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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

10
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between “〜がる” and “〜がっている”

I want to know the difference between 〜がる and 〜がっている, and in what situations I can use them. My friend said 〜がる is used for a regular activity that someone does every day or every week, and the ...
7
votes
1answer
250 views

What is going on with 書けている? What is Potential Form+ている?

I'm having difficulty in understanding 書けている (initially observed from an answer to "パソコンが 得意だ/わかる/上手だ"). Also observed from SPACEALC: この小説は上手に書けている。 最もよく書けている記事。 ...
7
votes
1answer
634 views

What are the differences between 帰る and 戻る?

Can you give an example of when 帰る should be used instead of 戻る, and vice versa? The reason I ask is that I sometimes get corrected when using the two, such as in: × そのとき私は日本から戻ってきて、大学に戻って入りました。 ...
7
votes
2answers
537 views

Concretely, on what scenarios should I say either お世話になっています or いつもお世話になっております?

Furthermore, what is its different in meaning between the both? When I was in training as a fresh graduate at a Japanese company, they told me to use いつもお世話になっております all the time and so I did. But ...
5
votes
1answer
242 views

What is the difference between using を and と with the verb 言う?

I apologize if this is a basic question, but it's something I've never been entirely clear on. When using the verb 言う (to say), I can never figure out whether to use the particle -と or the particle ...
15
votes
4answers
819 views

“Seemingly cute” - かわいい + 〜そう

The 〜そう form means "seemingly 〜" and is usually conjecture made based on first-hand information. This usually means seeing something or hearing about something and making a conjecture, e.g., おいしそう ...
14
votes
7answers
5k views

Are there any Japanese words as versatile as “fuck” in English?

I was wondering about this one recently. "Fuck" in English is famous for being applicable in a wide, wide range of circumstances (none of them formal). What word in Japanese covers a wide spectrum of ...
12
votes
2answers
526 views

Adjectives functioning both as イ- and ナ-adjective

This question has made me think about the class of adjectives, which can function both as イ- and as ナ-adjective, e.g. 大きい 大きな 小さい 小さな 真っ白い 真っ白な (etc.) 細かい 細かな 暖かい 暖かな 四角い 四角な (etc.) 柔らかい ...
12
votes
6answers
13k views

What's the difference between “gohan” and “meshi”?

In answer to my question on the difference between "gyudon" and "gyumeshi" I learned that "meshi" just means cooked rice. But I thought "gohan" meant cooked rice, so please, what is the difference? I ...
11
votes
3answers
321 views

What is the difference between 防止 and 予防?

My dictionary defines both 防止 and 予防 as "prevention", with 予防 having the additional definitions of "precaution" and "protection against". I sort of understand the latter definitions for 予防 as acting ...
8
votes
1answer
145 views

What is the difference between あっての and とあって?

From what I can tell they both mean "Because of", and the only differences in meaning I can see seem to be very subtle. あっての: Because of A (strong emphasis), B Thanks to (various ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the difference between 見える【みえる】/聞こえる【きこえる】 and 見られる【みられる】/聞ける【きける】?

In Japanese, there is a potential form to express that it's possible for something to be done. My own examples of potential form: 辛【から】い食【た】べ物【もの】が食【た】べられる。 (I can eat spicy foods.) ...
8
votes
2answers
414 views

Non-distinguished animal pairs in Japanese

This is something I first noticed when I was at an aquarium in Japan (as evidenced in my examples) and continued to see ever since. There are certain pairs of animals, that while extremely similar, ...
7
votes
0answers
4k views

What is the difference between お元気に、お元気で、気をつけて? [duplicate]

I want to say hello to a friend I haven't seen for a long time, and end my message with "take care". All of お元気{げんき}に, お元気{げんき}で and 気{き}をつけて mean "take care", so which one suits my case? How should I ...
7
votes
6answers
478 views

Shouldn't this phrase using だけのこと mean “just for that”?

In a grammar textbook I have, there is this phrase: 幸{さいわ}い日本{にほん}で日本語{にほんご}を勉強{べんきょう}して、かなり話{はな}せるようになりました。日本{にほん}に行{い}っただけのことはありました。 The translation given is: Fortunately, I studied ...
6
votes
1answer
258 views

What exactly is 我が家, and how is it used?

I know the phrase 我が家 means "our home" or "our family". My question is when would you use it, as opposed to say 私の家 or 私の家族? It seems poetic to me, or something that wouldn't exactly be used in ...
2
votes
1answer
151 views

換える, 替える, 代える, 変える and their intransitive equivalents

While the meaning of 代える seems rather straightforward, the other two at times delude me. When should one be used over another? Are there any situations where both 換える and 替える are applicable?
24
votes
5answers
736 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Usage of たくさん vs. 多い

When do we use たくさん and when do we use 多い? I found both modifiers are used within similar sentences, for example: 人が多かったです 人がたくさんいました I had this impression that 多い is used with countable nouns ...
26
votes
3answers
1k views

How indistinguishable is blue from green really?

青 ao seems to be used very much interchangeably for both blue and green. Why is that so, and how does 緑 midori play into this?
10
votes
2answers
4k views

Differences between くれます, もらいます and いただきます

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 くれます is ...
22
votes
2answers
816 views

What is the difference in nuance between 間違う and 間違える?

