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Consider the sentence:

今度の旅行は全部で何人行きますか。

I would roughly translate it literally to:

For this trip, in the domain of "total"(abstract location), how many people will be going?"

And then more naturally as:

How many people in total are going on this trip?

My conjecture: で is taking on the role of "location where a verb/event occurs".

(Question 1) What is the role of で for this type of usage?


Other things for your consideration:

JMDict and WWWJDIC categorises 全部 as:

Adverbial Noun (副詞的名詞)(Q1.1),

noun (temporal) (jisoumeishi)(Q1.2)

(Q1.1) But I don't think 全部で acts adverbially to modify the verb 行く. Am I right? (Please correct me if I'm wrong)

(Q1.2) I don't think this part is relevant right? (Again please correct me if I'm wrong)

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

全部で

is an expression meaning "in total", and is strongly related to the fixed way to say "N of us went to X" (XにN人で行きました). Rather than an abstract location, it's closer to the "mean" で, the one you use to say "I went by car".

So, it's like "By what did you go there" (なにで行きましたか?), "By what number did you go there" (なんにんで行きましたか?), and so on.

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Another definition of the particle is "the condition/state of how the action takes place". This is the definition that your example fits in to. I suppose if it helps you to think of it as an "abstract location", then feel free to do so (as I firmly believe each individual has the right to do whatever helps them learn best), but I'd suggest just memorizing this as one of the "atomic" definitions of and not trying to relate it to one of the others.

Here are some examples sentences for this definition of :

一人で行きました → I went by myself
土足で部屋に入ってはいけない → You can't enter the room with your shoes on
大きな声で話す → Speak very loudly ("Speak with a big/loud voice")

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+1 for good examples. –  Amanda S Aug 8 '11 at 4:28
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