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

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6
votes
1answer
317 views

which instruments use 弾く and which use 引く?

I was wondering how do we identify what instruments may be used with the verb 引く, or 弾く, or both? If both 引く and 弾く can be used is there any difference in nuance between one vs the other?
8
votes
1answer
291 views

Is it actually impolite to say ご苦労様 to a superior?

Conventional ビジネスマナー tells us that ご苦労様 is used by superiors to subordinates and お疲れ様 used by everyone, and this is backed up all over the internet and stated on some questions here, like this. But ...
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
775 views

How can I say “the leader(s) of the club” in Japanese

I would like to ask which one of the following two words could be used to express the word "leader" when I am talking about someone who is the head of a club or at least the member of its board; for ...
4
votes
1answer
296 views

Different meaning of 何?

While reading some lyrics online, I stumbled upon the following phrase: これ以上何を失えば 心は許されるの Which I could myself losely translate as following: If I lose what more (than I already have), will ...
9
votes
1answer
491 views

What's the difference between 思う and 考える?

These two words both seem to mean "to think", but is there any difference between them? Is it related to the difference between 言う and 話す by any chance?
2
votes
3answers
483 views

Is “anyone” 人はいます or 誰でも?

So I ran across this example sentence: 食べている人はいますか? And the translation was "Is anyone eating?" However I thought the sentence would be: 誰でもが食べていますか? Is this correct? Also is Xはいます = is any X? ...
6
votes
1answer
152 views

What's the difference between 向こう and 向こう側?

My textbook (An Introduction to Modern Japanese) introduced 向こう as meaning "the other side of" and 側{がわ} as meaning "side". On page 76 it states that 側 can be added to some, but not all, of these ...
5
votes
1answer
252 views

The difference between (な形容詞)さ and (な形容詞)性?

I'm in the middle of writing a paper in Japanese, and I can't quite figure out which is right. If I want to nominalize a な形容詞, should I affix さ or 性 at the end? I've been checking on search engines, ...
8
votes
1answer
196 views

島人{とうじん} vs 島民{とうみん}

I was looking for a word to say islander, i.e. someone that lives/was born in an island. I've come across 島人 and 島民 and asked two native speakers about their user meaning. While they both agreed that ...
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
859 views

How do you normally say calendar and date in Japanese?

If you were to say: I have to buy a new calendar next month. or Look at the calendar and see when X holiday is? or Have you seen the calendar?, would you use カレンダー or 暦{こよみ}? Is there a difference ...
5
votes
2answers
390 views

How to translate “from scratch”

I am having discussions with my Japanese friend about developing a new computer application. I want to suggest to him to not write the code from scratch but to use other libraries as our base. How can ...
13
votes
1answer
325 views

What's the (real) difference between 飲む and 食べる?

When I first started learning Japanese, I learned that 飲む meant "drink" and 食べる meant "eat". These translations seemed to work for a while, but then I learned that you could 飲む things that you can't ...
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
483 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?
8
votes
1answer
212 views

X is near or next to Y. Is my understanding of this correct?

So I know that a few words could be used interchangably. But I wasn't sure if I got the nuance(s) correct. So I have this sentence: 車はどこにありますか。 車庫のそばです。 And as far as I can see, I can change そば in ...
16
votes
3answers
653 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
997 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
306 views

Difference Between 修理 and 直す

Although both means repair, but I am not able to understand the differences between them. Is it that, when human efforts are involved in repair its called 直す and when it is being repaired by any other ...
1
vote
1answer
141 views

Do people say じゅういち or いちいち when saying 11?

I heard this sentence. 仕事はひまでしたが、うちでよるいちいちまでレポートを書いています。 I looked up いちいち and it could mean 11 or one-by-one or separately. I'm guessing this in sentence it's saying 11. However, I'm wondering if ...
7
votes
1answer
333 views

How to use いかがですか?

So I've read that いかがですか means "How about it?" and "How is it?". So if I wanted to say, "How's the coffee?" would it be コーヒーはどうですか? or  コーヒーはいかがですか? Also is there an "informal" way of saying いかがです?
4
votes
2answers
285 views

Difference between words that describe the idea of neighborhood/being close to something

Can somebody describe the difference between these words(physical distance and maybe politeness of these words, or any aspects that you think are important to understand these). Can all these words ...
4
votes
1answer
274 views

What's the difference between もともと and そもそも?

What's the difference between the usage and meaning of そもそも and もともと? They both seem to mean something like "from the start/to begin with/originally" in dictionaries, but I believe their usage ...
3
votes
1answer
344 views

What is the difference between mannenhitsu and pen?

