話し方|Talk!

How to: Make Basic Japanese Sentences | Particles で (+に+へ extended)

皆様みんなさま、こんにちにゃあぁぁ!Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online. Whether a hot summer day or a cold winter night, we’re here to guide you through the winding yet beautiful forest that is Japanese language. There’s always so much to explore even in the simplest ways. And, to properly experience it, you need the correct tools to survive! Even the simplest seeming tools may have several uses and meanings depending on how you use them! That’s where we come in. We’re Kiki and Koko, your guides to Japanese language and culture. We’ll help you make sense of new concepts and figure out how they’re used. You don’t want to use a grappling hook where you should be using a fork or a luxury sedan when you should be using a watch. Sometimes particles can feel that easy to confuse, but no worries, it may take a re-read or several, but we’ll make sure to give you the tools you need with the know-how.

In this lesson, we’re introducing a brand new particle! But, with this new particle, know that this isn’t the only usage it has, but for right now, we’re going one step at a time, hiking up a gentle slope through the meadow rather than hiking up the north face of a rocky mountain. But, in this, we also have to compare it to our previously introduced particles, に, ni, and へ, he.

Comparing and contrasting with に, ni, and へ, he, will help you get a better grasp on the new particle and when to use it as well as the previous particles!

Even still, before we start our trek into the new territory, check your mental pack and make sure you have all that you need stored away. These include:

What is this magical desu (side a) thumbnail    basic sentences thumbnail wo    basic sentences thumbnail wo  kiki and koko essentials - ni he intro

です、は、が , and。And, after you’ve gotten a good grasp on these, or at least a quick revision/review, then you can pop back here, and we can see what’s going on! Most importantly, learning how to say where it’s going on~ Mhmm~

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So, speaking of directional particles, in contrast to に, ni, and へ, he, where we’re usually talking about where we’re going to, in this case, we have , de, which in this particular context indicates where an action is taking place. Let’s step back just a moment, though. As usual, when learning about Japanese grammar, it is going to differ dramatically to English. But, oddly enough, there is a way to make sense of this in English. If you are going 「to」a place, you’re going to use a different word than if something is happening 「at」a place. So, before we jump into bolder statements about , de, let’s take a quick look at where you would use it versus に, ni, and/or へ, he.

When you see (〇/〇), that means either option would be acceptable.

コンビニ(へ ・ に) 行きましょうね。
konbini (he / ni) ikimashou ne.
Let’s go to the convenience store.

一番好きなミックスせんべいは あのコンビニ(で ・ に)※ 売っています。
ichiban sukina mikkusu senbei wa ano konbini (de / ni) utteimasu.
(My) favourite rice cracker mix is sold at that convenience store.

コンビニ 着きました。
konbini ni tsukimashita.
(We) arrived at the convenience store.

コンビニで ミックスせんべいを 買いました。
konbini de mikkusu senbei wo kaimashita.
(We) bought the rice cracker mix at the convenience store.

車の中 全部食べちゃった。
kuruma no naka de zenbu tabechatta.
(We) ended up eating it all in the car.

車の中 他のスナックがあります。
kuruma no naka ni hoka no sunakku ga arimasu.
There are other snacks in the car.

※So, in this case, emphasis is on the existence rather than the action itself which means that に, ni, would be preferred, BUT if the intention were to emphasise the action of buying, then で, de, would be used. So in the usage we’re focusing on, , de, when affixed to the end of a word or phrase shows an action is happening 「at」that place.

So, this is quite a bit to explain, but we figured it more useful to see the whole ‘story’ in one go to compare and contrast in your head a bit before we help you suss things out.

Mainly, we’re focused on the function of で, de, indicating that an action is taking place. So, of course, to contrast, it’s important to note that going 「to」the convenience store would use に, ni, or へ, he, indicating that they’re moving towards a destination.

コンビニ(へ ・ に) 行きましょうね。
konbini (he / ni) ikimashou ne.
Let’s go to the convenience store.

But, when we take a look at the next sentences, you’ll notice that in this sentence both で, de, and に, ni, but not へ, he, because this isn’t indicating travelling towards something. So, really, へ, he, is easier to rule out automatically. Now, in the sentence below, we already explained why で, de, and に, nicould technically be used, but in the sentence after this is where we see the differences arise.

一番好きなミックスせんべいは あのコンビニ(で ・ に) 売っています。
ichiban sukina mikkusu senbei wa ano konbini (de / ni) utteimasu.
(My) favourite rice cracker mix is sold at that convenience store.

