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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12
votes
7answers
731 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
777 views

Choosing the right prefix of the ko-so-a-do series

When talking to native speakers, I find that I'm often corrected for picking the wrong prefix when using words from the ko-so-a-do series (as in これ、そちら、あそこ、どんな、etc). My confusion mainly involves ...
24
votes
3answers
830 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
155 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
295 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. ...
9
votes
2answers
335 views

What is the difference between all the weather words: 気象{きしょう}, 天気{てんき} and 天候{てんこう}?

Dictionary (at least Jisho and WWWJDIC) defines them as: 気象{きしょう} = weather, climate 天気{てんき} = weather, the elements 天候{てんこう} = weather They all have quite similar definitions, so I don't quite ...
8
votes
2answers
913 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?
4
votes
2answers
302 views

How do 行く and 来る *really* work?

We have a question on this site, What is the proper differentiation between 来る and 行く?, which does seem to correctly explain the basic general differentiation between 行く and 来る, which is that it is ...
17
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
319 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
374 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
1k 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{いち}時{じ}間{かん}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 ...
12
votes
4answers
4k 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
4answers
4k 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
4answers
289 views

What is the difference between お手洗い and トイレ

Is one more polite than the other? Is there some situations where you'd use one or the other? Would different people prefer one?
9
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
92 views

How to tell whether a building is マンション or アパート

Given a building, how to classify it as マンション or アパート? Non-subjective set of criteria preferred. In particular, if there is any legal definition of these terms that would be the best. I used to ...
6
votes
2answers
843 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
3answers
629 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
493 views

What is the origin and usage of the word いい?

According to Denshi Jisho, いい and よい share the same kanji, and that both roughly mean "good". Why are there two different pronunciations despite the similarity, and what are some ways to figure out ...
13
votes
3answers
725 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) ...
13
votes
1answer
323 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
3answers
7k views

How do you ask for “the bill” at a restaurant?

This is probably a bit of a silly question, but what do you say in Japanese when you're asking for the bill in a restaurant? Or is it unusual to say anything at all? When I was in Japan I could never ...
11
votes
1answer
645 views

What's the difference between ぜひ and きっと when inviting someone to do something?

You can say for example ぜひパーティーにいらしてね そのうちまた是非お出かけください 「今晩お伺いしてもいいですか」「ぜひどうぞ」 and きっと来てくださいね きっと訪ねて来てください I would translate both ぜひ and きっと in these sentences with "by all means", but I'm ...
11
votes
3answers
480 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
317 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? ...
10
votes
3answers
340 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
534 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
275 views

What is the sense of 気配がする (けはいがする) versus 気がする?

I'm (trying) to read a Japanese spy novel at the moment. It could just be the author's style, but I see lots of sentences end in 〜気配がする。 The more I read, the more I wonder - is there any difference ...
9
votes
2answers
320 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

よると or よれば? Which one is “according to”?

I read some of your post (very very helpful!) and I was wondering if you could write a post about the difference between よると and よれば. Which one is used to mean "according to"?
7
votes
1answer
760 views

Difference between 家内、嫁、妻、奥さん、かみさん and other words meaning wife

I have seen and heard all these words being used before all to mean wife, but what is the differences between them? I know some, such as 家内, can only be used for your own wife, but which are which? ...
5
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
445 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
1answer
763 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
320 views

What does the verb 好く do?

Observation: The verb 好く exists. 好く is transitive. By extension, "to like ~" is predicted to be: a. ~を好く。 However, empirical data shows that this pattern is the accepted form: b. ~が好きだ。 ...
5
votes
2answers
319 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
801 views

Blue blistering barnacles, what is Captain Haddock saying?

For those who might not be familiar with the series Tintin (soon to be in a major motion picture, by the way), there is a character named Captain Haddock who is famous for shouting out colourful ...
16
votes
3answers
14k views

What's the difference between “さけ” (sake) and “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, ...
14
votes
3answers
24k views

Using なるほど (naruhodo) and やっぱり (yappari) in the same situation

I know, since they are of different word classes, なるほど (naruhodo) and やっぱり (yappari) may not be used interchangeably within the same sentence, but can they be used within the same situation instead? ...
12
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
378 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
6answers
1k views

Is there a less formal way to say あなた?

My friend told me I sound too polite when I say あなた, but my book only uses that for second person pronoun. Are there multiple ways to say it and if so, which one is best to use with friends?
10
votes
3answers
340 views

What's the difference between 三角 and 三角形?

I just had this terrifying conversation: What is "triangle" in Japanese? me: 三角 right? Then what's 三角形? me: Uhh... triangle? I've confirmed both of these translate to "triangle". ...
9
votes
2answers
335 views

どうしますか vs 何をしますか

I always interpreted 何 as "what" and "どう" as more of a "How or How about?" and thus was under the impression that if one wanted to ask "What will you do?" or "What did you do?" you would say 何をしますか ...
9
votes
2answers
385 views

Why is it (usually) wrong to say 人がある but OK to say ある人?

I fear I may be venturing again into "just because" territory, but this one bugs me. We all know that you usually use いる (as in not ある) to refer to living things, as in 私は日本にいる(△ある). Yet it is ...
9
votes
3answers
634 views

When is the correct situation to use 案外 or 意外?

I think this is a question I should have asked a long time ago.. What is the difference between 案外 and 意外? What does the correct situation look like when using either? Example with 案外: ...
9
votes
1answer
190 views

Employed by one institution but work for another

I've worked my current job for a few years, and I can't believe I've never thought of this question. I have a unique employment situation. I am employed by a university, but the work I do is for the ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Difference between うーん and ううん

What is the difference between うーん and ううん? In a comment on Pronunciation of ううん, paullb said that he usually sees the negative interjection ううん written as うーん. This confused me, because I thought ...