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

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8
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0answers
260 views

Thoughts about event frequencies and “often enough”

I'm having trouble expressing the concept of "not often enough". The most basic way to say "often" is よく, but I think there's a problem in putting qualifiers on this word. For instance, expressing ...
7
votes
8answers
842 views

The many ways to write {かっこいい}

Apparently there are so many ways to write {かっこいい}. Hiragana/katakana only: かっこいい カッコいい カッコイイ EDICT: 格好いい かっこ好い Other possible variants: 格好良い かっこ良い カッコ良い 格好好い 恰好いい ...
7
votes
4answers
622 views

What went wrong when I asked for a 衡器{こうき}?

I was in Bikku Camera earlier today, and I wanted to buy a small kitchen scale for measuring small amounts of food. I looked up the word "scale" in the dictionary, and it said 衡器{こうき}. So I found a ...
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
143 views

Is “先生 / せんせい / sensei” haughty or overly-formal

If I were to tell my Japanese friend that I plan to become a teacher, would I literally say that I will become a sensei? I have always thought of this as an honorific title, and it feels odd to call ...
7
votes
2answers
234 views

たたく versus ぶつ in a JLPT question

In my JLPT practise book, there is a section demonstrating the difference between なぐる, たたく, 打{う}つ, and ぶつ. If I understand them, they are all variants of "hit", with subtle nuances to differentiate ...
7
votes
2answers
553 views

What is the difference between 「はじめてのX」 {hajimete no X} and 「はじめのX」 {hajime no X}?

There is a song with title {hajimete no asa} and another song with title {hajime no hi}. There is also a manga title {hajimete no aku}, and not to forget the popular boxing manga {hajime no ippo}. So ...
7
votes
4answers
891 views

Have you tried XYZ before?

I English I can ask somebody if they've experienced or sampled a food or drink, or even an activity with this verb: Here try this and tell me if you like it. I tried koregusu once but I didn't like ...
7
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.) ...
7
votes
3answers
453 views

What is the difference between がる and ぎみ?

In one of my study flashcards, I have this sentence: 疲{つか}れぎみだけど生{い}きてます。 Which should translate to something like, "[He] appears worn out but [he's] still kicking." The main point is that in ...
7
votes
2answers
148 views

Dismissing an expectation

What can be said when I need to dismiss an expectation? Here are some examples of what I mean by "expectation": I ask someone what time it is, then I remembered that I'm actually wearing a watch. ...
7
votes
3answers
446 views

Why are these words considered less politically correct?

Warning: I have no sense of how offensive any of these words might be. They are repeated only insofar as they help me learn what not to say. Apologies for any accidental offense, and please do not ...
7
votes
2answers
357 views

Why is 領土{りょうど} more suitable than 領域{りょういき} in this JLPT practise question?

In my JLPT practise book, there is this question: その国王{こくおう}は戦{たたか}いに負{ま}け____の一部{いちぶ}を失{うしな}ってしまった。 Which I roughly translate as, "The kingdom lost a part of its __ in the battle." The ...
7
votes
2answers
549 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
145 views

What is the difference between 腰掛ける and 座る?

What is the difference between 腰掛ける and 座る?
7
votes
3answers
370 views

what does どことなくつかみどころがなくmean?

I came across this phrase in the sentence: 勘【かん】というものは、しょちゅう経験【けいけん】していながら、どことなくつかみどころがなく、いまの科学【かがく】ではまだその正体【しょうたい】が、明らか【あきらか】にされていない。(Soumatome N1 dokkai, p45) My best effort to translate it ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Is this a proper use of tara and toki for “when”?

