In my JLPT practise book, there is a section demonstrating the difference between なぐる, たたく, 打{う}つ, and ぶつ. If I understand them, they are all variants of "hit", with subtle nuances to differentiate them.

I have this example explaining the use of ぶつ:


And then I have this question:


A ぶたれ  B たたかれ  C 打{う}たれ  D なぐられ

I chose A, which means I fell unto the usual JLPT trap where they deliberately mislead with similar contexts. D'oh!

Still, in any case, I can't see why B is a better answer. In fact, the subtleties of difference make me unsure why any of them are not appropriate.

What makes B the right answer, and the rest wrong?

  • 6
    I don't think it's necessary to specify JLPT(N1) in your titles. In fact, it's potentially turning away viewers and additional responses from people who aren't at that level.
    – istrasci
    Nov 21, 2011 at 15:26
  • @istrasci: Okay, I can agree to that.
    – Questioner
    Nov 22, 2011 at 3:25

2 Answers 2

  • 尻をぶつ:

    Means to spank someone as punishment for something which has been done (in the first case because of naughtiness.)

  • 尻をたたく:

    Means to give someone a good hiding without those connotations (in that case because of laziness.)

  • 打つ:

    Doesn't work because ぶつ is used for people and 打つ for inanimate things.

  • 殴る:

    Doesn't work because it's more for violently hitting/continuous beating of someone with a stick/fist etc.

なまけ者 means "lazy person" and なかなか仕事をしない means "the (younger brother) stays lazy" in this context I believe, so the sentence would translate to "unless the lazy younger brother is given a good hiding, he stays lazy."

  • Means to give someone a **good hiding**. That seems a bit awkward. Is this UK English for spanking?
    – dotnetN00b
    Jul 22, 2012 at 16:18
  • @dotnetN00b Very late reply but yes, I believe it is. My parents used to threaten to give me a 'good 'idin' if I kept misbehaving (and never made good on these threats)
    – Angelos
    Aug 25, 2022 at 17:08

尻をたたく is an idiom, sort of like English "kick in the pants". Consider:

My lazy little brother never does any work until someone gives him a good kick in the pants.

You wouldn't interpret this as literal brutality, just forceful reminding/urging. Same goes for 尻をたたく, at least in this case, and you can tell because of context: it just seems really unlikely that modern-day training materials for a nice upper-middle-class test like JLPT(N1) would present stories of someone's brother getting literally beaten by unnamed third parties simply for being lazy.

I also think that when talking about someone else's butt in the context of literal butt-spanking (i.e. not using a set idiom like 尻をたたく) you would tend to use お尻, not just 尻.

  • Just wanted to mention that this was a very helpful answer. The only reason I marked @cypher's answer as the correct one instead was because the way he broke down the different meanings helped me more in the context of answering a JLPT question.
    – Questioner
    Nov 22, 2011 at 16:38
  • Great answer Matt. Your answer had a lot of aspects which I just didn't see and made me realize mistakes in my own answer.
    – cypher
    Nov 23, 2011 at 0:18
  • Thanks for the explanation, @DaveMG (no hard feelings, of course!), and comment, cypher. Glad I was able to help out.
    – Matt
    Nov 24, 2011 at 0:31

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