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What's the real, definite difference between 寝【ね】る and 眠【ねむ】る?

I know they both mean "sleep", but also that each carries some additional (sometimes, figurative) meanings.

Where do the meanings overlap? In what scenarios are they interchangeable?

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this website had a long and detailed explanation it did the trick for me: maggiesensei.com/2011/05/27寝るneru-vs-眠るnemuru-sleep-related-expressi‌​ons/ –  yadokari Oct 4 '11 at 19:36
    
Why does typing '!!' in the topic title convert it to a '?' ? –  istrasci Oct 4 '11 at 19:37
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The link in yadokari’s comment should be maggiesensei.com/2011/05/27/…. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 4 '11 at 19:55
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@istrasci: There is some mechanism to remove multiple exclamation marks. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/99871/…. But I do not know why two exclamation marks are converted to a question mark. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 4 '11 at 20:52
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@istrasci I've added it back for you ;) –  Pacerier Oct 5 '11 at 7:36

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

寝る

go to bed, be in bed.
Does not imply you sleep, since you could be listening to the radio, watching TV…
毎日11時に寝ます。

眠むる:

to sleep, not be awake.
Physiological state.
毎日何時に眠っているか当然に分からない!

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I think that's supposed to be 眠る. –  jkerian Oct 5 '11 at 15:49
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Do you mean "Does not necessarily imply you sleep"? Because it can mean "to sleep, not be awake". –  istrasci Oct 5 '11 at 17:46
    
@istrasci: "not(imply(A))" is different from "imply(not(A))", so "necessarily" is redundant. –  Axioplase Oct 6 '11 at 3:56
    
@Axioplase - logically, touche. From a natural language standpoint, I don't think a lot of people would read it that way. –  istrasci Oct 6 '11 at 14:15
    
寝る sometimes does imply sleeping, just in the same way as “go to bed” sometimes implies sleeping. It depends on the context. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 7 '11 at 11:22

寝る means sleeping. Eg. He is sleeping. 彼は寝ている。

眠る means sleepy. 眠い (adv) means sleepy. so.. we usually use "So sleepy today.." =>眠いなあ。。

Hope this help :)

Edited:

寝る

1) 横になる Lie down

彼は草の上に寝ている。 He is lying on the grass.

2) Get to bed 寝る時間だ。 Time to bed.

3) Sleep ( same with 眠る) お茶を飲みすぎて寝られなかった。 Too much tea kept me awake.

4) Lie idle ( things ,etc) 銀行に寝ているお金。 Money sitting in the bank.

5) Sleep (with somebody)

Other usage: 寝ても覚めても awake or asleep

========================

眠る

1) sleep; have a sleep.

ぐっすり眠っている。fast asleep.

2) lie buried.

3) Lie idle ( things ,etc)

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What you explained is the difference between 寝ている and 眠い, not between 寝る and 眠る. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 5 '11 at 10:44
    
you are right. actually. it is quite difficult to explain japanese vocab in overall as each words has so many meanings :) –  kitokid Oct 5 '11 at 12:32
  • 寝る 'sleep', 'lie down', 'have sexual intercourse'
  • 眠る 'fall asleep', 'remain untouched'
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