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Why is 「で」 in 「三人のうちで一番...」 omissible but 「で」 in 「ここで待つ」 not?

Are there any rough guidelines regarding whether a particle can be omitted or not?

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  • Thanks for translation, but the original post says うちで. Of course うち is sometimes written as 中, but leaving it in kanji is misleading since we usually read it as なかで. Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 7:00
  • @broccoliforest Many thanks for your kind clarification. BTW, are 「なか」 and 「うち」 interchangeable when being used as 「事物についてある範囲を限定し,その範囲内でことを考えるときに用いる語」?
    – null
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 7:12
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    @Noir I'm pretty sure that "うち" and "なか" are as different as how "within" and "inside" are. Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 7:17
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    I'm afraid I don' think so. For example, 部屋の中(なか), 屋内(ない)both denotes inside. Basically both denotes "inside" Source : jpf.go.jp/j/japanese/survey/globe/09/…
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 10:59
  • So, according to above theory, 中 is specific space especially while talking some specific dimentional space inside, while うち is inside too, but rather a bit more often used in the comparison with outside.
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 11:12

2 Answers 2

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It's not really that で is omitted, but うち is diverted to something like "conjunction" or "preposition" in English. It can lead a full sentence ("sentence (終止形) + うち") or a noun phrase ("NP + のうち") to make an adverbial clause (sentence adverb) that means "in the course of; within". Sometimes, you can reword them using plain noun うち.

"adverbial" うち vs. "ordinary" うち

学校に通ううち、嫌でなくなってきた。 = 学校に通ううちに、嫌でなくなってきた。
三人のうち一番背が高い。 = 三人のうちで一番背が高い。
乗客のうち3名死亡、5名負傷 = (no equivalent)
(no equivalent) = 城壁のうちを歩いて点検する。

Many other "formal nouns" (形式名詞) that refer to place or time, provide similar usage; なか "in/amidst ...", うえ "as well as ...", もと "under ...", とき "when ...", ところ "despite ..." etc., which more or less sound more high-register-ish or formal than the noun + postposition form equivalent (if any).

Some ordinary nouns (結果, あげく, 瞬間 ...) are gradually acquiring such usages, according to this recent research.

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  • I am afraid how you concluded these 2 なか, うち, are "abstract nouns". I think both are just nouns. Per the thesis on the questioners comment, on Page 192, for example, for your 学校に通ううち、嫌でなくなってきた。 = 学校に通ううちに、嫌でなくなってきた。 is theorized as the noun indicating the "time transition ( contemplating the "outside" simultaneously )" For your 三人のうち一番背が高い。 = 三人のうちで一番背が高い, is also a noun, but only denoting the limitation while indicating outside at the same time.
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 3:04
  • For your 乗客のうち3名死亡、5名負傷 = (no equivalent), same, limitation, and personally it should be 乗客のうち, 3名死亡、5名負傷 = (no equivalent), comma needed. Also a noun. For your (no equivalent) = 城壁のうちを歩いて点検する。 is also a noun, just "inside".
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 3:08
  • So to me, in conclusion, both are simply nouns, however, depending on what kind of circumstances they are used, they could be interpreted differently.
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 3:29
  • And sorry, furthermore. I understand your intent. However, your 4th example, (no equivalent) = 城壁のうちを歩いて点検する。Apparently this sentence specifically is specifying a "certain point". "Inside the wall of the castle", then how does it become an "adverbial clause"? Kindly clarify, please.
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 6:19
  • What I tried to explain was so-called 名詞の副詞的用法. And see 形式名詞 here. I know it's a form of noun, and "abstract noun" is obviously but my nonce wording (probably I should rename). My point is, the OP was focussing on the lack of postposition, so I tried to answer that the no-postposition usage is valid and established, for they are qualified to join in a sentence independently. Things like "conjunction" is just analogy, that's why I quoted them. (cont.) Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 10:58
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It's all a question of necessity.

In 「三人の中で」, で is expressing not a physical location so much, but rather a mental map of where something lies. In the case of 「ここで」, as ここ is a tangible (albeit relative) place, particles aren't be dropped after it, no matter what they are.

The rules vary from particle to particle.

を can be dropped in nearly every case where it's showing the receiver of an action.

オレンジ(を)食べる

写真(を)見る

It can't be dropped in cases of showing movement

道を歩きます

が can usually be dropped unless it's important so that the sentence makes sense

彼女の笑顔、一番美しいのです

BUT

A:誰が彼を教えましたか。

B:私が教えた。

This above sentence NEEDS が because grammatically the rules require it when questions contain が. In most other cases, though, it's okay to drop

に (and by extension へ) is usually kept in all cases, because it's pretty important in showing the direction of travel for people and/or objects.

彼にプレゼントを貰いました。

仕事に行きました   or   仕事へ行きました

In reference to your initial question, で is usually kept if it shows where something happened (i.e. where you waited) just as に is kept for travel. But, in the case of showing that from a selection, x is the most y, it's usually okay to drop, because it's not giving an indication of physical location. You also need to keep で if you're saying that you did something a certain way e.g.:

車で学校に行きました。

The rules are a bit more awkward than this at times, but these cover most things. You'll always be better off just listening to Japanese being spoken and hearing what other people do and what sounds the most "natural", which you eventually get a good sense of at some stage in your learning : )

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  • I am sorry to say in my entire poor lol life I have never seen anybody saying "オレンジ食べる”, "写真見る". If somebody says such, it sounds like somebody mentally a bit handicapped ( or children ). Where did you get that source??????
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 23:38
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    I think they're talking about casual/colloquial speech like これ知ってる? / それ聞いたことある。/ ご飯食べた? / みかん食べる? / りんご食べたい。/ テレビ見る?etc.
    – user1016
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 9:31
  • Ah, that is too casual. I think your answer is not wrong, but too way over the questioner's intention. If they can master these colloquial way of saying, I assume they would have not asked here. Almost like a native.
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 10:01
  • so, when in daily conversation, we sometimes, a teacher accompanying many children says "道路渡りまーす!”. But unfortunately, Sqrtbottle said different method. So, here the too much casualty does not matter.
    – user7644
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 10:43

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