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Japanese Lesson

-de (particle 1)

Particles, Part 1

One of the difficult (and annoying) aspects of the Japanese language is dealing with particles. Particles are short and usually have one or two syllables, but if you misuse them, the meaning of the entire sentence can change. In this lesson, you’ll learn about the frequently used particle “de.” “De” is basically used in three ways.

The first is for introducing the LOCATION of an action. “De” is used after a noun that is the place where an action occurs. For example:

Restoran de yuushoku o tabemasu.
(I eat dinner at a restaurant.)

Toshokan de hon o yomimasu.
(I read books at a library.)

Eigakan de eiga o mimashita.
(I watched a movie at a movie theater.)

De” is also used to indicate MEANS and WAYS, such as “basu de ikimasu” (to go by bus), “pen de kakimasu” (to write with a pen), and “ii-meiru de renraku o shimasu” (to contact via email). The structure is same as that for introducing a place, namely, “noun + de.”

The third use of “de” is to explain a REASON. Look at the following examples:

Byouki de gakkou o yasumimasu.
(I am absent from school due to sickness.)

Ooyuki de hikouki ga tobimasendeshita.
(The flight was canceled because of the heavy snow.)

As you might have guessed, “de” follows the noun that is the reason why something else in the sentence has occurred.

Although learning all three of these “de” patterns at once may seem overwhelming, the structure is quite simple. You’ll soon master it with practice.

++++++ New Words++++++

  • renraku: n. contact, touch, communication
  • byouki: n. illness, sickness
  • ooyuki: n. heavy snow (a combination of the “oo” from the adjective “ookii,” meaning “big,” and “yuki,” the word for “snow”)
  • yasumimasu: v. to take a break, to be absent (dictionary form: yasumu, -te form: yasunde)
  • hikouki: n. airplane
  • tobimasu: v. to fly, to jump (dictionary form: tobu, -te form: tonde)