Japanese particles may be the most confusing aspect of learning Japanese; truly many of my students seem to have problems with particles. In this article, I will mention the difference between に and で. This may be for advanced students, but I tried to make it more easily understandable for intermediate students as well.
The destination or the arrival point is shown by に
In this case, に is focused on place 日本 and 学校, and not focused on the action 帰りますor 行きます.
Also, a place of existence is shown by に such as:
いる and ある are showing existence.
On the other hand, the place of the action is shown by で such as:
These are focused on the actions 食べる and 働く.
Look at the following examples:
|ここに降(お)りてください||The place of getting off, for example the bus stop.|
|ここで降(お)りてください||The action to get off, for example to get off the bus.|
|外国(がいこく)に家(いえ)を買(か)う||To buy a house in a foreign country. You might sign for it in your home town.|
|外国(がいこく)で家(いえ)を買(か)う||To sign for buying a house in a foreign country even though the house might not be in a foreign country.|
|そこに投(な)げる||To throw an object to そこ, meaning that そこ is the target.|
|そこで投(な)げる||To throw an object from そこ, meaning you are standing in そこ, throwing in another direction.|
|郵便局(ゆうびんきょく)に手紙(てがみ)を送(おく)る||You are going to send letters to a post office (normally, letters are sent to a certain address, but this is just an example).|
|郵便局(ゆうびんきょく)で手紙(てがみ)を送(おく)る||You are going to the post office to send letters to your friend.|
|エレベーターにのぼる||You are on the elevator.|
|エレベーターでのぼる||You are going up in the elevator.|
|手(て)に入れる||You’ve got something in your hand.|
|手(て)で入れる||You are putting something (e.g. into a box) with your hand.|
|３分(ぷん)以内(いない)に話(はな)す||Think about your topic for three minutes, and talk about it.|
|３分(ぷん)以内(いない)で話(はな)す||Think about your topic, and you only have three minutes to talk.|
This article should help you to get a better understanding of the differences between に and で. That said, there are other uses of に and で and they will be covered in another article. Below you will find a easy way to remember the differences between に and で. I hope you find these tips helpful!