I was studying on another website and ran across a blurb that said that a pen is also called mannenhitsu in Japan. Is there a difference between the two? If not, is mannenhitsu said sometimes, just as ...
3
votes
1answer
157 views

Difference between ともあれ and とかく

According to ALC ともあれ とかく they look pretty similar and express "anyway, anyhow". I came across the following excercise where you need to choose between those two: ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

the use of 園地(えんち)、庭(にわ)

I have problem with word use again:) there are these two words 園地 (enchi) and 庭 (niwa)。 as far as I know 'niwa' refers to a garden around the house right? What about 'enchi' does it refer to a house ...
6
votes
2answers
436 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 ...
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? ...
6
votes
1answer
125 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?
3
votes
2answers
148 views

まま + 放る{ほうる} used for emphasis or are they both needed?

A group of people are talking about the best way to get rid of a monster in their town and one of the villagers says this: 仕方{しかた}あるまい。このまま放って{ほうって}おけば村は[全滅]{ぜんめつ}するかもしれん…。 From what I understand, まま ...
9
votes
3answers
590 views

When to use “もっと” vs “より”

Giving examples if possible, what's the difference between e.g. もっと大きい and より大きい to mean "more (than)"/"bigger (than)"? In what situations would you use もっと over より and vice versa? For instance, why ...
4
votes
2answers
140 views

Can desire be expressed for entities that do not hold volition?

We can personify things. By using "want" with an inanimate object, it is personified: An object with inertia wants to maintain its state of motion. (Question) First, is it possible in Japanese ...
4
votes
3answers
802 views

Difference between 何の~ and どんな~

Consider the following: {どんな・[何]{なん}の}映画を見ましたか。 {どんな・何の}本を買いましたか。 What is the difference in the type of information requested by the two interrogatives? My hypothesis is that 何の is used to ...
1
vote
1answer
181 views

Is there a difference between ことがある and ものがある?

This has been split from this question.. So what are differences between two? Are there times where they can be interchangeable or can they only be used in certain situations? I saw this about ...
5
votes
1answer
204 views

What does うんたらかんたら mean?

I recently heard this phrase being told in a show, but I just couldn't make sense of what it means...And what really caught my attention was that the listener was really surprised to hear this phrase ...
3
votes
1answer
160 views

How to say “running total”?

I've looked around but haven't found a decent way to write "running total" like in the following table. A Running Total 1 1 2 3 1 4 5 9 3 12
13
votes
1answer
577 views

Difference between さよなら and さようなら

I just saw the word "goodbye" spelt as さよなら. Having clearly heard the long o sound before, I thought the word was misspelled. However, a quick online search shows both さよなら and さようなら being used. Is ...
3
votes
4answers
186 views

What is the difference between 楽しい and 面白い?

Google translates both of them to be interesting. And which can be used for a funny guy?
4
votes
3answers
322 views

What makes に基づいて instead of に応じて the correct choice for this question?

I'm working on some example questions from my grammar textbook. One of them I listed below:  税金はこの表(  )計算されています。  ア)につれて イ)に応じて ウ)に比べて エ)に基づいて I'm unsure why 「に基づいて」is the only correct ...
9
votes
4answers
453 views

What is the difference in usage between 準備 用意 and 覚悟

The dictionaries translate these three words roughly as preparation/preparedness or ready/readiness. I don't think I undersand the subtleties of their usage. Not to mention できる also has another ...
2
votes
1answer
112 views

Difference between 〜げ and 〜そう [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the difference between ~げ and ~そう What is the difference between 〜げ and 〜そう? Consider for example: 彼が、何か言いたげに近づいて来た。 彼が、何か言いたそうに近づいて来た。 Or are they ...
8
votes
1answer
596 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
215 views

Rust: 錆 vs 銹 vs 鏽 vs 鏥

In doing some looking around today I found four characters that all mean rust and are all read さび. Is there any distinction that can be made between these characters? 錆 銹 鏽 鏥
8
votes
2answers
1k views

How do these 3 ways of saying “It can't be helped” differ?

So I have heard: 仕方がない しょうがない 仕方あるまい And the translation I've seen for all 3 is: "It can't be helped." Is there a particular difference among the 3? Edit: Secondary question. Why isn't 仕方あるまい, ...
2
votes
2answers
148 views

How to say “To familiarise onself with”

I've been trying to figure out how to say something like: "I'd like to familiarise myself with XXX before the meeting so do you have any information that you can pass me before hand." (I.e. I have an ...
10
votes
7answers
375 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. ...
6
votes
2answers
444 views

How do you say “Please tell your wife to get well soon”?

How do you convey that you wish someone's wife (or husband, mother, brother, etc.) to get well soon? I understand that you say お大事に if the person you speaking to directly is the one who is not well. ...
4
votes
2answers
528 views

Reading 捻る: when is it ねじる or ひねる?

How can I tell whether 捻る is read as ひねる (P. ・ N.C.) or ねじる (P. ・ N.C.)? I assume the answer is "based on which verb is appropriate", so I've been trying to learn the difference between them. Based ...
2
votes
2answers
257 views

生け花をします does it mean to practice flower arranging?

In my Minna no Nihongo book (Chapter 12), it says that 生け花をします means to practice flower arrangement. If that is so, they how do you expressing, "flower arranging or arranging the flowers or doing ...