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

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23
votes
4answers
5k views

How to choose between “よん” (yon) vs “し” (shi) for “四” (4) and “しち” (shichi) vs “なな” (nana) for “七” (7)?

Two numbers in Japanese have two pronunciation alternatives. 四 / 4 can be pronounced either "よん" (yon) or "し" (shi) 七 / 7 can be pronounced either "しち" (shichi) or "なな" (nana) I know that "し" ...
27
votes
5answers
5k views

Usage of すみません (sumimasen) versus ごめんなさい (gomen'nasai)

There are several situations in which one of these words (phrases?) should be used but there's not usually a 1:1 mapping between any two languages. Get somebody's permission. English: "excuse me", ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

How to use へ (-e), に (-ni), まで (made) and の方 (no-hō) with destination and direction?

It is common to ask the difference between just "へ" (-e) and "に" (-ni) but it seems to get even more complicated when you also mix in "まで" (made) and even "の方" (no-hō). When Japanese people ask me ...
21
votes
4answers
11k views

When to use ください (kudasai) or お願いします (onegaishimasu) in requests?

When asking for something I seem to hear sentences end in both ください (kudasai) and お願いします (onegaishimasu). Is there a difference and how do I know when to use which?
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there a difference between ほんとう (hontō) and ほんとうに (hontō-ni) when used alone as interjection or question?

As the equivalent of Enlgish "Oh really?" / "Yes really." as lone utterances I seem to hear both "本当" (hontō) and "本当に" (hontō-ni) in Japanese - is there a difference? It seems that hontō is a noun ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

differences of kuremasu, moraimasu and itadakimasu

I have been taught that they are used when receiving something (or a favor) from someone. But how exactly do they differ? I've searched the web for an answer and.. One site suggests that kuremasu is ...
25
votes
7answers
3k views

Difference between negative forms {-ず} and {-ぬ}

{-ず} and {-ぬ} are two alternatives to the negative form {-ない} / {-ません}. But I noticed that depending on the word, it's either {-ず} or {-ぬ}, although it seems like some words can take both suffixes. ...
9
votes
4answers
241 views

{はず, わけ, しょう} がない difference

What is the difference between 「はず」 {hazu} and 「わけ」 {wake}? a slight expansion of the existing thread but what is the difference or use cases for when to use Hazu ga nai, wake ga nai, shiyou ga nai? ...
7
votes
7answers
458 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the difference between 「はず」 {hazu} and 「わけ」 {wake}?

I know the following two sentences give implication that "not expecting me to understand (it)" but I have a feeling that they give different nuances that I just can't put my finger on: ...
12
votes
3answers
642 views

Are there any situations where かしら is considered appropriate/normal for males to use?

かしら is generally considered to be a question particle for use by females; are there any situations or dialects in which it is usable by males? I'm aware that historically, it was used by both male and ...
24
votes
5answers
637 views

When do you use 下さい as opposed to ください

I've noticed that there seems to be different usage for 下さい and ください. Is this purely a personal preferences or is there an actual difference their usage? This was actually a question the Japanese ...
15
votes
2answers
652 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?
15
votes
6answers
957 views

How should I select what first-person pronoun to use?

I've always had trouble choosing which first person pronoun to use - 私 (watashi), 僕 (boku), or 俺 (おれ). What kind of factors should I keep in mind when choosing between these? Is it common to vary ...
12
votes
1answer
469 views

What's the proper way to use 先 versus 前に or 以前?

I'm trying to understand why 先 is not the best choice to use in these sentences. Is it wrong to use it in this way? × 先、学校で何かが起こった。 ○ 以前、学校で何かが起こった。 × 先の書いた本から十年間が過ぎました。 ○ 前に書いた本から十年間が過ぎました。