Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

A charger is a machine. Why is it 器 not 機?

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

is for "large" machines; things with "lots" of likely "large" moving parts. What comes to mind are like automated machines of an assembly line (cars, packaging, etc.), printing press, etc. Also, aircraft (飛行機, 航空機).

is used for "smaller" things. It is often used to mean [器具]{き・ぐ} - tools, instruments, appliances, etc.

Where the cutoff between "small" and "large" is, and who decides those things, I'm not sure. There may be some counterexamples, but if you stick with the "small" and "large" rule, you'll be right most of the time.

share|improve this answer
I was recently scolded by someone who told me that this is completely untrue, and the sole determining factor is whether the thing moves or it doesn't. Not that I necessarily think that's the case (if I knew I wouldn't have asked!), but I am putting it here for reference at any rate. – jmac May 29 '14 at 7:56
Scolded by a Japanese person? – istrasci May 29 '14 at 14:41
Yes, by a Japanese person over the age of 60 who was very vehement that kids these days just don't study their kanji hard enough. – jmac May 29 '14 at 21:29

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.