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I was wondering if someone could explain the difference between 働くvs 勤める. They seem to both be used to indicate work. As in "I work at Nasa" or something like that. But they have different pronunciations and slightly different kanji. Is there a difference in usage? When would I use one vs the other.

Thank you in advance.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

働く is more of the 'doing labour' side of things (putting in effort), while 勤める is more of the 'being an employee' side of things (working for someone). You can 働く even if you're unemployed or self-employed, but not if you're not getting anything done. You can 勤める even if you're not actually doing any real work, but only if someone has hired you and is paying you.

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