Particles へ, に, で which and when to use?


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The へ, に and で particles differ widely, but sometimes it can be difficult to know which one to use. In this article we will see some examples and occasions for this doubt to be explained.

Particle へ

The particle へ (e) is used to indicate the direction of an action, similar to the “para” in Portuguese. It is also used to indicate the person (or thing) to whom the action is directed.

  • 学校へ行きます (gakkō he ikimasu) I go to school;
  • 2 階へ行きます (nikai and ikimasu) I'm going to the second floor
  • Remembering that it can be, I go, go and go depending on the context of the conversation;

Particle に

The に (ni) particle has many different grammatical functions, with which it is possible to indicate existence, location, destination, direction of an action, time span and many other things.

  • 海に魚がいます。 (Umi ni sakana ga imasu.) There are fish in the sea;
  • うちに来る。 (uchi ni kuru) Come to my house;
  • 警察に見せます。 (Keisatsu ni misemasu.) Show to the police;

Particle で

The particle で (de) indicates where an action is happening or has happened. It is usually used in conjunction with Japanese nouns, such as place names, people, animals or objects, adding more information about how that action is performed. In a simple way we can say that the particle represents the place where the action takes place or with what the action is done .:

  • 学校で勉強する。 (benkyō suru gakkō.) I study at school;
  • 電車で行きます。 (ikimasu densha.) Let's go by train;
  • ふとんで寝ます。 (nemasu futon.) Let's sleep on the futon

へ vs に

There are some situations where both particles have the same meaning in the sentence, both are used to indicate destination or direction. On occasions like this, any of the 2 can be used, will be correct and will have the same meaning. Examples:

  • 家に帰ります。 (uchi ni kaerimasu)
  • 家へ帰ります。 (uchi and kaerimasu)

Both phrases are correct and it means: “go back (return) home”. But in situations like welcoming someone somewhere it is better to use the particle へ.

  • 日本へようこそ。(Nihon and Yokoso.) Welcome to Japan.

These two particles are used to express a direction, but the に particle is more specific than the へ particle. While に (ni) defines a precise location, the particle へ (E) defines yet another area. Example

  • 私は会社に行きます。 (watashi wa kaisha ni ikimasu.) I go to my company;
  • 私は来年日本へ行きます. (watashi wa Rainen nihon and ikimasu.) I will go to Japan next year;

To simplify the situation further, we must keep in mind that へ indicates direction and に indicates destination. And that the particle に places an emphasis on the location while the particle へ places an emphasis on movement or direction.

に vs で

Both particles are used to indicate a place. But the particle で is used in conjunction with an action verb. The particles ni or and are used in conjunction with a direction verb. 

  • 公園で食べる。 (taberu kouen.)  Eating in the park
  • 公園に行く。 (kouen ni iku.) Go to the park

Of course, there will be equal phrases, that you have to decide which of the particles to use. See the sentence below:

  • ベッドに横たわる。
  • ベッドで横たわる。
  • Beddo _ Yokotawaru;

Both phrases mean to lie in bed. What's the difference? When you focus on the action (sleep) you use で (from), when you focus on the place where you go to sleep, you use に (ni).

So there is no reason to confuse the use of the particle, just remember that the particle に indicates the location or when an action is taken in a certain direction. And that the particle で indicates the place where some action occurs. And the particle へ indicates the movement or direction. I hope this article has helped you and answer your questions, take advantage and leave your comments and example sentences to help readers.