I have the following sentence, ケータイが大きな音で鳴っています. This sentence is translated to meaning, "The cell phone is ringing loudly."

I'm a bit confused as to why で used here? I thought で was the "event" particle or the "with/by means of" particle. I can't figure out a proper use case for で here (unless it would be like, "It ringed with a loud noise") and why it couldn't be omitted from the sentence.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks


2 Answers 2


「 ケータイが大{おお}きな音{おと}鳴{な}っています。」

All particles (and many other words) have more meanings and usages than small or online bilingual dictionaries tend to tell you.

This is the 「で」 that is used to describe the manner or mode in which an action is performed. In what manner is the cellphone ringing? At a high volume, right?

Some home-made examples would be:

・「スミスさんはいつも小{ちい}さな声{こえ}話{はな}します。」 "Smith always talks in a low voice."

・「みんな東京{とうきょう}ディズニーリゾートへ行{い}った。」 "I went to the Tokyo Disney Resort with everyone."

・「裸{はだか}リビングに入{はい}ってこないで!」 "Oh, please don't enter the living room naked!"

(The subject of the Disney sentence above is NOT 「みんな」. It is the unmentioned first person.)

  • Thank you for your answer. Cleared a lot up. Unfortunately, I'm not at a level to where I can use a monolingual dictionary so the best I can do for now is google and ask on here when I've exhausted all other options. Hopefully, I'll be at that level soon though. Jul 28, 2019 at 15:59

A Japanese sentence can sometimes be translated a few different ways into English: (The cell phone is ringing with a loud noise.) is correct as well, but less natural in English from my experience.

I believe the Anki cards are just trying to help you by using the most natural sentence in English even if it omitted the dictionary definitions of で, in this case 'with'.

My assumption is that 大きな音 is a natural way to say loud in Japanese without much or any negative connotation. Here is the sentence without 大きな音 and still grammatically correct ケータイが鳴っています。(The cellphone is ringing.)

  1. 音 is a noun in this specific sentence (i.e. noise or sound), but so is ケータイ! In Japanese dropping a particle is similar to speaking like a caveman in English. It would result in difficulty understanding or expressing ideas
  2. From what I was taught, I look at で as [by means of] in this sentence.
  3. You said, "It rang with a loud noise." The「鳴る{なる}」 verb isn't in past tense so it wouldn't be a correct translation. [verb in て form + いる] = ongoing  鳴っています

The Japanese sentences below are taken from the dictionary weblio

  • 大きな音の雷{かみなり} - loud thunder - (の is being possessive)
  • 大きな音で噛む{かむ} - to Chew noisily - [chew by means of big noise]
  • 大きな音を立てる{たてる} - to produce a large sound (careful, this verb has a number of collective definitions)

I'll try to further explain with my own sentences.

  • 大きな音で音楽{おんがく}を作る{つくる} (I make music with loud sounds.)
  • 大きな音を音楽で作る (I make loud sounds with music.)
  • Thanks for the reply! Your reply and the other gentleman's reply are really helping me see the now obvious distinction between the direct object particle を and the flexibility that で has. It's easy to overlook simple things at times I guess. Jul 28, 2019 at 19:49

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