As I have learned, the に particle is marking the target of the verb. And it make sense for most cases I have seen except for time. How exactly can time be the target of any verb? Wouldn't it make more sense if it's marked by で which gives us context on the action?

2 Answers 2


Target of the verb is one of many usages of particle に. It is also used to mark a place, a point in time, originator of action in passive sentences and more
While dictionary is not a primary source for grammar, for starters you can check out https://jisho.org/word/%E3%81%AB
So marking a time is simply within a scope of what に does.

That said: で is also used with time words. As far as I know this gives the nuance of "by (the marked time)" and that に has a nuance of a more exact time in comparison

  • now that you said it, the で with time is interesting. You can say (or ask) something like 来週でいい。(来週でいい?) which often is used when postponing or asking if something can be postponed, but if you were to suggest something to be postponed to next week, you would not say 来週でしましょう but 来週にしましょう. I have no idea if there is any logical explanation behind this.
    – Tuomo
    Jun 14, 2019 at 13:23
  • From what i understand a place is the target of existence verbs like いる and ある so it makes sense to use the に particle as the target marker. i don't know about passive sentences... my point is that it is weird that time is the only case i have seen which doesn't match. Can you please give me a simple example where に isn't used as a target marker and neither to specify time?
    – onyx
    Jun 14, 2019 at 13:31
  • Admittedly never thought of a place being "a target" of an existence verb. So that you don't need to take my word for it: jisho.org/search/叱られた%20%23sentences
    – NoxArt
    Jun 14, 2019 at 13:38
  • 3
    @Tuomo, 「来週でいい」は、「Noun+でいい」の形なので、この「で」は時間につく「時間+で」じゃないです。例「これでいい。」「ビールでいい。」...「来週にしましょう」は、「Noun+にしましょう」の形なので、この「に」は時間を表す「時間+に」じゃないです。例「これにしましょう。」「ご飯にしましょう。」
    – chocolate
    Jun 14, 2019 at 13:53
  • 「私はせんせい先生にしか叱られた」I think i can still see why に is a target here. i was scolded by the target which is the teacher. Actually, i think i may have figured it out by @Tuomo comment. When using time, the target of the verb is to be performed in that specific time. That's why not putting に when specifying time remove the emphasize of the action being performed on that specific time.
    – onyx
    Jun 14, 2019 at 14:02

My conclusion:

Time can also be a target of a verb. The target is for the verb to be performed at the time marked by に. It is not just part of the context around the verb (the place where the verb happen, the means by which the verb happen...) therefore で is not suitable.

for example:


The target of 「行く」is to go to Japan and to be there in 2020. That's also why omitting the に from the time means this is no longer the target of the verb to be performed at that exact time, so it turns to be just part of the context.

  • 1
    It’s actually pretty much not correct for 明日 to be marked by に (when it’s functioning as a time adverb as opposed to an indirect object). Jun 14, 2019 at 16:11
  • I have changed it to 来年. is 明日 grammatically incorrect?
    – onyx
    Jun 14, 2019 at 16:16
  • 1
    Unfortunately 来年 doesn’t work either. I think all “relative times” (last year, next week, tomorrow, etc) don’t take に in their adverbial function. 月曜日に, 7月に, 2020年に are all fine however. Jun 14, 2019 at 16:22
  • 1
    Actually, it’s the same in English, isn’t it? “on Monday”, “in July”, “in 2020” but not דon tomorrow”, דin next year”, etc. Jun 14, 2019 at 19:28

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