Newcomer here. Trying to learn Japanese on my own for years now. Here's a first question. How can I make sure to learn correctly the difference between using を and で in the context of an action occurring in a given place. Meaning, what is correct to say:




I tend to always use で in such case, but I stumble upon を at times.

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    I think that 公園を散歩する is an example of what Martin calls a "partial traversal" を, so it doesn't really imply walking all the way through the park. In this case I think で can be used without a major change in meaning. In other cases を is more like through or across ("total traversal"), as in 橋を渡る. And a third use is similar to から, expressing a point of departure, as in 家を出る.
    – user1478
    Jul 18, 2014 at 22:38
  • @snailboat: That's interesting. Does Martin give other examples? (Can't help wondering if he just made it up to fit this one case!) I had exact same question as the OP. I was told that even though で is grammatically possible, people use を when they take a walk in the park. As a rule of thumb, I think we non-natives should try to follow the conventions, without overly worrying about it them, in much the same way non-native speakers of English get by.
    – Tim
    Jul 18, 2014 at 23:45
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    @Tim He says it varies according to the verb, so 空を飛ぶ is partial traversal because that's part of the semantics of 飛ぶ, while verbs like 渡る or 通る have the semantics of total traversal. (Hopefully this makes sense on an intuitive level.) I think you're right that を is the usual choice in the case of 公園を散歩する, although I think people occasionally do use で.
    – user1478
    Jul 18, 2014 at 23:55
  • @snailboat . Yes, good point. I suppose the sky is similar to the park. Until now I would have thought it was similar to a river which you can swim in (で)or swim across (を). Even so I think will continue using を with park because で just adds to the noise in my spoken Japanese - people will assume I don't understand, even though I may be deliberately using something that is technically correct.
    – Tim
    Jul 19, 2014 at 5:35
  • Expanding on @snailplane's answer: For the case of 散歩, both are grammatical but with a slightly different meaning. youtu.be/5zpAze8KPtw?t=368 • use を for "going across" (in and out) of something • use で for "moving/circling inside" of something --- As mentioned in the video, while 通ります cannot use で since it only carries the "across" meaning, 散歩 can use either because in the 'exercise' context it can have the meaning of "circling inside the park".
    – Ryuu
    Sep 2, 2020 at 18:08

1 Answer 1


で indicates the location of an action, while を indicates the object of an action. However, some verbs such as 散歩【さんぽ】する, 走る【はしる】, 歩く【あるく】, etc. can also be used in this way, meaning that both are correct.

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    No, not quite. を can be "spatial", like 空を飛ぶ, so that 公園を散歩します is actually correct and frequently used.
    – Earthliŋ
    Jul 18, 2014 at 23:49
  • Yes, I was unsure of my answer after posting it and did some more research and found that intransitive verbs have slightly different rules.
    – Widdiful
    Jul 18, 2014 at 23:54

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