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Could anyone explain to me the difference between these 3 words, especially between 範囲 and 領域 ? For example, I have these 練習問題:

a.分野  b.領域 c.範囲

  1. ① 試験の……… は、17課までです。 
  2. ② 外の大学との交流が進んで研究の……… が広がった。
  3. ③ この賞はスポーツの………で活躍した人に与えられる。

the right answers are : c. , a. , b.

Does 範囲 carry the meaning of "covering a certain(/established) range(/area)", or something?

Then I have this sentence, where 範囲 and 領域 seem interchangeable:

彼の知識の範囲(・ 領域)はとても広い。(His range of knowledge is very wide.)

Thank you :)

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Grosso modo, 分野 is field, 領域 is area (like in 絶対領域 ;) and 範囲 is scope. –  oldergod May 2 '13 at 4:06

2 Answers 2

範囲 establishes a beginning and end point and is used to show the extent or limit to something. That's why it is most appropriate for the first one, as it establishes the extent of the test (although 17課まで seems like a very difficult test...).

領域 and 分野 are similar and can overlap. For example, 専門領域 and 専門分野 can both be used. However, there is a difference between the two, 分野 is generally used for categorizing things and is often used for activities done by humans. While 領域 is less of a categorization, but just establishes an area that is covered. 領域 doesn't necessarily try to discern itself from other things.

However, the second question of your test is terrible, i.e. 研究の分野が広がった does not make any sense to me.

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Thank you very much for your explanations! :) –  Midori7 May 3 '13 at 2:17

分野 is indeed bit more distinctive than other two. It refers to a specific section / discipline / field of something systematically organized, like science or human activities.

領域 have a more territorial feeling to it (because 領 refers to ownership and 域 refers to bounded area.) You picture a line drawing in sand and someone claiming that this side of the line belongs to something. 範囲 also refers to a bounded region, but compared to 領域 this word refers to a space of more abstract things, I think.

I don't think the distinction between 領域 and 範囲 are very clear, even for native Japanese speakers.

With that said, there are several common idiomatic use of these words, as in 試験範囲、交際範囲、研究分野、得意分野 and so on. Remembering some of those might be more fruitful than trying to grok the difference in the meanings of these words.

(And because of this, 外の大学との交流が進んで研究の分野が広がった would make just as much sense to me as 領域)

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Do you mean the difference between 領域 and 範囲 is not very clear? –  Earthliŋ May 2 '13 at 13:29

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