When going somewhere, is there any difference between e (へ) and ni (に)?

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Can you use へ and に interchangeably, as in:

北海道行く

and

北海道行く ?

Are there any subtle differences in the use of these two?

nevan king

Posted 2011-05-31T21:46:23.797

Reputation: 6 552

1I was told by my teacher that whenever I am unsure which to use I should go with に. – Chris – 2016-03-23T08:48:34.210

Answers

62

  • に emphasizes the location
  • へ emphasizes the direction
  • まで emphasizes the process or journey

Nate Glenn

Posted 2011-05-31T21:46:23.797

Reputation: 3 819

2+1 for mentioning まで too. – Amanda S – 2011-05-31T21:54:30.273

I'm guessing Nate Glenn means that it's about how far the journey went and across what prior locations it passed, and not so much about exactly where the final destination was. – flamingspinach – 2011-06-06T16:56:45.763

1Re: まで: Concurring with flamingspinach, the point indicated by まで is not necessarily the final destination: 東京駅まで電車で行って、地下鉄に乗り換えた。. Also, when showing a destination in this manner, まで is better for action verbs such as 歩く, 走る, 泳ぐ, etc. (駅まで走る rather than 駅に走る or 駅へ走る.) – Derek Schaab – 2011-06-06T19:03:09.897

I'm pretty sure the first two are backwards. に is the direction and へ is the definite final location. Ex:

学校に行く - I'm going to (head toward) school (but I may get sidetracked along the way). 学校へ行く - I'm going, and will end up at school and nowhere else – istrasci – 2011-06-01T00:18:09.553

I'm pretty sure not... But if you can find a grammar somewhere that says that then post it :) – Nate Glenn – 2011-06-01T01:08:05.810

@Derek so exactly is Nate Glenn right or hippietrail right.. or are they both right in that matter? and is the answer at http://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/275/how-to-use-e-ni-made-and-no-h-with-destination-and-directi/286#286 wrong regarding まで?

– Pacerier – 2011-06-15T03:09:44.257

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@Pacerier: I think Amanda has the better answer to this question: に for focusing on the destination and へ for focusing on the process/journey. In my answer to the question you linked, I state that まで focuses on the distance traveled, so I have to say Nate's answer seems a little off to me here.

– Derek Schaab – 2011-06-15T12:34:53.237

@Derek ok thx for the clarification – Pacerier – 2011-06-16T15:06:13.043

5I was told まで means "until" and thus would be about the destination...? – hippietrail – 2011-06-01T09:18:05.973

'basu de gakkou made itta', 'basu de gakkou ni itta', intuitively made doesn't feel like it has anything more to do with the process/journey (i.e. the fact that it was by bus). Any natives care to chime in? – Ali – 2011-06-04T20:58:12.993

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There is a very subtle difference between the two--with に, the destination is more important; with へ, the journey is more important. You might use に if you want to say you're going "to the store" and へ if you want to say you're going "in the direction of the store [and ending up there]."

Is there a lot of practical difference in how they are used? Not really.

Amanda S

Posted 2011-05-31T21:46:23.797

Reputation: 7 369

2

I was told "の方" (no-hō) means "in the direction of" - is this just more explicit? See my broader question: http://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/275/how-to-use-e-ni-made-and-no-h-with-destination-and-directi

– hippietrail – 2011-06-01T09:18:44.927

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Side note to the question but relevant:

Use only へ when you want to use the grammatical construct 〜への〜.

◯ 改札口への階段はどこですか。 Where are the steps to the ticket gate?

× 改札口にの階段はどこですか。

makdad

Posted 2011-05-31T21:46:23.797

Reputation: 3 793

7

On a pedantic note, there is an old saying the goes like

京へ、筑紫に、坂東さ (ca 1609)

京に、つくしへ、坂東さ (ca 1496)

[Source]

which shows how each dialect used different particle to say 北海道○行く around that time. 京 is for Kyoto, 筑紫(つくし) is Kyushu and 坂東 is Kanto/Tohoku.

Being just a layperson on Japanese linguistics, I'll just stop here, but I'm sure a more learned person will have a lot to say about why the place of に and へ are different between the two quotes above, and how these regional differences came about.

ento

Posted 2011-05-31T21:46:23.797

Reputation: 6 772

4

I've always seen に as meaning going somewhere directly without any intention of stopping, whereas へ shows that they are going that way, but if they see something interesting they may stop or make a detour.

Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams

Posted 2011-05-31T21:46:23.797

Reputation: 4 719

1

Those 2 threads asking the same question should be merged and maybe become wiki to be edited easily (particles questions are recurrent)

see also: How to use へ (-e), に (-ni), まで (made) and の方 (no-hō) with destination and direction?

To sum up and try to correct some of the answers already given:

-へ is the direction particle. You could say it focuses on the journey

-に is the destination particle. It focuses on the destination.

-まで Is a final destination particle as well but implies that you're coming from somewhere (から) and thus that there's some distance between the 2 points.

-のほう(の方) means in the direction of. It could be used in a case where you are giving direction to someone:

郵便局の方へ300メートルをあるいて、中学が右に見えます。

(walk 300m towards the post office and you will see the middle school on your right)

repecmps

Posted 2011-05-31T21:46:23.797

Reputation:

5Not relevant to the topic of the question, but: in the last example, a more natural sentence is 郵便局の方へ300メートル歩くと、中学が右に見えます。 (1) 歩いて is unnatural in this sentence and should be 歩くと, but I cannot explain why. (2) 歩く is usually written with kanji unless it is written for foreign speakers and/or small kids who do not read kanji, in which case 郵便局 should be avoided first. – Tsuyoshi Ito – 2011-06-05T22:42:03.670

1

へ is the direction に is the purpose

When I say デパートへ行きます, I am just heading towards the department store. When I say デパートに行きます, I am going to the department store with a purpose. The department store is the location where I will complete my purpose.

It is the same as saying 買い物に行きます or 仕事に行きます Shopping and work are not physical places but merely activities or purposes in this sentence. に cannot be replaced by へ in that case.

But when we are speaking about a location, we could either used へ or に as we usually go to a place with a purpose. Japanese people tend to never use へ in a conversation but rather に

David Caupos

Posted 2011-05-31T21:46:23.797

Reputation: 11

0

へ is also used to soften に in some cases, since it's slightly more vague. For instance, at a restaurant I saw a sign posted over a counter that used something like 「こちらへ食器をお返し下さい」.

Wahnfrieden

Posted 2011-05-31T21:46:23.797

Reputation: 272

1This is not relevant to the topic of the question, but お返して下さい is incorrect. It should be either お返し下さい or 返して下さい, the former being more polite. – Tsuyoshi Ito – 2011-06-05T22:43:19.163

"こちらへ" just means "this way, this direction", that doesn't soften anything ;) just shows you a direction – None – 2011-06-01T10:39:14.680

my suspicion was that に would have been just as fitting in this example, but would also seem more direct – Wahnfrieden – 2011-06-03T09:59:36.073