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I have a denshijisho, always giving me helpful expressions attached to a kanji/word etc. and this time it was

馬は動物である。
A horse is an animal.

in which I don't understand the function of the particle de.

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「で」 in this sentence is a part of 「である」. 「である」 means 「です」 in respectful speech or written speech. 

  • In academic writing, yes. In "respectful speech", that can be quite terribly wrong advice. – virmaior Nov 3 '14 at 12:46

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