Compound Particles

How to Express Various Targets: に対して, について, and にかかわる

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You have entered a new section named “Compound Particles.” In Japanese grammar, particles determine the role of nouns, e.g. the topic particle は and the parallel marker と. However, there are some words which can substitute for particles, which we call “Compound Particles.” They basically consist of a particle and the te-form of a verb (with some exceptions). Their main role is to express more detailed nuances and a higher level of formality than particles do. Therefore, it is important to master them if you aim to acquire advanced Japanese skills.

Compound Particle Counterparts to the Particle に

Table of Contents
に対して: Targets of Non-physical Actions, Emotions, and Attitudes
について, に関して, and をめぐって: Targets of Thoughts or Speech
にかかわる: Targets of Relation
Using に対して and をめぐって for Relative Clauses

Up until now, you have expressed targets using the particle に. The expressions we will pick up here are the compound particle counterparts to the particle に. Some of them are interchangeable, but compound particles basically express more detailed nuances with higher formality.

たいして: Targets of Non-physical Actions, Emotions, and Attitudes

[あなたは] おやたいして つめたい(です)よ
[Topic / Subject] Target of Attitude Predicate
[You] are cool toward [your] parents.

The function of に対して is to express targets of non-physical actions, emotions, and attitudes. In general, you can replace に対して with the particle に. The main role is to increase formality and to clarify meanings since the several functions of the particle に sometimes make sentences ambiguous.

あねはいつもいもうとたいしておこって(いる / います)。
The elder sister is always angry at the younger sister.
失敗しっぱいたいして責任せきにんかんじて(いる / います)。
[I] feel responsibility for the failure.
サービスたいしてまんが(ある / あります)。
[I] have complaints about [your] service.

In passive sentences, the particle に makes ambiguous sentences. The particle に can indicate doers and targets while に対して indicates only targets. Thus, when it comes to passive sentences, it’s better to use に対して to clarify targets.

なかさんされた指示しじはどれもむずかしい(です)。
As for the directions given by Tanaka-san (*doer), all of them are difficult.
As for the directions given to Tanaka-san (*target), all of them are difficult.
なかさんたいしてされた指示しじはどれもむずかしい(です)。
As for the directions given to Tanaka-san, all of them are difficult.
井上いのうえさんとどけられたふくもの(だった / でした)。
The clothing delivered by Inoue-san (*doer) was kimono.
The clothing delivered to Inoue-san (*target) was kimono.
井上いのうえさんたいしてとどけられたふくもの(だった / でした)。
The clothing delivered to Inoue-san was kimono.

As you learned, the particle を (Direct Object) and the particle に (Target) are sometimes confusing. Be careful; you cannot replace the particle を with 対して, too.

かた たいしてたたく / たたきます)。
[I’ll] tap [someone] on the shoulder.
いもうと たいしてしかる / しかります)。
[I’ll] scold [my] younger sister.

Here is one of the places where learners often make a mistake. When the particle に indicates physical contact, you cannot replace the particle に with に対して.

パソコンを先生せんせい たいしてわたす / わたします)。
[I’ll] hand over the PC to [my] teacher.
ども たいしてう / います)。
[I’ll] meet children.

について, にかんして, and をめぐって: Targets of Thoughts or Speech

[わたしたちは] ほんきょういくについて ろん(した / しました)
[Topic / Subject] Target of Speech Verb
[We] discussed education in Japan.

The function is to express targets of thoughts and speech. You may consider について as the counterpart to “about” in English. に関して is more formal than について like “regarding.” However, you cannot use に関して with verbs related to thoughts, e.g. 思う and 考える (*Look at the third example).

ほんぶんについてりたい(です)。
[I] want to know about Japanese culture.
ゲームかんしていいはなしを(かない / きません)。
[I] don’t hear good news regarding (TV) games.
もっとかい問題もんだい についてに関して かんがよう / ましょう)。
Let’s think more about problems in the world.

