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Subject: Re: "de" and "ni"
From: TAKASUGI Shinji (tssf.airnet.ne.jp)
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 08:00:11 GMT
References: 1

Before explaining the difference between "de" and "ni", I'd like to show some English sentences here.

1. I danced on the desk.
2. I put a book on the desk.
3. The book is on the desk.

The phrase "on the desk" means additional information of the event location in sentence 1, while it means the necessary information of the destination and the location of existence in sentences 2 and 3 respectively. You can move or omit additional information, but you can't do so for necessary information.

1'. On the desk, I danced.
2'. *On the desk, I put a book.
3'. *On the desk, the book is.
(An asterisk at the beginning of a sentence means the sentence is ungrammatical, as usual in linguistics.)

You can also distinguish the two meanings of the following sentence.

4. I jumped on the desk.

This sentence has two meanings: (a) you jumped, and you did it on the desk, or (b) you jumped onto the desk. You can rephrase the sentence for the former possibility, but you can't for the latter.

4a'. On the desk, I jumped.
4b'. *On the desk, I jumped. (*Onto the desk, I jumped.)

The following shows the structures of the sentences above. Sentences 1 and 4a have additional information of location.
1. [[I danced] on the desk].
2. [I [put a book on the desk]].
3. [The book [is on the desk]].
4a. [[I jumped] on the desk].
4b. [I [jumped on the desk]].

In English, this difference is not clear unless you carefully think about it.

Now, let's think about "de" and "ni". In Japanese the difference we discussed above is clearly shown; use "de" for additional information of a event location, which can be omitted, and use "ni" for necessary information of location.

1. (つくえ) (うえ) (おど) った。
2. 机の 上 (ほん) () いた。
3. 本は 机の 上 ある。
4a. 机の 上 () んだ。
4b. 机の 上 跳んだ。

You might be confused if you learn the various functions of "ni" independently. All you have to understand is that some verbs need location information, and "ni" is used for it. The functions of "ni" are shown below.

A. destination of movement
京都 (きょうと) () った。 (I went to Kyôto.)
(くるま) ぶつかった。 (I bumped into a car.)
(おや) 手紙 (てがみ) (おく) った。 (I sent a letter to my parents.)

B. location of existence
東京 (とうきょう) () んでいる。 (I live in Tôkyô.)
(にわ) () が ある。 (There is a tree in a yard.)

C. origin (uncommon)
(かれ) 手紙を もらった。 (I received a letter from him.)

Choose appropriate verbs.
Q1. 公園 (こうえん) (a. (あそ) んだ b. 行った) 。
Q2. 教室 (きょうしつ) 本を (a. () んだ b. 置いた) 。
Q3. 銀座 (ぎんざ) (a. () (もの) した b. 買い物に 行った) 。
Q4. 東京 (a. (はたら) いている b. 住んでいる) 。

A1: a
A2: b
A3: b
A4: a

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