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  1. 東京で家を買いました

  2. 東京に家を買いました

Why can に be used in 2 and when can に be used instead of で?

marked as duplicate by naruto, macraf, Blavius, snailcar Jan 18 '17 at 3:40

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東京家を買いました。 -- "I bought a house [when I was] in Tokyo."

で marks the place where an action takes place. The action of buying a house occurred in Tokyo.

東京家を買いました。 -- "I bought a house [which is located] in Tokyo."

に marks the direction toward which the result of an action occurs. Now you have a house in Tokyo.


Another example:

秋葉原テレビを買いました。 -- "I bought a TV in Akihabara."

You use で here, since the action of buying a TV took place in Akihabara.

寝室テレビを買いました。 -- "I bought a TV in/for my bedroom."

You use に here. The TV has been (or will be) placed in your bedroom.  

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OK: "東京で、シンガポールにある家を買いました"
NG: "東京に、シンガポールにある家を買いました"

If you focus not on where the house exists, but on where you bought the house, you can say "(場所)で家を買いました."

If you focus on where the house exists, you can say "東京にある家."

Thus the use "に" here is the abbreviation of "にある."

Strictly speaking, "東京で家を買いました" just means "東京で、家を買う取引をしました," the person made the deal in Tokyo and he doesn't refer where the house is, but almost all the people understand that the person made the deal of purchasing a house with the broker in Tokyo and the house exits in Tokyo.

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I think this is a good question. ( in a way I have never paid special attention to before. ) I would like to answer quoting specialists' analysis.. It is so long so that I am afraid I would like to refrain from covering the entire pages but only the core pages.

Here, 3 specialists ( including the writer ) are introduced.

From the "377" page,

王欣や、増岡、田岡の説をまとめると話し手が場所に重点をおくと「に」が用いられ、動作の種類に重点をおくと「で」が用いられるとの事である。しかし、この説明はあまりすっきりしない感がある。以下にあげる➂の筆者のような説明のほうが理解しやすいのではないだろうか?

Summarizing the opinions by 王欣、増岡、田岡、when speaker put the weight on the very "location に is used, while when the speaker put the weight on the verb types, で is used. However, in my opinion, I am not so satisfied with their explanation. Would my view ➂ instead by me be more easy for readers to understand?

Therefore we go consequently her view ➂. I am sorry in my PC there is no software that can control the PDF.

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*They are analyzing in connection with Chinese here.

Zai(in Chinese 在) +the place adjunct prior to the verb denotes overall location the whole sentence expresses within its incidents, action. The corresponding Japanese, in this case, can be expressed by で. Also, should the place adjunct be recognized as either subjective-objective location, に can be used.

a. When the place adjunct be interpreted as the location where the Subject ( the speaker ) is, either に or で can be used.

*I would like to abbreviate Chinese explanation since I am not well in Chinese.

b. Should the place adjunct be interpreted as the location of the object, then に fits nicely to denote its object's location, whereas で is used in this case, it will denote the location where the subject will act.

Summary

In overall, the difference is very subtle, however, I would be at least to say 「で」 has the --broader capacity-- than 「に」 when denoting the location.

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