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

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78
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9answers
7k views

What is the こと in sentences such as あなたのことが好きだ?

There were a lot of great answers here. I gave the checkmark to ento's answer because I felt it most completely explained all aspects of this use of こと. But many of the other answers are excellent, so ...
31
votes
3answers
5k views

Difference between -ていく and -てくる

Can someone explain the differences between v-ていく and v-てくる for me. I know that they both express some kind of ongoing action (like a place getting crowded). For example, what's the difference between ...
44
votes
4answers
8k views

Is じゃないです equally correct as じゃありません?

Text books normally teach that the negative of です is じゃありません. However it seems very common to hear native Japanese use じゃないです. Is this slang or somehow less correct than じゃありません? Would it be marked ...
21
votes
6answers
3k views

How should I select what first-person pronoun to use?

I've always had trouble choosing which first person pronoun to use - 私 (watashi), 僕 (boku), or 俺 (おれ). What kind of factors should I keep in mind when choosing between these? Is it common to vary one'...
57
votes
10answers
4k views

How should I choose between [知]{し}る and わかる?

Both 知る and わかる get used for "know", "understand", "learn", "find out", and various other concepts. How do you know which to use when? Are there any rules to help you decide? Additionally, both of ...
17
votes
6answers
13k views

Can somebody explain the various words and combinations thereof used for thanking?

To my knowledge there are three words which can be used in thanking and they seem to be usable together in some combinations: どうも (d­ōmo) どうもありがとう (dōmo arigatō) ありがとう (arigatō) ありがとうございます (arigatō ...
31
votes
4answers
16k views

How to choose between “よん” (yon) vs “し” (shi) for “四” (4) and “しち” (shichi) vs “なな” (nana) for “七” (7)?

Two numbers in Japanese have two pronunciation alternatives. 四 / 4 can be pronounced either "よん" (yon) or "し" (shi) 七 / 7 can be pronounced either "しち" (shichi) or "なな" (nana) I know that "し" (shi)...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Aren't がる and たがる the same thing?

In my JLPT practise book, it has two different entries, one to explain がる and one to explaining たがる. It offeres these example sentences to differentiate them: うちの子{こ}は新{あたら}しいものを見{み}ると、すぐほしがる。 ...
20
votes
3answers
9k views

The many ways to say “and” in Japanese

In English, we just have one word for the conjunction and which works just fine for many categories, but in Japanese, there are separate words: と joins nouns together in a closed list や joins nouns ...
22
votes
3answers
4k views

Contrasting っぽい、らしい、みたい

For example, the following 3: 女っぽい (おんなっぽい) 女らしい (おんならしい) 女みたい (おんなみたい) In what situations would you use っぽい over らしい? Does っぽい have negative connotations? Are 女らしい and 女みたい interchangeable as in ...
16
votes
2answers
4k views

けど at the end of the sentence?

According to dictionaries, 「けど」 means ‘but’, ‘although’, ‘however’. However, it seems to have slightly another meaning at the end of the sentence. For example, here are few example sentences with ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

When women use わ at the end of a sentence, is it different from よ?

My understanding of using わ at the end of a sentence is that it's essentially just for emphasis, just like using よ, and that only women can use it. However, as far as I know, women can, and often do, ...
18
votes
2answers
939 views

When writing for general public, is there a general guideline for selecting kanji?

After reading numerous publications, I've spotted a trend or custom on determining whether kanji is or is not used for certain words. The most obvious ones are: こと・事 …が実は犯人だったということがわかる。 (...
7
votes
1answer
324 views

How interchangeable are の/である/なる/たる when qualifying nouns?

So we know that we can qualify/equate two things with a の. 友達のジョン → My friend John 先生の山田さん → A/My teacher Ms. Yamada 勝利者の亀さん → The winner: the turtle (as opposed to the hare) It seems ...
5
votes
2answers
777 views

を vs が with use against 好き?

