Location particles : に vs で ( ni vs de)


= Nihon ni ikitainaa…

= I wanna go to Japan.


= Nihon de Maggie to asobitai…

= I’d love to play with Maggie in Japan…

Hi, everyone! !onpu!

We have a very cute guest teacher, Max Sensei from Prague, the Czech Republic.

OMG, you are totally my type ❤️ かわいい〜〜!!= Kawaiiiii!!! = Cute!! 

Max Sensei is having a great life with her mom, Nina who is studying Japanese, enjoying running through the snowbanks, sunbathing, taking a walk, etc.

You have quite a life, Max!

Today he will teach you the difference between the location markers, ( =ni ) and で  ( = de).

Some of my Twitter followers have been asking for this type of lesson, so here you go!

You might think this is very basic stuff, but sometimes it is very confusing!

I know there are a lot of textbooks that cover this subject, but allow me to give you my take on this grammatical topic.

Note :  The usage of and varies.  I  will just focus on their function as location markers in this lesson.

OK, are you ready? Here we go! 


🔸 The basic rules of how to distinguish and :


:rrrr: indicates the location where something/someone exists or “is”. /When an action is done in a certain direction. Or with the verbs that describe the state. 



:rrrr: indicate where some action/events occur (Sometimes you move around in certain locations.)

Let’s study these one by one. 



1) When you indicate the location where you do some activities/ actions that happen or take place.

in / at = (location) + action verb

Ex. デパート買い物をする。

= Depaato de kaimono wo suru

= to buy at a department store


= Resutoran de shokuji wo suru

= to eat at a restaurant

Ex. ベッド寝る

= beddo de neru

= to sleep in a bed

Note : 寝る ( = neru)  → we usually use で  ( = de) but sometimes we use に  ( = ni).

:rrrr:ベッド寝る = beddo ni neru = to sleep IN the bed

The difference :

When you focus on the action (sleeping) you use ( = de) and when you focus on the place, where you sleep, you use ( = de)

So as 横たわる ( = yokotawaru)

Ex.  ベッド横たわる = beddo ni yokotawaru = to lie down in the bed.

(Focusing on the state and the place, where you sleep)

Ex.  ベッド横たわる = beddo de yokotawaru = to lie down in the bed.

(Focusing on the action, lying down)

Ex. どこその事件のことを知りましたか?

= Dokode sono jiken no koto wo shirimashita ka?

= Where did you hear (or find out) about the incident?

Ex.  友達の家知りました。

= Tomodachi no ie de shirimashita.

= I heard about it at my friend’s house.

Ex.  明日、どこ会う?

= Ashita, doko de au?

= Where are we going to get together tomorrow?

Ex.  駅前待ち合わせしようか。

=Ekimae de machiawase shiyouka?

= Shall we meet in front of the station?

2) When you indicate the location where some activity/event is held:

Ex. 明日、大学午後から授業があります。

= Ashita, daigaku de gogo kara jugyou ga arimasu.

= I have a class at the university in the afternoon.

Ex.  今度の学会はどこ開かれますか?

= Kondo no gakkai wa doko de hirakaremasuka?

= Where will the next academic conference be held next time?

Ex.  次の学会はニューヨークあります。

= Tsugi no gakkai wa Nyuuyooku de arimasu.

= The next academic conference will be held in New York.

Ex.  今週の日曜日、うち誕生日パーティーを開くから来てね。

= Konshuu no nichiyouii, uchi de tanjoubi paatii wo hiraku kara kitene.

= I will have a birthday party at my house next Sunday so please come over.


1) When you indicate the direction/location that someone/something moves towards:

Ex.  明日、東京行きます。

= Ashita Toukyou ni ikimasu.

= I will go to Tokyo tomorrow.

Ex. どこ行くの?

= Doko ni iku no?

= Where are you going?

Ex. これから図書館行くの。

= Korekara toshokan ni ikuno.

= I will go to the library now.

Ex. 進む 

= Kita ni susumu

= to go North

Ex.  出る

= soto ni deru

= to go outside

Ex. 大阪引っ越す

= Oosaka ni hikkosu

= to move to Osaka

Ex. パリ転勤する

= Pari ni tenkin suru

= to transfer to Paris

Ex. 帰る

= Ie ni kaeru

= to go home


2) When you indicate the place where something/someone exists:

(location)ある = ~ ni aru  = There is/are (things/ buildings )  in ~

(location)ない = ~ ni nai  = There isn’t /aren’t  (things/ buildings )  in ~


= Uchi no chikaku ni yuubinkyoku ga arimasu.

= There is a post office near my house.

Ex. そのレストランはどこありますか?

=  Sono resutoran wa doko ni arimasu ka?

= Where is the restaurant?

Ex. 郊外あります。

= Kougai ni arimasu.

= It is in the suburbs.

Note : Exception: Although you see a verb ある  ( = aru), some compound word will be used with

Ex. これはアメリカ人気があるゲームです。

= Kore wa America de ninki ga aru geimu desu.

= This game  is popular in the U.S.  (The direct translation is This is the game which has “popularity” in the U.S.)

(location)にいる  = ~ ni iru = Someone is/are in ~

Ex. 今、どこいますか?

= Ima, doko ni imasu ka?

= Where are you now?

Ex. 今、渋谷います。

= Ima, shibuya ni imasu.

= I am in Shibuya now.

Ex. マギーは今、学校いません。

= Maggie wa ima gakkou ni imasen.

= Maggie is not at the school now.

(location) 住む  = ~ ni sumu = to live in ~

Ex. どこ住んでいますか?

= Doko ni sunde imasu ka?

= Where do you live?

Ex. 千葉住んでいます。

= Chiba ni sunde imasu.

= I live in Chiba.

Note : We usually use for  住む  ( = sumu) = to live .(You are talking about the state as it refers to the state of living in a location.)

Though there are some exceptions we usually use with  暮らす ( = kurasu) to live, to spend one’s life and 生活する ( = seikatsu suru) to live because we consider these verbs to involve some actions.”

