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

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3
votes
1answer
369 views

What's the difference between 理系{りけい} , 理科{りか}, and 科学{かがく}?

In my dictionary, 理系{りけい}, 理科{りか}, and 科学{かがく} are defined simply as "science". What, if anything, differentiates them? Especially in terms of the feeling or nuance when used in everyday ...
6
votes
1answer
238 views

What's the difference between 世間{せけん} and 世界{せかい}?

Both 世間{せけん} and 世界{せかい} seem to mean "world" in the sense of "a sphere of human activity or interest", or "a particular way of life", and that sort of thing. (As opposed to 地球{ちきゅう}, the literal ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

How can I differentiate between “risk” and “danger” in Japanese?

I wanted to know how to say "risk" in Japanese, so I looked it up, and found that most dictionaries translate "risk" as 「[危険]{きけん}」. To me, [危険]{きけん} means "danger", which is different. Though, to ...
2
votes
3answers
220 views

Is there a non-katakana word for “cash flow”?

If you look up "cash flow" in most dictionaries, it seems the concept is expressed in katakana, キャッシュフロー. However, I was speaking with a Japanese person earlier, and the term was not immediately ...
14
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
162 views

Asking superior to mark a document with 印鑑{いんかん}

What is the proper way to ask a superior to sign their hanko for approval? When I need a superior to sign their hanko for a routine log (not for reviewing a document or stuff, just routine logging off ...
3
votes
1answer
574 views

Why is 自分 used instead of 私?

For example: 自分の名前が呼ばれたとき、私は自分の耳を疑った。I couldn't believe my ears when I heard my name called. Would it be appropriate if I said 私? When is it appropriate to use 自分? What is the difference?
10
votes
3answers
434 views

When should 男の人/女の人 be used instead of 男/女?

My teacher always corrects me when I use 男 or 女 by themselves, without adding の人 to the end of it. But in various Japanese media (music, drama, anime, etc.), I know for sure that I have heard them ...
4
votes
2answers
126 views

What is the nuance of 解{げ}す?

Today in my JLPT text book, I came across the word 解{げ}す. I know that the kanji 解 means "unravel", and it can be read 解{わか}る, and with that reading it's synonymous with 分{わ}かる, "to understand". When ...
13
votes
3answers
406 views

Is パートナー likely to be interpreted as a same-sex partner?

When I talked about a relative and his パートナー visiting for Christmas, the person I was speaking to asked if his パートナー was male. Is this a common interpretation of パートナー? Is there a better word than ...
7
votes
1answer
242 views

Difference between 「~のない~」 and 「~がない~」?

For example, plugging these into Google, I can find stuff like, 自信のない人 and 自信がない人. Or, 愛のない生活 and 愛がない生活. I found a movie called 顔のないスパイ. How is this any different from 顔がないスパイ? I've asked ...
6
votes
1answer
574 views

Usage of 目を覚ます and 目が覚める

What's the difference between 目を覚ます and 目が覚める? It seems both of them have the sense of literally waking up and also to wake up from some delusion. How are they different in usage? Perhaps because ...
12
votes
3answers
652 views

What's bugging the Japanese language?

In my JLPT workbook, it has a section which gives a list of idioms that use [虫]{むし}. 仕事{しごと}の虫 (worker bee) 点取{てんとり}虫 (derogatory term for a student who tries too hard) 虫がいい (selfish) ...
3
votes
1answer
212 views

When is 顧客{こきゃく} used for “customer”?

In daily life, I usually hear the words お客様{きゃくさま}, お客{きゃく}さん, and maybe other variants that use 客{きゃく}/客{かく} to refer to customers at a shop. However, in the dictionary, the first word that comes up ...
12
votes
2answers
1k 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?
8
votes
1answer
229 views

When to use 種別 and when to use 区分 when programming

I am having trouble when naming a variable, deciding if I should use ABC種別 or ABC区分. I have been reading a lot of software specifications and the Japanese description usually uses 種別 and 区分 to specify ...
9
votes
2answers
548 views

The various ways of saying “all”

While trying to write a plugin to (unofficially fan-)translate this website to Japanese, I've been noticing that "all" has multiple different translations. What exactly is the difference between ...
9
votes
1answer
252 views

What's the difference between 電光石火【でんこうせっか】 and 疾風迅雷【しっぷうじんらい】

They both seem to mean "quick as lightning". What are the nuances between them? In what sort of context would they be used? Are they interchangeable? etc.
4
votes
1answer
156 views

What is the Japanese song-metric filler?

