In this article, we will continue studying and understanding Japanese particles: に (ni), へ (e), and で (de). These three particles focus on locations, and we will learn how to use the three, determining on the situation.

Every Japanese particle has many purposes and uses. Sadly, such particles cannot be explained in one article, due to many different types and varieties, since they are used in different situations and different times

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Japanese Particles: に (ni)

に (ni) is one of the Japanese particles that is the most multi-purpose. Since its purpose varies in the situation, we will discuss three types: as “at”, “in”, “on” and “to”, as an indication of time, and as an indication of motion.

As “at”, “in”, “on” and “to”

In general,  に (ni) means “at”, “in”, “on” and “to”. Due to the fact that it has a different meaning, the particle に (ni) can be found more frequently, compared to particles like は (ha) and を (o) in a single Japanese sentence. The particle に (ni) is usually found right after the location words.


Kyoto ni sunde imasu.
I am living in Kyoto.

Note that if a sentence does contain verbs such as あります [arimasu / to be (for things)],  います [imasu / to be (for people/animals)], 住みます(sumimasu / live somewhere), or 泊まります [tomarimasu / stay somewhere such as a hotel],  the particle に (ni) is usually placed before such phrases.

As an indication of time

に (ni) can also be used with certain time words to show something that is occurring. As a reminder, に (ni) is used with words that specify a precise time (E.g. time, name of the day, etc.) but not with words that show nonspecific time periods (E.g. today, next week or month, etc.).


Watashi wa jyuji ni daigaku ni ikimasu.
I go to the university at 10 o’clock.

As an indication of motion

Some verbs have to be paired with に (ni) rather than with the particle を (o). Most verbs that are related to motion (to go, to run, to return, etc) are paired with に (ni). In addition, most verbs that would be paired with words such as “to” or “on” in English would be paired with the particle に (ni) [to sit, to go in, etc].


Eki ni itte, densha ni norimashita.
I went to the station and got on a train.
Boku wa tomodachi ni purezento o agemashita.
I gave her friend a present.

More Japanese Particle Lesson

Japanese Particles: へ (e)

When using the particle へ (e), it is not pronounced as (“he”), rather it is pronounced as え (“e”). Similar to に (ni), へ (e) is used with verbs of motion within the sentence. However, へ (e) has a more of a poetic like nuance, rather than に (ni) does. Furthermore, the usage of へ (e) is very limited, compared with に (ni).

As an indication of motion

Using with verbs of motion is one of the many functions that に (ni) has, but へ (e) is also used with verbs of motion but not as much. In most cases, sentences with a verb of motion and に (ni) can be replaced with へ (e), with few changes in the sentence’s meaning as a whole. However, に (ni) is more of a utilitarian word, compared to へ (e) which is more of a vague.


Kyoto ni ikimasu.
I will go to Kyoto.
Kyoto e ikimasu.
I will head for Kyoto.

Note that, although both sentences, in general, mean that he or she will go to Kyoto, the first sentence sounds like a simple statement. On the other hand, the second sentence using へ (e) focuses more on he/she will head or will travel to Kyoto.

An indication of welcome

Although the particle へ (e) can be used for “to” as in to got to a place,  へ (e) can also be used as “to” as in to welcome someone to a place.


Watashi no ie e youkoso!
Welcome to my house!

An indication of giving, conveying or towards a goal

Due to へ (e) and its somewhat poetic nuance, the particle is often used in the titles of songs, movies, comics, or novels. In such cases, へ (e) can be used to indicate giving or conveying something to a person (often with no verb attached), as well as a motion towards a place.

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Japanese Particles: で (de)

To indicate a location

The particle で (de) much like に (ni), focuses on the location of a certain action. However, で (de) tends to be used when the verb is an action rather than に (ni), which focuses more when the verb has relations with just being or existing.


Toshokan de hon o yomimashita.
I read a book at the library.

An indication of tools or means

The particle で (de) can also be used for as an indication to tools or means which in result an action occurs. This tools or means can be implemented by, for example, a pencil, a train, a body part, and etc.


Kuruma de ikimashita
I went by car.

An indication of “AND”

One might see in a sometimes that the particle で (de) is placed after the noun or an adjective. In such a case,  で (de) means “and.” Note that this is done with *na-adjectives but not with ⁂i-adjectives.


Itoko wa genki de kawaii desu
My cousin is energetic and cute.

Although “genki” looks like an i-adjective, but it is actually a na-adjective (“genki na”). It is important to know that the “na” may not appear in a sentence, depending on the grammar pattern or structure of the sentence

*i-adjectives: Always ends with “i”.
⁂na-adjective: Conjugation is same as a noun.


Let’s Learn Japanese Particles: が (ga), から (kara), and まで (made) !
Let’s Learn Particles は (wa), を (o), and も (mo)

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