異字同音・異字同訓. Questions concerned with the fact that many kanji (漢字) may share a reading or pronunciation.

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21
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the difference between the kanji forms for わかる?

The verb わかる can be written using either 分かる, 判る, or 解る - what's the semantic difference between these forms, if any?
21
votes
2answers
3k views

What's the difference between “家” (ya), “屋” (ya), and “や” (ya) as used in the names of shops/stores/restaurants?

As a gyudon addict I have noticed that the names of the three major national restaurant chains all end in "ya" but they used two different characters: "吉野家" (Yoshinoya) "松屋" (Matsuya) "すき家" (Sukiya) ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

How do you write someone's name if you don't know what kanji to use?

Since kanji can have multiple pronunciations, how would you know how to write someone's name if you've only heard it spoken? What's the convention? Would you just guess, or maybe write it out in ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

まち: what's the difference between 町 and 街?

My impression is that 町 tends to be used for smaller cities and 街 tends to be used for larger ones. Is this correct? If not, what is the difference?
16
votes
2answers
698 views

Kitten: 子猫 vs 小猫 vs 仔猫

Are there any differences (nuances or usage) when using prefix 子, 小 or 仔 for denoting young animals? Examples: Kitten: 子猫 vs 小猫 vs 仔猫 Puppy: 子犬 vs 小犬 vs 仔犬 Pony: 子馬 vs 小馬 vs 仔馬 Calf: 子牛 vs 小牛 vs 仔牛 ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the difference between “河” and “川”?

I saw the first (河) used for "Hippopotamus", literally mimicking the Greek name (River Horse) but I expected to see 川 in its place... Also, apparently you can use "河川" to mean river*s* (plural)? But ...
15
votes
2answers
557 views

Nuances between the different kanji spellings of あける:明ける vs. 開ける vs. 空ける

開ける, 明ける and 空ける are all read as あける. From their kanji, it is obvious that 開ける has to do more with opening (a door etc), 明ける with dawning and 空ける with emptying... However, JMDict gives the exact ...
13
votes
2answers
954 views

What's the difference between 図る、測る、計る、量る、諮る、謀る?

These six words are all pronounced はかる, and many are listed under the same definitions in dictionaries. What are the difference between these words?
13
votes
3answers
575 views

Dissecting つく verbs

I think we all are familiar with する verbs, which are verbs that are formed by appending する to nouns. Examples include 勉強する, 愛する etc. This pattern is very convenient because it can be appended to ...
12
votes
6answers
442 views

Computer: 計算機 or 計算器?

What is the difference between the two kanji variants for 「けいさんき」, the other word for 「コンピューター」? 計算器 計算機
12
votes
1answer
259 views

Was there a single word/concept もの which was later split into two (now distinct) kanji 者 and 物?

Given that もの has a rather similar usage as a generic modifier for turning a property into a thing with that property (as 物) or turning a property into a person with that property (as 者) -- it seems ...
12
votes
2answers
420 views

Is there a radiotelephony alphabet standard for kanji, similar to NATO phonetic alphabet (“alfa, bravo, charlie”)?

NATO phonetic alphabet is used for precise dictation of English letters: "A" is pronounced as "Alfa" "B" as "Bravo" "C" as "Charlie", etc. There are similar alphabets for other languages. There ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

do people actually respect the nuances of 探す vs 捜す?

Part 1 I understand 探す to be to search for something (general) and 捜す to be to search for something lost But do people actually care about the difference in nuance when they use it? I mean do ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Japanese don't learn kanji meaning only readings? Does it make sense for a kanji to have a key meaning to identify it?

As I understand it works like this. By the time Japanese kids enter first grade they have more or less decent vocabulary of words they know. So when kanjis are taught I can't even imagine how to tell ...
10
votes
2answers
260 views

What's the difference between 迷う and 紕う?

I was looking in a dictionary and both were listed as being defined as "to lose one's way, to hesitate, or to waver," but I don't understand why there are two different kanji for the word.
9
votes
2answers
925 views

Why are there many kanjis that are read and mean the same?

My question comes from this case: 会う 逢う 遭う 遇う I see they all are read "au", and mean "to meet". So, why are there these many cases? And more important, which one should I use? I knew 会う, and when I ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Which kanji for はじめます? There seem to be two

I thought the kanji for はじめます was: 始めます However, one of my friends tweeted using 初: トマト鍋初めて食べたけどおいしかった Which is correct? Is there a difference in nuance between the two? jisho.org brings ...
9
votes
2answers
912 views

What's the difference between 上る、登る and 昇る?

