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Anki deck gave me 「プールは人でいっぱいです。」

Why is it not 「プールで人がいっぱいです。」or 「プールで人をいっぱい」?

From my understanding, で marks the limitation where an action or state of being takes place.

So wouldn't プールで mark the limitation as the pool, just like how これは世界で一番おいしいラーメン has で marking the limit as the world?

人がいっぱいです marks the state of being as a lot of people?

I understand why 「プールは人でいっぱいです。」 works,

プールは as for the pool

人で limited to people

いっぱいです the state of "a lot"

So as opposed to other things like dolphins and cats of which there are not a lot of, there are a lot of people at the pool.

But why doesn't 「プールで人がいっぱいです。」or「プールで人をいっぱい」work then?

What about 「プールは人がいっぱいです」or 「プールに人がいっぱいです」/「プールに人でいっぱいです」


EDIT: IME kept changing いっぱい into 一杯 + clarified the question a bit w/ example of 世界で.

4 Answers 4


First of all, いっぱい doesn’t refer to something people do. It's not an action. It's not even a verb. It’s an adjective/adverb that describes a state where a thing or place is full of something. So the use of で is incorrect to begin with. に is a better choice than で because いっぱい means something exists in abundance. When you state something exists in a particular place, you use に with that place, not で.

In fact,


is a valid sentence, whereas

(*) プールで人がいっぱいいます。

is not.

いっぱい works in two ways, describing either of the following:

  1. the thing or place that is full of something (プール)
  2. the thing that is filling that thing or place (人)

In the first usage, the thing that is filling that thing or place takes the particle で.


In the second usage, the same thing takes the subject’s spot with the subject marker が.


So, singling out プール as a topic, we get the following two valid sentences.


As for other possibilities,


is OK, though it sounds a bit like a less proper, somewhat shortened, way of saying


The following sentence doesn’t work because it doesn’t say what’s full of people. If it’s the pool that’s full of people, it should be used with either が or は. There should be no place for に.

(*) プールに人でいっぱいです。

None of the following, with 人を, works either, because people are not objects of any action here. So there should be no place for を.

(*) プールで人をいっぱいです。
(*) プールは人をいっぱいです。
(*) プールに人をいっぱいです。

By the way, when いっぱい doesn't mean one cupful or glassful of some liquid, it is usually written in hiragana.

  • Thanks for responding. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this so please be patient 😅. When you said, " When you talk about a place where something exists, you use に, not で.", what about 「世界で一番おいしいラーメン」?
    – ItsCheif
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 11:16
  • OK, I may not have put it right. I have just modified the part of my answer that you quoted. In your noun phrase 世界で一番おいしいラーメン, the adjective phrase 世界で一番おいしい modifies ラーメン. It doesn’t state where the ramen exists. If you want to say it’s in, say, Tokyo, you would say 世界で一番おいしいラーメンが東京にあります, not (*) 世界で一番おいしいラーメンが東京であります. That’s what I meant. Hope this clarifies.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 11:46
  • Oh what the heck, just noticed my いっぱい got turned into Kanji instead, IME messed me up lol. So If I'm getting this right, プールで is incorrect because で here is looking for an action, but there is no action...? But 世界で works because ...? When you say " It doesn’t state where the ramen exists.", doesn't it say that this ramen exists inside the world? I see your edit says "a particular place", how particular? What if it was この店で一番おいしいラーメン? Aren't these missing an action too? Does 世界で & この店で state where something is? If so, how come プールで doesn't? すみません、まだわからない😓😓
    – ItsCheif
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 13:08
  • “There are a lot of people in the pool” is the kind of sentence that states something exists in a particular place. The Japanese equivalent of this is a sentence like プールに人がいっぱいいます. In this kind of sentence, the particle that goes with the place must be に. 世界で一番おいしいラーメン, on the other hand, is just a noun phrase. Of course, the most delicious ramen in the world is somewhere in the world, but 世界で一番おいしいラーメン doesn’t state that because it’s not even a statement. (It’s not worth stating, anyway…)
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 14:36
  • 1
    That で in 世界で一番おいしいラーメン has a different function than the [place]-で in a sentence like プールでおよぎます. It delimits a domain or a set of things in a sentence that expresses the superlative degree (“the best”, “the most”, etc.). What precedes it doesn’t even have to be a place, as you can see in 日本料理でラーメンが一番好きです.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 14:37

There are lots of very different grammar questions in this 1 question, so I'm just going to try addressing the title. The answer is it all depends on what you are trying to convey.

As far as I know, います or あります always requires the particle に. This is just simply the rule. So PLACEにSOMETHINGがあります/います is the correct grammar.

As for プールで人がいっぱい, it isn't wrong at all provided you are not trying to convey います/あります. An example would be プールで人がいっぱい集まっている (Many people are gathering at the pool). So again, プールで人がいっぱいです should be perfectly fine, people would just assume there's an appropriate verb (such as 集まっている) between いっぱい and です that isn't います or あります, and would clarify with you on what it is if the context of the situation isn't obvious enough.

  • プールで人がいっぱい集まっている is valid only if the focus is on the action of gathering that’s currently taking place at the pool. If you are talking about the result of people gathering, it must be プールに人がいっぱい集まっている, and the same idea could be expressed simply as プールに人がいっぱいです. However, a sentence that is supposed to focus on an action cannot be replaced by one that has only です and no verb, because it’s a verb that expresses the action to be focused. If it’s missing, で also loses its place in the sentence. So プールで人がいっぱいです is ungrammatical. That’s unless, of course, you mean to say someone is full of pools…
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 16:16

As aguijonazo has said, 「で」 has several different functions. In the sentences like "学校で勉強する", "プールで泳ぐ"、「で」 indicate "place of action" and in the sentences like "彼のラーメンは世界で一番おいしい", "彼はチームで一番頭がいい","中華料理で好きなのは麻婆豆腐だ", 「で」 indicate "scope of adjective or verb (superlative)".

We can say 「プールが人でいっぱいです」 so if you say 「プールで人がいっぱいです」, it is confusable.


一杯 has both meaning "a cup of" and "full of" so it confuses a little. I prefer いっぱい here.

But why doesn't 「プールで人が一杯です。」or「プールで人をいっぱい」work then?

"で" here means "by" so the above sentence sounds strange.

"では" means "at" so that「プールでは人がいっぱいです」sounds ok.

What about 「プールは人がいっぱいです」

sounds ok.


"に" means "into" so that it sounds strange.

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