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This phrase "te wo furu hito ni egao de kotae" is translated as "Smiling back to the people who waves their hands"

"te wo furu hito ni" I suppose it's "to the people who waves their hands" , kotae is "to respond" and "egao" is "smile". Then why it's "egao de kotae" and not "egao o kotae" . With "egao de kotae" isnt it trying to say "respond a smile" or the literal translation would be another? Does this verb simply work with "de" instead of "o" or is there any other explanation and I'm getting it all wrong?

2 Answers 2

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笑顔{えがお} is not the object of 答える, instead it's showing the manner in which the answer was given, "with a smile", hence the use of the particle で. I don't believe that 答える is a transitive verb in Japanese. You can use it with either に or と such as

はいと答えた。 She answered "yes".

or

質問に答えた。 She answered the questions.

But I don't believe it's grammatically correct or natural to say

** 質問を答えた。

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English is off-topic, but I can't comment yet, so I'll note by answer that the preferred English would be "responding with a smile".

So the English and Japanese are somewhat corollary here.

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