I've heard from a Japanese native speaker friend of mine that both 間違う and 間違える are correct usage, but he wasn't able to explain the difference in nuance between them. Is there a difference, and if ...
15
votes
2answers
820 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
3answers
404 views

What is the difference between 完了 and 終了

Both 完了 and 終了 both seem to have the connotation of finished/complete, but what is the difference if any in usage?
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 ...
9
votes
7answers
533 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
553 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the difference between 大事 (daiji) and 大切 (taisetsu)?

These are two words that seem like they are basically interchangeable at most levels, as they generally are. The difference between them appears to be small, but what is the difference, if one exists? ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Since Japanese already had several words for rice why was “ライス” (raisu) borrowed from English?

Last night I had dinner in a ramen restaurant in northern Japan and was surprised to read the katakana "ライス" (raisu) on the menu. This is obviously the English word "rice" borrowed. But what kind of ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the difference between その and あの?

Superficially, I get the sense that あの is for something far away from both speaker and listener, and その is for something closer to the listener than speaker. However, I seem to get in trouble when ...
14
votes
2answers
402 views

Different conventions for animal meat

After reading this awesome question, I got to thinking about different animal meat. Upon researching a little, there seems to be different conventions in referring to different meats. Using 訓読み ...
14
votes
2answers
141 views

What are the nuances between these three terms for intelligence: 知恵 [ちえ], 知能 [ちのう], 知性 [ちせい] ?

In particular which one is closer to the idea of "ability to reason over things" as a quality of someone in particular? What I believe is that 知識 on the other hand is closer to "knowledge" and ...
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. ...
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
489 views

ご~いただけます vs. ご~になれます

I know that you can use ご~いただく toward "clients" (which is something I've never really understood; maybe better as a question of its own) such as ご来店いただき、まことにありがとうございます ("Thank you (customer) for ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Difference between kara and n desu?

Is there a difference (or nuance) or is it just two ways of saying the same thing? For example, どうして、とぶか? (1) こわいんです。 (2) こわいですから。 Obviously, those are very simple examples. But are there times ...
21
votes
3answers
538 views

Is there a rule for when to use くらい vs ぐらい?

I see phrases like 200人ぐらい, 半々ぐらい, and 何分くらい, which seem to indicate that くらい and ぐらい are synonymous, if not interchangeable. Is there any kind of rule for deciding which to use, or is it a stylistic ...
13
votes
1answer
243 views

What's the difference in usage between 氏名 (しめい) and 名前 (なまえ)?

What's the difference in usage between 氏名 (しめい) and 名前 (なまえ)? I often see these two words used interchangeably, but more often than not I see 氏名 on websites. Is this a politeness difference or an ...
13
votes
1answer
261 views

Difference between 重い and 重たい

In some situations everybody around me uses 重い, and when I went to the bicycle shop everyone was only using 重たい. Both mean heavy, but what is the difference in meaning or context between them?
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Difference between 気をつけて, お大事に and お元気で

What is the difference between 気{き}をつけて, お大事{だいじ}に and お元気{げんき}で. How and in which context(s) are they used?
11
votes
1answer
391 views

When can I exchange くださる for いただく in expressions of gratitude?

Way back when, I remember being taught that when you want to say a really polite "thank you", sentences such as these are basically the same: 文章を訂正していただきましてありがとうございます。 ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the Japanese word or phrase for “to post on the internet”?

How do you say "to post something on the internet"? Are there different words for different kinds of posts, for example: a blog entry a comment a piece of information, like a translation or a ...
9
votes
3answers
285 views

What is the difference between 一緒【いっしょ】に and 二人【ふたり】で?

I think in all situations where either 一緒に could be used, 二人で can also be used, and vice versa. I suppose 三人、四人、五人、etc. can also be used here if that's the number of people you are talking about. But ...
5
votes
1answer
259 views

“Full” names of metals

When written as a standalone kanji, the following metals have longer, "full" names (based on their colour): [金]{こがね} → こがね [銀]{しろがね} → しろがね [銅]{あかがね} → あかがね [鉄]{くろがね} → くろがね In my ...
5
votes
3answers
408 views

What's the difference between [上]{あ}がる and [上]{のぼ}る?

The textbook I'm studying from lists [上]{あ}がる as "to go up", but I've previously learnt that [上]{のぼ}る also means "to go up". Jisho.org only lists "to go up" and any derivations of that as a single ...
5
votes
2answers
519 views

What's the difference between 触る and 触れる?

These two seem to overlap almost completely. The only thing I can really tell is that 触れる seems that it can also be used in a metaphorical sense ("touch on" something; feel; perceive). I'm ...
5
votes
2answers
485 views

What are the differences between「目的」and 「目標」?

Both「目的」and「目標」have a common meaning which is "goal", but what is the difference? When can we use one but not the other?
5
votes
1answer
594 views

Openings and Closings (Salutations and Valedictions) When Writing a Letter/E-mail

This question came to me because I am writing a personal thank-you letter to a friend's family who hosted me in their home over the holidays. What is the proper way to address the entire family? For ...
4
votes
1answer
628 views

The different meanings of “life”? 生気/生活/ライフ/生命/一生/人生/命

I was looking through a dictionary and came across 生活. My original question was Is this the difference between 生気/生活? 生気 would be like an idea of life. more abstract 生活 would be ...
4
votes
2answers
282 views

How to exhaustively list predicates in a non-temporal way?

Supposing that you want to express a list of events or actions exhaustively and without significance in ordering (for example: Yesterday, I ate some ice cream, went to the store, and read a book, but ...