:rrrr: Ex.長い間、あのボロアパート住んでいた。

= Nagai aida, ano boro apaato ni sunde ita.

= I used to live in that shabby apartment for a long time.

Ex. 長い間、あのボロアパート暮らしていた。

= Nagai aida, ano boro apaato de kurashite ita.

Ex. 長い間、あのボロアパート生活をしていた。

= Nagai aida, ano boro apaato de seikatsu wo shiteita.

3) When you indicate the location/ place/ objects  where you place (put / install / fix / attach) something

And when one’s action or motion is directed to/onto some location or an object.

Ex. 図書館本を返す

= Toshokan ni hon wo kaesu

= to return a book to the library

Ex. 荷物を上げる

= Tana ni nimotsu wo ageru

to put one’s baggage in the overhead bin

Ex. 荷物を下降ろす

= Nimotsu wo shita ni orosu

= to put down the baggage

Ex. 空欄名前と住所を書いて下さい。

= Kuuran ni namae to juusho wo kaite kudasai.

= Please fill in your name and address in the blank.


Ex. あなたのバッグはどこ置いてありますか?

= Anata no baggu wa doko ni oite arimasuka?

= Where do you keep your bag?

Ex. ジムのロッカー置いてあります。

= Jimu no rokkaa ni oite arimasu.

= I keep it in the locker in the gym.

Ex. 生ゴミは毎週水曜日に家の前出しておいて下さい。

= Namagomi wa maishuu suiyoubi ni ie no mae ni dashite oite kudasai.

= Please put the garbage out in front of your house every Wednesday

Ex.  ポスターを貼った

= Kabe ni posutaa wo hatta.

= I put the poster on the wall.

Ex.  天井照明器具を(取り)付ける

= Tenjou ni shoumei kigu wo (tori) tsukeru.

= to hang a lamp on the ceiling

Ex. 学校教科書を忘れてきました。

= Gakkou ni kyoukasho wo wasurete kimashita.

= I left my textbook(s) at school.

Ex.  傘をどこか忘れてきました。

= Kasa wo dokoka ni wasurete kimashita.

= I left my umbrella somewhere.

Ex. 車をガレージ入れる。

= Kuruma wo gareiji ni ireru.

= to park (put) a car in the garage

Ex. おもちゃを箱(の中)しまう。

= Omocha wo hako (no naka ) ni shimasu.

= to put the toy(s) away in the box.

Ex. このテーブルお皿を並べて下さい。

= Kono teiburu ni osara wo narabete kudasai.

= Please place the plates on the table.

Note : If you drink/eat something at the table, it will be an action so you have to use

Ex. テーブルお茶を飲む

= Teiburu de ocha wo nomu

= to have a cup of tea at the table

5) When you indicate a location/things something/someone can be fit or contain.

(location) 入る入っている = ~ ni hairu /  ~ ni haitte iru = to have something in ~ / to contain something in ~

Ex. このエレベーター何人位、入りますか?

= Kono erebeetaa ni nannin kurai hairimasu ka?

= How many people would fit in this elevator?

Ex. 冷蔵庫ケーキが入っています。

= Reizouko ni keiki ga haitte imasu.

= There are cakes in the fridge.


⭐️で or ??


🔹 Confusing cases :

There are some verbs you can both use or

Here are some examples.

勤める =  tsutormeru = to work at ~


= Dochira ni otsutome desuka?

= Where do you work?


= Toyota ni tsutomete imasu.

= I work in Toyota Co.


= Toyota de tsutomete mou gonen ijou tattta.

= It has been over five years since I started working at Toyota.

Note : But if the verb is 働く ( = hataraku) to work, you use


= Doko de hataraite imasuka?

= Where do you work?


= Maggie sensei wa kono gakkou de rokunenkan hataraite imasu.

= Maggie Sensei has been working at this school for 6 years.

売っている = utte iru = to be sold

:rrrr:  Ex.どこ売っていますか?

= Doko ni utte imasuka?

= Where do they sell it?



= Doko de utte imasuka?


Ex. 駅の売店売っています。

= Eki no baiten de utte imasu.

= They sell it (them) at the store(or the kiosk) in the station.



= Eki no baiten ni utte imasu.

止まる= tomaru = to stop

:rrrr:  このバスはどこ止まりますか?

= Kono basu wa doko ni tomarimasuka?

= Where does this bus stop?



= Kono basu wa doko de tomarimasuka?

Ex.  駅前止まります。

= Ekimae de tomarimasu.

= It will make a stop in front of the station.

Ex. 駅前止まります。

= Ekimae ni tomarimasu.

= It will make a stop in front of the station.

買う= kau = to buy

Ex. どこ買えますか?

= Doko de kaemasu ka?

= Where can I buy it?

X You can’t say


= Doko ni kaemasu ka?

Ex. 三越買えます。

= Mitsukoshi de kaemasu.

= You can buy it at Mitsukoshi.

X  You can’t say


= Mitsukoshi ni kaemasu.

★ Other confusing cases  :


= Shigatsu kara nihon ni ryuugaku shimasu.

= I will be on an overseas study program in Japan starting in April.

(direction →)

But when you say 勉強する = benkyou suru = to study, you say,


= Shigatsu kara nihon de benkyou shimasu.

= In April I will begin studying in Japan.

(The action of studying → )

Ex. 鳥インフルエンザは世界中流行っています。

= Tori infuruenza wa sekaijuu de hayatte imasu.

= Avian flu has been prevalent in the world.

But when you say 広がる = hirogaru =  to expand, spread, you can use both

Ex. 鳥インフルエンザは世界中/広がりました。

= Tori infuruenza wa sekaijuu ni/de hirogarimashita.

= Avian flu has spread all over the world.

Note : When something is aiming in some direction we use and when you indicate the place where it happens, you use .


落ちている  ochite iru  = something has fallen/dropped


=Ah! Asoko ni iyaringu ga ochite iru.

= Oh, there is an earring over there. (someone dropped an earring over there.)

Note : 落とす = otosu = to drop can take both particles, and


= Doko de iyaringu wo otoshita no?

