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All About Japanese Particles: で (de)

1. Indicates the location of an action: “at, in.”

Note: Contrast with ni (#13, no. 2).

昨日銀座のレストラン晩ごはんを食べました。
Kinō Ginza no resutoran de bangohan o tabemashita.
Yesterday I had dinner at a restaurant in Ginza.

私の友達は、図書館本を読んでいます。
Watashi no tomodachi wa, tosho-kan de hon o yonde imasu.
My friend [a friend of mine] is reading a book in the library.

2. Indicates a means or implement: “by, with.”

私は日本へ船来ました。
Watashi wa Nihon e fune de kimashita.
I came to Japan by boat.

ボールペン書いて下さい。
Bōrupen de kaite kudasai.
Please write with a ball-point pen.

3. Indicates materials used: “of, from, with.”

このケーキは、卵と砂糖作ります。
Kono kēki wa, tamago to satō-de tsukurimasu.
This cake is made of eggs and sugar.

昔、日本人は木と紙作った家に住んでました。
Mukashi, Nihon-jin wa ki to kami de tsukutta ie ni sunde imashita.
Long ago, the Japanese lived in houses made of wood and paper.

Note: Kara may replace de in this usage except when the raw material is unmistakably evident (as with paper, wood, glass, cloth, string, and leather), in which case de must be used. Compare kara (#15, I-6).

4. Indicates the greatest (largest, smallest, least, oldest, newest, etc.)

世界一番高い山はなんですか。
Sekai de ichiban takai yama wa nan desu ka.
What is the highest mountain in the world?

これはこの村一番古いお寺です。
Kore wa kono mura de ichiban furui otera desu.
This is the oldest temple in the village.

5. Indicates amount and scope: “within the space (time) of, in, for.”

この本は一時間読めますよ。
Kono hon wa ichi-jikan de yomemasu yo.
You can read this book in an hour.

あのテレビは10万円買える。
Ano terebi wa jū-man-en de kaeru.
You can buy that TV set for V100,000.

6. Indicates the mode or condition of the agent of an action (not to be confused with the subject).

山田さんはアパートに一人住んでいます。
Yamada-san wa apāto ni hitori de sunde imasu.
Yamada lives in an apartment by himself.

家族中ハワイへ旅行した。
Kazoku-chū de Hawai e ryokō shita.
I made a trip to Hawaii with the whole family.

7. Indicates time or age: “when, at the age of”

Note: Compare ni (#13, no. 3).

あの詩人は25死んだ。
Ano shijin wa nijūgo-sai de shinda.
That poet died at the age of twenty-five.

戦争が終わって来年50年になる。
Sensō ga owatte rainen de gojū-nen ni naru.
Next year will be the fiftieth year since the war ended.

8. Indicates the reason for something: “because of”

病気旅行に行けなかった。
Byōki de ryokō ni ikenakatta.
Because I was sick, I couldn’t go on the trip.

台風電車が止まった。
Taifū de densha ga tomatta.
The train stopped on account of the typhoon.

– Source: All about particles – A handbook of Japanese function words

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