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

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2answers
1k views

Is it natural to call elderly men ojiisan?

Is ojiisan an idiomatic word choice for a chronologically gifted man, akin to obaasan for elderly women? For example, when giving your seat to them on the train.
6
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1answer
275 views

“Reason”: [事由]{じゆう} vs. [理由]{りゆう}

What's the difference between 事由 "jiyuu" and 理由 "riyuu"? Both are translated to mean "reason", as in why something happened. I even noticed in Tae Kim's Grammar Guide that both words are listed, and ...
6
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2answers
231 views

Expressing ethnicity that is different from nationality

How do you go about expressing ethnicity that is different from your nationality. I happen to be of British decent from Canada (now living in Japan): イギリス系のカナダ人です。 That's my best guess. Any ...
6
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1answer
250 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 ...
6
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1answer
151 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 ...
6
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1answer
253 views

What is the best word to use to mean “to take long-term a break (i.e. from school)”?

Just to add some context to this question: I graduated with a B.A. last June, and am currently taking a two-year break from education to work off some of the inordinate amount of debt I accumulated in ...
6
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1answer
134 views

Are the two kanjis 箇所 and 個所 interchange?

Our customer uses 箇所 but my manager uses 個所 when emailing project status. Are both kanji interchangeable? The context of usage in a sentence is: 一箇所変更しました。 A portion (of the code/software) ...
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1answer
180 views

How to use 乗{の}り出{だ}す

In my JLPT practise book, there is this question: 子供{こども}のけんかに親{おや}が_____きた。 A 乗{の}り越{こ}えて  B 乗{の}り切{き}って C 乗{の}り出{だ}して  D 踏{ふ}み込{こ}んで I chose D, because it seemed to me that the meaning of ...
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1answer
516 views

The meaning, usage and cultural significance of the word [苦]{く}[笑]{しょう}

I've looked in many dictionaries, but I can't fully grasp how the word [苦]{く}[笑]{しょう} is used. I've seen it in dictionaries as being a kind of "embarrassed laugh". It appears to be used to deprecate ...
6
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1answer
194 views

What makes using ある for people okay in this context?

Yep, I'm reading a lot of Tintin in Japanese recently, and he keeps throwing me curve balls with the language. Here's another one. The situation is that the car he was in has been run off the road ...
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1answer
119 views

Is answering with simple ない grammatically correct, when saying I physically don't possess some object

In Japan I often felt いいえ or 違う is not the best choice, when asked, if I don't carry something with me. Like at the airport security lady asked me, if I there were any forbidden objects in my luggage. ...
6
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1answer
201 views

Differences between それとも ・または・もしくは・あるいは

I've been trying to find out the difference between these four lately but whenever I look up any of them in a Japanese Dictionary, the only thing on the page is the other three options with no ...
6
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1answer
272 views

“くださいませんか” vs. “いただけませんか”

When I want to make 「それを見せて下さい。」 more formal, I always say 「それを見せて頂けませんか?」. But, I want to double-check this.    I never say 「それを見せて下さいませんか。」. While that seems perfectly fine, I don't think I've ...
6
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1answer
119 views

What is the difference between 家屋, 家 and 住居

I've found yet another word that's translated as 'home' which now makes it 3. Could you please tell me if these words have the same exact meaning or is there any difference between their usage?
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1answer
491 views

Usage of 目を覚ます and 目が覚める

What's the difference between 目を覚ます and 目が覚める? It seems both of them have the sense of literally waking up and also to wake up from some delusion. How are they different in usage? Perhaps because ...
6
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1answer
317 views

と言っても vs とは言え .

Hi all is it true that と言っても and とは言え is the same thing except that と言っても is for spoken clauses whereas と言いえ is for written clauses?
6
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1answer
159 views

Is there any difference between 大の好物 and 大好物?

This might seem like a ridiculous question, but I heard from a native that there is an emphasis when using 「大の好物」 instead of 「大好物」. Is this true? If this is so, why would 「大+の」 indicate more ...
6
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2answers
179 views

電話する or 電話をする to form the verb

I'd like to know if there is any difference between 電話する and 電話をする, if they mean the same, or if 電話をする doesn't even exist. I ask this because in an exercise in my book it says to use をする with 電話 to ...
5
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3answers
232 views

Why use 数年 in あれから10数年?

My question is on 「あれから10数年」. My understanding is that this translates to roughly, "It's been 10 years since then." The dictionary says「数年」 means "several years" or "a number of years". How does ...
5
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2answers
393 views

Which verb for “get off” / “leave” the Shuto Expressway?

I'm not sure which way to say something like exit/leave/depart/get off/escape is most appropriate when the thing I want to get off is the system of expressways in Tokyo called the Shuto 首都高. I'm not ...
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2answers
1k views

Is there a form for “I have never heard of”?

Some examples of what I'm trying to convey: I have never heard that song before. I have never heard of Miyazawa Kenji I have never heard of that before? I've never heard of that store? ...
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2answers
599 views

Can the qualifiers “very” and “too” be expressed unambiguously in Japanese?

I've noticed that some of my Japanese friends with fluent but imperfect English often say "too adjective" when a native English speaker would say just "very adjective". (I am asking about "too" in ...
5
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1answer
339 views

Terms for Royalty

Why are there so many terms for royalty? And I'm talking about generic words like "king", "queen", etc. I seem to remember from my studies that certain terminology was used specifically for Japanese ...
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3answers
175 views
5
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3answers
333 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 ...
5
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2answers
167 views

what's the difference between 領域 、範囲 and 分野?

