Particles: De

Female students in seminar
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What are particles?

Particles are probably one of the most difficult and confusing aspects of Japanese sentences. A particle (joshi) is a word that shows the relationship of a word, a phrase, or a clause to the rest of the sentence. Some particles have English equivalents. Others have functions similar to English prepositions, but since they always follow the word or words they mark, they are post-positions.

There are also particles that have a peculiar usage which is not found in English. Most particles are multi-functional. Click  here to learn more about particles.

The Particle "De"

Place of Action

It indicates the place where an action takes place. It translates into "in", "at", "on", and so on.
 

Depaato de kutsu o katta.
デパートで靴を買った。
I bought shoes 
at the department store.
Umi de oyoida.
海で泳いだ。
I swam in the ocean.  


Means

It indicates means, method, or instruments. It translates into "by", "with", "in" "by means of", etc. 
 

Basu de gakkou ni ikimasu.
バスで学校に行きます。
I go to school by bus.
Nihongo de hanashite kudasai.
日本語で話してください。
Please speak in Japanese.


Totalizing

It is placed after a quantity, time or amount of money, and indicates an extent.  
 

San-nin de kore o tsukutta.
三人でこれを作った。
Three of us made this.
Zenbu de sen-en desu.
全部で千円です。
They cost 1,000 yen altogether.


Scope

It translates into "in", "among", "within", etc.


 

Kore wa sekai de 
ichiban ookii desu.

これは世界で一番大きいです。
This is the biggest in the world.
Nihon de doko ni ikitai desu ka.
日本でどこに行きたいですか。
Where do you want to go 
in Japan?


Time Limit 

It indicates time consumed for a certain action or occurrence. It translates into "in", "within", etc. 

 

Ichijikan de ikemasu.
一時間で行けます。
We can get there in an hour.
Isshuukan de dekimasu.
一週間でできます。
I can do it in a week. 


Material

It indicates the composition of an object.
 

Toufu wa daizu de tsukurimasu.
豆腐は大豆で作ります。
Tofu is made from soybeans. 
Kore wa nendo de tsukutta 
hachi desu.

これは粘土で作ったはちです。
This is a bowl made of clay.


Required Cost 

It translates into "for", "at", etc. 
 

Kono hon o juu-doru de katta.
この本を十ドルで買った。
I bought this book for ten dollars.
Kore wa ikura de okuremasu ka.
これはいくらで送れますか。
How much would it cost 
to send this?


Cause

It indicates a casual reason or motive for an action or occurrence. It translates into "due to", "because of", "owing to", etc.
 

Kaze de gakkou o yasunda.
風邪で学校を休んだ。
I was absent from school 
due to a cold.
Fuchuui de kaidan kara ochita.
不注意で階段から落ちた。
I fell down the stairs 
due to carelessness.


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