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What's the difference between 実際 and 実態? apparently these are two different words, but looking at the entry for 実態 and 実際 i can't understand the difference.

実態: 実際の状態, 本当のありさま

isn't it the same as

実際: 物事のあるがままの状態

?

What is the difference between these two words and it's usage and nuances?

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Firstly, for the overlapping meaning of "real situation", 「[実態]{じったい}」 is used far more often than 「[実際]{じっさい}」. Importantly, this is just about the only meaning 「実態」 is used for.

e.g. 「ショービジネスの実態」、「[山口組]{やまぐちぐみ}の実態」, etc. (山口組 is the largest yakuza organization.)

Very few people would use 「実際」 to say those in reality.

Secondly, 「実際」 has another meaning that 「実態」 does not, which is "actual practice (as opposed to theory)".

e.g. 「[銀行業務]{ぎんこうぎょうむ}の実際を[学]{まな}ぶ」(to study the actual practice of bank business)

You cannot use 「実態」 to say the above for the same meaning. If you do, the meaning of the phrase will change to "to study the real situation of bank business". It sounds like you are still studying with books.

Lastly, while 「実態」 is generally used only as a noun, 「実際」 is frequently used adjectivally and adverbially by adding 「の」 and 「に」, respectively.

e.g. 「実際見てきなさい。」(Go see it in real life!) 「これが実際[手紙]{てがみ}です。」(This is the actual letter.)

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