Take the 2-minute tour ×
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.

Both come up with the same reading and definition in Jisho.org (round/circular), and both are listed as common words. Is there any preference between the two or should I simply learn both as interchangeable?

share|improve this question
    
This jisho has the info: wwwjdic.org (Jim Breen's WWWJDIC). Both spellings are marked with a P which means both are preferred. –  Kaz May 11 '12 at 15:00
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

丸い generally refers to spherical objects like a globe.

円い generally refers to circular objects like a circle drawn on a page. Perhaps also a physical object which is flat and round in shape (a 円 (yen) coin for example)

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you! I seem to remember now seeing that somewhere, but Jisho wasn't much help to me. –  tsukaima May 11 '12 at 2:03
    
It should be noted that you can write 丸く描く but you wouldn't write 円く描く even if drawing a circle on a page. –  Jesse Good May 11 '12 at 2:48
3  
@Jesse I agree that 丸く might be more common, but do you have evidence that 円く is wrong? A similar point, though: to write まる, you would use 丸 even if it means a circle, maybe to avoid confusion with 円{えん} which is a word meaning circle by itself, whereas there's no 丸{がん} by itself AFAIK. –  dainichi May 11 '12 at 3:01
1  
@dainichi: Unfortunately, I don't have any evidence, so maybe I shouldn't say it is wrong, just more common as you mention. Also, you make a good point about まる only can be written as 丸, that is the reason we have 日の丸 and not 日の円 because the 訓読み for まる is 丸 only. –  Jesse Good May 11 '12 at 3:16
add comment

円 is usually read えん, and reading it まる sounds like ateji, and is less common. 丸い should be used.

share|improve this answer
    
+1: I tend to agree, just remember there are certain "special" words that use 円い instead, for example 円い月 and 円い人柄. –  Jesse Good May 11 '12 at 20:45
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

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.