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

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13
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3answers
261 views

Why can some words be written with or without okurigana? How do the uses differ?

What is the difference for word compounds that can exist with 送り仮名 and without and still retain the same pronunciation? As an example: 巻き貝 と 巻貝 取り引き と 取引 If I'm correct, both of these are ...
13
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4answers
984 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
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2answers
1k views

What's the difference between に and で when speaking of time of an action?

What's the difference between に and で when speaking of the time of an action? I know に is very specific about time, but I'm not sure when, or how to use で. Can で only be used in certain instances? ...
13
votes
1answer
203 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
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3answers
321 views

What is the difference between 向かい and 向こう?

I am unable to locate objects and their orientation with respect to myself when 向こう and 向かい are used. Consider: 向こう側 向かい側 向こうの店 向かいの店 Where is 向こう側 and 向かい側 with respect to me? Are they the same ...
13
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2answers
990 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 ...
13
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2answers
500 views

The verbs of learning: 勉強する, 習う and 学ぶ

How are the following verbs which are related to learning different to each other? 勉強する 習う 学ぶ
13
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2answers
887 views

What is the difference between 「けれど」 and 「けれども」 and 「けど」?

「けれども」と「けど」と「けれど」はいったいどう違うんですか。「けれども」はテレビ番組でよく使われているが、「けれども」は「けれど」より丁寧ですか。 English translation: What exactly do 「けれども」 and 「けど」 and 「けれど」 mean? They often use 「けれども」 on TV programs, but is 「けれども」 ...
12
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6answers
8k 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 ...
12
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4answers
589 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
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2answers
229 views

How do I know when to read the kanji 抱 as 「だ・く」, and when to read it as 「いだ・く」, or even 「うだ・く」?

This sentence was in a grammar textbook: 彼{かれ}は同僚{どうりょう}にライバル意識{いしき}、ひいては殺意{さつい}すら抱いていた ... it means: "He regarded his colleague as a rival, even to the point of considering murder." My ...
12
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4answers
1k 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: ...
12
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3answers
6k views

What's the difference between “さけ” (sake) “しゃけ” (shake)?

Today I saw onigiri claiming to contain "しゃけ" (shake), when I asked my friend what that was she said it was the same as "さけ" (sake), "salmon". So are these two just different readings of a kanji, ...
12
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3answers
615 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 ...
12
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3answers
471 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) ...
12
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4answers
714 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 ...
12
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2answers
340 views

What's the difference between 今日{きょう} and 本日{ほんじつ}?

I also see both in different examples. As in : 今日は暑い。 本日はおめでとうございます。 Both are translated as "Today", but when and how should I use either one? Can we say : 本日はあつい。 And 今日はおめでとうございます。?
12
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2answers
577 views

The differences between ~がたい、〜にくい、〜づらい

I was wondering what the differences are between these three: ~がたい、〜にくい、〜づらい They all seem to be some sort of variant of "Hard to do ~". But it seems they are used with different verbs and/or imply ...
12
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1answer
249 views

Is こら a lot more rude than ほら?

From early on, I've used こら and ほら somewhat interchangeably. They both mean "hey!" I picked them up from friends early on without without really having a sense of the difference. Now, after some ...
12
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1answer
449 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 ...
12
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1answer
706 views

ひらく / とじる vs. あける / しめる

The verbs ひらく and あける both mean to open, and とじる and しめる both mean to close. I understand that ひらく and とじる are antonym pairs, as are あける and しめる, but have never been clear on the difference between ...
12
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1answer
1k views

How to differentiate friend level in Japanese?

I am sometimes having difficulty differentiating friends level when explaining it to a Japanese. For example, when I am telling a story about a friend, I want to specify the level of friendship we ...
12
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1answer
233 views

Why did の disappear from 山手, but in 御茶ノ水 it's in katakana?