The difference between が and を with the potential form of a verb. and Is it true that all nouns must be able to accept a が particle and a を particle? are noted as possible duplicates; however, I haven'...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Which readings would you use to pronounce people's names?

I'm confused whether it is normally appropriate to use On-readings or Kun-readings when dealing with people's names; I'm fine when its just two character names; I just make a logical deduction in my ...
21
votes
1answer
4k views

Must do : ~なければならない vs ~なくてはいけない

What are the differences when using ~なければならない and ~なくてはいけない, or their colloquial contracted forms ~なきゃ and ~なくちゃ when saying "must do"? For example, what is the difference in the nuance and usage of ...
21
votes
6answers
3k views

What is the difference between 「はずがない」 and 「わけがない」?

I know the following two sentences give implication that "not expecting me to understand (it)" but I have a feeling that they give different nuances that I just can't put my finger on: それは分{わ}...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the difference between the kanji forms for わかる?

The verb わかる can be written using either 分かる, 判る, or 解る - what's the semantic difference between these forms, if any?
9
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
2k views

Are there words so bad that they aren't allowed on television?

Warning: We're all adults here, but just in case, this question may contain words, in both Japanese and English, that some may not like to read. A long time ago, when I was working with a translator, ...
15
votes
4answers
4k views

What's the difference between せっかく and わざわざ?

せっかく and わざわざ seem to be pretty close in meaning/usage, but is there ever a time you would use one and not the other? Or is there a small nuance there? Just to give some example sentences: 「...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

とっても versus とても

I've had a teacher flatly tell me that とっても is incorrect, but I do see it written here and there and I'm pretty sure I hear it as well. Is it just so informal relative to とても that I should never use ...
14
votes
2answers
536 views

Different conventions for animal meat

After reading this awesome question, I got to thinking about different animal meat. Upon researching a little, there seems to be different conventions in referring to different meats. Using 訓読み (...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

do people actually respect the nuances of 探す vs 捜す?

Part 1 I understand 探す to be to search for something (general) and 捜す to be to search for something lost But do people actually care about the difference in nuance when they use it? I mean do ...
14
votes
2answers
8k views

How to use へ (-e), に (-ni), まで (made) and の方 (no-hō) with destination and direction?

It is common to ask the difference between just "へ" (-e) and "に" (-ni) but it seems to get even more complicated when you also mix in "まで" (made) and even "の方" (no-hō). When Japanese people ask me ...
13
votes
2answers
891 views

Adjectives functioning both as イ- and ナ-adjective

This question has made me think about the class of adjectives, which can function both as イ- and as ナ-adjective, e.g. 大きい 大きな 小さい 小さな 真っ白い 真っ白な (etc.) 細かい 細かな 暖かい 暖かな 四角い 四角な (etc.) 柔らかい ...
9
votes
6answers
620 views

Shouldn't this phrase using だけのこと mean “just for that”?

In a grammar textbook I have, there is this phrase: 幸{さいわ}い日本{にほん}で日本語{にほんご}を勉強{べんきょう}して、かなり話{はな}せるようになりました。日本{にほん}に行{い}っただけのことはありました。 The translation given is: Fortunately, I studied ...
6
votes
1answer
374 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 -...
12
votes
1answer
487 views

Usage of イングランド, イギリス, and 英国

It has always been my understanding that the word for England is イギリス. But the wikipedia page for English-American says イングランド系アメリカ人. Even rikaichan has イングランド as England. Is there a difference in ...
33
votes
3answers
2k views

How indistinguishable is blue from green really?

青 ao seems to be used very much interchangeably for both blue and green. Why is that so, and how does 緑 midori play into this?
12
votes
2answers
5k views

When to use ~ので vs ~から

I was looking in A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar when I saw something on page 329 which truly shocked me: "node cannot be used and kara must be used [... when ...] the main clause is a ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the difference between に and で when speaking of time of an action?

