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Context:

プロジェクトチームでの懇親会は初めてだったので、メンバーのいろんな面を知れて楽しかったです。

Why is there "で" in "プロジェクトチームでの懇親会"?

What's the difference between these phrases?

  • プロジェクトチームの懇親会は初めてだった。
  • プロジェクトチームで懇親会は初めてだった。
  • プロジェクトチームでの懇親会は初めてだった。
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2 Answers 2

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A プロジェクトチームの懇親会は初めてだった。

This can mean the project team held a 懇親会 for the first time, but it can also mean that it was only the speaker who experienced the 懇親会 for the first time. It is unclear whether the speaker participated in the 懇親会 or merely observed it, and it is also unclear whether or not the speaker is a member of the project team.

B プロジェクトチームで懇親会は初めてだった。

This sounds awkward. To use で I would rephrase it like:

B1 プロジェクトチームで懇親会を開いたのは初めてだった。

Like A, it was either the project team's or the speaker's first time. It is also unclear whether "they" (excluding the speaker) or "we" (including the speaker) held the 懇親会, but in the case of "we", it implies the speaker is a member of the project team, unlike A. Xで denotes the mode of conduct/existence that is X, and can be seen in Xである. They/We, being the project team, held a 懇親会 for the first time.

Or I would rephrase B into:

B2 プロジェクトチームで懇親会に参加したのは初めてだった。

In this case the 懇親会 was arranged not by the project team but by another, and it is implied that there were participants other than the project team. Arguments similar to those on B1 also apply to this. However, it may be that the speaker had participated the 懇親会 before by themself in this case.

C プロジェクトチームでの懇親会は初めてだった。

C means either B1 or B2, or something along the same line.

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  • Thanks for the detailed explanation! C as the author's original text, has even more unclear meaning, is it right?
    – Theseus
    Aug 4, 2023 at 9:13
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    I guess so. It's rather complicated.
    – Detaroit
    Aug 4, 2023 at 10:04
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If you said one of these sentence, many Japanese can understand meaning without misunderstanding.

If I had to say...

If it's followed by the word "は初めてだった", I feels strange under Pattern 2.

Because provably these are interpreted as 「は初めてだった」.

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