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The example sentence in Why is も used instead of が in the sentence 「日本ではクモを見ると良いことがあると言う人もいますよ」,

日本ではクモを見ると良いことがあると言う人もいますよ

got me thinking "Why is it using で, not に?". I.e., why not

日本には、クモを見ると良いことがあると言う人もいますよ

It seems obvious that 日本では is intended to modify います. If it were modifying 言う, the meaning would be roughly "There are people who - when in Japan - say that ...".

Although I would personally use に in this sentence, it doesn't sound completely ungrammatical to me as it is. So why is that, given that いる usually takes に, not で?

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3 Answers

では is not modifying います or 言う. That is just one of the definitions of では: 「...の場所で」; for/at a place.

京都ではもう春だ。 → It's already spring in Kyoto.

日本では is just setting the stage for the rest of the sentence; "In Japan", and then leave it at that. The rest of the sentence doesn't relate grammatically to it at all. It's not indicating the location where people talk about the spiders. And you don't indicate where someone exists with で (see my answer here for details on that).

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I think I understand what you are trying to say, but I'm not convinced. An NP or a PP should fit into the rest of the sentence whether it is topicalized with は or not. Your example sentence, 京都ではもう春だ, sounds marked to me compared to 京都はもう春だ, just like 京都で春だ sounds strange because it should be 京都が春だ. –  dainichi Oct 25 '12 at 3:43
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I don't know what NP or PP is. Nor do I know what you mean by "marked", but that sentence came straight out of the Progressive dictionary (except that I accidentally typed 京都 instead of 東京). –  istrasci Oct 25 '12 at 4:58
    
To my ear it sounds like では is emphasizing the location, and not necessarily wrong. 京都では and 京都で don't feel like the same thing. –  ssb Oct 25 '12 at 4:58
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@dainichi: Yes, in the case of asking the question クモを見ると良いことがあると言う人はいますか?, then the response would be 日本にはいますよ。, but that is a different context than the original sentence. –  istrasci Oct 25 '12 at 14:32
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@istrasci, in that case, how does this different context disallow では? Isn't it still "setting the stage for the rest of the sentence"? –  dainichi Oct 26 '12 at 0:17
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The reason why で is used instead of に here can be attributed to two reasons:

  1. There is large distance between います and 日本では.

  2. The part separating them (クモを見ると良いことがあると言う) uses verbs which represent action which would make it more natural to use で because they are closer. When making sentences, people have a tendency to match the particles with verbs that are closer.

Because of the above, で is used although you are correct in believing that に should be used with いる.

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Yes, that is pretty much my suspicion as well. Kind of similar to the phenomenon of "One of my friends think ..." in English. –  dainichi Oct 30 '12 at 7:46
    
@dainichi: Yes, I was actually going to mention that this phenomenon does not only happen in Japanese. You see it often in English also (usually with plural usage, etc.) –  Jesse Good Oct 30 '12 at 9:37
    
It seems to me both Jesse and Intrasci's arguements hold. Is it not possible that there are two linguistic arguements that both hold for this sentence in most situations? –  Tim Nov 9 '12 at 22:48
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In my opinion,

日本では connects to the action クモを見る。 日本に goes to the 人がいる。 So you can say

日本ではクモを見るといい。 日本には人がいる。

I think you can use both で and に、but what you wanna stress out in the sentence is different.

For で、You wanna focus on クモを見ること For に、You wanna focus on 人がいること

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IMO, では is not applying to 見る. IMO, essentially the sentence is: 日本では(そんな)人もいます. –  SomethingJapanese Oct 27 '12 at 4:24
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I guess that's grammatically possible, but it's unlikely that's the intent of the sentence. Why would people think the luck of seeing a spider depend on where you see it? –  dainichi Oct 27 '12 at 13:11
    
@dainichi: I think the sentence is saying "There are also/even people in Japan who think it is lucky to see a spider." This sentence is part of a discussion about the belief itself - how widespread it is, not where you see the spider. –  Tim Nov 9 '12 at 22:43
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