= Where did you drop your earrings?

Ex. どこイヤリングを落としたの?

= Doko ni iyaringu wo otoshita no?

= Where did you drop your earrings?

Ex. 携帯を床落としてしまった。

= Keitai wo yuka ni otoshite shimatta.

= I dropped my cell phone on the floor.

Ex. 携帯をトイレ落としてしまった。

= Keitai wo toire ni otoshite shimatta.

= I dropped my cell phone in the bathroom

Ex. 携帯を電車の中落としてしまった。

= Keitai wo dennsha no naka de otoshite shimatta.

= I dropped my cell phone on the train.

:rrrr: Note : You dropped it somewhere on the train and you focus on where this action of dropping happened more than the place where you actually dropped it.

:i: As we have seen, sometimes we can both use and

The translation might be the same but the nuance difference between them is that while indicates one point or one specific place, indicates “throughout the place/ area.

Also when we focus on the condition of actions or the results of the actions, we use and when the action has been taking place for a certain amount of time, we use .


集まる =  atsumaru = to gather

Ex. 虫が電灯集まる

= Mushi ga dentou ni atsumaru.

= Bugs gather around the light

(the bugs are aiming towards the light→)

Ex. 今夜どこ集まる?

= Konya doko de atsumaru?

= Where should we get together tonight?


= Maggie no uchi de atsumarou ka.

= Shall we get together at Maggie’s place?


:maggie-small: Now it will be easier to understand the picture in the above.


= Nihon ni ikitainaa…

= I want to go to Japan…

日本行く =  nihon ni iku = to go to Japan

When you talk about the destination, you use

Ex. 日本マギーと遊びたい…

= Nihon de Maggie to asobitai…

= I’d love to play with Maggie in Japan…

日本遊ぶ  = nihon de asobu= to play in Japan →  activity

you do some activity in a place, you use

Let’s look at more pictures!



= Max nande baketsu no naka ni iruno?

=Why are you in the bucket, Max?

●You always use for the verb

いる ( = iru) = to be


= Koko de Nina ga ofuro ni irete kureruno wo matte iru no.

= I am waiting for Nina to bath me.

待っている =  matte iru  = to be waiting

Some activity takes place in one location.

so you use .

いれる = ~ ni ireru = to put something/someone in some place. →


=Max, doko ni iruno?

= Where are you, Max?

いる ( = iru) : existence !to right!



= Ofuro ni iruyo.

= I am in the bathroom ( or bathtub) .


= Ofuro de nani wo shiteiruno?

= What are you doing in the bathroom (or bathtub)?

しているの( = shiteiruno) →the verb する ( = suru) to do : action !to right!




= Maggie doko de nani wo yatteru no?

= Maggie, where are you and what are you doing?


やっている ( = yatteiru) →(casual contraction) やってる ( = yatteru) →the verb やる ( = yaru) to do : action !to right!


= Ouchi de souji wo shiteiruyo.

= I am at home cleaning.

掃除をしている ( = souji wo shiteiru) to be cleaning  → 掃除をする ( = souji wo suru) to clean : action !to right!


マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori  = From Maggie Sensei



= Max sensei wa ima cheko ni sunde imasu.

= Max Sensei now lives in the Czech Republic.



= Tooku ni iru keredomo kitto itsuka issho ni nihon de asobitai desu.

= Although he lives far away, I would love to play with him in Japan someday.


ありがとう  = Arigatou  = Thank you! 、Nina & Max!


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  1. Hello Maggie-sensei,

    Can’t find anything about this, hope you could help: I’ve searched all over the internet and it seems the expression “to take care of” is 大事を取る with the を particle.

    However, I found this sentence in a video game: 「大事に取っておいたんだけどなあ」 (“I took care of it and kept it (alive) you know, but…”) but I can’t find anything about 大事に取る with に particle and its meaning. Is it the same? Is there a subtle nuance between these 2 expressions? My issue is, when I type this on Google, all the searches land to the を particle. (・・;)ゞ

    Thank you Sensei!

    1. Hello Gaspatcher
      大事を取る is an idiomatic expression so you use the particle を. You rarely use the particle を with 大事 except for this expression. (The original meaning is “to deal with the difficult situation”
      but it means “to take care of oneself” but you use it when you want to be cautious and rest just in case.
      For example, when you don’t feel good, you naturally worry that you may get worse the next day.
      So 今日は、大事を取って休みます。 = I will rest and take care of myself (I don’t want to take any chance to get worse going out/working).

      The sentence you heard in a video game,
      大事に取っておいた This 大事に is an adverb (carefully) and this is pretty common way to use 大事に
      大事に〜をとっておく = keep ~ close to one’s heart / to keep something carefully

    1. を (wo) is an object marker.
      大学前 (daigakumae) is a location where you get off the bus so it can’t be a direct object.
      It might be easier for you to see with this sentence.
      Watashi wa daigakumae de basu wo orimasu.
      バス (basu) is an object of your action (get off)
      The main action is 降ります (=orimasu).
      Where you are going to get off (action)? →大学前 (daigakumae)
      So you use で (de) location marker where you do some actions

    1. thank you sensei
      have one more question to ask
      koko wo oshite kudasai.
      why is the wo particle use in this?

      1. を ( = wo) is an object marker

        =Nihongo wo oshieru
        = to teach Japanese

        Asking someone to teach you this part
        = Koko wo oshiete kudasai

        ここ (= koko) in this sentence means “here/this part”. You are pointing something
        And want to know about that part. So you use an object marker.

        1. One more question sensei
          インドで うみが ありますか
          Why is the で particle used in this?
          Why is the に not used?

  2. Hi Maggie-sensei!

    I was watching episode 2 of Hamefura season 2, and I was confused by this line:

    ‘Katarina-sama to isshoni butai ni tatteru nante hontou ni ureshii desu!’

    Why isn’t it’ butai de’? It’s standing ON stage right? Not ‘to’ the stage? I don’t really understand why ‘ni’ is used here?

