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

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4
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1answer
105 views

When is 着ける used in context of clothes? (eg in comparison to 着る, する、履く)

I recently read that: 着る(きる)is used for the wearing clothes for either the upper half of the body (eg 上着)or the whole body in general. 履く(はく)is used for bottom half (eg shoes, socks, ...
11
votes
2answers
425 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
283 views

When to read “その後” as “そのご”, “そのあと” or “そののち”?

I've recently been seeing あと as well as ご as Furigana on top of 後 in その後, but is there a difference in usage or meaning between the different readings? Looking at the Yahoo thesaurus, it seems it can ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

The many ways to say “and” in Japanese

In English, we just have one word for the conjunction and which works just fine for many categories, but in Japanese, there are separate words: と joins nouns together in a closed list や joins nouns ...
6
votes
2answers
312 views

Difference between verb types (verbal nouns, transitive & intransitive: eg 開始, 始める and 始まる)

All three of these words mean "to start", but what's the difference between them and where are they used?
5
votes
1answer
186 views

Spotting the N1 に N2 construction (eg パンにバター)

I have recently come to the conclusion that the N1 に N2 construction (eg パンにバター)is more common than I thought. It is the only explanation I think of to make gramatical sense of the sentences below. ...
6
votes
2answers
500 views

The difference between “follow” using についていく、「あと?」をつける、「あと?」をついていく

What is the difference between and how can we explain the grammar in the expressions for "follow" in the examples below? 子供が母親のあとをついていく

 (A child is following his/her mother) 母親の買い物についていく (go ...
11
votes
2answers
616 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?
6
votes
1answer
312 views

When are 止める, 停める and 留める read as とめる, やめる or とどめる?

When are 止める, 停める and 留める read as とめる or とどめる (and in the case of 止める, やめる)? I think 止めてください could be read as both やめてください and とめてください, which I think could maybe be translated as "cut it out" and ...
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
244 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
298 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
253 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
154 views

What is the difference between 恰好 and 格好?

Is there any difference between the words 格好 and 恰好? Can I actually call them different words, or is it that they are just the same word written differently? I've been told that they have exactly the ...
7
votes
2answers
223 views

Does くりかえし mean a single iteration or multiple ones?

For example, in this sentence: 彼は、失敗をものともせず、 何度もくりかえし 挑戦し続けた。 くりかえし is modified by 何度も, implicitly stating that the action was repeated multiple times. My question is that if the sentence was ...
7
votes
2answers
445 views

Which word to use for “butterfly”?

I am aware of these words that mean "butterfly": [蝶]{ちょう} 蝶々 (Is the alternate form of チョウチョ more common than 蝶々? Because 蝶々 would be チョウチョウ instead and it seems ウ is removed because of shortening) ...
7
votes
2answers
721 views

What is the difference between 彼氏が出来る and 彼氏を作る?

I often hear both of the following phrases: 彼氏が出来る 彼氏を作る Both of them seem to mean the same thing(?). Why is it that 作る is used in this way? I had previously thought 作る meant to "create" or ...
8
votes
1answer
140 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
265 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
512 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
444 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
202 views

What's the difference between 迷う and 紕う?

I was looking in a dictionary and both were listed as being defined as "to lose one's way, to hesitate, or to waver," but I don't understand why there are two different kanji for the word.
4
votes
1answer
171 views

Are the meanings of 煙 and 烟 identical?

I noticed that 煙 in the phrase 茶煙永日香{ちゃえんえいじつかんばし} sometimes appears as 烟. For example, here is a teapot with 茶煙永日香 and a scroll with 茶烟永日香. Is there a difference in meaning between 煙 and 烟? 煙 and 烟 ...
12
votes
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 ? ...
4
votes
2answers
101 views

Difference between こぼれる and あふれる

What is the difference between the two words こぼれる and あふれる? I think for こぼれる, the focus is on improper or bad containment leading to overflow/spillage. And for あふれる the focus is on the abundance of ...
12
votes
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。?
13
votes
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
165 views

Are the grammatical forms きっかけに and 契機に interchangeable?

One of my grammar books 日本語総まとめN2 文法 lists both of the grammar forms 「きっかけに」 and 「契機に」 in the same definition. However, in the example question a choice is given between them: その事件(a. の契機に b. ...
7
votes
1answer
143 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
1answer
257 views

Why is 口が軽い the opposite of 口が堅い?

