The following sentence is from "A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar":


"The answering machine is, on the one hand, very convienent for both a person who calls and a person who is called, but, on the other hand, unnatural because you can't talk directly with the other person"

Despite not being particularly familiar with the usage of かける/かかる in terms of giving/receive phone-calls, the confusing part of this, for me, is the furigana given for 方 in "かかる方" is "ほう". Perhaps I am not understanding the sentence well enough generally speaking, but shouldn't this read "かた"? As in "person who receives a phonecall"? Is it read ほう because it means something more akin to "the side which receives a call", is there really a difference between these two?

1 Answer 1


Sometimes it can be confusing as whether 方 should be read as かた or ほう. It is actually preferred to use Hiragana for ほう often to distinguish between the two. However, keep in mind かた is used in polite speech when referring to someone in respect. In your example, reading it as かた would be awkward because of this.

  • That's the stem of my confusion, as far as I was aware, 方 when meaning a person is always read かた, & in this example it seems to me that meaning is supposed to be "person". However it doesn't seem like it would be necessary to use 方 & looks awkward. To me 人 in the example sentence seems to be also correct? Perhaps I am wrong.
    – user1624
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 23:04
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    方 when read as ほう is a vague term used when you don't want to refer to anything specific, to mean "in that direction" or "on that side". ほう indirectly refers to a person in your example sentence. 人 could be used and is grammatically correct, however, I wouldn't consider it common usage (ほう would be more common in this situation). I should also mention ほう is more commonly used than かた.
    – Jesse Good
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 23:35
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    I think your comment provides the better answer to the question. In the example sentence, 方 refers coincidentally to a person, but actually means "on that side" or something similar. [方]{ほう} here has little to do with [方]{かた} and not just because [方]{かた} is polite. E.g. compare "お店に安いのと高いのと両方あったけど、高い[方]{ほう}を買っちゃった。"
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 4:48
  • @JesseGood: I disagree that ほう is more commonly used that かた. かた is not at all uncommon, and it's seen/heard/used all over the place.
    – istrasci
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 15:23
  • @istrasci: Yes, I guess it depends. For example, I don't expect people to use かた very often in casual speech, but maybe a woman in her 50's or 60's might use it often.
    – Jesse Good
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 20:32

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