    1. Hi Wendy

      The basic rule is  you use で with actions/ “action + で” (Ex. dancing, singing on the state) → butai de odoru / butai de utau
      tatteru is just standing still and there is no motion/action. In that case you use “ni”

      Ex. Someone wa soko ni iru = Someone is there.
      Ex. Watashi wa soko ni nemasu. I will sleep there.
      Ex. isu ni suwaru = to sit in a chair

      1. Thank you for your quick response! I never knew this before. So would it change it if were singing instead? Do you say ‘butai de utatte’ in that case?

        1. Do you say ‘butai de utatte’ in that case?
          →Yes, butai de utatteiru = ~ is singing on the stage

          butai de odotte iru = ~ is dancing on the stage

    2. One more question sensei
      インドで うみが ありますか
      Why is the で particle used in this?
      Why is the に not used?

  3. @maggiesensei 私が「に」と「で」の差を勉強するようにしている. でもこの差が分からない。だから、私は君の助けがほしいです!

    The problem that I am facing is with verbs that can take both に and で, for the purpose of indicating a place/action just like 寝る. E.g. let us take 座る as an example, and the two sentences be 私は車の中で座っている and 車の中に座っている. Now, this was my original problem. I asked someone about it, and he said that, に座っている is more natural, whereas, で座っている is unnatural.

    After not being satisfied by the reasoning I looked up upon your blog .In your blog is concerned it was stated that で was used to emphasize the focus of the action, whereas, に was to show the focus on the place. Thereafter, I pondered that, since the verb of 座る can be seen from two perspectives (i.e. both as focus on action and place). E.g. What are you doing in the park, could be answered 公園で座っている, whereas, where are you, could be answered as 公園に座っている. However, I was unsure, so I looked it up at Japanese Stackexchange. Therein I found differing answers, so I was not able to figure it out whether it was right or wrong. Further, the same situation is arising with similar verbs which have the applicability of both で and に. Could you really help me with this one and similar situations!? By giving the difference along with nuances and examples!? As these type of verbs usually have both directional focus as well as focus on action. I am linking below the answers that I found on JSE.

    Moving ahead, I tried to apply the logic of focus on action and focus on place on different examples used in this blog. However, I got even more confused, when I tried to apply that logic, especially with どこ sentences, as both seemed same to me and I was not able to differentiate the nuance.

    Especially with this 売っている = utte iru = to be sold

    = Doko ni utte imasuka?

    = Where do they sell it?



    = Doko de utte imasuka?”

    both of them seemed same to me as in both the sentences the focus was felt on the action. I was not able to differentiate between the focus of place from that of action over here. So, could you please explain the nuance and how to differentiate in these type of sentences!? As, to be sold (and a few more examples that you cited, seemed action focused and not place focused) and I was not able to understand why に could have been used.

    Also I was not able to find the relation between focus on action and place present in the following sentence

    “But when you say 広がる = hirogaru = to expand, spread, you can use both

    Ex. 鳥インフルエンザは世界中に/で広がりました.”

    Could you please answer this as well?

    I know this question is quite big to answer, but could you spare some time, as I am unable to understand this and have been working upon it since 1 week!.


    Another one but this one is related to the verb 泣く. But it provides several answers relating to に and で, for focus on place/action

    1. Hi,
      Well, so many quetsions and I can’t answer all the details in this comment section so let me answer what I can for now.
      The basic difference is:
      車(の座席)に座っています。/ 公園に座っている foucsing on where you are
      車で座っています / 公園で座っている focusing on what you do (sitting down) in the car/the park.

      When you are taking a walk with your friend. You got tired and you are looking for somewhere to sit.
      One hour has passed and you got bored.
      = Just sitting down in the bench is boring. Let’s go somewhere.

      A.どこに売っていますか? (focusing on the location)
      B.どこで売っていますか?(focusing on the action of selling)
      Apart from the difference in the parenthesis, the nuance difference is
      A: The speaker wants to know particular place. It could be just one store.
      B: It could be many stores where you can buy the stuff.

      Ex. 鳥インフルエンザは世界中に/で広がりました.”

      This に indicates the direction (starting from certain place and spread over the world)
      で is location (where this happened.)

      You say 彼女は部屋の中で泣いている (where she is crying) but you don’t say 部屋の中に泣いている。

      1. ありがとう @maggiesensei, I got most of it, but wouldn’t the last sentence, be grammatical, if the person wants to emphasize that he is crying at some place. E.g. If A asks, where are you crying I want to come to you. Won’t the reply by B, “部屋の中に泣いている”, be grammatical, as the focus of the sentence has shifted to place, and is not on action?

        On similar, I would like to ask, will 大学の食堂に朝ごはんを食べます, be grammatical, if My mother asks me, “you did not have your breakfast, where will you eat it”? As in this sentence, the focus is more on place than on action.

        ありがとう Maggie sensei, I got most of what you replied. An answer to these above two question would really help me out.

        1. Q: If A asks, where are you crying I want to come to you. Won’t the reply by B, “部屋の中に泣いている”?
          →No, I wouldn’t say that. 部屋の中で泣いている。

          It only works for example
          = There is a girl who is crying in the room.

          FYI you use に as an object marker,
          (the reason why you cry) に泣く
          But of course, it is not that usage in the example above.

          →You don’t say that. 食堂で is correct.

          Even if you focus on the place, the cases that you can use both に・で are limited.

          1. でも, I am explaining the state that I have understood it now, meaning to say, though that act happened in the past, I am relating it to the present showing the state that I have understood it now and, not that I am not saying that, I understood (focusing in the past), and だから、「今、分かっている」を使った. I hope it is right !! But thanks a lot !!

          2. Though you want to express your current state, you don’t say 今、わかっている
            You only use the past tense. 今、わかりました。
            You use わかっています when someone tells you some information that you already knew. それは、わかっています。= I know that.
            If you feel like learning more about わかる in future, this is the link.

            And you are very welcome. :)

  4. Hi, Maggie sensei.
    Would it be the same meaning if I Say:
    あなたの声に目覚めたならば and

  5. こんにちは先生、I am having a doubt in the following sentence:
    ここに車を止めてもいいですか。in this sentence why に is used and why でis not used? Because of で is used to indicate the place where the action occurs, で is not used? Or any other reasons why でis not used?

