使い分け. 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)

12
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
744 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
votes
1answer
418 views

Usage of イングランド, イギリス, and 英国

It has always been my understanding that the word for England is イギリス. But the wikipedia page for English-American says イングランド系アメリカ人. Even rikaichan has イングランド as England. Is there a difference in ...
12
votes
3answers
664 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
votes
3answers
885 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

When to use ~ので vs ~から

I was looking in A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar when I saw something on page 329 which truly shocked me: "node cannot be used and kara must be used [... when ...] the main clause is a ...
12
votes
2answers
921 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
2answers
1k 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?
12
votes
1answer
416 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
votes
3answers
673 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

What do you mean, “In Japanese there are no words for ”I’m suffering“”?

Today I noticed this article about eating disorders in Japan, which I got to via the News on Japan site. The first line jumps out at me. Supposedly, in an interview, a 25 year old Japanese woman ...
12
votes
2answers
626 views

Difference and nuance between することはない and する必要はない/する可能性はない

I understand the grammar point "Verb (Dictionary Form) + ことはない" can mean either "There is no need" or "There is no possibility" depending on context. However, what are the differences? Are there any ...
12
votes
2answers
629 views

“Should” in Japanese

The word "should" in English has these uses when not used as a question: To express the expectation of the speaker (Probabilistic reasoning). The train should arrive in 10 minutes. To express a ...
12
votes
1answer
329 views

What is the implication when a gruff old man ends a sentence with わ?

In this question, it seems to me it was clearly established that わ, at the end of a sentence, is decidedly feminine. There was talk of a kansai-ben わ with slightly different implications, but still ...
12
votes
4answers
665 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
votes
1answer
211 views

Can I always use 色々な or do I have to use 色々の sometimes?

On the web I can find many occurrences of both 色々な and 色々の. 色々な seems to be used more often though. Can I always use 色々な and get away with it, or is 色々の the only choice in some particular cases? If ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

When and to whom should I use the expression ご苦労様 (gokurousama)?

In what context and relationship wise to who can I safely say ご苦労様 (gokurousama)? I often defer to using otsukaresama since I'm not sure if I'm talking down to someone by saying gokurousama. Please ...
11
votes
3answers
2k 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
votes
7answers
404 views

IT system renewal: Can I say 更新 for “renewal”?

I am starting a new project and have to come up with a name for it so that everybody knows what we are talking about. The project is the renewal of an IT application that I will call エックスワイゼッド. ...
11
votes
3answers
491 views

What's the difference between 成人 and 大人?

What's the difference between 成人 and 大人 ?
11
votes
2answers
476 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
votes
3answers
1k 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
votes
3answers
325 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
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
799 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
350 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
359 views

Difference between Fire : 火【ひ】and 火事【かじ】?

Both of them mean fire. But what are the difference between the two ? For the sentence : There is a fire in my room. Can I use both of them ? And what about for the sentence : Fire is part of the 5 ...
11
votes
2answers
462 views

Does the letter “C” attract any superstition?

I've heard that the number four attracts superstition because of its similarity with the word for death. For example, yon is used instead of shi in some circumstances, and sometimes the number 4, ...
11
votes
1answer
515 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
2answers
499 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, ...
11
votes
3answers
991 views

What is the *proper* differentiation between 来る and 行く?

In many beginning Japanese classes, 来る【くる】 and 行く【いく】 are presented as "to come" and "to go," respectively. Dictionaries generally also define them this way. However, every once in a while in more ...
11
votes
4answers
896 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
3answers
337 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
353 views

What's the difference between 一応 and とりあえず?

What's the difference between 一応{いちおう} and とりあえず? While I think they can both mean "tentatively" or "for the time being", there seems to be a difference in their usage. How do the two translate ...
11
votes
2answers
284 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? ...
11
votes
1answer
410 views

Why did オレンジ replace 橙【だいだい】?

This question about colours got me thinking: Why, and how, did オレンジ come to replace 橙【だいだい】 to refer to the colour orange? It seems weird to me that a word taken from a foreign language became ...
11
votes
1answer
273 views

When to use 〜す verbs or their する verb counterparts

Consider the verb pairs 表【ひょう】する and 表【ひょう】す、or 訳【やく】する and 訳【やく】す。 I realize the distinction may be academic(for example, either way the ます form is always spelled 訳します), but what is the functional ...
11
votes
2answers
790 views

What is the difference between ちょっと and 少し?

Specifically for when they mean "a little". In what situations would they be used and are they completely interchangeable without any differences?
11
votes
1answer
574 views

How to use ~に同意する to agree or disagree with a person?

A couple of times I've tried to say "I agree with..." or "he agrees with..." but I don't know whether I'm using 同意{どうい}する correctly. In what ways should に同意{どうい}している be used? Also, which particles ...
11
votes
1answer
458 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
7answers
625 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 ...
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
4answers
4k views

What is the difference between tori vs. dori?

In Aikido, different dojos seem to latch on to using either dori or tori when describing grabbing attacks. For instance one dojo might say: Katate Dori Another would say: Katate Tori Each dojo ...
10
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
747 views

What is the difference between 記憶【きおく】 and 思【おも】い出【で】?

Is there any difference between the meanings or connotations of 記憶 and 思い出? I started thinking about this after listening to the song 「タイムマシーン」 or "Time Machine" by 少女時代, where these two lines occur ...
10
votes
2answers
868 views

do people actually respect the nuances of 探す vs 捜す?

Part 1 I understand 探す to be to search for something (general) and 捜す to be to search for something lost But do people actually care about the difference in nuance when they use it? I mean do ...
10
votes
2answers
208 views

住んでいたい and 住みたい

Can anyone tell me, what is the difference between 住んでいたい and 住みたい? Both seem to be valid words.... But I'm unsure which I should be using.
10
votes
3answers
314 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". ...
10
votes
2answers
692 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a difference between すみません (sumimasen) and すいません (suimasen?)

I'm at the proverbial izakaya and my friend tells me one is more polite. I think theyre the same. Who's right? When can I use one or the other?