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

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656 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 ...
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2answers
462 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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1answer
384 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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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? ...
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3answers
1k 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 ...
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4answers
197 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 ...
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3answers
178 views
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1answer
182 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. ...
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3answers
408 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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2answers
180 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 ...
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2answers
267 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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2answers
994 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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6answers
466 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 ...
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3answers
372 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 ...
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2answers
220 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?")
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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?
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1answer
242 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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2answers
518 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 ...
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3answers
205 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, ...
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1answer
187 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 ...
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2answers
201 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
295 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 ...
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2answers
641 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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1answer
230 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 ...
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1answer
182 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) ...
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2answers
202 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 ...
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1answer
208 views

What is the difference between 予想、期待、予期、思惑 for the meaning of “expectation”?

What is the difference between these 4 words for the definition of "expectation": 予想{よそう} 期待{きたい} 予期{よき} 思惑{おもわく} Specifically, which would you use for "managing customer expectations (for project ...
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1answer
116 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 ...
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1answer
141 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
256 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
258 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 ...
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1answer
246 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? ...
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1answer
161 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.
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1answer
161 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 ...
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1answer
221 views

“トムと話した” vs. “トムと話し合った”

This book (Chap. 29) says that for some verbs which can be unilateral or bilateral (like 相談する, 話す, 合う), The particle と implies that the verb is shared 50/50 between the two participants (bilateral), ...
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2answers
319 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 ...
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1answer
91 views

What is the difference between 一旦~ and ~が最後?

I was looking up ~が最後 and saw a comment that it was similar to 一旦~. However there was no further explanation, so now I'm wondering what the difference is? One of the examples of ~が最後 I was looking ...
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1answer
191 views

Difference between なり (meaning 'either.. or…') and か (meaning 'or')

I came across the construction ~なり~なり (meaning either... or...) on JGram and I saw this example: ジュースなりコーラなり、お好きなものをどうぞ juice.. cola.. have whatever you like That made me wonder what the ...
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1answer
146 views

Is 拝見いたしました an example of 二重敬語?

二重敬語 is presumably considered bad style (or simply incorrect). I hear/read 拝見いたしました all the time. Is it an example of 二重敬語? I understood 二重敬語 to be a little more complex than "used a polite form ...
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1answer
189 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. ...
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1answer
182 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 ...
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1answer
2k views

Passive vs. active form of verb (past) What is the difference?

I was wondering what the difference is if I use passive form or active form of a verb. For example: ネズミは猫に食べられた。The mouse was eaten by the cat. 猫は、ネズミを食べた。The cat ate the mouse. What EXACTLY is ...
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2answers
185 views

What's the best translation of アタリ in the context of drawing?

I'm reading through a book on how to draw in a classic Japanese manga style. Specifically, the book is about the basics of デッサン, "sketching". They use the term アタリ a lot. For example, this typical ...
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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 ...
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1answer
381 views

What's the difference in usage between に対して and にとって?

I often used に対して when speaking, and have noticed にとって as the favorite expression of the author who's book I'm now reading. What's the difference in usage? Are there any other similar expressions I ...
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1answer
197 views

Respectful way to say “policeman”

Let's say I want to call a policeman, or I am in a n-person conversation involving a policeman and I want a word to refer to the policeman. And let's say I want a respectful word. I believe おまわりさん ...
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2answers
162 views

Are ~つ and ~り the only two counters that can occur with the native Japanese numbers (ひと~, ふた~, etc)?

Please go easy on me if this seems too basic and obvious, I'm a beginner. I always had the impression that there were counters that went with the native Japanese numbers and counters that went with ...
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1answer
116 views

This usage of 方 confuses me

So there's a character in a manga that says this: 空想だけで何でもできちゃう奴を見ちまうと 何にもできねえ方がどんだけ平和だろうと思うぜ Now the 方 in the text has the furigana of ほう. So if I'm not mistaken that means ...
5
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2answers
249 views

What's the difference between [勝負]{しょうぶ} and [試合]{しあい}

I've seen both refered to as "match". Is there some secondary usage or perhaps a connotation or nuance that separates the two?
5
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1answer
637 views

Different ways to show intention to do something

How can one say "I am going to", express intention to do something in the future. I know some expressions such as: たいと思う -  I'm going to/ I want to ましょう - I will/ Why don't I ...