In English we have some common sounds that are used to fill spaces in songs like "ah" "la" "nah" "oh" "yea". What do we use for Japanese songs? So far I think I have only heard る used.
5
votes
2answers
204 views

What's the best translation of アタリ in the context of drawing?

I'm reading through a book on how to draw in a classic Japanese manga style. Specifically, the book is about the basics of デッサン, "sketching". They use the term アタリ a lot. For example, this typical ...
10
votes
3answers
329 views

Are there differences in nuance and usage of [内]{ない}[緒]{しょ}, [秘]{ひ}[密]{みつ}, [隠]{かく}し[事]{ごと} and [秘]{ひ}め[事]{ごと}?

They all carry the meaning of "secret" in English, but are there differences in nuance and usage of each of them: [内]{ない}[緒]{しょ} [秘]{ひ}[密]{みつ} [隠]{かく}し[事]{ごと} [秘]{ひ}め[事]{ごと} ...
10
votes
7answers
602 views

What is the real difference between the proper use of the words さむい and つめたい?

In English it seems that cold is just always cold just as warm and hot regardless of whether the word describes a persons experience or the actual physical state of an object. In Japanese however ...
4
votes
1answer
398 views

Help with には and にとって

I need help understanding why にとって cannot be used in this circumstance: その仕事は私{には/*にとって}出来ない。 ( * denotes unacceptable) This is what I read: にとって cannot be used when it marks an experiencer ...
6
votes
2answers
600 views

How do you know when to use みな or みんな?

Are there any tips for deciding to write みな or みんな? If I'm not sure can I just go with 皆? Also, in speech is there a distinction made? If not, which pronunciation is more common in standard Japanese? ...
8
votes
1answer
446 views

Nuances of “give” - あげる/与える/授ける

Can someone give some good context and scenarios for using these? Not only when to use them, but when NOT to use them as well. I know あげる is kind of the most common, but I'm just not sure of the ...
3
votes
1answer
210 views

Can 彼 be used as an indefinite pronoun like やつ or 男?

気取らない彼が好きです。 I like him, who doesn't put on airs. My first reading of this sentence was to assume that 彼 was referring to the boyfriend meaning of 彼, and thus my interpretation was "I like an ...
8
votes
3answers
404 views

Why is it お[腹]{なか}が[空]{す}いた but [腹]{はら}[減]{へ}った?

Is there any particular reason why the noun おなか goes with verb すく while the noun はら goes with the verb へる? Would it be weird if I use おなかへった or はらすいた? While on the same topic, does the 'starving' ...
8
votes
3answers
924 views

What's the difference between ~てください and ~ていてください?

This question has come up on the side of at least a couple of other questions, but I don't think it's been definitively answered, so let's see if we can come up with something solid. After going ...
12
votes
2answers
612 views

Difference and nuance between することはない and する必要はない/する可能性はない

I understand the grammar point "Verb (Dictionary Form) + ことはない" can mean either "There is no need" or "There is no possibility" depending on context. However, what are the differences? Are there any ...
18
votes
3answers
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
277 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? ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between そうか and そっか?

Is そっか just more slangy? Is そうか the same as saying ああそう? Or, is this more a spoken thing? If so, what is used when writing?
21
votes
4answers
1k views

Differences between 度 and 回 when counting occurrences

What are the differences between using 度 and 回 when used to count number of occurrences? For example: そんなことは一度もしたことがない そんなことは一回もしたことがない Are there any restrictions on what kind of actions referred ...
10
votes
1answer
311 views

The first: 第一 vs 一番 vs 第一番

What are differences among 第一, 一番 and 第一番, all of which seem to mean "the first" in English? Are any of them more suitable for some specific scenarios than the others (e.g. 安全第一 but 世界で一番)?
8
votes
2answers
254 views

「悪気があっての答え」 vs 「悪気がある答え」

Hi all I was wondering what is the difference between these two sentences: 「決して悪気があっての回答ではないです。」 「決して悪気がある回答ではないです。」 I can't really make out the gist of the meaning of 「あっての」. WWWJDIC's ...
9
votes
1answer
429 views

Usage of 忘れる, 忘れた, 忘れている, 忘れていた

Consider this sentence: それは三十年前のことだから、もう[fill in the blank]。 The answer given by the workbook is 忘れた. Choices are: 忘れる (forget) 忘れた (forgot) 忘れている (continued state of forgetting) 忘れていた (had ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

How and when to use 「そうですね」?