をめぐって indicates conflicts between two parties. The difference between をめぐって and について/に関して is that をめぐって allows you to use words which are not directly involved with thoughts and speech, e.g. “あらそう: to fight” and “対立たいりつする: to conflict.” When you use words which indicate both conflicts and speech or thoughts, e.g. “ろんする: to discuss,” をめぐって, について, and に関して are interchangeable.

ほんきょういくをめぐってろん(した / しました)。
[We] discussed education in Japan.
契約けいやく内容ないようをめぐってけんを(した / しました)。
[I] fight with [him/her] concerning the terms of the contract.
国境こっきょうをめぐって対立たいりつして(いる / います)。
[They] are conflicting concerning the boundary.

You can set the target part as a topic by combining について and に関してwith the topic particle は, which is not applicable for をめぐって.

ゆうについてうつもりは(ない / ありません)。
About the reason, [I] don’t intend to tell you [it].
しょうさいかんしてあと説明せつめい(する / します)。
Regarding the detail, [I] will explain [it] later.

にかかわる: Targets of Relation

がん いのちにかかわる おもい)びょう だ / です
  Target of Relation Modified Noun  
Topic / Subject Noun Clause State-of-being
Cancers are a (heavy) disease which affects [people’s] lives.

This is a different usage from what you have learned so far. The usage of compound particles can be divided into two groups. The first is to work just like particles, e.g. に対して and について. The second is to work as relative clauses. にかかわる is the later one. In this context, modified nouns can include adjectives. The function of にかかわる is to indicate targets of relations which can roughly be translated as “to do with,” “to be related with,”  “to affect,” and “to involve.”

くるまにかかわるごとをして(いる / います)。
[I’m] working for a job which is related to cars.
これは宗教しゅうきょうにかかわるはなし(だ / です)。
This is a topic which is related to religions.
とうにかかわるひとはみんなあたまがいい(です)。
Every person who is involved with investments is smart.
年金ねんきんほん将来しょうらいにかかわる問題もんだい(だ / です)。
Social annuities are the problem which affects Japan’s future.

Using にたいして and をめぐって for Relative Clauses

The origin of 対して and めぐって come from the verbs: 対する and めぐる. However, these verb forms are generally not used as normal verbs, but rather to modify nouns in the same way that  にかかわる does. Some compound particles can work like both particles and relative clauses.

観光かんこうきゃくたいするたいまんが(ある / あります)。
[I] have complaints about [your] attitude toward tourists.
サービスたいするけんきたい(です)。
[I] want to hear [your] opinion about [our] service.
かねめぐるあらそいが頻繁ひんぱんに(こる / こります)。
Disputes over money often occur.
宗教しゅうきょうめぐるろんはしないほうがいい(です)。
It is better not to make discussions concerning religions.

You can also modify nouns by using the particle の. The meaning will remain the same. This usage is applicable for 対して, について, に関して, and をめぐって. Note: the variety of the usage of compound particles must be confusing. Thus, we have made a table showing all of the usages. If necessary, please refer to it at this link.

ほんぶんについて質問しつもん(だ / です)。
ゲームにかんしてはなし(だ / です)。
ほんきょういくをめぐってろん(だ / です)。
観光かんこうきゃくたいしてたいまんが(ある / あります)。
サービスにたいしてけんきたい(です)。
かねをめぐってあらそいは頻繁ひんぱんに(こる / こります)。
宗教しゅうきょうをめぐってろんはしないほうがいい(です)。

Summary

  1. Compound particles have two usages like particles and relative clauses.
  2. に対して expresses targets of non-physical actions, emotions, and attitudes.
  3. について and に関して express targets of thoughts and speech like “about.”
  4. をめぐって expresses conflicts between two parties.
  5. にかかわる expresses targets of relations.

Regarding the advanced grammar, you should learn it based on a solid knowledge of basic Japanese grammar. When it comes to compound particles, you have to understand how particles and relative clauses work. For example, if you look up the word: に対して in a dictionary, you will find that “toward” and “against” are given as definitions. As you may have noticed, languages are not simple enough to just translate individual words. In order to properly understand the concept of Japanese grammar, please clear up any doubts you may have regarding basic grammar. Next, you will learn compound particles which are related to the particle で.