One of my Japanese senseis corrected my homework, and several times she drew a triangle next to the item she was correcting. Does this have a special meaning in Japan?

picture of triangle symbol 1

picture of triangle symbol 2


3 Answers 3


In Japan (or Japanese schools), it usually means "Not correct but not completely incorrect, either".

〇 = Correct

△ = In-between "I'll give you half a point!"

☓ = Incorrect

The three symbols are read, respectively, まる、さんかく and ばつ.

  • Is it always used for in-between correct/incorrect situations, or is it ever used for non-confrontationally saying "wrong"?
    – coburne
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 14:15
  • 19
    Hence Japanese Playstation games using Circle for Yes and X for no, unlike US/European games. That was the original intent behind the design of those symbols.
    – Almo
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 14:50
  • 3
    @coburne: In the role of a teacher, there is no need to avoid confronting a student with a mistake. I've usually seen △ to explain "You may see native speakers use this, but it's technically incorrect".
    – jkerian
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 5:25
  • What does it mean if the triangle is followed by a number? I have some technical documentation that is full of triangles followed by a number. Example: "When result attribute value is 98, this element is always empty. △2". Example: "Sets cash in information and cash out information after the normal finish of deposit transaction. △1".
    – dan-gph
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 6:24
  • To answer my question, the △ in the document I am looking at appears to refer to a document revision number, so it must be the Greek letter Delta, standing for "difference", and it has nothing to do with Japanese at all.
    – dan-gph
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 5:29

△ means " almost" or "close" in Japan. 惜しい、もう少しで正解 in Japanese.


Δ is the greek letter for delta. The upper-case letter Δ can be used to denote a change of any changeable quantity. This means the answer is WRONG and needs to be changed.


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