Introduction to に

In this lesson you will learn how to use to particle に. This particle is also called to location particle or time particle because it is often used to indicate a location or refer to a time. に has a few different usages and you will apply it a lot when making Japanese sentences. Some of its functions are:

  • To mark a place of existence or 
  • As a time marker
  • As a destination marker

に to refer to a place of existence 

When you want to tell somebody about what happened somewhere or when you want to tell where something exists in combination with ある or いる. Some examples:

とうきょう に すんでいます
I live in Tokyo

とうきょう = Tokyo
すんでいます = (To live)

あそこ に とまています
I am staying over there

あそこ = Over there
とまています = Staying somewhere (like in a hotel)

ちかく に いざかや が あります か
Is there an izakaya nearby?

ちかく = Nearby
いざかや = Japanese bar

リアム は さっぽろ に すんでいます
Liam lives in Sapporo

リアム = Liam
さっぽろ = Sapporo

ゴジラ が あそこ に います
Godzilla is over there

ゴジラ = Godzilla
あそこ = Over there
います = To be (for animate objects)

とうきょう に ディズニーリゾート が あります
Disney Resort is in Tokio

ディズニーリゾート = Disney Resort
あります = To be (for inanimate objects)

おてあらい が どこ に あります か
Where is the bathroom?

おてあらい = Toilet, restroom,
どこ = Where

Referring to time with に

So earlier you learned how に can be used to refer to a location but に is also used to bring up a day, month or specific time. 

なんじ に いきます か?
What time will you come?

なん = What
じ = Time (hour)

なんようび に きますか
Which day will you come?

なん = What?
ようび = Day

But there is an important rule when using に for time references. You don’t use に when

  • You use いつ (when). 
  • With words like ‘today, yesterday, day after yesterday, etc.’
  • With concepts like ‘every day, every night, etc.’

Recap: How to refer to Days and months in Japanese

Going somewhere with に

Like when you are referring to the existence of a location, when you mention the location you or somebody else can use に.

とうきょう に いきます
I’m going to Tokio.

いきます = To go

どこ に いきました か
Where did you go to?

どこ = Where
いきました = To go (past tense)

BTS の コンサート に いきません
I will not go to a BTS-concert

コンサート = Concert
いきません = To not go

So now you know the most important functions of the に-particle you can combine them. 

はちじ に ジム に いきます
I will go to the gym at 8 o’clock

はちじ = 8 o’clock
ジム = Gym

Difference between に and へ

The particles に and へ have some overlapping uses and sometimes they can be used interchangeable. 

So what you learned above is that に more or less translates to ‘to, on or in’. The へ-particle is used towards a larger direction. 

にし へ いきます
I am going west

にし = West

Learn other important particles in Japanese in this article