    1. こんにちは、S. Abinaya
      As I explained in the lesson,
      に indicates one point or one specific place, で indicates “through out the place/ area.
      When you park a car, you park in a specific parking spot not in the whole area.

  6. Hello Sensei
    In the sentence below, which particle should be used here- ni or de?
    Jimusho de shorui o dashimashita.
    Jimusho ni shorui o dashimashita.
    I want to say- “I submitted the documents at the office”. I can’t clearly understand which one should be used. One of the examples above uses dashimasu in a similar sense. However, here, when i say “submit the document”, it seems like “submit” is the action taking place at the office (place). Can you please explain the reason for the answer?

    1. Hi Ruchika
      The most natural answer is 事務所に

      When you are talking about
      = Doko ni shorui wo dashimashita ka?
      = Where did you submit your documents?

      You say

      You submitted the documents to the office.

      but under certain condition, both of them are possible.
      Let’s change the sentence a little.

      In which office, did you submit the documents?

      = Nagoya no jimusho de shorui wo dashimashita.
      = I submitted the documents in the office in Nagoya.
      (As you said で indicated where the action, submitting, took a place.)

      1. @maggiesensei is it because we are considering the office as an entity as in itself i.e. to say, when we are using “to” we are comprehending that, we are not basically giving (inside the office to someone, but to the office itself). As, if the context had another intent (like giving it to someone) I think that で could have been use; e.g. 私は会社で山口さんに手紙をあげた This is what my reasoning is, I need your help vide your response, as I am unable to figure out whether it is apt or not!

        1. Hello フリップ

          会社 is entity but even a place which is not entity you use で when some actions take place. (in this case the action is “handing a letter”)


  7. Hi Maggie sensei,

    I have a simple question. What is the difference between:

    1. 学校に教科書を忘れてきました。
    2. 学校に教科書を忘れました。

    As I understand, 来る is to come. I thought the translation will be “I left my textbook (at home) and came to school)” ?

    Also, If i want to say “I left my book at school and went home.”
    I can write the below sentence?

    1. Hi Jason,

      Bascic difference is
      〜に忘れた I forgot something
      〜に忘れてきた I left something at ~

      So if you realized that you left a textbook at school and came home, you can say 学校に教科書を忘れてきました。

  8. Hi Maggie sensei,

    Your lesson is nice with lots of example and exception. Thanks!
    But I have a confusion when に go with some adjective like くわしい。
    I choose 東京が詳しい and it’s wrong .(crying)
    How does にfunction here?

    Thanks again, Maggie sensei

    1. Hi Bella

      There are many usages of に such as to indicate location, indirect object, direction, etc.
      And one of the usages is to show one’s ability with specific adjectives.

      Aは、東京に詳しい A knows a lot about Tokyo.
      Aは、コンピューターに詳しい。 A knows a lot about computer.
      Aは、車に詳しい。 A knows a lot about cars.
      You can also use 明るい
      Ex. このことには明るい。 = To know a lot about this matter.

      私は、コンピューターに弱い。= I am not good at using a computer.
      私は、数字に弱い = I am not good at numbers.

      It is not actually one’s ability but 弱い also means “to have a soft spot for ~”
      私は、子供に弱い (= 子供に甘い)= I have a soft spot for children.

  9. Hi maggie sensei
    Can i ask which is correct
    Toshoukan de hon o karimasu
    Toshoukan ni hon o karimasu
    Or both correct?

    1. Hello Kathrina,
      since we have here an action (not a state), then “de” particle is correct.

      Toshokan ni iru => to be in the library
      Toshokan de yomu => to read (a book) in the library


      1. Nice follow up as always, 天人!
        Toshokan de odoru. 💃 (to dance in the library)
        Toshokan de hirune suru. 😪💤 (to take a nap in the library)
        Toshokan ni inu ga iru. 🐶 (There is a dog in the library.)
        Toshokaan ni neko mo iru. 🐱 (There is also a cat in the library.)

  10. Hi maggie sensei:)
    Can i ask which is correct?
    Toshoukan de hon o karimasu or
    Toshoukan ni hon o karimasu . ?

    Thank you.

  11. Hi again Maggie-Sensei!

    If i want to put place in front of the sentence like this :

    “In Japan, Tom ate Ramen”

    Could it be like this?

    “Nihon de, Tom ga Ramen o tabeta”

    1. Hi Sno

      日本で、トムがラーメンを食べた (Nihon de Tom ga ramen wo tabeta)
      →日本で、トムはラーメンを食べた (Nihon de Tom wa ramen wo tabeta) is more natural.

      If Tom doesn’t eat ramen but IN Japan, he ate raman. (Emphasizing “in Japan” to show the contrast), you can also say
      ( Nihon dewa Tomu wa ramen wo tabeta)

      1. Oh i got it! I am still confuse when to use wa or ga. Beacuse i start to talking about Tom, so i should use wa as topic marker, is that right?

        And i haven’t learned about “dewa” yet but i understand what are you meaning ^ ^. Is the “dewa” here same or different with your lesson about “tewa/dewa”? (I have not read that yet ^ ^”)

        1. The difference between “wa” and “ga” is complicated but the simple rule is
          ~ wa ~ desu. (emphasize what comes after “wa”)
          ~ ga ~ desu. (emphasizes what comes before “ga”)
          In your example sentence, you don’t need to stress “Tom”. What Tom did in Japan is more important so you use “wa”

          Now “wa” has another function which shows the contrast.
          And you can combine with other particle. de wa / ni wa / e wa, etc.
          Maybe not other countries but “in Japan” he ate ramen.

          1. Oh i see! It’s all clear now, Thank you very much for your detailed explanation Sensei. ^ ^

  12. Hello Sensei. Actually, I want to ask this question on lesson about “wo” particle, but I can’t find it, or I just didn’t try hard enough to find it, so I post it here.