According to jisho.org, they all have the same meanings, to climb, to rise, to ascend. Is that true? And do they have differences in usage?
9
votes
1answer
480 views

What's the difference between 下りる and 降りる

My current understanding is that 下りる means to go down, for example, 階段を下りる (Go down the stairs); while 降りる means to get off some form of transport, for example, 飛行機から降りる (Get off from the aeroplane). ...
9
votes
1answer
208 views

What is the difference between 恰好 and 格好?

Is there any difference between the words 格好 and 恰好? Can I actually call them different words, or is it that they are just the same word written differently? I've been told that they have exactly the ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

When to use 聴く vs 聞く vs 訊く?

When should one use 聴く instead of 聞く? Is there a precise rule for which one to use in which situation? I have a feeling that 聞 is used more when the source of the sound is a person or other living ...
8
votes
1answer
320 views

What's the difference between 舟 and 船?

They both mean "ship/boat". Are they completely interchangeable? Do they signify boats of different sizes or uses (people, cargo, etc.)? Is only 船 used in compounds to describe metaphorical "boats" ...
8
votes
2answers
562 views

Difference between 見る and 観る?

Lately I've seen in some dialog games with this difference. They use 観る rather than 見る, e.g.: ・あなたテレビ観るかな。 ・あんまり観ない方なんだ。 So I'm thinking I can use 見る to make the same dialog. However there ...
8
votes
1answer
218 views

What's the difference between 平行 and 並行?

They both seem to mean "parallel". In my プログレッシブ dictionary, it seems to point to the former being the more mathematical sense of the definition (two co-planar, non-intersecting lines), while the ...
8
votes
1answer
414 views

Separate kanji for おそい when referring to being late and being slow

The i-adjective はやい can refer to being fast or being early, but each of the meanings has affinity towards separate kanji: 速い (fast) and 早い (early). Yet, while it's not surprising that the antonyms of ...
7
votes
3answers
596 views

[父]{ちち} vs. [乳]{ちち} — father vs. breast

Can one differentiate by pronunciation between [父]{ちち} and [乳]{ちち} (as for 雨 and 飴)? If not, does anyone have a reasonable explanation for why 父 and 乳 have the same pronunciation? It seems unlikely ...
7
votes
1answer
258 views

Oceans — Thick or Big?

Straightforward question. The Pacific Ocean is 太平洋【たい・へい・よう】 and the Atlantic Ocean is 大西洋【たい・せい・よう】. What was the reasoning in using a different character for the たい in each? And why 太 for Pacific ...
7
votes
1answer
812 views

which instruments use 弾く and which use 引く?

I was wondering how do we identify what instruments may be used with the verb 引く, or 弾く, or both? If both 引く and 弾く can be used is there any difference in nuance between one vs the other?
6
votes
2answers
908 views

What is the difference between 楊 and 柳 which both mean “Willow”

I've come across two kanji, which are both read やなぎ and both mean "willow". From what I've found out so far, 柳 has an On'yomi of リュウ and it seems to mean more "things with the qualities of a willow"; ...
6
votes
1answer
323 views

Kanji for におい - when do you use 匂い and when do you use 臭い?

Could someone help me understand when which kanji is used? For example I have seen 臭い on a packet of cat sand. I can't remember where I've seen the other but I found the following example sentence on ...
6
votes
1answer
297 views

“Dive” = “fly into”?

The words 飛ぶ and 跳ぶ are both read as とぶ, the former meaning "to fly" and the latter meaning "to jump" (generally; don't know if they are interchangeable at all). The compound-verb suffix 〜込【こ】む means ...
6
votes
1answer
205 views

Are the meanings of 煙 and 烟 identical?

I noticed that 煙 in the phrase 茶煙永日香{ちゃえんえいじつかんばし} sometimes appears as 烟. For example, here is a teapot with 茶煙永日香 and a scroll with 茶烟永日香. Is there a difference in meaning between 煙 and 烟? 煙 and 烟 ...
6
votes
1answer
132 views

What kanji is used to write かん in 会話かん?

In the first episode of WataMote at about 7:40, Kuroki says this sentence: やはり、中学時代の私の会話かんを取り戻さなくては。 which is translated to Jeez, I've got to get back the conversational nature I had in ...
6
votes
1answer
373 views

What's the difference between 作る、造る、創る?

