How do I choose between de and ni?
The particle de is used for the place where an action takes
place. For example,
Gakkō de benkyō suru (学校で勉強する),
"I study at school"
Kōen de ohiru wo tabeta (公園でお昼を食べた),
"I ate my lunch in the park".
Toshokan de hon wo yonda (図書舘で本を読んだ),
"I read a book in the library".
The particle ni is used for:
(1) A place where something exists
Kouen ni ahiru ga iru (公園にアヒルがいる),
"There are some ducks in the park."
Hon wa kaban ni haitte iru (本は鞄に入っている),
"The book is in the bag."
(2) To indicate a destination
Watashi wa mainichi kaisha ni iku (私は毎日会社に行く),
"I go to the office every day."
Nōto ni ji o kaku (ノートに字を書く),
"I write in my notebook."
Kaisha ni tsutomeru (会社に勤める)
Kaisha de hataraku (会社で働く)
The verb tsutomeru (勤める), "to work", always takes ni,
but the verb hataraku (働く), "to work", always takes de.
The particle ni is usually used with times:
The particle de may also be used to show the time when something
Go-ji ni kaerimasu (５時にかえります), "I'll go home at five o'clock".
jugyou wa go-ji de owarimasu (授業は５時で終ります)
"The class finishes at five o'clock."
References and web links
A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, Makino and Tsutsui, pp. 105-111.
DE from Japan Culture Study Group.
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