    Few days ago, I watched Sukiyaki song on YouTube. Its first line is the one that was triggered my interest. It said “Ue wo muitte, arukou” and it was translated as “I look up as I walk”.
    Why did it use “wo”, instead of “ni”? Particle “ni” is used for showing direction, right? For example, “mae ni”, “soko ni” and other. And, particle “wo”, if I’m not mistaken, is used for direct object of the verb or something that the subject is going through. Should it be, “Ue ni muitte, arukou.”?
    Thank you.

    1. Sorry! I don’t have a lesson on を “yet”.
      (I should add it to the list, huh?)
      As you said を is an object marker but it is also used as a direction marker with some verbs such as 向く or 見る

      direction of action + を + verb

      上を見る to look up
      右を見る to look right
      上を向く to look / face up
      東の方を向く to face east

      You don’t use に・へ with 見る・向く
      X 上に向いて歩こう

      1. Thank you very much Sensei! I think I can grasp what that lyric is trying to say. The main character look up, as there were something on this “up”, right? Maybe, it is related to the chorus, “shiawase wa kumo no ue ni”.
        Japanese is really interesting. Make me want to know more about it. Thank you. Got another great lesson from here!

  13. hi sensei.

    With the で and に, are they interchangable in a conversation, but they create a slightly different image.
    プールで泳ぐ : you would imagine a person swimming in a pool.
    プールに行って泳ぐ : you would imagine a person going to the pool to swim.

    thankyou maggie

    1. Hi Shaun,

      As I explained in the lesson, there are some confusing cases where you wonder which one to use. However
      プールで泳ぐ you can’t say プールに泳ぐ
      You do the action, swimming, in the swimming pool.

      If you put something into a swimming pool, you say プールに入れる

      Your example プールに行って〜
      This に is a direction marker. ~に行く to go to ~

  14. こんにちは 、マギせんせい.
    in みんなの日本語初級第14課会話, the women speak to the taxi driver 「花屋の前で止めてください」.
    Why not using 「に」? Because in 練習b, the car park attendant use 「あそこに車を止めてください。」
    I’m confusing about this. lol

    1. こんにちは、lawson

      As I wrote in the example sentences, you can say both (location) に/で車を止める
      If you do “an action of parking” in front of the flower shop, you use で. We can assume there is enough space in front of the flower shop.

      But if you try to park in particular “spot” (let’ say you are aiming the spot), you use に.

  15. Hi Maggie Sensei,

    This article is extremely helpful, however there is something I am confused about.

    You have written 学校に教科書を忘れてきました。

    So in that case, would it be wrong to state 駅で傘をわすれてました。

    Also, which of the following is the correct way to express me forgetting my wallet in Japan during a trip there?

    Thank you!! :)

    1. Hi Damian

      You usually use place に忘れる
      You may hear/see some Japanese people use place+で+忘れる. But still に忘れる is more natural.

      忘れる means “to leave something somewhere” ~に置く・置いておく is “to leave/put something on purpose” but the idea is the same. It describes the state.

      If you say “to lose” なくす, it is your action so you use で

      学校で教科書をなくした。= I lost my textbooks at the school.
      日本で財布をなくした。= I lost my wallet in Japan.

  16. Hello,
    I’ve been learning Japanese for a while, but there are still simple things that are confusing to me.
    Which particle should I use in a sentence “it’s hot in Japan?”

    1. @kropiciel

      Hello, kropiciel,

      It’s hot in Japan.
      The most natural way to say this sentence in Japanese is “As for Japan, it’s hot” →日本は暑いです。= Nihon wa atsui desu.

  17. Hi Maggie Sensei,

    In my textbook there’s this phrase ”学生たちは静かに勉強しています。” which I interpret as the students are studying quietly. I tried googling for the usage of the に here but can’t seem to find a suitable meaning. What is it? 静か is not really a location or thing isn’t it?

    1. @fivebx

      Hi fivebx,
      静か(な) is a na-adjective and it means “quiet”.
      静かに = quietly and modify a verb, in this case 勉強しています (studying)

      1. Thank you for answering my above question sensei,

        Could I also check that for i-adj, the に is not required? In my textbook there is this phrase called “ラジオの音を小さくしました。” I assume that it is an i-adj that’s why you don’t use 小さくにしました。

        1. @fivebx

          Right when you use adjectives to modify a verb or make a verb,
          na-adective ~に+ verb
          i-adjecitve ~ く + verb

          静かに勉強する to study quetly
          きれいに食べる to eat nicely (or finish eating everything)
          大きく切る to cut in big pieces
          かわいくする to make oneself/something cute

          音を大きくする= to turn up the volume
          音を小さくする = to turn down the volume

  18. Hello. Many thanks for the lesson! Regarding the usage of にand で for the verb 広がる, I came across this sentence in a book: 道路が整備されるとともに地方都市が外側へと広がった。

    I don’t understand the usage of へと here.

    1. @Yan

      Hi Yan,
      OK, now there is a subtle difference between に and へ

      に is “to one destination”
      へ is “towards that direction”

      1. Yes, I read your explanation regarding the difference between に and へ in one of your older comments. I’m just confused with the addition of と after へ. What purpose does と serve? It’s not a quote in the sentence right?

        1. @Yan

          Ah, OK,
          That と has a function to express “in such a manner” / “in the way” and describes the way how things work/ how someone does things and modifies the verb which comes after, in this case 広がった.
          It would be easier to think と(いうように)

          “〜へ….(a) “というように広がった。
          (the part (a) describes how it expanded.)

  19. マギー先生!手伝って下さい!


    1. @Cambriana


      Ex. 携帯(けいたい)にある写真(しゃしん)をすべてコンピューターに移す。
      = to transfer all the pictures in the cellphone.

      Ex. その書類(しょるい)はPCにあります。
      = That document is stored in the PC.

      Ex. 棚(たな)にある本(ほん)
      = The books in the shelf.

      Ex. 腎臓(じんぞう)に石(いし)がある。
      = to have a stone in one’s kidney

  20. 部屋で寝る or 部屋に寝る?

