How to Use Particle De in Japanese

Female students in seminar
Absodels / Getty Images

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.

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.
I bought shoes
at the department store.
Umi de oyoida.
I swam in the ocean.


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

Basu de gakkou ni ikimasu.
I go to school by bus.
Nihongo de hanashite kudasai.
Please speak in Japanese.


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

San-nin de kore o tsukutta.
Three of us made this.
Zenbu de sen-en desu.
They cost 1,000 yen altogether.


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

Kore wa sekai de
ichiban ookii desu.

This is the biggest in the world.
Nihon de doko ni ikitai desu ka.
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.
We can get there in an hour.
Isshuukan de dekimasu.
I can do it in a week.


It indicates the composition of an object.

Toufu wa daizu de tsukurimasu.
Tofu is made from soybeans.
Kore wa nendo de tsukutta
hachi desu.

This is a bowl made of clay.

Required Cost 

It translates into "for", "at", etc. 

Kono hon o juu-doru de katta.
I bought this book for ten dollars.
Kore wa ikura de okuremasu ka.
How much would it cost
to send this?


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.
I was absent from school
due to a cold.
Fuchuui de kaidan kara ochita.
I fell down the stairs
due to carelessness.
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Abe, Namiko. "How to Use Particle De in Japanese." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Abe, Namiko. (2021, February 16). How to Use Particle De in Japanese. Retrieved from Abe, Namiko. "How to Use Particle De in Japanese." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2023).