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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

5
votes
2answers
923 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
6answers
420 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
363 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
215 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
votes
2answers
111 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
2answers
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
198 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
122 views

Why does this text use both 下さい and ください in the same context?

After a trip to Japan, I got a slip stapled to my passport, the first bullet point of which reads: 活字体で記入して下さい。黒色又は青色のペンで記入してください。 "Please type or print clearly. Write by using black or blue ...
5
votes
1answer
181 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
votes
2answers
194 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
votes
1answer
282 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
472 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
2answers
611 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
218 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
votes
2answers
195 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
1answer
201 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
112 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
138 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
229 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
246 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
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? ...
5
votes
1answer
196 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
1answer
155 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
votes
1answer
159 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
220 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), ...
5
votes
1answer
156 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
311 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
votes
1answer
85 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
175 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
138 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
187 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. ...
5
votes
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 ...
5
votes
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
181 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
381 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
303 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?
5
votes
1answer
356 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
171 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
158 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
115 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
votes
2answers
240 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
votes
1answer
585 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
341 views

How do I accurately convey “enough to make a difference”?

I want to say "it's different enough to make a difference," but I'm struggling a bit to get there. Partly because the two uses of "different" in this sentence are doing two different jobs. The first ...
5
votes
2answers
161 views

How do you talk about things in parts?

I would like to say "It is written half in English and half in Japanese." When writing this myself I came up with: これは半分英語で半分日本語で書いていました。 but I think that 半分英語で半分日本語で does not sound ...
5
votes
2answers
277 views

What does 「つっぱしり」mean in this context?

I recently heard about a manga entitled つっぱしり元太郎, and I'm slightly confused about the meaning of the 「つっぱしり」 in its name. I've looked the word up in several dictionaries, but have gotten no results. ...
5
votes
1answer
335 views

Difference between 家内、嫁、妻、奥さん、かみさん and other words meaning wife

I have seen and heard all these words being used before all to mean wife, but what is the differences between them? I know some, such as 家内, can only be used for your own wife, but which are which? ...
5
votes
1answer
250 views

How to differentiate between references in past to mean “last time” or “earlier”

I asked my teacher how to say "last question", to which she responded by "前の質問【しつもん】". However somehow I feel, 前の質問 refers more like "question that was asked earlier". Can anyone please explain how I ...
5
votes
1answer
102 views

What is the difference between 包む(つつむ)and 包む(くるむ)?

The verbs つつむ and くるむ and both written 包む, and according to my English-to-Japanese dictionary both have the meaning "to wrap". くるむ is glossed "おおう", while つつむ is glossed "すっぽりと覆う", but I am having ...
5
votes
1answer
126 views

Readings of 漏斗:じょうご vs ろうと

Is there any difference in meaning between the words じょうご and ろうと, both meaning something like "funnel", both written with the kanji 漏斗? There's some indication in the answers here that ろうと may be a ...
5
votes
1answer
271 views

Difference between すべて and ぜんぶ [duplicate]

Title basically says it all. I think meanings are very close. Are they interchangeable? Are they appropriate for different contexts or situations? Can one be applied to animate objects and other ...