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:

 ここ降(お)りてください  The place of getting off, for example the bus stop.
 ここ降(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)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)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.
 そこ投(な)げる  To throw an object to そこ, meaning that そこ is the target.
 そこ投(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)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)手紙(てがみ)を送(おく)る  You are going to the post office to send letters to your friend.
 エレベーターのぼる  You are on the elevator.
 エレベーターのぼる  You are going up in the elevator.
 手(て)入れる  You’ve got something in your hand.
 手(て)入れる  You are putting something (e.g. into a box) with your hand.
 3分(ぷん)以内(いない)話(はな)す  Think about your topic for three minutes, and talk about it.
 3分(ぷん)以内(いない)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!



Particle に
  • The destination or the arrival point
  • Used with existence words: いるor ある
Particle で
  • Place of Action

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