So, when we look at で, de, in this sentence below, the difference is that there is an actual action taking place that is focused on action rather than existence. It’s a bit of a tricky one, but an important difference, because when something is sold, in English, that would feel more like an action, but in this case, it can also be seen as a state of being. When something is sold somewhere, it’s a state of existence: it’s on sale, it’s being sold. But, when it comes to purchasing, it’s more likely to emphasise the act of shopping or purchasing.

コンビニ ミックスせんべいを 買いました。
konbini de mikkusu senbei wo kaimashita.
(We) bought the rice cracker mix at the convenience store.

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ミックスせんべい (mikkusu senbei) Rice cracker (snack) mix

But, this idea may become clearer in this next set! You might notice that the same first phrase 「車の中」, kuruma no naka, in the car, is used. We’ll delve deeper into the particle used there as well, but for now, we’re focusing on how で, de, and に, niare used in both cases. So, whilst they are both taking place 「in」the car, this is worded a bit differently in Japanese. It’s more-so like saying「at」the inside of the car, the 「at」in this case, being で, dein the first sentence. We use で, debecause the action of eating is ocurring.

車の中 全部食べちゃった。
kuruma no naka de zenbu tabechatta.
(We) ended up eating it all in the car.

車の中 他のスナックがあります。
kuruma no naka ni hoka no sunakku ga arimasu.
There are other snacks in the car.

In the second sentence, the one above, we see に, niis used. Because whilst there is a state of being verb at the end of the sentence… well, that’s simply it, it’s a state of being verb. Something is happening save for existing. So, in this case, it’s simply following the rules of the particle. If there’s no action, and it’s just existing, then it’s に, ni, and if there’s some sort of action verb occurring, then you’ll want to use your trusty ole で, de. 

So, whilst we’ve been generalising で, de, as 「at, it’s really only useful when you’re trying to grammatically suss out phrases like 「車の中で」 kuruma no naka de. So, we just want to emphasise that 「at」is just a general guideline to help you remember, because に, ni, often indicates where you’re arriving, which is also translated as 「at」, which you can see in the example below. Certain verbs require certain particles, but that gets into another lesson about transitive and intransitive verbs, which we will cover. But, for now, you can think of this as a case-by-case basis.

コンビニ 着きました。
konbini ni tsukimashita.
(We) arrived at the convenience store.

But, this still fits within the same logic as before as 「arriving」is still moving to a destination, therefore you use に, ni, to indicate the destination, as usual. So, even if it seems tricky in English, once the rules sink in, you’ll definitely grow more accustomed to these baser uses.

So, in this extended mix, we covered a lot of the differences between the previous particles and their functions—which may be the more challenging part of particles. But, no worries if it didn’t click right away. Think of this as stocking your supply bag with more supplies for your excursion in Japanese language~! Sometimes particles can be difficult for even native speakers of Japanese in the same way different grammatical elements of English can be confusing to native English speakers. But, in the end, getting a good grasp on these particles little by little will help shape your way of forming sentences in Japanese which will in turn help you on your Japanese language journey!

And, again, as we always mention in these, this is a Japanese Language Essentials lesson, meaning these are part of the basic and bite sized bits of knowledge you need to survive in Japanese language. These are meant to give you just enough to get by, but also enough to delve deeper if you like! These are the tools that we’ve given to you, but remember, again, these are just some of the uses of these particles. They’re multifaceted tools that depend on context and placement. But, learning Japanese is a journey. You can’t just take a step and trek the entire broad woodlands, you have to find a path. We’re just here to clear the brush and hanging branches, making a way for you to see a little further to the next step in your journey.

And, whilst you’re on your journey, feel free to take a walk through our previous lessons where you can take a first look, or revise/review previous lessons! Learning isn’t just a one look, though a quick glance is always better than nothing at all, it’s about repetition. If you return and take a look at the content even for a moment every day, you’ll find that it will become more natural to you with time! Make it fun, have a relaxing time. We’re here on your time.

But, sometimes you can lose track of time, like the days of the week that new content is posted.  Stay up to date without even having to look at the calendar by subscribing to the Electronic Mailing List of Tomorrow, today, found usually at the bottom of the site page or the sidebar on desktop. You’ll get the latest tools and resources to surviving in Japanese language in straight to your inbox. That’s articles, videos, podcasts, and more. Also, feel free to join our Patreon, if you’d like to support OUR survival and the creation of more content to be made available to as many people as possible.

Thank you for joining us! We hope that you continue with us on this adventure, and we appreciate that you’ve chosen us to assist you on your Japanese learning journey!

Categories: 話し方|Talk!, Japanese Language Essentials, Kiki+KoKo: Let's NihonGO!!, SpeRaToBo, 文法|Grammar!

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