I think I answered this question for myself while writing it, but maybe someone can confirm: When to use 「の中で」 versus 「の中には」or something similar to mean "among X"?

For example, I pulled this sentence off the internet: 田中さんは兄弟の中で上から2番目です。

But: ここの蔵書の中には、お金で買えない貴重な本もあるんだって。

Is it that you use で when the subject of the sentence comes before the 中, and には when the main phrase of the sentence (subject and verb) come after the 中? Would you ever say just 「中に」, or 「中では」?


1 Answer 1


You use locative に ("[to be/exist / there's ~~] in [place]") with verbs ある, いる, 住む, 泊まる, etc., eg:


Hence your second example:


に is used because of the verb ある. ~~の中に here means "[to be/exist / there's~~] among [group of people/things]" and can be used with いる, ある, etc. A few examples:


As for the は in your example, it's a topical or contrastive particle. You can also use 「中に」, as in:


You use locative で ("[to do/be~~] in/at [place]") with other verbs, adjectives or copulas, eg:


Hence your first example:


~~の中で here means "[to do/be~~] among [group of people/things]". A few examples:


You could also use 「中では」, like this:

 (The は in では is contrastive, and the は in 山田君は is topical.)

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