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

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15
votes
4answers
3k views

What's the difference between せっかく and わざわざ?

せっかく and わざわざ seem to be pretty close in meaning/usage, but is there ever a time you would use one and not the other? Or is there a small nuance there? Just to give some example sentences: ...
9
votes
2answers
725 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
574 views

Why are these words considered less politically correct?

Warning: I have no sense of how offensive any of these words might be. They are repeated only insofar as they help me learn what not to say. Apologies for any accidental offense, and please do not ...
12
votes
3answers
674 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) ...
9
votes
1answer
263 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
211 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
424 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
648 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? ...
5
votes
1answer
947 views

Why do some people use 分からない, when they mean 知らない? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How should I choose between [知]{し}る and わかる? I often get puzzled when I ask a question and the other person says 分からない or 分からん, when they seem to understand but they ...
3
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
216 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
420 views

Why is “ゼロ” more popular than “れい”?

For the number zero, [零]{れい} is a Chinese origin word that is pretty much familiarized in Japanese. Nevertheless, it seems more popular to use the Western origin word ゼロ, which probably appeared ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between なぜなら、だから、and なので?

I'm trying to get clarification on how to use these three pieces of grammar and whether or not they all hold some kind of "Because" meaning.
17
votes
6answers
679 views

How can I differentiate agreement with the person and agreement with the idea?

A zillion years ago, before I came to Japan, I took a short introductory course on Japanese. In it, they showed a video of a business meeting where an American businessman is speaking to a Japanese ...
8
votes
1answer
232 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a form for “I have never heard of”?

Some examples of what I'm trying to convey: I have never heard that song before. I have never heard of Miyazawa Kenji I have never heard of that before? I've never heard of that store? ...
3
votes
1answer
154 views

The difference between 添削 and 訂正

I used to always use 訂正{ていせい} rather than 添削{てんさく} to mean "correction", but recently I haven't really seen 訂正 being used. When used in the context of correcting English translations etc, it seems to ...
6
votes
1answer
347 views

Usage of the suffixes 流, 風, 式, 的 and 様

If I was to put the suffixes 流{りゅう}, 風{ふう}, 的{てき}, 式{しき} and 様{よう} on the end of a noun etc, what would be the difference between them? I could be wrong, but the following all seem to me to mean ...
3
votes
1answer
138 views

Does the word レストラン make saying 中国レストラン strange?

I see that the WWWJDIC emphasizes western style restaurants for the word レストラン. So would there be a better word to use in 中国レストラン?
3
votes
3answers
819 views

Does this use of だろうか indicate assertion of an opinion?

I always get a bit confused with だろう, which I've asked about before. In my other question, I got the impression that たろう meant a certain amount of assertion, and だろうか left some room for uncertainty. ...
14
votes
1answer
3k views

When to use: “say”, “speak”, “tell” or “express”

When browsing through journal entries by various people, I've recently been noticing the words 述{の}べる and 語{かた}る used fairly frequently but I'm not sure when they should be used over 話{はな}す and 言{い}う ...
8
votes
3answers
461 views

What exacty does ゆえ mean, and how does it fit this JLPT question?

I have this question in my JLPT textbook: 男女{だんじょ}平等{びょうどう}といっても、女性{じょせい}___の差別{さべつ}はまだ残{のこ}っている。 A ゆえ B たる C なり D こそ The book says the answer is A, which is weird to me because I thought ...
8
votes
2answers
257 views

What's the difference between 関{かん}する and 関{かか}わる?

This question is in my JLPT practise book: 親{おや}のしつけが子供{こども}の性格{せいかく}形成{けいせい}に____ことは言{い}うまでもない。 A 通{つう}じる B 通{とお}す C 関{かん}する D 関{かか}わる The book says the answer is D, but to me the ...
4
votes
1answer
130 views

what is the difference between 観察 and 観測

According to JDIC, both mean "observation". Judging from the Kanji used, I'm guessing the difference is 観測 has a nuance of observing something and measuring some aspect of it or taking data, whereas ...
9
votes
2answers
352 views

Why does someone intend to die in this JLPT question?

This is a question in my JLPT practise book: 手遅{ておく}れかもしれないが、死{し}んだ__になってやれば、間{ま}に合{あ}うかもしれない。 A もの B わけ C つもり D はず None of the answers made sense to me, so I didn't even choose one. The ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Aren't がる and たがる the same thing?

In my JLPT practise book, it has two different entries, one to explain がる and one to explaining たがる. It offeres these example sentences to differentiate them: うちの子{こ}は新{あたら}しいものを見{み}ると、すぐほしがる。 ...
2
votes
1answer
261 views

Why is に応{おう}じて the wrong answer in this question?

This question is in my JLPT practise book: オリンピックの日本{にほん}代表{だいひょう}選手{せんしゅ}は、みんなの期待{きたい}____金{きん}メダルをとった。 A にこたえて  B に応{おう}じて  C に沿って  D によると I chose B, because it seems to me that it's ...
4
votes
2answers
322 views

Difference between Noun+な and Noun+だという

I came across this sentence: 四月だというのに、結構寒いね。 "It is April, but it is rather cold isn't it?" Recalling what I learned about the のに conjunction, I can also make the sentence: 四月なのに、結構寒いね。 ...
2
votes
1answer
222 views

What is the difference in these two keigo terms?

