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に Particle (Existence)

に Particle (Existence)

に Particle (Existence) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: In / At


  • Location Noun + に
    • E.g. 京都きょうと [In Kyoto]
    • E.g. えき [At the station]


  • に (Existence) indicates the location where something or someone exists. It typically pairs with existential or locational verbs such as いる [To be], ある [To be], or む [To live].
    • E.g. クリスは大阪おおさかんでいます。[Chris lives in Osaka.]
    • E.g. この学校がっこうにはプールがない。[There is no pool at this school.]
  • に (Existence) is used to indicate the place where some inanimate object exists, while で (Location) is used to indicate where some action takes place. However, in some cases both に (Existence) or で (Location) are acceptable depending on the speaker’s intention.
    • E.g. わたしのうちにはテレビがない。[There is no TV in my house. (i.e. no TV exists in my house).]
    • E.g. 映画館えいがかん映画えいがた。[I watched a movie at the movie theatre (i.e. the movie theatre is the location where I performed the action of watching a movie).]
    • E.g. *映画館えいがかん映画えいがた。[I watched a movie at the movie theatre.] This is ungrammatical, because the に (Existence) particle can not be used to mark the location where an action takes place.
    • E.g. 東京きょうとう仕事しごとつけた。[I found a job while in Tokyo.] This sentence implies that the speaker was in Tokyo when he or she found a job, but it doesn’t necessarily imply that the job itself is in Tokyo. In other words, で (Location) marks the location where the action of finding a job took place.
    • E.g. 東京とうきょう仕事しごとつけた。[I found a job in Tokyo.] This sentence implies that the speaker found a job that is in Tokyo; it doesn’t imply anything about the speaker’s current whereabouts. In other words, に (Existence) marks the location where the job exists.
  • When the verb ある is used to express an event, に (Existence) cannot be used. The reason (as explained above) is that に (Existence) is used to mark the place where something exists and not the place where some action or event takes place. で (Location) is used for such purposes.
    • E.g. こんばんジムのいえでパーティーがあります。[Tonight at Jim’s house there is a party.]
    • E.g. *こんばんジムのいえにパーティーがあります。[Tonight at Jim’s house there is a party.]
  • When a location phrase is used as a modifier in a larger noun phrase (e.g. “An apartment in New York“), に (Existence) cannot be used. Instead, the particle must be used.
    • E.g. *ニューヨークにアパート [An apartment in New York] に (Existence) cannot be used to create an attributive noun phrase.
    • E.g. ニューヨークのアパート[An apartment in New York] This example is OK.
  • に (Existence) can also be used to list nouns exhaustively when one or more secondary nouns are added to a main noun (marked by に) in order to create a list of indispensable objects. In other words, the secondary nouns are implied to be indispensable aspects of or accompaniments to the main noun.
    • E.g. 毎朝まいあさみそしるとごはんべる。[I eat miso soup and rice every morning.] This sentence simply conveys an exhaustive list of things that the speaker eats every morning.
    • E.g. 毎朝まいあさみそしるにごはんべる。[I eat rice with my miso soup every morning.] This sentence implies that rice has been added to miso soup as an indispensable aspect of the speaker’s daily breakfast.
    • E.g. あのひとはいつもしろいシャツとあかいチョッキをている。[That person always wears a white shirt and a red vest.]
    • E.g. あのひとはいつもしろいシャツにあかいチョッキをている。[That person always wears a red vest in addition to a white shirt.] The implication is that the red vest is an indispensable addition to the white shirt.

Example Sentences:

ヒルさんはいまジョンソンさんのアパートにいる。[Ms. Hill is at Mr. Johnson’s apartment now.]

わたしのクラスには中国人ちゅうごくじん学生がくせいがいる。[There are Chinese students in this class.]

そのほんはこの学校がっこう図書館としょかんにあります。[That book is in this school’s library.]

にわさくらっている。[There is a cherry tree in the garden.]

この作文さくぶんには文法ぶんぽうちがいがたくさんられる。[You can find many grammatical errors in this composition.]

花子はなこがみのるのとなりにすわっている。[Hanako is sitting next to Minoru.]

WILD Examples:

At 1:03, listen for this line: 大切たいせつなものがきっとここあるはずさ [I certainly expect that there is something precious here.]
At 1:38, listen for this line: 昼間ひるまはパズルダーツおやつ [In the living room, I have snacks while I build puzzles and play darts] This is an example of a noun (i.e. snacks) serving as an essential accompaniment to another noun (i.e. chess in the first instance and darts in the second).
The first line of this song goes as follows: Hey look! ここいるよ、いつでも [Hey look! I’m always here, any time]

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