According to Tobira textbook (Lesson 1, grammar point 1), {で / から} できる is used to express "to be made from" when generic statements, while {で / から} できている is used to express "to be made from" when describing something specific.

Could you please show me some examples with "でできる" (NOT でできている)?

Thank you so much in advance for your help!


The major difference between the ている form and the normal form is that the former is more about the state of being made, whereas the latter is more about the action of being made.

Maybe understanding it as it is translated below could help you:

紙でできる箱です。: It is a box that we make with paper.

紙でできている箱です。: It is a box made with paper.

Other examples with でできる:




You also see this form a lot in its past tense form.

  • so... the ている form focuses on the object, while the できる form puts the focus more on the "actor", the person who has caused the object to be made? Nov 19 '18 at 8:01
  • I think the problem that I have with this is that I don't mentally translate any of these forms of でできる into, as Rick asked about, the phrase "to be made from" when generic statements" Each of your examples, translates more naturally into "An X that you can make from Y" statements. At least, that is how I parse them. Nov 19 '18 at 8:08
  • Seeing your examples, I would also translate でできる as "can be made", but then, should I reject the "to be made from" translation, or are there cases in which でできる means "to be made from" in generic statements (for example: X は Y でできる) ?
    – Rick
    Nov 19 '18 at 8:52
  • @ericfromabeno You are right, that's how I see it too. However when used in the past tense, as in sentences like 紙でできた箱, I wouldn't really understand it as "box that I could make with paper" but more like "box that was made with paper" (more like でできている). So I think there isn't one universal translation for the word. But maybe taking a look at the kanji can help you understand better the meaning whatever form it's used in: 出/来る = "come/out" with the meaning of 現れる, 完成
    – user31974
    Nov 19 '18 at 13:33
  • 紙でできる箱 = box that "comes out" using paper, 紙でできている箱 = box that "has come out" using paper, 紙でできた箱 = box that "came out" with paper
    – user31974
    Nov 19 '18 at 13:35

that's interesting... I don't think I've ever seen "でできる" used in that manner. Where I normally see "でできる" is in describing how a thing can be done, or the amount of time a thing can be done in:


looking forward to a native Japanese answer to this question.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.