sloppiness.”

は singles out what the professor couldn't do among all things. I get a sense of “even if they wanted to” from it.

Lastly, 教授はハリーがひとり占めできなかった would mean a completely different thing. Harry would be the one monopolizing the professor.

3

Aをひとり占めする and Aをひとり占めにする are both correct and mean the same thing, "to keep A all to oneself".

The former is a fairly simple transitive suru-verb. In this approach, you must say 教授はハリーひとり占めできなかった because Harry is the simple direct object of ひとり占めする. If you used が, the meaning of the sentence would change drastically ("Harry could not ...").

As for the latter, one way of understanding it would be to understand 独り占め also as a descriptive noun (i.e., a no-/na-adjective) meaning "monopolized". XをYにする works fine with adjectives (e.g., 問題を簡単にする, 壁紙を緑色にする). You can say 彼女によって独り占めの島 and 彼女が独り占めしている島 interchangeably (although the latter is more common). Similar examples include:

  • 半殺し: Aを半殺しする and Aを半殺しにする both mean "to half-kill A". 半殺しの人 and 半殺しされた人 mean "half-killed person".
  • 丸投げ: Aを丸投げする and Aを丸投げにする both mean "to leave A entirely (to someone)". 丸投げの議題 and 丸投げされた議題 mean "the topic thrown (to someone)".

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .