I am working on translating pick list items that appear in a piece of software from English to Japanese. There is a mix of verbs and nouns on the lists, ex: workplace, attack, wolf, assault, etc... For the nouns I think it's probably a direct conversion, but for the verbs should they be included in dictionary form, or some other form?

For example I was going to use 攻める for attack/assault, but would I use it just like that in a pick list/drop down list/combo box?

  • 3
    Are you sure "attack" is a verb here? You could use the noun for "attack", 攻撃. Maybe it would help if you gave more context for the list and/or the software itself.
    – istrasci
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 22:07
  • Even Pokémon uses こうげき, if I recall correctly.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 22:14
  • 3
    I don’t know your software, but a list containing a mix of verbs and nouns sounds like a confusing user interface, no matter whether it is in English or in Japanese. Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 23:52
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    But thinking about it, when I was a child, many adventure games contained a menu consisting of a mixture of nouns and verbs. For example, the battle menu in Dragon Quest III consisted of こうげき (noun/verb), じゅもん (noun), ぼうぎょ (noun/verb), どうぐ (noun), そうび (noun/verb), にげる (verb). Maybe it is not so confusing to have a mixture of verbs and nouns…. Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 1:18
  • 1
    @TsuyoshiIto My browser's Edit menu (in English) has a bunch of verbs at the top, but then a bunch of nouns at the bottom for services like a spelling submenu, text-to-speach, and so on. So while I think verbs are preferable, common programs aren't even consistent about it. Though, at least they separated nouns/verbs into separate sections.
    – Troyen
    Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 8:49

1 Answer 1


If you look at menus in programs such as Open Office, words such as "編集" for 'edit', "挿入" for 'insert', and "設定" for 'configure' (or rather, configuration) all are nouns, but can be made verbs by adding the verb "する" as in "記録する" for 'save' (file, etc.).

A case where you might use a dictionary form of a verb to describe the ACTION could be for 'open' (a file): "開く", but this seems to be more of an exception. Often, there will be a noun form as mentioned above with the example of 'attack/assault' being "攻撃" which again can become "攻撃する", but its meaning as an ACTION can be inferred from how the noun can be used in context.

As mentioned above by Ito-san, mixing verbs and nouns can be confusing in a sequence if there is no particular reason for it. Otherwise, you could describe the context of usage further...

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