Consider: 気がついたら皆さんは寝ていた。 気がついたとき皆さんは寝ていた。 My English interpretation: When I woke up (came to), everyone was sleeping. Is "when" enough to capture the nuances of the Japanese sentences? ...
7
votes
2answers
324 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
126 views

Usage of 腱 vs 筋

What is the difference between the following characters: 腱 vs 筋 (すじ) Both translate to tendon (as in the connective tissue between muscles and bones)
7
votes
1answer
378 views

must/need [必要]{ひつよう}がある vs. なくてはいけない and [必要]{ひつよう}だ vs. [要]{い}る

This is a two part question, both pertaining to expressions involving "必要". What is the difference between 必要がある and -なくてはいけない/ -なければならない? The difference between the latter two expressions is ...
7
votes
4answers
719 views

Are 終{お}わる and 済{す}ませる synonyms?

I know that they both mean "finish". But I wonder if there are situations or contexts where you can use one but not the other.
7
votes
2answers
228 views

What's the difference between 関{かん}する and 関{かか}わる?

This question is in my JLPT practise book: 親{おや}のしつけが子供{こども}の性格{せいかく}形成{けいせい}に____ことは言{い}うまでもない。 A 通{つう}じる B 通{とお}す C 関{かん}する D 関{かか}わる The book says the answer is D, but to me the ...
7
votes
1answer
138 views

Difference between various “calculation” words (演算, 算出, and 計算)

Is there a difference in usage between these words? 演算 (えんざん) 算出 (さんしゅつ) 計算 (けいさん)
7
votes
1answer
133 views

What is the difference in usage between [問]{と}い[合]{あ}わせ and [依]{い}[頼]{らい}

Both 問い合わせ and 依頼 can mean to ask, but my co-workers are using both words in the application we are working on as if they are two different words. I have a suspicion one is transitive and one is ...
7
votes
1answer
217 views

Difference between ごめんください and お邪魔します

On a recent question, 非回答者さん wrote the following comment: Tokyoites say ごめんください all the time when entering another person's home. I cannot even think of another phrase that could replace it. ...
7
votes
1answer
247 views

When to use 洗濯する and 洗う?

今日ふくを洗う。 今日ふくを洗濯する。 昨日食器を洗った。 昨日食器を洗濯した。 I know that 洗濯する means: washing or laundering (clothes). And 洗う just means washing. When I'm talking about washing in general can I use the two words ...
7
votes
1answer
169 views

What's the difference between 姿{すがた} and 形{かたち}?

Could someone explain the difference between 姿{すがた} and 形{かたち}? I've looked up both words, but I'm still not clear on what the distinction is, or how much overlap there is between the two. My mental ...
7
votes
3answers
524 views

Difference in nuance between 頂ければと思います, 頂けませんか, and 頂きたいんですけども

I've recently started using the expression 頂ければと思います, but I'm not 100% sure about its precise nuance. Is there any difference in nuance between 頂ければと思います 頂けませんか 頂きたいんですけども? To my non-native ear, ...
7
votes
1answer
157 views

When do you use 回答 and 応答?

I would like to know when do you use the word 回答{かいとう} versus the word 応答{おうとう}. Based on my understanding they 回答 is reply while 応答 is response. Although to reply would also mean to response, in ...
7
votes
3answers
352 views

difference between ~の折に and ~の時に

While studying for JLPT N2 I came across this expression の折に. It appears to be almost identical to の時に. My reference suggests that it's basically the same, but simply less polite. What I find ...
7
votes
2answers
390 views

What's the difference between “巻寿司” (makizushi), “海苔巻き” (norimaki), and “巻物” (makimono)?

It seems there are three words for the same Japanese food item, a kind of "sushi in a long roll": "巻寿司" (makizushi) "海苔巻き" (norimaki) "巻物" (makimono) Are they all identical / synonyms? Do they ...
7
votes
2answers
138 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
219 views

Word difference question - reply (返事 vs 返信)

A simple questions here on word usage. For reply I have always used 返事. Today however a friend mailed me and said 返信. This word is new to me. How does it differ?
7
votes
2answers
474 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
225 views

What's the difference between 下りる and 降りる

My current understanding is that 下りる means to go down, for example, 階段を下りる (Go down the stairs); while 降りる means to get off some form of transport, for example, 飛行機から降りる (Get off from the aeroplane). ...
7
votes
1answer
617 views

When trying to convey 'apparently', when do you use, だそう, and when do you use そう?