I only know the 2 meanings of it as follow: Use when thinking - no meaning Use to agree with others - the meaning is like "yes, I think so" What else and what situation can it be used? If someone ...
12
votes
1answer
211 views

Can I always use 色々な or do I have to use 色々の sometimes?

On the web I can find many occurrences of both 色々な and 色々の. 色々な seems to be used more often though. Can I always use 色々な and get away with it, or is 色々の the only choice in some particular cases? If ...
9
votes
1answer
545 views

Comparing 気にする vs. 気になる

Consider this example sentence from SPACEALC: あなたがどうしているか気になっていた。  "I was concerned about how you were." What is the difference when 気にする is used instead? I.e., あなたがどうしているか気にしていた。 ~なる ...
7
votes
2answers
367 views

Why is 領土{りょうど} more suitable than 領域{りょういき} in this JLPT practise question?

In my JLPT practise book, there is this question: その国王{こくおう}は戦{たたか}いに負{ま}け____の一部{いちぶ}を失{うしな}ってしまった。 Which I roughly translate as, "The kingdom lost a part of its __ in the battle." The ...
7
votes
4answers
630 views

What went wrong when I asked for a 衡器{こうき}?

I was in Bikku Camera earlier today, and I wanted to buy a small kitchen scale for measuring small amounts of food. I looked up the word "scale" in the dictionary, and it said 衡器{こうき}. So I found a ...
13
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
323 views

What is the implication when a gruff old man ends a sentence with わ?

In this question, it seems to me it was clearly established that わ, at the end of a sentence, is decidedly feminine. There was talk of a kansai-ben わ with slightly different implications, but still ...
5
votes
1answer
310 views

Does ところ mean the exact same thing as こと in this sentence?

Consider the following sentence: お金じゃないところが好きだから一緒にいるの 【おかね じゃない ところが すき だから いっしょに いるの】 I think it means "I'm with you because of the parts of you that don't have to do with money". I'm ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Difference between の代わりに and に代わって

I need help understanding the difference between の代わりに and に代わって. This is how A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar explains the difference: の代わりに cannot be used when "replacement" is ...
5
votes
2answers
685 views

“To call” or “To receive a call”

Consider these example sentences taken from SPACEALC: [a] (人に)電話をかける。 "put in a call to ~" [b] ~が(主語に)電話をかける。 "receive a telephone call from" My observations: Both sentences use かける. ...
1
vote
1answer
269 views

What is あっちゃう in this sentence? [closed]

My friend sent me an email saying her mobile phone is having problems. Specifically, she said this: 携帯{けいたい}の電池{でんち}が電話{でんわ}すると5分{ふん}でなくあっちゃうようになった I get the overall meaning, which is that when ...
3
votes
0answers
490 views

私 (watashi) vs 僕 (boku) [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: Is it ok for non-japanese to refer to themselves as 僕(ぼく) and if not why? How should I select what first-person pronoun to use? How commonly are "あたし" (atashi) ...
7
votes
1answer
658 views

The meaning, usage and cultural significance of the word [苦]{く}[笑]{しょう}

I've looked in many dictionaries, but I can't fully grasp how the word [苦]{く}[笑]{しょう} is used. I've seen it in dictionaries as being a kind of "embarrassed laugh". It appears to be used to deprecate ...
7
votes
8answers
1k views

The many ways to write {かっこいい}

Apparently there are so many ways to write {かっこいい}. Hiragana/katakana only: かっこいい カッコいい カッコイイ EDICT: 格好いい かっこ好い Other possible variants: 格好良い かっこ良い カッコ良い 格好好い 恰好いい ...