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As in the question title, what is the difference between the two sentences below?

一時間ほどかかります。
ichijikan hodo kakarimasu.

一時間ぐらいかかります。
ichijikan gurai kakarimasu.

How do we choose to use one over the other?

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Matti's answer is sufficiently correct, but I'd also like to add that ほど seems to have more of an implication of the translation "extent" whereas "くらい/ぐらい" is more like "amount".

In the example you gave, I'd say they mean the same thing, but to me the former sounds more like "up to one hour (and very likely to be one hour)" whereas the latter is really "about an hour".

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Your answer, if really correct, confirms my initial intuition, that is it is between "up to" vs "about". –  Lukman Jun 2 '11 at 14:03
    
Yes, the main difference is that ほど indicates that your estimation is an upper limit. –  Amanda S Jun 2 '11 at 15:38
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Those two sentences mean the same thing, but the one with ほど sounds somewhat more polite. When they're used in the meaning "approximately", I'd say they're more or less interchangeable.

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I learned something different: If you use ぐらい or ごろ, then you are talking about an approximation, either of a time span (二時間ぐらい) or of a specific point (2メートルごろ). But if you say ほど, it's a metaphor.

死ぬほど笑った。

"I laughed so much it nearly killed me." But of course you didn't really die. ;)

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That's also correct - but I think that's another usage of "hodo", again, as "extent". Oh, and it's "2メートルごろ" –  makdad Jun 2 '11 at 12:50
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