In this lesson we'll study another crucial of Japanese, で. Many confuse it with に. However, after this lesson, you will realize that it is not the same thing. There are times when they overlap, but you'll leave this lesson with the knowledge needed to distinguish them.
1. It doesn't help that で comes from に. The two have evolved to represent different things. Both mean "at" most of the time when translated into English. However, as for で, there is no deep connection as there is with に. The best example of contrast is "to work."
1. ここで働きます。 VS ここに勤めています。
I work here. I work here.
The first one says that you just work there. You may just be an extra hand, someone that just does things, or the job may just be temporary. The second says that you have been working there; you're employed there. It's the kind of work where you are going to probably be there for a long time. For example, 会社に勤めている.
に relates to the state of something whereas で relates to the occurrence of something. That is why に is used with verbs like ある, いる, and 勤める and で is used verbs like 働く, 会う, etc. However, it is very possible that you will have to use both in the same sentence because of other usages they have.
I study at school.
I studied at the library.
To shop in front of the train station.
Culture Note: There are almost always lots of shops in and around train stations in Japan.
I will make a call at the office.
She swam in the sea.
Particle Note: 海に泳ぐ in Modern Japanese is incorrect to the majority of speakers. When you use で, you are specifying the location of swimming. Otherwise, you would say 海を泳ぐ.
I'm studying Japanese at IMABI.
The children are playing in the garden.
There was an earthquake in Hokkaido.
2. で shows the condition or method in which something is done--"of/with/by."
Please speak in Japanese.
Where can I exchange money?
Listen to music with a stereo.
He chattered rapidly.
I will go to the wedding in kimono.
Do you go by bus to school on a rainy day?
I made a duck out of paper.
I('ll) go by subway.
I bought this CD for three thousand yen.
I no longer work at the department store.
We decided by voting.
Word Note: Remember that 我々 is used in very formal situations.
I cut the meat up with a knife.
I read that in the newspaper in the store.
This works with electricity.
I don't need/want tea. I'm fine with water.
I always eat with chopsticks.
Culture Note: Do not point chopsticks completely vertically in a bowl of rice as this resembles burning incense sticks in funerals. Don't pass food with chopsticks because this is how bones are handled. Pass food by placing it on a small plate or using the ends. Mismatched chopsticks aren't used. Pointing chopsticks at someone may be considered a threat.
Curve Ball: に働く Exists...
Many students are penalized all the time making the annoying mistake of writing ～に働いています on a test. Unbeknownst to these students, the phrase isn't so incorrect as they have been taught. In fact, ～に働く is pretty common.
Why, then, must teachers distill false information? For one, telling students to google search examples of ～に働いています doesn't result in thousands of instances of "place + に働いています." The word preceding it can be a number of things such as adverbs, time phrases, etc. Furthermore, if a student were to look up 働く in a Japanese dictionary in Japanese, the verb is defined in way indicative of a temporary job position to simply sustain one's livelihood. It doesn't intrinsically imply working in a career sense.
However, when this is all blurred, the state of the job doesn't necessarily matter. After all, native speakers aren't going to consider the state of their job to determine which particle to use. Besides, a temporary job could always turn into something else. Below is an example sentence taken from a novel written by 松本清張, a renowned author.
Oh, if you're talking about Sachiko, she's working for me.