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I have difficulty differentiating between the 2 of them. This is a sentence I recently come across: 俺は見学でいいですか?It looks simple but I'm not sure which で is being used here. My guess is that it's the te form of nouns but in that case why is it used here? do you need to use te form to connect adjectives and nouns?

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Nouns never conjugate. There is no such thing as "the te-form of a noun" in the first place. That で is a case particle because it directly follows a noun. Semantically, で like this broadly marks a condition/situation/scope, and it corresponds to various English prepositions such as in, with, by or among. noun + で + いい is a common construction used to say "fine with [noun]" or "[noun] is acceptable".

見学 is also a suru-verb, so you cay say 見学して (the te-form of 見学する). In this specific case, 俺は見学していいですか happens to make sense, too.

EDIT: By "te-form of a noun", do you mean "te-form of だ (the copula)" explained in this answer? Then that's not the case here; this で is not interchangeable with でして or であり. This noun + で is modifying いい ("fine with [noun]").

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  • Just to be clear, when you say "That で is a case particle because it directly follows a noun" you're referring to the で described this way in the dictionary? [助動]《断定の助動詞「だ」の連用形》⇒だ[助動] I'm not all that familiar with the English terms for the Japanese grammar.
    – Leebo
    Sep 27 at 3:25
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    Some textbooks teach [N]-で as the "て-form" of [N]-だ/です because it serves similar functions to the て-form of a verb (or an adjective). I think the OP is asking how to distinguish the particle で from this で, which must be an inflected form of the copula だ/です.
    – aguijonazo
    Sep 27 at 10:07
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    @Leebo No, I think this is not an auxiliary (助動詞) but a case particle (格助詞) that marks 状態, 基準, 限度 or whatever...
    – naruto
    Sep 27 at 17:04
  • @aguijonazo ああこの話ですか。"te-form of da" と言えるのは知っていますが "te-form of a noun" ということもあるんですか…… 何にせよこれは格助詞ということでいいですよね
    – naruto
    Sep 27 at 17:05
  • @naruto maybe I'm getting confused by the use of "this" and "that" in your answer. I thought that "that で" mentioned in your answer was not the one in 見学でいい. I thought "that で" was the "te-form of da" which doesn't appear in the question, to distinguish it from "で like this" which was the case particle in 見学でいい. Maybe I'm just confused generally, though. When I read "te-form of a noun" I too understood that to mean "te-form of da."
    – Leebo
    Sep 27 at 20:28

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