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Stolen directly from Grigory M's question in the definition phase:

http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/7526?phase=definition

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+1 for stealing someone else's question and using it as your own. –  istrasci Jul 12 '11 at 15:51
    
Erm, thanks I think. –  Ali Jul 13 '11 at 10:31
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2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

They both mean "to fix"/"to repair"/"to correct", but 治す is used in the sense of "to heal or cure" ("to fix a disease"). "直す" is used for fixing, not healing.

EDIT: As per Tsuyoshi Ito's correction (confirmed with a bit of googling), I've removed a misleading bit about the object of these verbs.

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So you mean 車を直す but 風邪を治す? –  Ali May 31 '11 at 21:11
    
After stating that... I might have to qualify it. –  jkerian May 31 '11 at 21:13
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The second paragraph does not make sense to me. You can also say 故障を直す (fix a failure (of a machine etc.)) as well as 機械を直す (fix a machine), which are parallel to 病気を治す (heal a disease) and 病人を治す (heal an ill person). –  Tsuyoshi Ito May 31 '11 at 21:40
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治す is only used to heal or to cure.

直す has more meanings, it can mean:

1) to fix; to correct; to repair;

2) to replace; to put back as it was;

3) to convert (into a different state); to transform;

Examples:

その本をなおしなさい。= Put back the book where you found it.

次の文章を日本語に直しなさい。= Put the following sentences into Japanese.

==

Source: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1MUE%E6%B2%BB%E3%81%99

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+1 for "put back as it was/put away". This is used this way all the time, at least in Kyushu. –  phirru Jul 12 '11 at 16:57
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The use of なおす meaning to restore something to where it was (as in その本をなおしなさい) is observed in western Japan. In 標準語, しまう is used for that meaning. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 16 '11 at 14:27
    
hey thanks for the comment. btw by western Japan you mean? –  Pacerier Jul 16 '11 at 16:51
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