I have seen both だそう and そう written at the end of a sentence to convey "apparently". Do you use だそう when trying to convey "according to" (によると)?
7
votes
1answer
470 views

Why is this 理由 【りゆう】 given the furigana わけ?

It might be hard to read because of the image resolution, but on the cover of this book, on the bottom left side, it says: へんな日本語にも理由がある。 Which means something like: "Even strange Japanese ...
7
votes
2answers
534 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
719 views

Differences between いよいよ / やっと / ようやく / ついに and とうとう

I've come across these words which can all mean "finally". What I'd like to know is how they differ in usage [nuance and formality]. Below are their respective entries in the 研究社 新和英大辞典 第5版. いよいよ 1 ...
7
votes
3answers
588 views

In general/Generally: 概【がい】して, 一般【いっぱん】に, 全体【ぜんたい】に, 総【そう】じて, なべて, 一体{いったい}に, etc

When I look at them in the dictionary, they all mean the same thing. How to know which one to use? If I want to say: "Generally, I go to school by bus" or "Generally, people grow taller" or even ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

How to ask person to guess for something during conversation?

I was conversing with my Japanese colleague: Me: Do you know how much a melon costs in my home country? Colleague: I do not know. Me: Take a guess. I asked him how to say take a ...
7
votes
2answers
184 views

What's the difference between じき and すぐ?

すぐ, and especially 今すぐ, is my habitual way to express "soon", or "right after this". I know that じき means more or less the same thing, and when I hear it or see it written, I get the general meaning ...
7
votes
2answers
241 views

Which particle to use with 出会う {であう} : と, に or が?

From Google searches, I can see that all three particles と, に and が are used with 出会う, but are there differences when using each of the particles or are they interchangeable? For ease of explanation, ...
7
votes
2answers
340 views

Is “義理” the proper term in this case?

I have trained for 25 years with a local (European) Aikido master, but now I have to move, albeit temporarily, to another town, and I would like to give a gift to my teacher to represent the "debt" I ...
7
votes
1answer
334 views

Difference between the words for “feeling”

I have seen and been taught many words meaning "feeling", but what is the difference between the words, and where are they used? I have done a bit of research myself and have come up with these ...
7
votes
1answer
314 views

What's the difference between ちゃんと, きちんと, きっちり and ぴったり?

The four of ちゃんと, きちんと, きっちり and ぴったり all seem to mean something like "perfectly", "precisely" or "exactly", and there seems to be a lot of similarity between their definitions. Daijisen says that ...
7
votes
1answer
152 views

What may be the difference between the usage of 自尊心 ,誇りand 自慢?

I read a paragraph and the paragraph contains the word 自尊心. I want to know meaning of 自尊心. Dictionary says 自尊心 = pride. Is it same with 誇り? or 自慢? What may be the difference between the usage of ...
7
votes
2answers
462 views

The various ways of saying “all”

While trying to write a plugin to (unofficially fan-)translate this website to Japanese, I've been noticing that "all" has multiple different translations. What exactly is the difference between ...
7
votes
2answers
379 views

Earnest and serious: when should each be used?

I've noticed there's a lot of overlap between the following words meaning "earnest" or "serious" when talking about a person: まじ 真面目{まじめ} 真剣{しんけん} 本気{ほんき} 正気{しょうき}: (This word really means "sane" I ...
7
votes
1answer
268 views

How different is 冷やかす from 冷やす? And 散らかす from 散らす?

I've long known 冷やす as the transitive counterpart of 冷える. But thanks to one question here, I've realized that there is another version with an extra syllable in it: 冷やかす. Although 冷やかす seems to have ...