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
387 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
votes
1answer
157 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
votes
1answer
190 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 ...
6
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1answer
221 views

で終わります: trying to close by? で帰ります, trying to leave by? It depends on the sentence?

I can say 売り場は九時で終わります、 and 三時で帰ります、 which I've learned mean something like, "They'll be trying to close from," and, "I'll be trying to leave from." I've also learned that 2月25日で帰ります is not correct. ...
6
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2answers
235 views

ゆく used in auxiliary sense - instead of いく?

I'm reading a novel 「キッチン」by 吉本ばなな at the moment and I noticed that she uses ゆく in some places as an auxiliary verb to signify the action progression from here or from now (if my understanding is ...
6
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1answer
443 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
136 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?
6
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1answer
571 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
205 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 ...
6
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1answer
340 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
164 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
votes
1answer
299 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 ...
6
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2answers
210 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
votes
3answers
349 views

Does 切った mean to “cut out” or “cut from”?

I was pretty sure that 切{き}った meant something was cut from something else. So ケーキから一人分{ひっとりぶん}を切{き}った would mean, "one piece was cut from the cake." However, I came across a usage which, at least at ...
5
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3answers
298 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
votes
3answers
235 views

How to say “rough year” or “rough time”?

I want to say "it was a rough year", but I'm not sure how to put it. I thought of "難しい年頃" which I understand means "difficult age", normally used to describe the rebel age of kids. How do people ...
5
votes
2answers
727 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
votes
2answers
508 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
455 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 ...
5
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2answers
2k 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? ...
5
votes
3answers
2k 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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4answers
228 views

What is the difference between 積もる 【つもる】 and 溜まる 【たまる】?

What is the difference between 積もる 【つもる】 and 溜まる 【たまる】? I've found the verbs used like this: 洗濯{せんたく}が溜まる{たまる}。 雪{ゆき}が深く{ふかく}積もる{つもる}。 In this context, are these verbs interchangeable? Can I say ...
5
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3answers
470 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 ...
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3answers
190 views
5
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1answer
192 views

Does 両目 have a special meaning or is it just a mistake?

Today I found this sentence on my Japanese textbook (みんなの日本語中級I - 本冊 pg. 70) And it didn't make any sense to me. 前から2両目の電車を降りたところで待っています。 I looked for 両目 on 電子辞書 and it says it means both eyes. ...
5
votes
2answers
190 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
289 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"?) ...
5
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
719 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
3answers
381 views

Translation of “に” into “natural” English

All of my Japanese teachers have told me that な-adjectives converted to に-ending words and い-adjectives converted to く-ending words, when followed by a verb, are 'adverbs'. However, sentences sound ...
5
votes
2answers
234 views

How do I ask about two different possible options?

Is this the correct way to ask which of two options is true? あの CD は トルコご の ですか えいご の ですか? ("Is that CD in Turkish or English?")
5
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2answers
112 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?
5
votes
1answer
161 views

Are 清酒{せいしゅ} and 日本酒{にほんしゅ} two words for the same thing?

As well as the several other kinds of Japanese alcoholic drinks I seem to have found two words which both mean the drink known in the west as "saké". Now I know 酒{さけ} can be used for many kinds of ...
5
votes
1answer
256 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
615 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
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
221 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
votes
1answer
213 views

類 in animal and plant names

It seems that there are a number of animal and plant names that can either be used with or without 類 as a suffix. For example, in case of 'fish' I have seen both 魚類 and 魚 being used to denote the ...
5
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2answers
215 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, ...
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1answer
475 views

What is the difference between [利用]{りよう}, [活用]{かつよう}, [使用]{しよう} and [用]{もち}いる?

I feel 活用 has some kind of feeling of "put to the use", as a politician would use his charm in a campaign. The other three seem confusing to me, however. What are the differences?
5
votes
1answer
311 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
votes
2answers
700 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
256 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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1answer
196 views

もっとも: distinguishing between 尤も and 最も

I found a page in Japanese with title "世界でもっとも汚染された10の都市". Having encountered the phrase 「もっとも」 for the first time, I looked it up on WWWJDIC and found two entries: 尤も 【もっとも】 (adj-na,adv,conj,n) ...
5
votes
2answers
188 views

How to describe something as hypocritical

I know that the word 偽善者 exists in Japanese and is listed in Japanese-English dictionaries as the translation of 'hypocrite'. But the kanji 偽善 and the definition make me wonder what the actual word ...
5
votes
1answer
118 views

Difference between 北辰 and 北極星

In Japanese, I found two common translations of the English word "north star/polaris". 北辰 北極星 Could someone tell me the difference between the two? I saw that 北辰 is used for the design on the ...
5
votes
1answer
152 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?
5
votes
2answers
329 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
302 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
votes
1answer
164 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 ...