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I have a question relating to question 19 of the JLPT N5 'example' grammar exam. This is a question where you have four things to fit into four gaps:

A: [会社 _ _ _ _ 行って いますか]

B: [わたしは あるいて 行って います]

  1. で 2. は 3. へ 4. 何

I guess that the translation is roughly:

A: How do you get to work?

B: I walk

However, I am having trouble arranging the particles into the correct order. I suspect that 会社 is the topic of the sentence, and thus should have は in the first free slot. I would group 何で together, as meaning 'by what method'. My attempt at the full sentence is thus:

会社 [は] [へ] [何] [で] 行って いますか

But I am confused about the presence (and location) of the へ particle. Is this necessary to indicate the motion towards the office? Could I form a 'fuller' answer like so:

会社はへ歩いて行っています

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

As @ジョン said, the correct answer is 会社へは何で行っていますか. The particle means "toward/to/in the direction of". So 会社へ means "to(/toward) work". The sentence could just as easily be 会社へ何で行っていますか without the and mean almost the same thing.

However, combining with 1) makes the topic of the sentence "To work" ("As for to work, how do you get there?" -- may seem awkward at first), and 2) Emphasizes the company as the destination of the question as opposed to any other place.

If you were to verbally emphasize the English translations, it would look like

  • 会社何で行っていますか → How (by what means) do you go to work ("the company")?
  • 会社へは何で行っていますか → How do you go to work?

Your logic was almost correct, except the topic as I mentioned is "to work" and not just "work". Again, at the N5 level, this can take some time to get comfortable with. It may be helpful to think of a series of questions

東京へ行きますか?大阪へは(行きますか)?京都へは(行きますか)? -- Are you going to Tokyo? What about to Osaka? What about to Kyoto?)

but remember that it's used in "single instances" as well. Also remember the order is important: へは is correct, and not はへ which is syntactically incorrect.

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The correct answer is 会社へは何で行っていますか?

You can use the へは (or more commonly in day-to-day use, には) to show that you're talking about the movement towards the workplace.

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I'm hoping that someone more articulate than me can explain the actual grammar here properly :) –  ジョン Nov 30 '12 at 19:13

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