Learning more about
Japanese Particle de (で) -
Intermediate Lessons: 18

You have already learned some functions of Japanese particle de (で) in basic lesson 16. This lesson will introduce more functions of it.

Japanese Particle de (で)

The first one will be to use particle de (で) to ask if something is alright.

Sentence Pattern

The sentence pattern is as follow...

Noun いいですか
Noun de ii desu ka

Meaning: Is Noun alright for you?

Lets's look at some examples on how the Japanese particle de (で) works in this situation.

1. Assuming that you are invited to a party tomorrow. You are not sure what is the required attire. You can ask the host the following...

  • 明日のパーティーはジーンズ  いいですか。
    ashita no pa-ti- wa ji-nzu de ii desu ka

    Meaning: Is wearing of jeans alright for the party tomorrow?

2. Your colleague lost his wallet on the way to the office. When he meet you at the office he asks you for help to lend him some money. You are not sure how much you should lend him and ask him...

  • 50ドル  いいですか。
    50 doru de ii desu ka

    Meaning: Is 50 dollars alright for you?

3. Your friend came to your house to visit you. You want to serve him drink but are not sure what is suitable for him. You can ask him the following...

  • 飲み物はコーヒー  いいですか。
    nomimono wa ko-hi- de ii desu ka

    Meaning: Is coffee alright for you?

In all the above 3 examples, Japanese particle de (で) is being used because you are not sure what the party host, your colleague and your friend wants.

You use で to make your tone soft and sound not so pushy.

Mistake of using Japanese particle ga (が) instead of de (で)

Some students might have used particle ga (が) in the above 3 examples. However, using が (ga) in this case has a different meaning.

Noun  いいです (Noun ga ii desu) means you prefer Noun.

For example...

  • 私はこのペン  いいです。
    watashi wa kono pen ga ii desu

    Meaning: I prefer this pen.
  • 私はあのテーブル いいです。
    watashi wa ano te-buru ga ii desu

    I prefer that table. (in a restaurant)

In using particle ga (が), you are choosing the best choice among some options. If you use が (ga) instead of で (de) in the previous 3 examples, the meanings are different.

1. You ask the party host about the attire.

  • 明日のパーティーはジーンズ  いいですか。
    ashita no pa-ti- wa ji-nzu ga ii desu ka

    Meaning: Do you prefer me to wear jeans for the party tomorrow?
    (Kind of pushy to the host. "I prefer jeans! Please say 'yes'!")

    When you use で (de), the tone is much softer. "If jeans is not ok, I can change."

2. Your colleague wants to borrow money from you.

  • 50ドル  いいですか。
    50 doru ga ii desu ka

    Meaning: 50 dollars is your best choice! Do you want 50 dollars?
    (Sounds like you are pushing your colleague to accept your suggestion.)

    When you use で (de), the tone turns softer. "Is 50 dollars enough for you? If it's not enough, I can lend you more."

3. You want to serve drink to your friend.

  • 飲み物はコーヒー  いいですか。
    nomimono wa ko-hi- ga ii desu ka

    Meaning: You like to have coffee! Don't you?
    (Sounds like you are forcing your friend to accept only coffee.)

    When you use で (de), you soften your tone. "If coffee is ok for you? If not, you can have other choices."

How to answer the question with Japanese particle de (で)?

How do you answer when you were asked the same questions in the above examples?

In example 3, let's say it's you who were asked if you are alright with coffee. How do you answer?

  • 飲み物はコーヒー  いいですか。
    nomimono wa ko-hi- de ii desu ka

    Meaning: Is coffee alright for you?
  • はい、コーヒー いいです。
    hai, ko-hi- de ii desu

    Meaning: Yes, coffee is ok for me.
    (Be careful. If you answer using で (de), it will sound like coffee is not the best choice for me. I want to have other drinks. But coffee is sort of ok for me although it's not my preference)

Of course in conversation, you can simply answer "はい、いいです (hai, ii desu)". But in a full sentence, if you want to answer politely and properly, you should answer...

  • はい、コーヒー  いいです。
    hai, ko-hi- ga ii desu

    Meaning: Yes, coffee is best for me.

Using Japanese Particle de (で) to Indicate the Age when Something Happened

You can also use particle de (で) to mention something happened when you were at certain age. The sentence pattern is simple...


Meaning: At the age of ~

For example, you can use で (de) to indicate what happened to Mr Yamada in his whole life.

  • 山田さんは18歳  大学に入りました。
    yamada san wa 18 sai de daigaku ni hairimashita

    Meaning: Mr Yamada entered the university at the age of 18.
  • 山田さんは22歳 大学を卒業しました。
    yamada san wa 22 sai de daigaku wo sotsugyou shimashita

    Meaning: Mr Yamada graduated from the university at the age of 22.
  • 山田さんは28歳 結婚しました。
    yamada san wa 28 sai de kekkon shimashita

    Meaning: Mr Yamada got married at the age of 28.
  • 山田さんは45歳 社長になりました。
    yamada san wa 45 sai de shachou ni narimashita

    Meaning: Mr Yamada became the company President at the age of 45.
  • 山田さんは65歳 死にました。
    yamada san wa 65 sai de shinimashita

    Meaning: Mr Yamada died at the age of 65.

It's not limited to the past events. Japanese Particle de (で) can also be used for things which will happen in the future.

For example, if you intend to get married at the age of 27, you can say the following...

  • 私は27歳  結婚します。
    watashi wa 27 sai de kekkon shimasu

    Meaning: I am going to get married at the age of 27.

Related Pages

Basic Lesson 11: Basic Particles.

Basic Lesson 14: Particles Change in Negative Answers.

Basic Lesson 15: Particles ka (か) and mo (も) with Question Words.

Basic Lesson 16: Particles to (と) and de (で).

Basic Lesson 24: Particles wa (は) and ga (が).

Basic Lesson 27: Particle to (と) for quotation.

Lesson 14: Particle ga (が) for Introduction.

Lesson 34: Particle de (で) for Cause or Reason.

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