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This is a variant of the top definition question @ Area51: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/7526/japanese-language-usage/7529#7529

When to use 「とにかく」 and when to use 「とりあえず」? I have heard both adverbs used in similar sentences so I'm wondering whether they can be used interchangeably. Or is there a difference in nuance between the two?:

とにかく、行きましょう。

とりあえず、行きましょう。

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

とにかく is usually translated 'anyway', and just like 'anyway' in English, it's used to change the subject of the conversation.

とりあえず has a more specific meaning. It's often translated as 'for the time being', which is quite an accurate (if cumbersome) translation, since it's used only in cases where you want to tell the listener that you want to leave the issue at hand to later and move to something else.

For instance, if you were talking with your friend about a letter you have to take to the post office, but then he told you that the post office is closed now, you can tell him "とりあえず、帰りましょう", meaning "Ok, we can't do anything with that for now, so let's leave it for later. For the time being, let's go home."

Also, many cases where とりあえず is being used cannot be counted as 'change of subject' at all, and there difference from とにかく is even more striking.

For instance, I guess you could say:

とりあえず、前の宛先に送ってもいいです

meaning: "For the time being (until I get a new mail address), you can send stuff to my old mail address)."

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To add to the definition of とにかく, in addition to changing the subject, I find it's often used when the speaker doesn't want or doesn't think it necessary to go into the reasoning or background information before making a particular statement, similar to how "basically" or "the point is ..." are used in English. –  Derek Schaab Jun 5 '11 at 16:06

とりあえず toriaezu is used to say that you will do something in the meantime. とりあえず、行きましょう means that while you are going you are still not completely decided that it was a good idea to go, given that you still not have enough information maybe.

If you want to say something else instead of saying とりあえず, I think you can also try saying 一応 ichiou which has more or less the same meaning.

You use とにかく tonikaku just like anyway or in any case in English.

In any case, let's go:

  • とにかく、行きましょう。 

For the time being, let's go:

  • とりあえず、行きましょう。 
  • 一応、行きましょう。
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If you want to look awesome/educated, use 一往 for いちおう instead of 一応. –  istrasci Jun 5 '11 at 8:21

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