The differences between two or more words or phrases and how to select the best one for a given situation.

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14
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1answer
543 views

Understanding all the words but not the meaning: What does this ad say?

This is a frequent problem that I think many Japanese learners experience. You look at some Japanese sentences, and you understand the words, and most, if not all, the grammar, and yet still, it just ...
6
votes
2answers
763 views

Using 伯母 / 叔母 to refer to one's aunt

Is it true that when we see 伯母 it usually (90%) means "parent's elder sister" and sometimes (10%) can be used to refer to the parent's younger sister? On the contrary, when we see 叔母 does it always ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

ことにする vs. ことに決める

My Japanese text book says that a present-tense verb followed by ことにする is used to indicate making a decision about the action. But I've also noticed the verb 決める, and that it's usage is very similar. ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Polite Way to Ask “How old are you?” : 何歳 , いくつ ,年齢 , ご年

I think the sentences: 何歳ですか? いくつですか? 年齢は? お年は? are all sentences that ask "How old are you?" How are they different? What form is most polite?
12
votes
3answers
554 views

What is the difference between 残念ながら and 残念なことに

I hear both 残念ながら and 残念なことに when expressing that something was unfortunate before the actual sentence, much like the English "Unfortunately, ...". However, I'm not sure on where these two phrases ...
5
votes
1answer
183 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) ...
6
votes
2answers
150 views

言ったりしたら versus 言ったら

I came across the phrase 言ったりしたら【いったりしたら】 in one of the Tintin books I'm reading. It means something like "if I say [it]". What I can't figure out is how it's different from simply saying 言ったら. Here ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the difference between なぜ、どうして and なんで when meaning 'why'?

I've been meaning to ask this for a while. What is the difference between these 3 words. I was taught they all mean "why", but obviously, being different words they convey different nuance and would ...
7
votes
1answer
218 views

Does it make sense to say [v]ませんでしたら instead of [v]なかったら?

I'm wondering whether it makes sense to say [v]ませんでしたら instead of [v]なかったら. When I googled for that conjugation there were very few results, but since there were results, I wonder if people actually ...
13
votes
2answers
222 views

How does adding 手 to the beginning of an adjective change its meaning?

There are several adjectives that are formed by attaching 「手」 to more common adjectives: 手厳しい 手堅い 手早い 手広い 手短い But most of the time this does not seem to change the meaning of the adjective very ...
4
votes
1answer
124 views

前 or 後 when placing an event in temporal reference to “now”

Consider this phrase:  今は(event)二十分前です。 Deconstruction of the above phrase yields: Now is twenty minutes before (event). (Q1) Can I reconstruct the statement using 後 in this manner?:  ...
7
votes
2answers
551 views

What is the difference between 様子、状況、状態、and 事情

I'm unsure of the difference between these four words. They all seem to indicate some type of "condition" or "circumstances". (1) Are they interchangeable? (2) What are some example sentences which ...
10
votes
1answer
531 views

歩{ある}く vs 歩{あゆ}む

I always know that 歩く is the verb to use when talking about walking. But I'm aware the kanji 歩 has another verb 歩む. In WWWJDIC, the example sentence given is: ビルはあの会社の社長になるまで成功への道を歩み続けた。 Bill ...
4
votes
1answer
472 views

なった versus なってきた

My friend recently said to me: 眠くなってきた 【ねむくなってきた】 Which, I think means "I became sleepy". But it seems to me that it is the same as saying: 眠くなった How does the addition of きた change this ...
11
votes
3answers
926 views

When describing time span, are 間 {あいだ} and 内 {うち} interchangeable?

Both 間 {あいだ} and 内 {うち} can be used to describe time span relative to specific situations, similar to "while" in English. But are they interchangeable all the time? Are there any scenarios where one ...
2
votes
1answer
418 views

Plain verbs vs [conjunctive form 連用形]+をする (e.g. 間違える vs 間違えをする)

(Question 1) Are there any differences in nuance and usage of conjunctive form of verb (連用形) + をする compared to the plain form of those verbs whose conjunctive forms can be used as nouns? For ...
34
votes
4answers
4k views

Is じゃないです equally correct as じゃありません?