My JLPT practise book has these two sentences to help explain the difference between お目{め}にかける and お目{め}にかかる in a context of keigo. それでは新製品{しんせいひん}お目{め}にかけましょう。 ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

“Instead” using 代わりに

Excerpt from A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar: Consider the difference in the sentences below: [a] 昼間遊ぶ代わりに夜遊ぶつもりだ。 I intend to play at night instead of having fun in the daytime. ...
1
vote
1answer
386 views

What's the difference between “な感じ” and “という感じ” when written after quotation marks?

な感じ was crossed out and replaced with という感じ in a sentence that I wrote that was similar to this one: その文には「それは私にはもったいない」 な感じ という感じ があると思う。 I think that sentence has a feeling of "that's more ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Would I have 牛乳 or ミルク with my cereal?

I've just found out that there's a couple of words for milk, and that they have slightly different meanings. Which one would I have with my Weetbix in a "viking style" breakfast in Niseko? Based on ...
5
votes
2answers
778 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. ...
10
votes
1answer
556 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
160 views

Is “bless” the best translation of 祝福{しゅくふく}?

As far as I understand it, 祝福{しゅくふく} means "bless". I came across it in this sentence, and it struck me as weird: だれもが彼の成功をうらやむと同時に、心から祝福した。 My rough translation is, "At the same time that ...
1
vote
1answer
115 views

Is ものを similar to けど?

Another sentence from my JLPT practise book, this time in a section explaining the use of ものを. 借金{しゃっきん}で困{こま}っていた友人{ゆうじん}を、助{たす}けようと思{おも}えば助{たす}けられたものを、見捨{みす}ててしまった。 I think this sentence is ...
1
vote
1answer
110 views

Not understanding 解{と}く in this sentence

This sentence comes from my JLPT practise book in a section explaining the use of 解{と}く: 練習{れんしゅう}問題{もんだい}は答{こた}えを見{み}ないで、自分{じぶん}で解{と}いてください。 I get that 解{と}く means to "unravel" or "solve", but ...
3
votes
2answers
147 views

あっけなく vs ものたりなく

I have been going over the JLPT test from 1999 and came across this problem that stumped me. For those planning to take the previous tests as practice you may want to avoid this question. ...
3
votes
1answer
149 views

Does そう imply vagueness in this JLPT question?

I have this question in my JLPT practise book: 明日{あした}は雨{あめ}が降{ふ}りそうな_____がする。 A 予報{よほう}  B 予知{よち}  C 予感{よかん} D 予測{よそく} I chose A, mostly because of seeing 予報{よほう} used a lot when talking ...
4
votes
2answers
236 views

What is the metaphorical meaning of 手{て}?

I often see 手{て}, hand, used in a metaphorical sense to mean something along the lines of effort or presence... but I'm not totally sure. For example, consider this sentence: ...
6
votes
1answer
194 views

How to use 乗{の}り出{だ}す

In my JLPT practise book, there is this question: 子供{こども}のけんかに親{おや}が_____きた。 A 乗{の}り越{こ}えて  B 乗{の}り切{き}って C 乗{の}り出{だ}して  D 踏{ふ}み込{こ}んで I chose D, because it seemed to me that the meaning of ...
7
votes
2answers
246 views

たたく versus ぶつ in a JLPT question

In my JLPT practise book, there is a section demonstrating the difference between なぐる, たたく, 打{う}つ, and ぶつ. If I understand them, they are all variants of "hit", with subtle nuances to differentiate ...
9
votes
1answer
251 views

伸{の}びる versus 延{の}びる in a JLPT question

In my JLPT workbook, it gives these examples to explain the difference between 延{の}びる and 伸{の}びる: 髪{かみ}は1か月{いっかげつ}に1センチぐらう伸{の}びる。 会議{かいぎ}はいつも30分{ぷん}ぐらい延{の}びる。 They both mean "stretch", more ...
8
votes
2answers
449 views

Earnest and serious: when should each be used?

I've noticed there's a lot of overlap between the following words meaning "earnest" or "serious" when talking about a person: まじ 真面目{まじめ} 真剣{しんけん} 本気{ほんき} 正気{しょうき}: (This word really means "sane" I ...
18
votes
2answers
742 views

When writing for general public, is there a general guideline for selecting kanji?

After reading numerous publications, I've spotted a trend or custom on determining whether kanji is or is not used for certain words. The most obvious ones are: こと・事 …が実は犯人だったということがわかる。 ...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference between いえ and うち?

I am trying to understand the difference between using いえ and うち. I originally drew the conclusion that うち is used for your own house and いえ for others' houses, but my Japanese teacher said that this ...
3
votes
3answers
524 views

Why is this JLPT(N1) question a matter of practicality, not futile effort?

Here is a snippet of text from a JLPT(N1) question: ...
13
votes
1answer
266 views

What's the difference between 「この辺{へん}」 and 「この辺{あた}り」

What's the difference between 「この辺{へん}」 and 「この辺{あた}り」? I used to always read 「この辺{へん}」as 「この辺{あたり}」 as I thought it would be confused with 「変{へん}」 but it apparently is different.
14
votes
1answer
832 views

What's the difference between 「うまく」, 「上手に」 and 「よく」?

What's the difference between 「うまく」, 「上手に」 and 「よく」, all seemingly meaning "well" in English? Someone said that I should use 「よく」 rather than 「うまく」 in the following sentence. Can anyone explain why? ...