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I wrote the sentence:


The appropriate word to use is 「一時的に」as suggested by a native speaker. However, when I asked the difference between the two words, I wasn't given an answer. As far as I understand, both words mean "tentatively" or "for the time being". Is this not correct?

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I think this is an interesting question. I always hear / have copied using 一応 along the second meaning here (dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/12328/m0u) [ほぼそのとおりと思われるが、念のために。] to mean "roughly speaking" or "my explanation isn't exactly right down to the details but you get the idea" rather than "for the time being". I'd like to know how that usage (present in JDICT) works. –  virmaior Jul 30 at 13:38
Dictionary definitions vs. real-life usages. See my answer. –  非回答者 Jul 30 at 14:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

一応 is "as a quick, dirty, incomplete [resolution / strategy / answer / explanation]", and implies that there's a better way to do/explain/resolve something.


「元気?」「一応。」 (implies something is preventing him from saying he's 100% fine)

「宿題やった?」「一応。」 (he has done his homework, but not perfectly)

Your sentence:


Depending on the context, 一応 in this sentence means either "To put it plainly, ..." or "I know this is not good, but for now ...".

一時的に simply means "temporarily".

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「[一応]{いちおう}」 would actually be a much more difficult word for a J-learner to use than a search in a dictionary might suggest. That is because, in informal speech, we use the word for meanings that are not listed in the dictionary.

Some years ago, I was hospitalized in Tokyo for a tonsillectomy. A day before my operation, my main doctor visited me in my room and introduced herself by saying:

「一応、私が[主治医]{しゅじい}の (last name) といいます。」 *主治医 = "doctor in charge"

「一応」, in this context, only meant "well", if I were to "translate" it. It was only a sign of humbleness on her part. None of the dictionary definitions would apply here: "tentatively", "roughly", "for the time being", "briefly", etc.


is not such a bad sentence, especially if the reason for that living arrangement has already been explained prior to this sentence. It would have been better if you had said 「今は一応」 after a brief explanation of your reason instead of just 「一応」.

If you had described your living arrangement ONLY with this sentence, however, then using a more concrete expression like 「[一時的]{いちじてき}に」 would have been more desirable than using a vague word like 「一応」.

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In some hospitals even the youngest resident can be nominally 主治医, and it's very common to self-introduce as "一応私が主治医です". In such a case, he/she is implying that the operating surgeon will be different, or senior physicians will make important decisions. That never happens in other hospitals. But basically I agree that 一応 can be the sign of humbleness or euphemistic yes: 「若く見えるのに、40歳なんですか!?」「一応。」 –  naruto Jul 30 at 17:58

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