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海の中を泳ぐよ
umi no naka wo oyogu yo

"wo" is the direct object particle, so does this mean "swim the in the sea?" But that doesn't make much sense.

This was from a children's colouring sheet showing a character swimming through the sea. Nothing else was written.

marked as duplicate by istrasci, Dono, Chocolate Feb 21 at 15:28

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  • Can you clarify: which part of sentence you translated as the? In my opinion "the" is quite unique in English and has not a direct analogue in Japanese (as in my mother tongue - Russian too) – Alex Yu Feb 20 at 21:56
  • I first interpreted the Japanese sentence as "swim the sea," similar to "eat the apple." That is why I wrote "swim the in the sea" as my first translation. – kumikan Feb 21 at 17:23
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It actually means "swim through the sea!"(Exclamation added because the sentence ends with yo.)

Some motion verbs use "wo" instead of "ni" despite being intransitive. See: Direct objects of motion verbs and help with the difference between を and に

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With verbs of motion,

  • に and へ indicate destination
  • を means 'along (road, river)' or 'across' (going from A to B)
  • で is where you do something (not going anywhere).

The latter case has no real change of location, like swimming in a pool. To me this is simply the で for verbs of action (swimming in a pool is an action but does not go anywhere, so in this context it is not a verb of motion).

を is foremost the particle for direct objects, but that does not mean that it always is. Likewise, に is the particle for indirect objects, but one does not generally consider that '[place]に' is an indirect object.

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