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Here are two examples:

[電話]{でんわ}による[通報]{つうほう} // Fine

電話により通報する // Okay?

I feel like using により is strange in my second example, but I'm not sure. Is the second example perfectly fine grammatically? I feel like 電話で通報 or 電話から通報 would be better.

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We also say 電話での通報, which is the logical noun counterpart of 電話で通報する. However, this does not explain why 電話による通報 is common while 電話により通報する sounds awkward. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 4 '12 at 13:18

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

According to the どんな時どう使う日本語表現文型500, noun+によって is used for means and methods (noun+により is a slightly more formal version of noun+によって but they have the same meaning AFAIK).

When the noun is something that's concrete/tangible (a 具体的な物), noun+で is more commonly used than noun+によって:

× わたしは自転車によって通勤している。
○ わたしは自転車で通勤している。
"I commute by train bicycle."

× その件をメールによって通知してください。
"Please report that matter via e-mail."

And when in a place where the noun is explained, noun+による is frequent:

○ 自転車による通勤は禁止されている。
"Commuting to work via train bicycle is prohibited."

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+1 for referencing どんな時どう使う日本語表現文型500. –  istrasci Oct 30 '12 at 14:41
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@istrasci uh, thanks for the edit...why on earth I thought 自転車 was "train" rather than 電車 I don't know, but in my defence, they kind of rhyme ^^; –  cypher Oct 30 '12 at 23:34
    
No problem. At the time I edited, you already had 2 or 3 upvotes, so apparently no one else noticed either. :D –  istrasci Nov 1 '12 at 14:30

Both examples are grammatically correct. 電話により通報する is just a verbal transformation of 電話による通報, but I think it is not colloquial. 電話で通報する is commonly used in daily conversation.

UPDATE ~により/による is a bit more formal(rigid) expression than ~で, and it works more effectively when you intend to focus strongly on the method. Maybe 電話により通報する is too much matter of course to emphasize its method. (because we always use phone to call the police)

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Thanks. I realize I can't trust google, but I expected more than 31 hits even if it is not colloquial. –  Jesse Good Jul 4 '12 at 6:39
    
However, I don't disagree with your answer. One reason for the google explanation is that this form is rarely used. (Although, I wonder if it shouldn't be 電話より通報する) –  Jesse Good Jul 4 '12 at 6:47
    
Hmm.. I think I'd rather say 電話から通報する or 電話で通報する than 電話より通報する... –  Choko Jul 4 '12 at 7:38
    
@Chocolate: What do you think about 電話により通報する? –  Jesse Good Jul 4 '12 at 7:52
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@JesseGoodsan-- Hmm even if we want to sound formal, I don't think we'd say 電話により(or電話によって)通報する/電話によりお知らせします(orお知らせいたします/ご連絡いたしますetc.)... I think 「電話で通報する」「携帯電話で/携帯電話から通報する」are more commonly used when you talk about calling the police. When you're not calling "the police", use the word 連絡/お知らせ and want to sound formal, I think 「(お)電話にて(orで)(ご)連絡・お知らせします/いたします/させていただきます」are commonly used. –  Choko Jul 4 '12 at 12:53

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