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Sentence: 그런데 부족함이라고는 전혀 없는 더즐리 부부에게는 누구에게도 알리고 싶지 않은 비밀이 하나 있었다

Why is it 부부에게는 and not just 부부는 ?

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  • 부부는 is not correct because then the sentence does not seem to indicate who has the "누구에게도 알리고 싶지 않은 비밀이 하나". On the other hand I think writing just 부부에게 instead of 부부에게는 would still be understandable.
    – user17915
    May 10 at 15:27

1 Answer 1

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Both can be used with the same meaning, but 에게는 sounds slightly better (more detailed and inviting). Use 에게는 when you want to put more emotion in it, and 는 when you want to state the fact quickly.

It is because 에게(는) states the relation of something belonging to someone more clearly and naturally. I think it can be compared to "to" in English as in "There is nothing to it" or "There is certain prestige to this position", where it highlights the loose conceptual belonging more subtly than using "have/has".

  • 더즐리 부부는 누구에게도 알리고 싶지 않은 비밀이 하나 있었다 = The Dursleys had a secret they didn't want to let on to anyone.
  • 더즐리 부부에게는 누구에게도 알리고 싶지 않은 비밀이 하나 있었다 = There was a secret of/to the Dursleys that they didn't want ...

Another example:

  • 나는 꿈이 있어요 = I have a dream.
  • 내게는 꿈이 있어요 = (paraphrasing) There is a dream I cherish. (it highlights the relationship)

When the subject is an inanimate thing, it becomes 에는 instead of 에게는, as in 파리에는 에펠탑이 있어요 (에게는 is only used for people and animals). And sometimes 는 might be dropped since it is a compound of 에게 + 는 (는 adds nuance/emphasis).

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  • Amazig! Thanks :)
    – Bugsy
    May 17 at 7:28

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