Why is 口が軽い the opposite of 口が堅い ? It seems interesting to me why 軽い/堅い would be chosen for this phrase. As far as I know, most of the time phrases that are coupled with 軽い usually have the ...
7
votes
2answers
234 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: ...
2
votes
3answers
553 views

Is the difference between On and Kun readings greater than just the pronunciation of the character?

Here is my present state of understanding: A kanji's meaning is the same regardless of reading. A reading is a way of speaking the kanji out loud. Kun readings are always used when the kanji appears ...
2
votes
2answers
267 views

Is there a difference between these words for “hero”?

I've learned that hero could be translated as: ヒーロー えいゆう ゆうしゃ けっし Aside from ヒーロー (which seems just to be roumaji version of hero), is there any usage difference among them?
3
votes
2answers
193 views

What is the difference between 「余計に」and 「余分に」?

In my textbook 「日本語総まとめN2」, they list the two vocabulary words 「余計に」 and 「余分に」. I am almost unable to differentiate between their appropriate usage. Here are the example sentences from the book: ...
7
votes
1answer
136 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
139 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
149 views

What is the difference between キャリアウーマン, OL, and ビジネスウーマン

When I come across the titles キャリアウーマン, OL, and ビジネスウーマン, I seem to have a difficult time picturing what their position is or what they do. I'm wondering if anyone can elaborate on how they are ...
8
votes
1answer
315 views

What kind of a thing is a “やつ”?

I've been seeing やつ used for "thing" reasonably frequently in Manga/online etc, for example: ほとんどは本とか食玩とか細かいやつかな。 "It's virtually all stuff like books, those small toys sold with food and small ...
3
votes
4answers
413 views

How do I write “Hard Work and Smart Work”?

I want to write an essay, the title is "Difference between Hard Work and Smart Work". I am trying to search japanese words to express those Hard Work and Smart Work. I wrote "重労働とスマートな仕事の相違点".Would ...
14
votes
4answers
572 views

とっても versus とても

I've had a teacher flatly tell me that とっても is incorrect, but I do see it written here and there and I'm pretty sure I hear it as well. Is it just so informal relative to とても that I should never use ...
9
votes
1answer
364 views

Qualitative intensifiers e.g. とても, とっても, 超, etc. How are they different?

How are とても/とっても, でかい/でっかい, 超 (and others that I have yet to encounter) used differently? I figured that for とても/とっても-type difference is that the double-consonant(geminated) version is stronger i.e. a ...
7
votes
1answer
265 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
553 views

Using 伯母 / 叔母 to refer to one's aunt

Is it true that when we see 伯母 it usually (90%) means "parent's elder sister" and sometimes (10%) can be used to refer to the parent's younger sister? On the contrary, when we see 叔母 does it always ...
19
votes
2answers
478 views

What's the difference between “家” (ya), “屋” (ya), and “や” (ya) as used in the names of shops/stores/restaurants?

As a gyudon addict I have noticed that the names of the three major national restaurant chains all end in "ya" but they used two different characters: "吉野家" (Yoshinoya) "松屋" (Matsuya) "すき家" (Sukiya) ...
3
votes
1answer
200 views

Can ごとに be replaced by それぞれ in this question?

正月は家ごとに門松を立てる。 For example, could I say 正月はそれぞれの家に門松をたてる。 If so, the meaning remains the same, or are there any subtle nuances that comes with each word? It seems to me, whenever i see sentences ...
8
votes
1answer
423 views

How did the verb 掛ける come to have many meanings?

I think that this verb is the only one I've seen in Japanese that has so many definitions. とる and つく have multiple definitions as well (quite a bit IIRC). But not as much as 掛ける. In any case, I am ...
4
votes
1answer
97 views

What is 在り方 used for?

Consider the extracted original Japanese text from the translation attempt in "Why is 知りません the negative form of 知っています?" : これは「知る」という動詞の"意味特徴"と、私たちが「知る」に抱く"イメージ=認知の在り方"に原因があると考えるのが妥当だと思う。 Also ...
5
votes
1answer
157 views

How does adding なる make this phrase more “natural”?

Recently, I wanted to express the sentence "Maybe they'd make good pets." in Japanese. I initially tried to say it as such: [多分]{たぶん}いいペットでしょうね! I was then corrected by a native speaker, and he ...
7
votes
1answer
176 views

Can 一杯 be used to express the fullness of things without physical volumes?

According to an answer to this question, the word [一杯]{いっぱい} can be used to expess fullness; especially in relation to the capacity of whatever is containing the quantity. This, however, tends to ...
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 ...