According to jisho.org they have the same meaning. How to know which to use?
6
votes
1answer
151 views

What is the difference between 飲む and 呑む?

I saw a tweet that said 要は日本酒が呑みたい And my dictionary translated 呑む as 'to drink', with 飲む as the default spelling and 呑む as an alternate form. What is the difference between 飲む and 呑む?
6
votes
1answer
157 views

Are the two kanjis 箇所 and 個所 interchange?

Our customer uses 箇所 but my manager uses 個所 when emailing project status. Are both kanji interchangeable? The context of usage in a sentence is: 一箇所変更しました。 A portion (of the code/software) ...
6
votes
1answer
233 views

Which つける do I use?

So I looked up つける and saw it can be written as: 付ける 着ける 附ける And they all seem to have the exact same definition: to attach, to join, to add, to append, etc. So are these "spellings" ...
6
votes
1answer
403 views

Distinguishing 沙 from 砂

I looked up both 沙 and 砂 in my 学研{がっけん} 漢和辞典{かんわじてん} today. It appears that they share the same list of readings (サ、シャ、すな、いさご). I also see that some words can be written with either kanji. Here are ...
5
votes
5answers
260 views

Rust: 錆 vs 銹 vs 鏽 vs 鏥

In doing some looking around today I found four characters that all mean rust and are all read さび. Is there any distinction that can be made between these characters? 錆 銹 鏽 鏥
5
votes
4answers
398 views

Most egregious examples of the reading of a kanji changing due to (textually) distant characters

I've been thinking about how Japanese people can read a text (out loud, say) when the readings of the kanji can be so variable depending on okurigana, suffixes, or prefixes that change the meaning and/...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference between 上{あ}げる and 挙{あ}げる?

I searched examples for the verb "ageru - raise" and I found it written with two different kanji: 挙げる 上げる Mostly their meaning is "raise". I found them with the following examples: 棚に箱を上げる。Put a ...
5
votes
2answers
196 views

Questions about 背負う

背負う is pronounced せおう, but many dictionaries also list a second pronunciation as しょう. I've never heard it pronounced as しょう in practice. In what situations does it have this pronunciation? Is ...
5
votes
1answer
262 views

もっとも: distinguishing between 尤も and 最も

I found a page in Japanese with title "世界でもっとも汚染された10の都市". Having encountered the phrase 「もっとも」 for the first time, I looked it up on WWWJDIC and found two entries: 尤も 【もっとも】 (adj-na,adv,conj,n) ...
5
votes
2answers
126 views

Confused in choosing 早い versus 速い

In my understanding, 速い is used for motion and 早い represents "early". Which one is the correct one in this example? A: 授業がそろそろ始まるので、早く来てください。 B: 授業がそろそろ始まるので、速く来てください。
4
votes
2answers
330 views

The differences between 速さ, 早さ, and 速度

I was emailing a friend and used the phrase "タイピングすることの早さ" which I discovered was very incorrect. I did some searching on Google and here is what I discovered: タイピングの速度 <-rare タイピング速度 <-...
4
votes
1answer
151 views

Differences between the various readings of 描く and 画く

Are there any differences between the following? 画{か}く 画{えが}く 描{か}く 描{えが}く
4
votes
1answer
388 views

しゅっぱつしんこ〜, what is Yotsuba-chan saying?

Which しんこう is the one Yotsuba-chan meant when she said 「しゅっぱつしんこ〜」 in the manga excerpt below? WWWJDIC lists so many two-kanji words that read as しんこう, and even after eliminating totally irrelevant ...
4
votes
2answers
191 views

How many possible phonological forms could be represented by a randomly chosen single character?

In Chinese, every character is monosyllabic and Mandarin has a total of about ~1200 licit syllables including tone (about 400 if you don't count tone). This means that if I take any Chinese character ...
4
votes
1answer
449 views

Multiple common kanji for a word: which to use?

I have been using jisho.org and aedict (android) to look at the definition, kanji and reading of words. Sometimes though, they list words that have multiple kanji in use and they are all indicated as "...
4
votes
1answer
102 views

Why write「もの」instead of 「物」 or 「者」?

In the following example, it remains unclear to me why the term もの is written in hiragana. あの真っ黒なものは何 Here is a second example, where 優しい is written in hiragana. とてもあの人はやさしい My ...