    I am so confused. Can I use both? Please help Maggie Sensei☹️😔🙏

    1. @Yuna
      If you are talking about a small space such as a bed or a sofa,somewhere special or unusual, you use に because you are focusing on the place.
      So if you are simply talking about sleeping in a room, you use 部屋で寝る

      Ex.Talking to a child who falls a sleep in a living room
      部屋で寝なさい。= Go sleep in a room.
      (focusing on the action of sleeping)
      It will be strange to say 部屋に寝なさい。

      Exception, if you are talking about special room and focusing on the place, it is possible to use に

      Ex. 今日は別の部屋に寝ます。
      (You can also say 別の部屋で寝ます)

  21. Maggie sensei, ciao!

    I’d like to ask you about location particle when switching from transitive to intransitive verbs.
    For example, I know that, if I’m in the act of opening the window in the room, I’ll say:


    since in the room the action is taking place. But, if I want to describe the current state of the window, then there’s not “such an action” but “an existence instead”, I’m naturally prone (but maybe I’m wrong!) to say:


    Thank you for all the useful lessons!

  22. Hi sensei,
    I dont understand what you mean by “some compound words will be used with で”.
    So “これはアメリカで大人気です” is correct and not “これはアメリカに大人気です” even though there is no “action”?
    And can I also say アメリカでは大人気です
    Thanks in advance!

    1. @Bob

      Hi Bob,
      You usually use に with a verb ある
      Ex. ここに鍵(かぎ)がある There is a key here.
      But you use a particle で with some idiomatic compound words such as 人気ある(人気がある/ 人気ある) even if it is not an action.
      And yes, you can say アメリカでは大人気です
      は adds the meaning of contrast.

      “some compound words will be used with で”.
      means to use ある in

  23. :test: には !damedame!  がいます。ではここで一緒に直しましょうか。

    !damedame!  “Nagai aida, ano boro apaato de seikatu wo shiteita.” :rrrr: “seikatsu”
    !damedame!  “Toyota de tsutomete mou gonen ijyou tattta.” :rrrr: “ijou tatta”
    !damedame!  “Kono erebeetaa ni nannin kurai hairimasu ka?” :rrrr: “erebeeta”

    !damedame!  “Eki no baiten de utte imasu.
    They sell it (them) at the store at the kiosk in the station.” :rrrr: either “store” or “kiosk” (?)

    !damedame!  “When something is aiming in some direction we use に and で indicate the place where it happens.” :rrrr: There is something missing in this sentence and I don’t quite understand it, maybe “to indicate”?

    !damedame!  “Ex.携帯を電車の中で落としてしまった。
    = Keitai wo Toukyou eki de otoshite shimatta.” :rrrr: “densha no naka” instead of “Tokyou eki”

    !damedame!  “You dropped it somewhere on the train and you focus on where this action of dropping happened more than the

    place where you actually dropped.” :rrrr: no need for a paragraph 8-O

    !damedame!  “「マギーどこで何をやってるの?」
    = Maggie doko de nani wo yatte iru no?” :rrrr: “yatteru”

    And can you explain this “で” in a sentence I found in a Japanese course: アメリカではボストンも古い町です。 I don’t see an action, so why not “に”?


    1. @Zetsuboumanadeshi

      Thank you for spotting all the typos as always. I fixed them. :)

      Can you give me the sentence before this sentence?
      Are they listing the old towns in the world or the U.S?

      1. The dialog goes:

        S: 奈良は古い町ですね。
        A: ええ、たくさんお寺がありますよ。
        S: 奈良はお寺で有名ですね。
        A: ええ、スミスさんは古い町が好きですか。
        S: ええ、私はボストンから来ました。アメリカではボストンも古い町です。

        1. @Zetsuboumanadeshi

          OK, then this では is “for” (For the ” U.S.” )
          京都 and 奈良 are much older than Boston. But Boston is considered to be an old town in the U.S.
          So actually this 古い町です。means
          →So in the U.S.
          (The action here is “to think”)
          That is why you use で.

          1. なるほど。 And they don’t even bother to explain this in the course. That’s why I only take lessons at your site now. (Well, thats a lie, but lets pretend !happyface! )

            おやすみなさい :zzzz2:

  24. Hi sensei! Your lessons are great! They really help me out. :)
    I just had two questions about particles…
    I heard someone say サッカーって楽しい and I was wondering why they said って instead of は?
    And I also heard みんなでやろう and I was wondering why they said で instead of と?
    Sorry for all the questions. :o

    1. @Romy

      Hi Romy

      →casual サッカーって楽しい?
      So this って is a colloquial way to say ~(というもの/〜ということ)は

      みんなで everybody (including you) / in a group
      みんなと you and everybody

  25. Hi sensei, thanks again for the great lesson! I was also wondering like the person below me the difference between は and が?
    I often see が used when I thought が should be used, and vice versa. If you could clear this up for me, that’d be great!

  26. Hi sensei, this isn’t part of the lesson but I couldn’t find a lesson on this…
    I don’t understand the difference between using は or が? I know one is the subject marker and one is the topic marker, but if you could explain it in a bit more detail that’d be great! TT.TT

    1. @Sam
      Haha, I have been avoiding making the lesson on that subject because it is very complicated.
      But it is on the request list so eventually I will make a lesson. Please wait patiently.

      For now,
      when you focus on what comes after, you use は and when you focus on what comes before, you use が

      Ex. 私はマギーです。
      = Watashi wa Maggie desu.
      = I am Maggie.

      Who is Maggie?

      Ex. 私がマギーです。
      = Watashi ga Maggie desu.
      = I AM Maggie.

      When you show the contrast, you use は

      Ex. Aさんは日本人ですが、Bさんはアメリカ人です。
      = A-san wa nihonjin desuga, B-san wa amerikajin desu.
      = A is Japanese but B is American.