Text books normally teach that the negative of です is じゃありません. However it seems very common to hear native Japanese use じゃないです. Is this slang or somehow less correct than じゃありません? Would it be marked ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

Must do : ~なければならない vs ~なくてはいけない

What are the differences when using ~なければならない and ~なくてはいけない, or their colloquial contracted forms ~なきゃ and ~なくちゃ when saying "must do"? For example, what is the difference in the nuance and usage of ...
11
votes
1answer
379 views

Why did オレンジ replace 橙【だいだい】?

This question about colours got me thinking: Why, and how, did オレンジ come to replace 橙【だいだい】 to refer to the colour orange? It seems weird to me that a word taken from a foreign language became ...
14
votes
2answers
462 views

Why do 適当 and いい加減 refer to both considerate and inconsiderate things?

I understand that 適当【てきとう】 can mean both "appropriate" and "whatever/vague". How do you know 適当な人を教えてください means "please inform me of the appropriate person" as opposed to "please tell me about ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What are slang terms for Japanese money?

This question about alternate terms for coins focused on the use of ワンコイン, but it got me thinking about slang terms for money in general. In all the years I've been in Japan, I don't think I've ...
8
votes
2answers
153 views

Which is better for a sales budget: 予算, 推計, or something I haven't even thought of yet?

I'm writing a short (3-5 page) business plan in Japanese. I'd like to include an "estimate" of the sales for the next 3 years. The question: what would you choose for the graph titled: 2012 ...
9
votes
2answers
262 views

When are ふう and よう interchangeable?

Lately ふう has been on my mind. Often it seems interchangeable with よう: これを{こんなふう/このよう}にしてください。 Please make it like this. あれを{どういうふう/どのよう}に解釈しますか。 In what way do you interpret that? ...
5
votes
3answers
178 views
5
votes
2answers
202 views

I've seen 達人and 名人used to indicate master or expert. What's the difference?

I'm not familiar with either word, but just looking at the characters, 達人 would seem to indicate 'accomplished' (ie an accomplished pianist). While 名人 seems more like 'renowned'. Is that a valid ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Contrasting っぽい、らしい、みたい

For example, the following 3: 女っぽい (おんなっぽい) 女らしい (おんならしい) 女みたい (おんなみたい) In what situations would you use っぽい over らしい? Does っぽい have negative connotations? Are 女らしい and 女みたい interchangeable as in ...
11
votes
2answers
418 views

Does the letter “C” attract any superstition?

I've heard that the number four attracts superstition because of its similarity with the word for death. For example, yon is used instead of shi in some circumstances, and sometimes the number 4, ...
6
votes
3answers
177 views

Does the use of は or omitting は affect the listener's reply?

This is a question taken from a JLPT excercise workbook. Person A: 新聞をよく読みますか。 Person B: そうですね。毎日は[Fill in this blank]。 I am given 4 choices, of which only 2 are conjugated correctly. ...
16
votes
8answers
2k views

Does the Japanese language only have negative terms for flirting?

I am looking for terms in the Japanese language which can describe the act of flirting in a positive light. This probably requires inventing terms to close a lexical gap, because as far as I know, all ...
9
votes
2answers
317 views

How would one convey the concept of “vouching” in Japanese?

Update: There seems to be some controversy here as to whether or not there really is a difference between vouching and guaranteeing, which impacts how it is translated. Please see the discussion I ...
5
votes
2answers
319 views

What is the difference between 照{て}れる and 照{て}れてる?

According to my dictionary, both 照{て}れる and 照{て}れてる mean to be shy, or be awkward. I don't think one is a different verb form of the other. The て+いる form of 照れる would be 照れている, not 照れてる. So I think ...
13
votes
2answers
274 views

What are the origins of ド when used as emphasis, and is it always negative?

Sometimes I've seen ド as a prefix that adds emphasis to words. So saying someone is ドバカ is saying that they are much more stupid than just バカ. I'm wondering what the origin of ド in this context is. ...
9
votes
1answer
437 views

Qualitative intensifiers e.g. とても, とっても, 超, etc. How are they different?

