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I can say 売り場は九時で終わります、 and 三時で帰ります、 which I've learned mean something like, "They'll be trying to close from," and, "I'll be trying to leave from." I've also learned that 2月25日で帰ります is not correct. What are the rules surrounding the use of で in the place of に・から? Is there a more approximate meaning

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Is “帰りきます” in the title a typo? That verb does exist, but it is different from what is written in the text of the question. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 8 '11 at 12:13
    
@TsuyoshiIto I'm curious to know what is 帰りきます. I've been trying to look it up but I can't find a dictionary entry for it. –  Flaw Oct 8 '11 at 13:34
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It's just a type-o. –  Wolfpack'08 Oct 8 '11 at 13:38
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@Flaw: 帰りくる is an old-fashioned synonym for 帰ってくる. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 8 '11 at 14:07
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

here is used as a particle to mark a time where an event terminates.

売り場は九時で終わります is a correct use of this . (The closing(termination) of the 売り場). 

三時で行きます and 2月25日で行きます is not correct because it's a start of something.

And for cases where and are interchangeable, the nuance is that the sentence with indicates that the event lasts up to the point of the time marked by . While the version with に just means it ends at that point.

About ~から, it means "from the point of ~". It would be more natural to say "something ends at ~" than "something ends from ~ onwards". That's why is used over から for an event terminating.

As a side note, "trying to ~" is expressed by ~ようとする

EDIT:

In the absence of context, 三時で帰る would mean "Return (home) by means of 3 O'clock", which doesn't make sense. This is different from the first we initially discussed. This is the of "the condition/state of how the action takes place".

三時間で帰る - "Return in 3 hours time (it takes 3 hours to travel back)" would make sense.

However, in the presence of context like "ending office hours", 三時で帰る is grammatical.

Similarly, [2]{に}月{がつ}[25]{にじゅうご}日{にち}で帰る would be "Return (home) by means of 25th February", unless context of something ending is given.

[2]{に}[ヶ]{か}月{げつ}25日{にち} - "Return in 2 months and 25 days (it takes 2 months 25 days to travel back)" would make sense.

Now if you're trying to convey a time limit, までに is used.

3時までに帰る - "Return home by 3 O'clock"


EDIT2:

About 三月で私の国に帰ります. I'm not sure about this but I offer two theories:

  1. It suffers the same limitation as the example discussed above. If sufficient context is given that something ends at 三月, then 三月で私の国に帰ります is grammatical. If not it becomes the で of means and sounds weird.

  2. 三月 is not specific enough a time for で to be used as a marker for the time where something terminates. 三月 lasts from 一日 to 三十一日.

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I'm sorry. I meant to use the verb 帰ります. I'll make the appropriate changes. –  Wolfpack'08 Oct 8 '11 at 3:56
    
Any comment about the use of 帰ります with で? –  Wolfpack'08 Oct 8 '11 at 4:51
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三時で帰る is grammatical when, say, the speaker is talking about when he/she leaves the office. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 8 '11 at 12:12
    
I agree, Ito, but I don't know why it's not okay to say 三月で私の国に帰ります。 –  Wolfpack'08 Oct 8 '11 at 12:41
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@Flaw: I do not think that the combination “にから” is grammatical. Also, the asker is not asking about that combination. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 8 '11 at 12:50
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