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Are these words interchangeable? Just for example I have found some sentences but do not see any difference between these word in meaning or politeness:

彼女【かのじょ】はそのコンテストに参加【さんか】した。 She took part in the contest.

僕【ぼく】は会【かい】には出席【しゅっせき】します。 I will present myself at the meeting.

彼【かれ】はクラス会【かい】には必【かなら】ず出席【しゅっせき】する。
He makes a point of attending class meetings.

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    I think their differences are akin to "attend" versus "participate". You can attend something without participating in it. – Eric Mar 11 '15 at 14:58
  • is it only difference ? – kippix Mar 11 '15 at 15:01
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    I think so, but I can't say conclusively (hence why it's just a comment). – Eric Mar 11 '15 at 15:02
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    thanks. it definitely makes sence. but if you dont mind - i would like to wait for answer from someone who definitely knows the answer and would be so kind to type strict definition between these verbs. anyway, thanks again Eric! – kippix Mar 11 '15 at 15:09
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出席 means “to attend to something” whilst 参加 means “to (participate into/actively take part in) something”. For example you can attend (出席) a meeting, without saying your opinion (参加).

会議に出席はしても、意見は述べない

参加 instead is – like you described well in your example – for really taking part.

You could also take a look here: Link Global Solutions Inc., 2007年10月09日,【異文化知識・異文化交流】,「参加」と「出席」

It discusses the issue from a cultural point of view as well – in Japanese business meetings it was more common that the decision has been decided beforehand already, and that truly participating was thus often not necessary and not distinguished from attending as well as in English.

  • blutorange, thanks for all of your great edits! Besten Dank! – dinogeist Mar 11 '15 at 15:52

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