Compound Particles

Expressions for Space and Time: において, にて, をもって, にかけて, にわたって, and を通じて


Last time, you learned various ways to express reasons, e.g. “しんによっていえこわれました (The house was destroyed due to the earthquake),” and “大雨おおあめにつき今日きょうはおやすみします (We will be closed today due to the heavy rain).” In this lesson, you will learn compound particles which are related to another function of the particle で.

How to Express Space and Time in Various Ways

Table of Contents
Compound Particle Counterparts to the Particle で
Other Compound Particles Related to Space and Time

In the basic grammar section, we explained that the particle で indicates ranges and periods of time, e.g. “きゅうほんにんです (Baseball is popular in Japan)”, and “いちかん宿しゅくだいをする (I will do my homework for an hour.).” The particle で is certainly powerful and useful. However, if you know compound particles, you can make clearer sentences with various nuances.

Compound Particle Counterparts to the Particle で

The compound particles that we will look at here have specific meanings with a higher level of formality. Although they are interchangeable with the particle で, the detailed nuances are not the same. Let’s learn the usages one by one.

をもって: The Beginning or End of a Period of Time

[わたしは] 3月さんがつ31さんじゅういちにちをもって 退たいしょく(する / します)
[Topic/Subject] The End of a Period Verb
[I] will resign on the 31st of March.

をもって can express the beginning or the end of a period of time. をもって sounds formal and is often used in business situations.

[We] will open a new café on the 1st of April.
[We] will close this shop on the 30th of October.

Note: For indicating the beginning of a period of time, に will be used, not で. をもって can be replaced like this;


にして: Unexpected Numbers

なかさんは 80はちじゅっさいにして パソコンを はじめた / はじめました
Topic/Subject Unexpected Number Direct Object Verb
Tanaka-san started [using] PC [surprisingly when he was] 80 years old.

にして is used with age or duration and indicates unexpected numbers. You can use にして to show contrast by combining は (*Look at the third example below). Note: にして is not necessarily formal, as it can be used just for emphasis.

すずさんは18じゅうはっさいにしてべんに(なった / なりました)。
Suzuki-san became a lawyer [surprisingly when he was] 18 years old.
ボブはべんきょうはじめてさんげつにしてかんが(ける / けます)。
Bob started studying and can write Kanji [even if] it’s been only three months [since then].
[Considering the fact that he/she is] 10 years old, [his/her] body is big.

It’s a different function, but にして can replace the te-form of na-adjectives and nouns. This also sounds formal.

しゃでおかねち => しゃにしてかねち: doctor and rich
れいあたまがいい => れいにしてあたまがいい: beautiful and smart

において and にて: Locations of Actions

送別会そうべつかい とうきょうホテルにおいて おこなわれ(る / ます)
[Topic/Subject] Locations of Action Verb: Passive Form
The farewell party will be held at Tokyo Hotel.

Both において and にて can express locations of actions in a formal way.

[We] will open an exhibition in Tokyo Museum.
[I’m] waiting in the conference room at the third floor.

において can also be used to express a specific topic for judgment.

When it comes to table tennis, China is the strongest in the world.

When they are used with nouns which indicate time, において and にて express different meanings. にて indicates an ending time in the same way as をもって.

As for the sale of bread, [we] finished [it] at 3:00pm.

において is a formal way to indicate a time when events take place, which can substitute for both the particles で and に. However, you can only use it with a very limited number of nouns with the following suffixes: “せい: century,” “だい: era,” “: term,” “まつ: end,” “てん: moment,” etc.

19じゅうきゅうせい において 、石炭せきたん重要じゅうようなエネルギー(だった / でした)。
In the 19th century, coal was an important [source of] energy.
3月さんがつまつ において20歳はたちじょうひと調ちょうたいしょう(だ / です)。
People who are over 20 years old in the end of March are the targets of the survey.
めいだい において 、ほんじんさむらいであることを(やめた / やめました)。
In the Meiji era, Japanese people stopped being ‘samurai.’

If you say における, you can directly connect it with a wider range of nouns in the same way as particle の, but it is much more formal.

3月さんがつ における 売上うりあげ過去かこ最高さいこう(だった / でした)。
The sales in March were the highest ever.
2012にせんじゅうにねん の・における えんだかはややじょう(だった / でした)。
The appreciation of the yen in 2012 was somewhat abnormal.

