633 - に応えて（にこたえて）
JLPT N2: に応えて (in response to; in accordance with)
Fairly early in your studies, I'm guessing you'll have come across the verb 答える (こたえる // to answer [e.g. a test question]).
Or perhaps you'll have seen the noun 答え (こたえ // answer [e.g. to a test question]).
We've seen both of these before:
しにたくなければ おれ の しつもん に こたえる んだ。
If you don't want to die, you'll answer my question.
Literally: “if you don't want to die + I + の + question + に + answer + んだ.”
Note: This is from [NDL #156] - High-Impact Images for Messaging.
すぐ に こたえ を かんがえだした。
I came up with the answer right away.
Literally: “right away + に + answer + を + thought out / came up with.”
Note: This is from [NDL #178] - Get Out of Here!
In this lesson we're looking at 応える (こたえる // to respond; to answer; to meet [e.g. expectations]).
So it's sort of the same word, only with a different kanji.
I think it might help to think of 答える as "to answer," while 応える is "to respond to; to answer (by doing something)."
As a JLPT N2 grammar form, we put に応えて (にこたえて) after NOUNS to say "in response to NOUN" or "in accordance with NOUN."
Here's an example:
じょせい きゃく の ニーズ にこたえて、 けしょうしつ を かいそう した。
We remodeled our restroom(s) to better serve the needs of our female customers.
Literally: “female + customer + の + needs + in response to / in accordance with, + powder room / lavatory + を + remodeling + did.”
And here's another example:
せいと たち の ようぼう にこたえて、 せいふく を はいし する ことになった。
School uniforms will be abolished in response to students’ requests.
Literally: “students + の + request / demand for + in response to / in accordance with, + uniform + を + abolition + do + thing + に + became.”
So, can any old NOUN come directly before に応えて？
Not really, no.
Typically, the word directly before に応えて will be a NOUN expressing hopes, expectations, or questions.
That's why we had it followed by ニーズ (needs; demand) and 要望 (request; demand for) in our first two examples.
That's also why I got a bit confused when I first tried to translate the following sentence:
みなさん の アンコール にこたえて、 もう いっきょく うたおう と おもいます。
It looks like you all want an encore, so I think I’ll sing one more song.
Literally: “everyone + の + encore / demand for an encore + in response to / in accordance with, + one more song + let’s sing + と + think.”
When I first saw that Japanese sentence, I thought, "In response to everyone's encore, I think I'll sing one more song"...? What?
Talking to Rei, I learned that アンコール, in addition to having the English meaning of "encore," and also refer to an audience's demand or wish for an encore.
For example, maybe after the concert, the people in the audience wouldn't stop clapping or cheering (←アンコール), thus showing their desire for an encore (←also アンコール), which is why the singer says this sentence.
Finally, we should note that に応えて will appear as に応える when it is part of a noun phrase (i.e. when it is not the end of a clause).
Maybe that sentence (↑) is confusing. Looking at an example is easier:
しょうひしゃ の きたい に こたえる ような あんぜん で おいしい やさい を つくって いきたい です。
I would like to make safe, delicious vegetables that meet the expectations of consumers.
Literally: “consumer + の + expectation / hope + in response to / in accordance with + ような (=like) + safe + で + tasty / delicious + vegetables + を + make (and) + want to go + です.”
Our noun phrase here is:
しょうひしゃ の きたい に こたえる... やさい
vegetables that meet the expectations of consumers.
Literally: “consumer + の + expectation / hope + in response to / in accordance with... + vegetables”
The phrase 期待に応える (きたいにこたえる) is common enough that it has its own entry in dictionaries, where it is listed as meaning "to meet expectations" or "to live up to expectations."
I don't know if you will find yourself using に応えて frequently as you speak and write Japanese... but it is common enough that you certainly want to understand it when other people use it!