Different functions of
Japanese Particles と (to) and で (de) -
Free Japanese Lessons: 16

Almost all Japanese particles have more than one function.

For example, particle で (de) specifies the vehicle used, indicates the place where the action is taken, and shows the mean or tool used to perform an action.

Particle と (to) is used when you are taking action with someone.

Another function for と (to) is to use it for quotation in a sentence (which means you are quoting what another people has said) which will be discussed in lesson 27.

Let's discuss the first function here.

Japanese Particle と (to)

You have already learned to use と (to) to connect 2 nouns in Lesson 8.

Another function for Japanese particle と (to) is to use it when you are taking action with someone. (Note: This function has been introduced in lesson 11 briefly)

The basic sentence pattern for this function is as follow...

Person/Animal と [ いっしょに ] Action

Note: いっしょに (which means together with) inside [ ] is optional

Let's use some examples to show how to use this sentence pattern...

  • わたしはあしたはは といっしょに にほんへいきます。
    watashi wa ashita haha to isshoni nihon e ikimasu

    Meaning: I am going to Japan with my mother tomorrow.
  • わたしはこんばんいぬ テレビをみます。
    watashi wa konban inu to terebi wo mimasu

    Meaning: I am going to watch television with my dog tonight.
  • あにはあしたともだち といっしょに ラーメンをたべます。
    ani wa ashita tomodachi to isshoni ra-men wo tabemasu

    Meaning: My elder brother is going to eat Ramen with his friend tomorrow.

If you want to specify that you are doing something alone instead of with someone, replace といっしょに with ひとりで. For example...

  • わたしは ひとりで ほんやへいきます。
    watashi wa hitori de honya e ikimasu

    Meaning: I go to the bookshop alone.

Using Japanese Particle で (de) to Show Vehicle Used

You can use particle で (de) to show what vehicle you are using for your movement using the following expression...

Vehicle  で  Place  いきます / きます / かえります

Using some examples to show the usage of the above expression...

  • わたしは じてんしゃ  かいしゃへいきます。
    watashi wa jitensha de kaisha e ikimasu

    Meaning: I go to office by bicycle.
  • わたしはともだちと バス がっこうへいきます。
    watashi wa tomodachi to basu de gakkou e ikimasu

    Meaning: I go to school by bus with my friend.
  • わたしは でんしゃ デパートへいきます。
    watashi wa densha de depa-to e ikimasu

    Meaning: I go to department store by train.

Using Japanese Particle で (de) to Show Place for Action

This function of で (de) is similar to "at" in English. When you perform an action at a place you can use で (de) to indicate the place. The expression is as follow...

Place で Action

Let's look at some examples...

  • ちちはまいにち えき  しんぶんをかいます。
    chichi wa mainichi eki de shinbun wo kaimasu

    Meaning: My father buys newspaper at the station every day.
  • わたしはこんばん うち テレビをみます。
    watashi wa konban uchi de terebi wo mimasu

    Meaning: I will watch television at home tonight.
  • そふはまいあさ ロビー たばこをすいます。
    sofu wa maiasa robi- de tabako wo suimasu

    Meaning: My grandfather smokes at the lobby every morning.

Using Japanese Particle で (de) to Show Tool/Mean for Action

When you want to mention in a sentence what tool or mean is used in your action, you can use the particle で (de) as in the following expression...

Tool/Mean で Verb(Action)

Let's see some examples first on using tool in an action...

  • わたしは えんぴつ  てがみをかきます。
    watashi wa enpitsu de tegami wo kakimasu

    Meaning: I write letter with the pencil.
  • わたしは はし ごはんをたべます。
    watashi wa hashi de gohan wo tabemasu

    Meaning: I eat the meal with the chopsticks.
  • わたしは はさみ かみをきります。
    watashi wa hasami de kami wo kirimasu

    Meaning: I cut the paper with the scissors.

Next let's see some examples on using mean in an action...

  • わたしは にほんご てがみをかきます。
    watashi wa nihongo de tegami wo kakimasu

    Meaning: I write a letter in Japanese.
  • わたしは えいご さくぶんをかきます。
    watashi wa eigo de sakubun wo kakimasu

    Meaning: I write a composition in English.

If you want to know more about particles, I recommend you get one of these books on particles.

Related Pages

Lesson 11: Particles.

Lesson 14: Particles Change in Negative Answers.

Lesson 15: Particles ka and mo with Question Words.

Lesson 24: Particles wa and ga.

Lesson 27: Particle to for Quotation.

Intermediate Lesson 14: Particle ga for Introduction.

Intermediate Lesson 18: Particle de with more Functions.

Intermediate Lesson 34: Particle de for Cause or Reason.

Go to Lesson 15: Particles ka and mo

Go to Lesson 17: Past Tense of Japanese

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