Other Compound Particles Related to Space and Time

In addition to these interchangeable counterparts to the particle で, we would like to introduce some other compound particles related to space and time. These are NOT interchangeable with the particle で.

にわたって: Ongoing Events Over Large Areas / Periods of Time

ゆき いっげつにわたって った / りました
[Topic/Subject] Period of Time Verb
[It] snowed for the whole month.

When にわたって is connected with nouns indicating a long period, it expresses that there are ongoing events over the period. If you connect it with nouns which indicate a large area, you express that events take place over the whole area.

一週間いっしゅうかんにわたってかいおこなわれ(る / ます)。
The meetings will be held throughout the whole week.
あめさんげつにわたってって(いない / いません)。
It hasn’t rained for the whole three months.
公園こうえん全体ぜんたいにわたってさくらが(いた / きました)。
Cherry blossoms came out all around the park.

つうじて: Something (Not Ongoing Events) Over Large Areas / Periods of Time

ほん 一年いちねんつうじて れの おおい(です)
Topic Period of Time Subject Predicate
In Japan, there are a lot of sunny days throughout the year.

を通じて is connected with nouns which indicate a period and indicates “throughout” in Japanese. This is rarely used with nouns which indicate an area, but if that is the case, you express that something happens throughout the area. を通(とお)して is sometimes used instead of を通じて. They have the same function.

四季しきつうじて美味おいしいさかなべ(られる / られます)。
Delicious fishes can be eaten throughout the four seasons.
このいっげつつうじてあめが(なかった / ありませんでした)。
There weren’t any rainy days all this month.
Difference between にわたって and をつうじて
ゆきいっげつ にわたってを通じてった / りました)。

The basic rule is that にわたって is more suitable if you express ongoing events, i.e. when you say it snowed for the whole month, にわたって is suitable because the snow was ongoing.

四季しき にわたってを通じて美味おいしいさかなべ(られる / られます)。

When you say delicious fishes can be eaten throughout the four seasons, を通じて is suitable because nothing actually happens, but you just tell the fact.

あめさんげつ にわたってつうじて って(いない / いません)。

With the example above, they are interchangeable because you can treat it as both “the state of not raining is ongoing” and “no action is happening.”

にかけて: Vague Ending Points

さくら 3月さんがつから がつにかけて く / きます
Topic / Subject Starting Point Ending Point Verb
Cherry blossoms come out from March through to April.

にかけて is connected with nouns which indicate a period or an area and expresses the ending point. This is similar to the particle まで. The difference is that にかけて is more suitable when the beginning and the end are vague. If there is a specific end, まで should be used (*Look at the third example below).

ほん11じゅういちがつからがつにかけてさむく(なる / なります)。
In Japan, it gets cold from November to February.
このむしほんからちゅうごくにかけて生息せいそくして(いる / います)。
This insect exists from Japan across to China.
12じゅうにからいち までにかけて 昼休ひるやすみ(だ / です)。
It’s lunch time from 12 o’clock to 1 o’clock.

にわたって sometimes substitutes for にかけて for large areas, but not for time.

ほんは11月から2月にわたって寒く(なる / なります)
このむしほんからちゅうごくにわたって生息せいそくして(いる / います)。


  1. をもって indicates the beginning or the end of a period of time.
  2. にして indicates unexpected numbers.
  3. において and にて indicate locations of actions.
  4. にわたって indicates ongoing events over large areas or periods of time.
  5. を通じて indicates something (not ongoing events) over large areas or periods of time.
  6. にかけて indicates vague ending points.
  7. をもって, にして, において, and にて are interchangeable with で.
  8. にわたって, を通じて, and にかけて are NOT interchangeable with で.

You may be surprised that there are so many compound particles. We recommend you firstly try to recognize them when native speakers use them. Then, once you have become familiar with these formal expressions, you can start using them yourself. Actually, there are still other compound particles which are the counterparts to the particle で. Next, you will learn ones related to means (e.g. ‘by taxi’) and standards.

Would You Like to Have a Native Tutor Guide You?

Since we are providing online lessons, you can learn Japanese with native speakers and our well-designed curriculum from anywhere in the world. Our lessons are;

  • -One on one lessons for 50 minutes once a week

  • -JPY7,560 (About USD 66 or EUR 63 -22th Nov 2016) per month

  • -Continuous support from the same tutor

  • -Regular lesson time selected by users

We can be sure that your Japanese will enhance further. Please join in Wasabi today via the following.

Try Now