What's the difference between に and で when speaking of the time of an action? I know に is very specific about time, but I'm not sure when, or how to use で. Can で only be used in certain instances? ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

明日: あす & あした; Is there a difference in meaning and when each is used?

Is there a difference between these two words for "tomorrow" and when each is used? (and is it just coincidence that あした sounds like the past tense of あす?) We tend to be taught あした and then discover ...
15
votes
2answers
324 views

What are the origins of ド when used as emphasis, and is it always negative?

Sometimes I've seen ド as a prefix that adds emphasis to words. So saying someone is ドバカ is saying that they are much more stupid than just バカ. I'm wondering what the origin of ド in this context is. ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Difference between [行く末]{ゆくすえ}, 将来{しょうらい} and 未来{みらい}

I've been looking around and I got that the three words can mean "future". Is there a way to differentiate them? Can they be used the same way?
14
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there an equivalent to George Carlin's “Seven Dirty Words” in Japanese?

Warning: This question contains words in both Japanese and English that some might not want to read. Also: My apologies that this question is lengthy. However, I wanted to take care to express it ...
10
votes
2answers
341 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
300 views

Difference between 「~のない~」 and 「~がない~」?

For example, plugging these into Google, I can find stuff like, 自信のない人 and 自信がない人. Or, 愛のない生活 and 愛がない生活. I found a movie called 顔のないスパイ. How is this any different from 顔がないスパイ? I've asked ...
12
votes
5answers
5k views

What is the difference between tori vs. dori?

In Aikido, different dojos seem to latch on to using either dori or tori when describing grabbing attacks. For instance one dojo might say: Katate Dori Another would say: Katate Tori Each dojo ...
12
votes
1answer
631 views

How to use ~に同意する to agree or disagree with a person?

A couple of times I've tried to say "I agree with..." or "he agrees with..." but I don't know whether I'm using 同意{どうい}する correctly. In what ways should に同意{どうい}している be used? Also, which particles ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Are 終{お}わる and 済{す}ませる synonyms?

I know that they both mean "finish". But I wonder if there are situations or contexts where you can use one but not the other.
16
votes
4answers
2k views

“Seemingly cute” - かわいい + 〜そう

The 〜そう form means "seemingly 〜" and is usually conjecture made based on first-hand information. This usually means seeing something or hearing about something and making a conjecture, e.g., おいしそう ...
16
votes
2answers
680 views

Why did の disappear from 山手, but in 御茶ノ水 it's in katakana?

I realize that very likely the answer to this question is likely to be something along the lines of "that's just the way it is", but I thought it worth asking to see if there were some insights that ...
6
votes
1answer
375 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?
4
votes
3answers
2k views

How to say “you may not [verb] here”?

たとえば、おすしを食べてもいいですか? is for "May I eat sushi?". However I know that ちょっと、食べなくてもいいです。Is not the right phrase because that means: "Well, you don't have to eat (that)." So what is the response for "[Sorry,...
38
votes
5answers
17k views

Usage of すみません (sumimasen) versus ごめんなさい (gomen'nasai)

There are several situations in which one of these words (phrases?) should be used but there's not usually a 1:1 mapping between any two languages. Get somebody's permission. English: "excuse me", "...
27
votes
4answers
5k views

Usage of たくさん vs. 多い

When do we use たくさん and when do we use 多い? I found both modifiers are used within similar sentences, for example: 人が多かったです 人がたくさんいました I had this impression that 多い is used with countable nouns ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

に vs で again: 前に vs 後で

Following the current trend of pitting the particles に and で against each other, here is another question that does the same but from another type of usage and perspective. When we want to say "do X ...
10
votes
2answers
8k views

Differences between くれます, もらいます and いただきます

I have been taught that they are used when receiving something (or a favor) from someone. But how exactly do they differ? I've searched the web for an answer and One site suggests that くれます is ...