This may be slightly multifaceted because I have a larger question regarding で that is contextualized by a smaller one.

It is improper to put で before です or だ right. If someone asks 何で来ましたか (How did you get here?) you could reply バスで来ました。 But you can't write バスでです... right? Is there a way to answer without a verb?

Ok that's my contextual question... so my real question is, if it is true you cannot place で before です in this manner, how is it possible to say 初めてです if that is the 連用形 + で.

Or is it a completely different thing all together and just considered an adverb?

SUMMARY: 1/ Can you place で before です per example: バス + で + で + あります. 2/ If not... how is it possible to say 初めてです, as to me that is 初め + で +で + あります

  • 2
    Just curious, who told you で can't precede です or だ? It might seem a bit clumsy, but it's definitely not ungrammatical.
    – dainichi
    Aug 1, 2013 at 1:59
  • Oh... some of my self professed fluent friends told me you can't. I didn't know for sure which is why I said "If it is true you cannot" Thanks for the heads up. What would be the non clumsy way to say it if you don't mind me asking? Just using the verb after it? I mean it sounded wrong to me because it's essentially バスでであります
    – Nathan
    Aug 1, 2013 at 2:47
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    Yes, you can say 「バスでです」, meaning approximately "(it is) by bus". That phrase alone has a lot of google results: the first one on my computer says 「東京まで一番安くいけるのはバスでですか?」, and I think you would lose some naturality if you omitted で there.「なんでですか?」 is fairly common in general. Also, fluency in a language doesn't necessarily enable you to teach it to non-native speakers.
    – Billy
    Aug 2, 2013 at 0:35
  • Oh really it is possible? Alright well I'll have to research that more then. And yeah I didn't trust their teachings 100 percent which is why I wrote the question with so many "If it is true that" and "right?"s in it haha. I will try to keep my questions more basic in the future. But thankyou for the help, I think it is starting to make sense now.
    – Nathan
    Aug 2, 2013 at 1:06

1 Answer 1


First of all, 初めてです is verb+て+です, the te-form + です. The te-form has nothing to do with the particle で. (で can be like the te-form of だ/です, but this is not what your question is about.)

です is a copula, and so Xです means "it is X". You can substitute pretty much everything for X. The best way to think about your sentences would be to interpret then as 「バスで 」です and 「初めて」です. You could also say 「信用を」です or 「」、です etc.

But when you think about it a bit more, the particle で does not apply to the verb (action) in these sentences the same way as in バスで来る - to come and to do this coming by bus.

However, a copula is not some action that could perform "by bus". バスでです means "it is by bus", but "by" does not apply to "is", because then "it exists by bus" should make sense as well. The English verb "be" is used as a copula here, and the right way to think about it is "it is 'by bus'".

To summarize, です is a bit different from your usual verb, and it is certainly not the same as the English verb "to be". Curiously, and what might add to your confusion, is where the copula itself comes from: Japanese had many copulas, but many of them are made up of particle+ある: で+ある("to exist as"), なり=に+ある, たり=と+ある, で+御座る.

  • This is excellent! Thankyou for dealing with my admittedly convoluted question. I understand the what you are talking about... how there doesn't have to be a direct correlation between です and what you subsitute for X. I'd never heard that を could go before です though and I think it would start to sound quite strange saying ボールをです or 電車でです。 What I have taken from this is that it works, but is rarely used because there are better ways to do it. HOWEVER, there are exceptions such as 初めてです which are allowed due to the roles they fill. This answers my question quite well thankyou!
    – Nathan
    Aug 1, 2013 at 6:06
  • @Nathan, I think that you might have some useful questions about 初めて and how it works as an adverb that might be beneficial to ask.
    – yadokari
    Aug 1, 2013 at 16:53
  • I don't think です is usually considered a verb. Here are some reasons: it can't take a subject (*〜がです), it can follow adjectives as a politeness marker (新しいです), and it's not an independent word.
    – user1478
    Sep 24, 2013 at 18:44

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