I realize that very likely the answer to this question is likely to be something along the lines of "that's just the way it is", but I thought it worth asking to see if there were some insights that ...
12
votes
1answer
235 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
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2answers
268 views

What is the difference between 日曜日【にちようび】and 日曜【にちよう】?

In all the japanese learning books, they teach you that xxxday ends with 曜日. But sometimes I get to see xxx曜 only without the "Day" Kanji. Can I shorten it when speaking too or is it only written ? ...
12
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2answers
438 views

Saying “to miss” (“I missed you over the weekend”)

What's the best way to say "to miss" in the sense of feeling a longing for something, or that something pleasant is missing? I understand there's [懐]{なつ}かしむ, but it seems to me that, like 懐かしい, is ...
12
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2answers
200 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 ...
12
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3answers
315 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 ...
12
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1answer
705 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
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4answers
435 views

To not have: 持っていません or ありません?

Whenever I go to the Life supermarket near my house, they ask me at the check out: ライフカードを持っていますか? (Do you have a Life [members] card?) I always respond with something like: いいえ、持っていません。 ...
12
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2answers
352 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 ...
12
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1answer
1k 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 ...
12
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1answer
238 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.
12
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1answer
555 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? ...
11
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3answers
380 views

What's the difference between 成人 and 大人?

What's the difference between 成人 and 大人 ?
11
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3answers
1k views

When women use わ at the end of a sentence, is it different from よ?

My understanding of using わ at the end of a sentence is that it's essentially just for emphasis, just like using よ, and that only women can use it. However, as far as I know, women can, and often do, ...
11
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3answers
559 views

不 and 非 and 無 and 未 usage difference/rule

Is there any rules that govern when to use 不 and 非 and 無 and 未 in regards to the meaning of "not" or "un-" for instance 非表示, 不満 
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3answers
276 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
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2answers
319 views

ほぼ and ほとんど: What's the difference and how do you use them?

What is the difference between ほぼ and ほとんど? They both mean almost, don't they? Can they both be used in both positive and negative?
11
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3answers
719 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 ...
11
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5answers
144 views

ユーザ or ユーザー, which is more in use or is there no difference?

ユーザ or ユーザー, which is more in use or is there no difference? I see both of them in use, but is there one that is more correct than the other or is at least the prevailing standard? a similar word is ...
11
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2answers
455 views

What exactly is 我, and how is it used?

I was taught that [私]{わた(く)し}, [僕]{ぼく}, and 俺{おれ} are the most common first-person pronouns. Recently, I stumbled upon the word [我]{われ}, which supposedly means the same thing. An online dictionary ...
11
votes
3answers
296 views

When is it appropriate to refer to yourself by これ?

I have occasionally heard and read instances, where a person has referred to themselves as これ. My Japanese dictionary also lists "Me, I." as a definition of これ. Now, this obviously isn't used as ...
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3answers
551 views

What is the difference between 「ほど」 {hodo} and 「ぐらい」 {gurai}?

As in the question title, what is the difference between the two sentences below? 一時間ほどかかります。 ichijikan hodo kakarimasu. 一時間ぐらいかかります。 ichijikan gurai kakarimasu. How do we choose to ...
11
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1answer
210 views

When would you use 新{あら}たな and 新{あたら}しい

To say new, the first way that I learned is to use the i-adjective 新しい. But I noticed that the na-adjective 新たな is used a lot in written texts. Is there any difference in when either is used?
11
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2answers
526 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?
11
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4answers
383 views

Usage of お[冷]{ひや} & お水

I just went out for lunch with a friend and when the waiter asked what we want to drink, I ordered 'お[水]{みず}下さい' whereas I noticed my friend asked for 'お[冷]{ひや}下さい'. Which expression would be more ...
11
votes
1answer
270 views

What's the (real) difference between 飲む and 食べる?

When I first started learning Japanese, I learned that 飲む meant "drink" and 食べる meant "eat". These translations seemed to work for a while, but then I learned that you could 飲む things that you can't ...
11
votes
3answers
414 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
604 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 ...