Japanese Grammar Bank


A preposition is a word or group of words that show time, direction, location, or relationships in space, or introduces an object.

Think about words like in, at, or on. There are too many prepositions in Japanese to mention all of them here, so I’ll go into details about 4 in particular.



に is a beast of a preposition in Japanese. It has so many uses in so many different circumstances that new learners of the language find it especially difficult to get the hang of. You’ll find some common uses below.  

に for locations

Use に to indicate a specific location, place or destination, where an action takes place, or a person/thing is located. 


Location + に

Gakkou ni ikimasu
I’m going to school 

BONUS || Learn more about Japanese location particles here.

に for time

You can use に to indicate specific points in time, such as dates or times of day


Time + に

Getsuyoubi ni aimashou
Let’s meet on Monday 

に for purpose

に can be used to show the purpose or goal of an action


Purpose + に

Ongaku o kiku ni wa heddofon ga hitsuyou desu  
You need headphones to listen to music

に for indirect object

に can indicate the recipient of an action when the verb implies giving, sending, or doing something for someone. 


Recipient of action + に

Tomodachi ni purezento o ageta
I gave a present to my friend

に for frequency

Use に to indicate how often something happens. 


Frequency + に

Mainichi ni renshuu shimasu
I practice every day

に for passive constructions

In passive sentences, に is often used to indicate the agent, the one performing the action.


Performer of the action + に

Tegami wa tomodachi ni kakaremashita
The letter was written by my friend 

に for appointments

に is used to specify a time for appointments, meetings, or scheduled events. 


Appointment + に

Kaigi wa san-ji ni hajimarimasu
The meeting starts at 3 o’clock 

に for specific verbs

Some verbs require に. For example:

  • 〜に行くni iku to go to
  • 〜に来る ni kuru to come to
  • 〜に対してni taishite towards, regarding, etc
Kare ni ai ni iku
I’m going to meet him

に for inanimate objects

に can sometimes be used with inanimate objects to show an indirect object or a location where something is happening. 


Object + に

Heya ni hon ga arimasu
There is a book in the room

Remember that the use of に can vary based on the context and the specific verb it’s associated with.

It’s essential to practice and observe how native speakers use this particle to become more proficient in using it correctly in various situations. 



The particle で is a versatile and commonly used particle in the Japanese language. It serves various functions and can be used in a variety of contexts.

Here’s a comprehensive explanation of how to use で in different situations: 

で for location

Use で to indicate the location where an action takes place or an event occurs. 


Location +

Resutoran de shokuji o shimasu
I will have a meal at the restaurant 

で for method

で can be used to show the means or method by which an action is performed. 


Method +

Kuruma de tsuukin shimasu
I commute by car 

で for duration

You can use で to specify a particular time or the duration over which an action occurs. 


Time / Duration +

Ichi jikan de owarimasu
It will end in one hour 

で for reason

で can indicate the reason or cause behind an action or a state. 


Reason / Cause +

Samusa de kaze o hikimashita
I caught a cold because of the cold weather 

で for range

Use で to specify the scope or range within which an action is taking place. 


Range +

Kouen de asondeimasu
I’m playing in the park 

で for instruments

で can be used to indicate the instrument or tool used to perform an action. 


Tool +

Pen de kaiteimasu
I’m writing with a pen

で for occupation

で is used to describe someone’s occupation, job, or role. 


Occupation +

Kare wa isha de, byouin de hataraiteimasu
He is a doctor and works at the hospital 

で for price

で is used to indicate the price at which something is bought or sold. 


Price +

Kore wa sen en de kaimashita
I bought this for 1000 yen

で for manner

Use で to describe the manner or style in which an action is performed. 


Manner +

Kare wa genki ni hanasu
He speaks energetically

で with specific particles

Some verbs require で. For example:

  • 〜で行くde iku to go by
  • 〜で来るde kuru to come by, etc. 
Densha de ikimasu
I will go by train 


後ろに ushironi

The phrase 後ろに (うしろに) in Japanese refers to behind or in the back of and is used to indicate the location or position of something or someone in relation to another object or point of reference.


[Object or Person] + うしろに + [Reference Point]

机のうしろに本がありますTsukue no ushiro ni hon ga arimasuThere is a book behind the deskLocation of Objects
彼女は車のうしろに立っていますKanojo wa kuruma no ushiro ni tatteimasuShe is standing behind the car.Position of people
バス停のうしろに左に曲がってくださいBasu-tei no ushiro ni hidari ni magatte kudasaiPlease turn left behind the bus stopDirection indication
会議のうしろにランチをとりましょうKaigi no ushiro ni ranchi o torimashouLet’s have lunch after the meetingTemporal use


の前に no mae ni

The phrase の前に in Japanese is used to indicate in front of or before and describes the location or position of something or someone in relation to another object or point of reference.


[Object or Person] + の前に+ [Reference Point]

車の前に樹木があります.Kuruma no mae ni jumoku ga arimasuThere are trees in front of the car.Location of objects
彼は教室の前に立っています.Kare wa kyoushitsu no mae ni tatteimasuHe is standing in front of the classroom.Position of people
レストランの前に左折してください.Resutoran no mae ni tousha shite kudasaiPlease turn left in front of the restaurant.Direction indication
食事の前に手を洗いましょう.Shokuji no mae ni te o araimashouLet’s wash our hands before the meal.Temporal use
夏の前に春があります.Natsu no mae ni haru ga arimasuBefore summer, there is spring.Comparative use


  • ni is a versatile preposition that is used to indicate direction, time, frequency, and more.
  • de is another versatile preposition used to indicate location, method, occupation, price, and more.
  • の後ろにno ushiro ni is a preposition used to express behind.
  • の前にno mae ni is a preposition used to express in front of.

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How to use に ni?

に (ni) is used for the state of existing or being somewhere.

私は東京住んでいます。Watashi wa Tokyo ni sunde imasu. | I live in Tokyo.

It is also used for time, helping set the scene of a verb.

朝十時買い物に行く。asa jyuu ji ni kaimono ni iku. | I’ll go shopping at 10am.

How to use で de?

で is used to mark the location of an action.

雑誌を読みます。Ie de zasshi o yomimasu. | I read magazines at home.

学校勉強した。Gakkou de benkyou shita. | I studied at school.

Beginners often mistake で (de) and に (ni). Make sure if you’re talking about an action taking place, then use で , whilst a non-action related location is に ni.

How to use 後ろに?

The phrase うしろに in Japanese refers to behind or in the back of and is used to indicate the location or position of something or someone in relation to another object or point of reference.

[Object or Person] + うしろに + [Reference Point]



Tsukue no ushiro ni hon ga arimasu

There is a book behind the desk

Check out our free lesson for more examples.

How to use の前に?

The phrase の前に in Japanese is used to indicate in front of or before and describes the location or position of something or someone in relation to another object or point of reference.

[Object or Person] + の前に+ [Reference Point]



Kuruma no mae ni jumoku ga arimasu

There are trees in front of the car.

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