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When talking about chimneys with a native Japanese speaker, I said:

でも、アメリカンの家には普通です

But, for American houses it's normal (for chimneys to exist/be a part of the house).

Which was corrected to:

でも、アメリカの家では普通のことです

I can somewhat understand the corrections to アメリカ and こと. And while I don't fully understand the need for them, especially the こと one, I'm not entirely confused by them either. To me, it just changes the meaning from "for American houses it's normal" to "for America's houses it's a normal thing".

When asking why it was で instead of に, I wasn't really given any explanation. I was just told:

アメリカの家には普通、煙突あるよ

これはOKだよ

Trying to follow up and get some sort of explanation, I asked:

「アメリカの家には普通のことです」がいいですか?

But I was just told:

うーん、説明するのは難しいけど、この場合は"家には"だとおかしいな

My translation:

Nope, the explanation is difficult, but in this case "家には" is weird/wrong.

I assumed に because I'm just trying to state this (a chimney being a part of the house) is normal for American houses. And I don't really see a hard action or reason taking place here, which would make me think で should be used.

Can someone explain the reason why に is wrong and why で is correct?

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  • うーん is "Hmm", not "Nope". (ううん is "Nope")
    – chocolate
    Jun 26, 2023 at 15:05

3 Answers 3

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This is simply because you must use で as a location marker when the predicate is an adjective (including no-/na-adjectives like 普通).

  • アメリカはそれは普通です。
    It's normal in America.
  • ニューヨークは物価が高いです。
    Prices are high in New York.
  • 東京は今、桜が綺麗です。
    In Tokyo, the cherry blossoms are beautiful right now.
  • 動物の体は寒い場所大きく、暖かい場所小さい。
    Animal bodies are larger in cold places and smaller in warm places.

You can use に as a location particle when it's used with a verb of existence such as ある and いる. So アメリカの家は煙突がある is perfectly fine.

アメリカには普通です might be acceptable when some verb that takes に is clearly implied in the previous context (e.g., "I rarely have the opportunity to go to China, but to America, it's common"), but this doesn't happen often.

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The correction from アメリカン to アメリカ is just a question of vocabulary. アメリカン is not a common word by itself.

I agree the addition of こと is unnecessary.

The で in アメリカの家では can be understood as delimiting the scope within which the main statement (about something being normal) is true.

に sounds odd here because the sentence lacks a verb that goes with it to explicitly state something (a chimney) exists in a particular place (an American house).

In the following sentence, which uses both, で delimits the scope within which the statement 家に煙突があるのは普通です is true, whereas に modifies the verb ある to denote where a chimney exists.

アメリカでは家に煙突があるのは普通です。


I re-read your question and realized that you chose に not as a location marker but for marking something whose standards something (the normal-ness of having a chimney) is judged by. に alone is simply not suitable for that. You can use にとって instead.

アメリカの家にとっては普通です。


I had to add this because many people seem to be misled.

You can also say:

アメリカでは普通に家に煙突があります。

This で cannot be explained as a location marker working on an adjective as it does on a verb because the sentence has no adjective in it. And there seems to be no good reason to see this で as a different usage from the で in アメリカでは家に煙突があるのは普通です.

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To me, でも、アメリカンの家には普通です is okay if not totally natural.

In terms of omission, it drops a part of phrase which should be the source of oddness.

In full, it should be

(アメリカンの家に煙突があるの)は普通です

and 煙突がある(の) is dropped.

Compare

(アメリカでは(家に煙突があるの))は普通です

Dropping the whole phrase inside () (and associated は) results in

アメリカでは普通です

which is more natural. So just leaving a topical phrase works whereas the first version feels like chopping a sentence.


Cf. It is (felt) normal for [person]. would translate to [person]には普通です. E.g.,

  • アメリカ人に(とって)は(家に煙突があるのは)普通です

Here again, the は-phrase アメリカ人には is left and the main clause in () is dropped.

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  • If I understand you correctly, アメリカンの家に(煙突があるの)は普通です is okay and can even be seen as natural. But アメリカでは(家に煙突があるのは)普通です is more natural? Assuming I have that correct, I still don't think I understand the need or the reason for the で in アメリカでは(家に煙突があるの)は普通です, because then I start to wonder what's wrong with just having アメリカは(家に煙突があるの)は普通です -> アメリカは普通です (For America it's normal.)? Apr 5, 2023 at 1:57
  • @Tylersanzura The last one is a separate issue. アメリカは家に煙突があります (without context) is not very natural. For the first part of your comment, the difference of omitting a part of the clause (アメリカの家に煙突がある) or the whole clause(家に煙突がある). It is like it is normal that there is a chimney to a American house vs it is normal in America that there is a chimney to a house. (and omitting after that).
    – sundowner
    Apr 5, 2023 at 2:52
  • (I just used to a house to resonate with に, don't think it's natural as English)
    – sundowner
    Apr 5, 2023 at 2:56

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