How are とても/とっても, でかい/でっかい, 超 (and others that I have yet to encounter) used differently? I figured that for とても/とっても-type difference is that the double-consonant(geminated) version is stronger i.e. a ...
15
votes
3answers
688 views

Love in the air: 愛x恋 {あい vs こい}

From WWWJDIC: 愛 【あい】 (n,n-suf) (See 愛する) love; affection; 恋 【こい】 (n) love; tender passion; My understanding on affection, love and tender passion is like the following: affection < ...
11
votes
3answers
286 views

Do people actually ever say みょうにち?

I've heard people using あした (the common one) and あす (rather uncommon) to refer to "tomorrow". I was wondering does anyone actually uses the reading みょうにち ?
11
votes
4answers
979 views

に vs で again: 前に vs 後で

Following the current trend of pitting the particles に and で against each other, here is another question that does the same but from another type of usage and perspective. When we want to say "do X ...
6
votes
2answers
189 views

Anti-causal/Non-causal relationship

How do I form a sentence of these patterns "X does not arise from Y", "X not due to Y", "X not because of Y", "There are other reasons for X". Since obviously I cannot simply slap ない onto から or ので to ...
10
votes
2answers
673 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there an equivalent to George Carlin's “Seven Dirty Words” in Japanese?

Warning: This question contains words in both Japanese and English that some might not want to read. Also: My apologies that this question is lengthy. However, I wanted to take care to express it ...
13
votes
1answer
908 views

Honorific prefix 「ご」 vs 「お」

Some nouns take the 「ご」 prefix: ご両親 {りょうしん} ご家族 {かぞく} ご無事 {ぶじ} ご安心 {あんしん} ご丁寧 {ていねい} While many others take the 「お」 prefix: お母さん お仕事 {しごと} お月 {つき} お内 {うち} お客 {きゃく} In ...
49
votes
9answers
3k views

What is the こと in sentences such as あなたのことが好きだ?

There were a lot of great answers here. I gave the checkmark to ento's answer because I felt it most completely explained all aspects of this use of こと. But many of the other answers are excellent, so ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

けど at the end of the sentence?

According to dictionaries, 「けど」 means ‘but’, ‘although’, ‘however’. However, it seems to have slightly another meaning at the end of the sentence. For example, here are few example sentences with ...
19
votes
4answers
1k views

Are there words so bad that they aren't allowed on television?

Warning: We're all adults here, but just in case, this question may contain words, in both Japanese and English, that some may not like to read. A long time ago, when I was working with a translator, ...
10
votes
1answer
611 views

加える/増やす and 加わる/増える or even 増加する/殖/足, various kanji for “adding things”

I'm a bit confused regarding the choice between the 加 and 増 kanji for any meaning related to "adding one thing to another". I assume that, as usual, the suru-verb combination 増加する is somewhat more ...
12
votes
2answers
765 views

What is the proper use of だろう, is it “masculine”, and how is it different from と思 【おも】う?

Like a lot of foreign guys, some Japanese I picked up from imitating the women I spoke to. Certain affectations made me sound unwittingly effeminate in the early days when I had less grasp on the ...
7
votes
2answers
241 views

Which particle to use with 出会う {であう} : と, に or が?

From Google searches, I can see that all three particles と, に and が are used with 出会う, but are there differences when using each of the particles or are they interchangeable? For ease of explanation, ...
6
votes
1answer
331 views

と言っても vs とは言え .

Hi all is it true that と言っても and とは言え is the same thing except that と言っても is for spoken clauses whereas と言いえ is for written clauses?
11
votes
2answers
833 views

What's the difference between 少{すこ}し (sukoshi) and 小{ちい}さい (chiisai)?

What's the difference between 少{すこ}し (sukoshi) and 小{ちい}さい (chiisai)? In what situations would I use each one?
13
votes
1answer
4k views

Why does そう in 「美味しいそう」 not mean “seem” the way I think it should?

Here's another habitual mistake I make. I'm looking at a sign for a restaurant with pictures of great food. So I remark to my friend: 美味{おい}しいそう、ね? ... intending to mean, "that looks good, don't ...
6
votes
1answer
318 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?