  27. Hi Maggie Sensei,

    Thank you always for your great explanations. I noticed a mistake that might confuse people. You wrote:

    “The difference :
    When you focus on the action (sleeping) you use で(=de) and when you focus on the place, where you sleep, you use で(=de)”

    I think the second で should be a に. I hope that’s right :wink:

  28. Hi Maggie Sensei!

    Thanks for the very informative lesson! I do have two questions though:

    1. どこかで財布をなくしてしまいました。
    Why is the particle で here and not に, since this is referring to the location where you put/left something? I thought this was similar to your example – 傘をどこかに忘れてきました。

    2. 向こうに大きな川が見えます。
    Here, is the particle に because 向こう, which means over there, connotes a direction? At first I thought it is に because it refers to the existence of the river, but the verb is 見えます and not います, so I’m confused.

    Thank you!!

    1. @May

      Hello May

      〜で財布をなくす = I lost my wallet in ~
      〜に財布を忘れる= I left my wallet in ~

      なくす is an active verb so we consider it as an action. Therefore we use で
      →学校でなくした (Not x学校になくした)

      忘れる means to leave something and it is a verb to describe some state. (Same as 置く、置き忘れる) So we use に
      →家に忘れる (Not x 家で忘れる)

      2. 向こうに大きな川が見えます。
      向こうに、connotes a direction? Yes.
      Also 見える is a verb to describe some state so you use に
      (When you say
      向こうにある建物は〜です。it indicates location.)

  29. Hello,
    with the verb “hajimaru”, I have been taught that で始まる = it starts WITH and に始まる = it starts IN, so is it some exception? Because starting is an action itself and I don’t think it aims at any place but it’s true that when I hear “x de hajimaru” I think of “starting with x”, like “r”で始まる名前
    So are the particles interchangeable in this kind of case?

    1. @Lia

      The particles に and で have different functions.
      *〜で始まる = to start/begin with ~
      Ex. 会議は会長のスピーチで始まる。 The meeting will start with the chairman’s speech.
      Ex. 0120で始まる電話番号 The telephone number which starts with 0120

      *~に始まる= to start/begin in (from) ~
      Ex. 新しい学期は春に始まります。= A new semester starts in spring.
      Ex. 4月に始まるクラス= A class which starts from April.

  30. Sensei, even though you say the particle used with “neru” is “de” and it’s the usually used, sometimes it can be switched with “ni” if it refers permanency, right? I’ve heard recently “kokoro ni nete iru”, so I assumed they were trying to say that something was permanently “sleeping” there, on the speaker’s “heart”, giving an idea of permanency. Or maybe is it common to switch these 2 with the -te iru form? Thanks!!

    1. @Sarah

      I think what you heard/saw was not 寝る but 眠る=nemuru
      “心に寝ている= kokoro ni neteiru” sounds strange. But you can say 心に眠っている
      It is a metaphor and it means someone/something(some memory) stays in one’s heart.
      to see the difference between 寝る and 眠る check this lesson.
      And yes, we say 心に眠っている to indicate the location.

      1. Oh yep, I’ve checked it again and I think they said that. But they were talking really fast and it sounds more like “neru”, it’s strange :/
        It’s a metaphor yes, but anyway I think I’ve also heard it with real places when they want to say that something it’s there “hidden/sleeping”, as you mentioned in your neru/nemuru lesson, that “nemureru mori” fairytale, I watched the drama a few years ago and if I still remember well they were always saying “nemureru mori ni nemutte iru”, so I get the point of permanency !JYANE!

        1. @Sarah

          If you got the sentence from some youtube video that I can see, I will check it for you.
          (And yes, you use に or で with 眠る Ex.ここで眠っているのは誰? Who is sleeping here? Ex. 〜〜〜ここに眠る= metaphor hic jacet(here lies) —inscription on someone’s tombstone)

          1. Oh, it was a movie but thank you for offering! anyway, after checking it with “open ears” I started to hear it right. Sometimes in movies the words get mixed up, it’s harder to understand than in real life! arigatou gozaimashita!!

          2. @Sarah

            I still think 心に寝る is somehow strange but ここに寝る may work.
            So there are cases you use に for the verb 寝る. I added the information in the lesson.
            But either way, good question, Sarah!And studying Japanese using a movie is tough but very useful and fun!

  31. maggie-san…

    first of all, thanks for the lesson although i’m still not quite sure myself~

    is there any section/website that explains the different ways of using “de”, “ni” and “he/e”…
    I know that some of the “ni” can be replaced by “he/e” like

    (tokyou e ikimasu)(tokyou ni ikimasu)… (kouen no naka de, hito ga imasu)(kouen no naka ni, hito ga imasu)

    but other than that I have no idea at all. please help~

    1. @seb

      Hello seb!
      If you are not still sure how/when to use “に and で”, feel free to make a couple of sentences in this comment section. I will check them for you.
      I don’t have a lesson on へ vs に.
      But to be honest, we use it without thinking the difference but here is the grammatically difference.

      to go to Tokyo
      1) 東京に行く= Toukyou ni iku (particular point of the place)
      2) 東京へ行く = Toukyou ni iku (direction)

      to go to the restaurant
      3)レストランに行く= resutoran ni iku = to go to the restaurant to eat
      4) レストランへ行く= resutoran ye iku = to go to the place

      So while へ simply implies “direction”, you use に when refer to the particular place (building) or when you have certain things/plans to do there

  32. このレッスンを教えてくれてありがとうございました!

    でも, 質問がありますが, “に”と”へ”の違いは何ですか


    1. @Remi

      Basic ideas
      に: 到着地点(とうちゃくちてん)the specific place you arrive
      へ: 方角(ほうがく)、方向(ほうこう)direction

      どこに行くの? Where are you going? = Which place are you going to? (Asking a specific place)
      どこへ行くの? Where are you heading to? (Asking a general direction)

      A : 東京に行きます。I will go to Tokyo (stress the place, Tokyo more than the B)
      B : 東京へ行きます。I will go to/towards Tokyo

      But in conversation, we use them without thinking about the difference so much.
      Some says younger people use に more and I am one of them.

  33. For some reason I cannot remember what I was typing the other night when the blackout happened! I think I had a blackout myself too! Anyway…


    Is this correct?

    Thank you for the lesson! I hope the more advanced learners can bear with us!

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