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How are these two terms different? Also how about 表す and 現す?

Thank you so much!


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お正月>正月 because you are talking about other people's New Year's. – l'électeur Dec 25 '13 at 9:31
up vote 6 down vote accepted

This was exactly my homework back in 7th or 8th grade (in junior high school in Japan)!

Basically it is Abstract/Intangible vs. Concrete/Tangible.

The Abstract/Intangible things [表]{あらわ}れる. Those include emotions, feelings, results of efforts such as grades, etc. becoming visible.

The Concrete/Tangible things [現]{あらわ}れる. These are things like humans, animals, monsters, clouds, etc. appearing from somewhere.

表す and 現す are basically the transitive versions of the intransitive 表れる and 現れる.

You can 表す (= to display, reveal, etc.) things like your emotions on your face, your ideas in art forms, your opinions through your actions, etc.

現す means "(concrete things) showing themslves" such as the stars at night, visible symptoms on your body, your hidden talents, etc.

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