Each time, when I need to translate the word "to describe" or "descrtiption", in sentences like:

"Describe the work position."


"The description of the company's present state of affairs."

I get confused. Till now I could not manage to find any better way of translating than using the word 説明する for verb or 説明【せつめい】 for a noun. Last time I also started to use 述べる【のべる】 for the meaning of the verb "to describe". But I am not sure, that it is that very right way...Even maybe being not the worst.

1 Answer 1


There is no single word that can cover all the meanings of "describe".

  • 説明する: To explain something (logically) using many words so that people can understand it.
  • 述べる: Mostly interchangeable with 説明する, but basically it just means "to state". You can say 事件を説明する but not 事件を述べる. Despite its appearance, this is a fairly stiff word, and 述べてください/述べろ would sound like as if I were taking an examination. Unless there is an example sentence and a context, I can't tell whether your use of 述べる is acceptable or not.
  • 表現する, 表す: To express something (aesthetically or figuratively) using a picture, poem, etc. (i.e., "this picture describes the man's internal ...")

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