Grammar Japanese

Japanese grammar で(de) particle【JLPT5】

Particles like で, に, を, は are some of the most difficult grammar points for Japanese learners.

Many Japanese learners in upper levels still get confused about how to use particles correctly. But you don't have to be too worried.

The key to understand particles is to grasp the concept of each particle.

Let’s understand the basic concept of で (de) and use it like a native Japanese.

で (de) particle

で (de) is one of the basic Japanese particles and is mainly used for four types of expressions.

The basic concept of the で (de) particle is “a boundary.”

It doesn’t mean that Japanese people are making boundaries in their heads every time they use a で(de) particle. But the boundary image is key to understand the で(de) particle.

The で(de) particle has four usages. One is a place, second is means and use, third is amount, and fourth is time and period. Let’s look at some examples!

場所ばしょ Place

The で(de) particle can be used for describing the place where you do something. The grammar is as follows:

grammar

Place+で(de)+verb.

Your action is done within the boundary.

For example, when you want to say “I’ll play at the park with friends,” you say 友達ともだち公園こうえんあそぶ.

The park is chosen for the place of action and is in the boundary that is separate from other places.

When you say you’ll sleep in a bed, you say ベッドる. Your action “sleeping” is done in a bed (boundary).

word list

友達(ともだち): friend
公園(こうえん): park
ベッド : bed
寝る(ねる): to sleep
図書館(としょかん): library

友達ともだち公園こうえんあそ
Play at the park with friends


ベッド
Sleep in a bed


図書館としょかん勉強べんきょうする
Study in a library

point

You can't use で with the existence verb いる or ある because いる or ある express a state.

For example, you can't say ベッドでいる. It means "You are being a bed." Weird, right?

If you want to say you are in a bed, you can say ベッドいる.  

手段しゅだん方法ほうほう means and use

The second role of the で(de) particle is to describe means and use. You can specify what you use for the action. When you use the で (de) particle, the grammar is:

grammar

means+で(de)+verb.

For example, when you want to say, “I’ll go to school by bicycle,” you say 自転車じてんしゃ学校がっこうく.

The idea is that the bicycle is in the boundary that separates from other transportations, like the picture as follows.

You can also use this for speaking languages because the language is the means you are using to speak. For example, “I speak in Japanese” is 日本語にほんごはなす. The で (de) particle means that you speaking in Japanese and not any other language.

word list

自転車(じてんしゃ): bicycle
学校(がっこう): school
行く(いく): to go
日本語(にほんご): Japanese
話す(はなす): to speak
包丁(ほうちょう): knife
野菜(やさい): vegetable
切る(きる): to cut

自転車じてんしゃ学校がっこう
I go to school by bicycle


日本語にほんごはな
I speak in Japanese


包丁ほうちょう野菜やさい
I cut vegetables with a knife

個数こすうなどの単位たんい the amount

The で(de) particle can be used when you specify the amount of something. 

For example, there are peaches that cost 500 yen for two of them, you can say このももは2で500えんです. The grammar is as follows:

grammar

number+で(de)+complement or verb.

word list

桃(もも): peach
500円(ごひゃくえん): 500yen
友達(ともだち): friend
部屋(へや): room
借りる(かりる): rent
会社(かいしゃ): company
始める(はじめる): start

このももは2で500えんです。
You can buy these two peaches with 500 yen.


4にん部屋へやりる
Rent a room with four people.


3にん会社かいしゃはじめる
Start a company with three people

時間じかん/期間きかん a period of time

The で particle can be used for describing a period of time. For example, you can say summer vacation will end three days later: あと3夏休なつやすみがわる.

The boundary partitions a term in time like the picture as follows. The red line is the time of the action.

grammar

time or period+で(de)+verb.

あと3夏休なつやすみがわる
Summer vacation will end in three days.


授業じゅぎょうは5わる
The class will end at 5.

point

Some people confuse で and に because you can say both 5わる and 5わる. (It will end at  5 o’ clock.)

The difference is that で expresses a time span. For example, your class starts at 3 o’ clock and ends at 5 o’ clock. You can use 5わる because you are thinking of the time span of the class.

に expresses a point in time. You are not thinking of a time span, but rather a single point in time.

Work cited

いちばんやさしい日本語教育入門 by 今井新悟
Easiest Introductory Japanese Teacher's manual by Shingo Imai, published in 2019

-Grammar, Japanese

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