What is the difference between 「答え{こたえ}」 and 「回答{かいとう}」 and 「正解{せいかい}」? They mean "the answer", but.. when each should be used?

  • 3
    Not sure of the distinction for the first two, but 正解 is the "correct answer", the solution. For example in quiz shows, the announcer would say "正解!" if their answer is correct.
    – comeauch
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 13:44
  • I believe dictionaries is a good place to start whenever you are wondering about the difference between words, e.g. 正解, 答え, 回答. Meta has a list of dictionary and dictionary sites Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 11:50
  • No dictionary will provide such simple and congregated answer. This answer will be handful not just for me, but all who are learning Japanese. Of course - I can compare by myself - but experts/native speakers can provide a better opinion. Maybe after 10 years I will provide more answers here too :) Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 12:15
  • @ErnestasGruodis Putting effort into looking for answers and asking a question here are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, putting effort into looking for answers first, and then incorporating what you have found from your research into your questions would lead to better questions and better answers. p/s: Dictionaries are written by experts/native speakers too. Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 13:01
  • Yes, I completely agree. But when I saw on Google 3 same translations of these 3 different words, I asked the question. Now I know more dictionaries available, so I'm trying to look there first. Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 14:26

2 Answers 2

  • 答{こた}え is a generic word that can mean answer, response or solution.
  • 回答{かいとう} is a response to being asked something. It is always elicited by someone else. (An unsolicted answer/solution to, say, a riddle would be either 解答{かいとう} or 答え.)
  • 正解{せいかい} means correct. Usually said in reponse to someone's 回答 (e.g., in a quiz).
  • 2
    Can you please elaborate on the difference between 「答え{こたえ}」 and 「回答{かいとう}」? I don't see how 'a response to being asked something' is a special case. Is that not the very definition of 'answer'?
    – user2740
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 11:17
  • 1
    @user2740 Was trying to differentiate with 解答. If someone addresses you directly with a question, your response to it would be your 回答. If, however, you found/heard an open question/problem somewhere (not necessarily specifically addressed to you), and you come up with the answer to it, that would be 解答. Of course, these scenarios can overlap though. In that case, I would recommend just using 回答 or 答え.
    – Will
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 22:06
  • 答え is more like "please answer, or respond"
  • 回答 is an area where you fill out your response
  • 正解 is like you said and implies "correct" answer.

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