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. Join them; it only takes a minute:

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

In my JLPT workbook, it gives these examples to explain the difference between 延{の}びる and 伸{の}びる:



They both mean "stretch", more or less, so I assumed the difference was that 延{の}びる was more about time and space, and 伸{の}びる is more about distance and length.

However, take a look at this practise question:


A 長引{ながひ}いた  B 広{ひろ}がった  C 延{の}びた  D 伸{の}びた

I chose, D, because it was about length.

According to the book, though, the answer is C.

How can I make sense of this answer in light of the example sentences?

share|improve this question
Not relevant in the least bit but my reputation is 3456 and yours is 5678 at this instant. Thought it was something interesting to share =D. – Flaw Nov 23 '11 at 12:55
It's potentially the start of a Dan Brown novel... ;) – Questioner Nov 23 '11 at 15:36
There are some のびる which can have both 伸びる and 延びる. 伸びる is almost for physical stuff and the other is for space and time. An exception I know is [金]{きん}を[叩]{たた}いて[延]{の}ばす, which means Beat out gold. Also: dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/172188/meaning/m0u – Takumi Sueda Nov 29 '15 at 6:51
Does it mean 伸 is preferred when the topic is animate? – Derpius Nov 29 '15 at 6:54
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Using the Microsoft IME as a guide, generally 延びる seems to be used as "extend" and 伸びる as "grow":


  • Extend a conversation
  • Extend a schedule
  • Extend life span
  • Extend a subway into the suburbs


  • Plants/people grow
  • Expand investigations (in relation to the law etc)
  • Grow one's knowledge
  • Grow a market/earnings
share|improve this answer

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.