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I guess the distinguishment standard between を and で is whether the verb involves movement right?

If so, then 旅行する is certainly a movement verb and thus を sounds more natural here. So we almost won't say 東京で旅行する, because in this case we won't stay somewhere in Tokyo forever right?

But when it comes to the verb 遊ぶ, why is it more common to use で rather than を to indicate location? Is it that in Japanese people's opinion, 遊ぶ is a verb that doesn't involve movement?

If so, then 東京で遊ぶ should have a different meaning from 東京を遊ぶ, where 東京で遊ぶ means someone stays still somewhere in Tokyo forever, and 東京を遊ぶ means someone travels all around Tokyo.

But I think 遊ぶ should certainly involve movement, because it means someone is having fun, which is often a continuing changing process, like: At first someone is interested in something, and after sometime he begins to pay attention to another interesting thing and after sometime he starts to have fun enjoying another thing and so on? So I cannot understand why 東京で遊ぶ instead of 東京を遊ぶ.

To be honest, I think in this case, 東京を遊ぶ is more reasonable and it is almost interchangable with 東京で旅行する.

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  • What are you trying to say by 東京を遊ぶ? I'm not sure this makes any sense.
    – A.Ellett
    Oct 18, 2023 at 19:27
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    Are you a Chinese speaker? I'm just curious.
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 18, 2023 at 22:02
  • Incidentally, 東京に遊ぶ technically can be an archaic expression for to trip around Tokyo to study.
    – user4092
    Oct 20, 2023 at 5:10

1 Answer 1

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遊ぶ is a verb that doesn't involve movement?

Correct. Unlike 旅行する, verbs like 遊ぶ, 楽しむ, 働く and so on do not inherently include the meaning of movement, even if movement is sometimes included as part of the activity. For example, if you play a video game all day without stepping out of your own bedroom, that's a perfect example of 遊ぶ in Japanese. As aguijonazo points out, the kanji 游 seems to primarily mean "to travel" in Chinese, but you have to forget it when you interpret this Japanese verb. (Some other Japanese words do contain the kanji 遊 in the sense of "travel", for example 回遊魚, but it's a relatively minor meaning in Japanese.)

Since 遊ぶ is not a movement verb to begin with, Xを遊ぶ also doesn't indicate movement. Xを遊ぶ can be used when X is the name of a game (e.g., スーパーマリオを遊ぶ), but you generally cannot put a place name like 東京 there. If you say 東京を遊ぶ ("to play Tokyo"), people might wonder if you're talking about a game or game stage named "Tokyo".

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