I was looking for the verb しゃべる in the dictionary, as it got me curious since I've only known 話す for a while.

In the dictionary there are two example sentences which look the same, but the dictionary gives two different meanings:

  1. 彼女はよくしゃべる。
    She talks a lot.
  2. 彼はよくしゃべる。
    He talks well.

What? They look exactly the same to me, except the personal pronoun but why does the meaning changes? Is it a matter of "having both meanings" or what?

  • As answered previously, よく has two different meanings depending on the context here - for cases where you want to be less ambiguous for the first example, you could use "彼女は[頻繁]{ひんぱん}にしゃべる" for "She talks a lot/frequently".
    – cypher
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 2:44
  • 1
    What about いいです which means no thank you and that's good.
    – oldergod
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 4:00
  • 1
    A japanese guy asks why can "she's hot" have two meanings. WHAT ?
    – oldergod
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 23:24
  • I might just add though: 頻繁にしゃべる, while unambiguous, can sound a bit roundabout (as has been said at italki.com/entry/32190)
    – cypher
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 23:27
  • Why use different pronouns in the example sentences?
    – Questioner
    Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 3:10

2 Answers 2


Those are just two different definitions of よく.



  • この作文はとてもよく書けている → This composition is very good [well written].
  • 今日は大分気分がよくなりました → I feel much better today.
  • 事態は一向によくならない → The situation has not improved at all.

  • 彼はよく怒る → He often gets angry.
  • よくあるケースだ → It's the kind of thing that happens every day. / That's (fairly) common.
  • 僕が子供のとき,母はよく本を読んでくれた → When I was a child, my mother used to often read me books.
  • 近ごろこの辺りはよく放火がある → There have been many cases of arson around here recently.

Of course without any context, it's not possible to know exactly which meaning is implied. From your examples, I immediately jump to the "often" definition. If you wanted to avoid confusion for just the neutral statement, you would probably change the first example to use うまく or 上手に instead of よく. But if you're in the middle of a conversation, the context is going to likely afford you the correct definition.

  • For the dictionary translations, they pretty much just arbitrarily decided that one was going to be 'often' and the other was going to be 'well'. Either could be either in the right context. (and I default so quickly to the 'often' definition that outside of context the second one seems like a very odd translation to me.)
    – Sjiveru
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 15:59

Of course, context gives it away, but I think that "speaking well" and "talking a lot" would usually be distinguished as

彼はよくしゃべる。 He can talk well. = He is a good speaker.
彼はよくしゃべる。  He talks a lot.

Of course the first can also mean "He can talk a lot", but, at least for mem the second is almost unambiguous.

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