I just did the listening Mondai 2 for Lesson 33 of Minna No Nihongo 2 (the older ver.). And in question 5, it says「山田君は 今の試合 失敗しましたが、次の試合で 頑張ります。」

I've learned that you use 「に」before 「失敗する」, and I don't know why it uses 「で」here instead.

What does「で」mean here? And how do I know when to use 「で」or「に」?

  • 1
    How did you understand this sentence (in English, for example)? Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 18:34
  • I think it means he failed this game. I'm thinking maybe with the で here it refers to where the action happened, so it means more like "In this game, he failed." But the textbook mentions that you use 「に」before 失敗します (e.g. 試験に失敗します). I wonder if there's any difference between using に and で here? And how do I know when to use which?
    – tomotomoya
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 23:27
  • Aha, as I suspected. That's right, that it doesn't mean "failed the game". Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 4:00

1 Answer 1


X 失敗する means "fail to X" or "fail to achieve success in X", in other words, your objective is met with failure trying to do X. Otherwise, it just means intransitive fail, or "make a failure". で is just there to indicate the circumstance.

× 試験に失敗したが、合格することができた
I failed the exam, but I was able to pass it. (contradictory)

○ 試験で失敗したが、合格することができた
I made a mistake in the exam, but I was able to pass it.

Yamada made a failure in this game, but will try his best in the next.

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