Could anyone explain to me the difference between these 3 words, especially between 範囲 and 領域 ? For example, I have these 練習問題: a.分野  b.領域 c.範囲 ① 試験の……… は、17課までです。  ② 外の大学との交流が進んで研究の……… が広がった。 ③ ...
5
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2answers
248 views

How do I differentiate all these terms for “illiterate”?

I looked up the word "illiteracy", and was offered many different possibilities. Here they are, with my personal take on the nuance behind their origins: 活字{かつじ}離{ばな}れ ("removed from printing"?) ...
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3answers
222 views

How to say “all in all”

I have been many times blocked in a conversation because I have no way to translate "all in all" in those general contexts: All in all it takes 15 minutes to get there All in all this movie was ...
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6answers
382 views

What is the proper word for self-study?

So I know that jiko shoukai is self-introduction. And benkyou is study. So I took a guess and figured that self-study is jiko benkyou. The context of this is if someone asks "how did/do you study ...
5
votes
2answers
842 views

Can 野郎{やろう} really have that many meanings?

(Warning: potentially offensive words. Proceed at your own risk. Also, apologies for the length.) I realize this risks opening up the "does Japanese actually have swear words" debate, touched on ...
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2answers
100 views

what is the difference between [法度]{はっと} and [法律]{ほうりつ}?

To add a bit more to my question, I'm wondering if the words are used interchangeably, or if 法度 has more a sense of law that is set up to ban or prohibit something? Is 法度 a commonly used word?
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1answer
217 views

Is 「喧嘩」 a verbal fight or a physical fight?

Taking 2 sentences from WWWJDIC as examples: 見てごらん。2人の男の子がけんかしている。 議論は最後に喧嘩になった。 I was wondering is it true that the 「喧嘩」 in the sentences above may be interpreted both ways (i.e. it may ...
5
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3answers
187 views

得る vs ~られる potential form

Recently I learned of a new way to express potential form. Here's a few example sentences: 今回は予測し得ないことが起きたけど、皆、落ち着いていた。 自分の意見を自由に言えないなんて、普通の国ではあり得ない。 The second example I put for contrast, ...
5
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1answer
144 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"?
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2answers
174 views

Replying to お帰りなさいませ in a hotel setting

Recently I was in Japan and stayed at a certain hotel for a few days. I was surprised to see the level of customer service that I received. There were many cultural differences that surprised me, ...
5
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1answer
265 views

Method for deciding whether to use katakana or kanji version of the word?

I often see words in sentences written in カタカナ or 漢字 that could be swapped for a common word of the other form. I am aware that there are lots of カタカナ words that do have a 漢字 form, but where the 漢字 ...
5
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2answers
424 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
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2answers
357 views

Difference in word use: 父親 母親 両親 父母

I would like to ask about the following words: 父親【ちちおや】 and 母親【ははおや】. They refer to father and mother, right? But why do they exist? When do we use them instead of お父【とう】さん and お母【かあ】さん? I have a ...
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votes
2answers
568 views

“Dyke” and “Femme”

Warning! This question contains at least one, possibly, derogatory word. I appologise if readers are offended. A friend of mine asked me to translate a passage from a poem in British English into ...
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2answers
970 views

Wait… えらい means also means “terrible”?

For over a decade of speaking (poorly) and listening to Japanese, it seems to me that I have almost exclusively heard the word えらい in the sense of meaning "admirable". For example, I'd mention ...
5
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2answers
186 views

I've seen 達人and 名人used to indicate master or expert. What's the difference?

I'm not familiar with either word, but just looking at the characters, 達人 would seem to indicate 'accomplished' (ie an accomplished pianist). While 名人 seems more like 'renowned'. Is that a valid ...
5
votes
2answers
294 views

What is the difference between 照{て}れる and 照{て}れてる?

According to my dictionary, both 照{て}れる and 照{て}れてる mean to be shy, or be awkward. I don't think one is a different verb form of the other. The て+いる form of 照れる would be 照れている, not 照れてる. So I think ...
5
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1answer
134 views

What is the difference between 嫌{きら}う and 嫌{いや}がる?

What is the difference between 嫌{きら}う and 嫌{いや}がる? Are they interchangeable?
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2answers
199 views

Is it common to use 火を入れる when referring to a degree to which meat or any steak should be cooked?

I recently asked for a well done steak at a restaurant, while my friend asked for a medium rare. When waiter came back with two steaks, he used 「火をよく入れた方」 to let us know which one is well done. So ...
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1answer
226 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
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1answer
238 views

What is the difference between 組, 団, 班, and 群?

These four words all seem to mean "group," but what are the nuanced differences? When can a group be identified with one/some of these but not the others? How much overlap is there between them? ...
5
votes
1answer
187 views

What is the difference between using を and と with the verb 言う?

I apologize if this is a basic question, but it's something I've never been entirely clear on. When using the verb 言う (to say), I can never figure out whether to use the particle -と or the particle ...
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1answer
142 views

What's the difference between 売店 and 商店

Is 売店 more used for smaller stuff, like a stand? I'm finding it hard to pinpoint the exact difference.
5
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1answer
158 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
316 views

What's the difference between 腹切り and 切腹?

I need to add a body to submit my question, so I'll just say the Mortal Kombat seemed to believe that the term 腹切り (はらきり harakiri) was more appropriate for self slaughter (i.e., throwing a boomerang ...