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それでいいですよ。

I assume this translates to something like "That is good".

But why is それ marked by a で particle here instead of, say, a が or a は particle? It seems that それ is acting as the subject of the sentence, no?

2 Answers 2

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I personally tend to think of で as the "context particle". Another way of thinking of it is that a lot of the time it equates roughly with saying "with/using". So, with that interpretation, what「それでいい(です)(よ)」is actually saying is:

"In the context of that (それで), it is good (いい)"
or
"with/using that (それで), it is good (いい)"

That is, it is not saying that the thing itself is good (それはいい / それがいい) as much as it is saying that if we look at other things in the context of that, or do things using that, or apply that in some way to the situation, then things (in general) will be good/sufficient/etc.

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This is a very interesting example of the difference usages of が and で.

それでいい

In this usage, で means something to the effect of "That thing is good enough." "It's okay." "We don't need anything better than that. We will make do with it."

それがいい

This usage is a typical example of が being exhaustive listing. "THAT thing is good." "THAT is what we want."

So for example if your spouse asks what you want to eat for dinner, you may say 昨日のカレーでいい. "Let's just have yesterday's leftover curry." You could do with other options, but you don't want to bother. Curry is okay. If you say カレーがいい, you mean you really want to eat curry and that is the thing you want.

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    And on the topic, 「カレーはいい」 can mean 'No, not curry'
    – Angelos
    Jul 30, 2022 at 20:17
  • What is the subject of the sentence "それでいい"? It can't be それ when で is used, correct?
    – George
    Jul 30, 2022 at 22:01
  • @George The speaker. You can also say "俺はそれでいいや"
    – Eddie Kal
    Jul 30, 2022 at 22:32
  • But you can also say 夕食はそれでいい. Does that mean 夕食 is the subject?
    – aguijonazo
    Jul 31, 2022 at 0:47
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    IMHO, the subject here is an unspecified "things in general" or "the situation". It is neither それ nor 俺.. (see my other answer). There is not any omitted verb here, it's just saying "As far as I'm concerned, things are good with that"/"things are good that way" or "Regarding dinner, things will be good if we have/do that", etc.
    – Foogod
    Aug 2, 2022 at 0:15

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