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I'm reading a book that translates these two sentences as following:

  1. スミスさんは東京駅で電車に乗ります。-> Mr. Smith will get on the train at Tokyo Station.
  2. スミスさんは新宿駅で電車を降ります。-> Mr. Smith will get off the train at Shinjuku Station.

As you can see, the first sentence uses に before the verb and the second one uses を. I don't understand why this happens. Could you explain it?

Are these two particles interchangeable in this situation, that is, could I use を in the first sentence and に in the second one?

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They are not interchangeable in this circumstance. In general, boarding a vehicle takes the particle に with 乗る. Getting off a vehicle often takes the particle を to mark the object of the action of getting off.

As a memory trick (if it helps), think of getting on something as movement upwards (stepping up onto a train, getting up on a bike, climbing on a horse, etc.), and associate that movement with the particle に. When you are getting off (getting down), think of the vehicle as the object of the verb (get off [object]), and associate that with を. It's not technically accurate but it might help to conceptualize it in this way.

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