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Are 日々{ひび} and 毎日{まいにち} basically the same? I feel that 毎日 is a bit more formal but I don't see their difference other than this.

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    毎日 is a bit more formal ← To me, 日々 sounds a bit more formal than 毎日...
    – Chocolate
    Jan 17, 2017 at 15:18

3 Answers 3

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When you have a kun-reading and on-reading word pair that apparently share a basic meaning, you can be pretty sure that there will also be a difference of some sort between the two. The 日々{ひび}-毎日{まいにち} pair is no exception.

The types of differences differ from one word pair to the next, but I will not get into that this time because that would require a couple of pages of writing.

「毎日」 sounds sort of generic, practical and vernacular. It is the "safer" word choice of the two in that it is not a nuanced word at all. You can use 「毎日」 everyday (pun intended) and no one would think anything of it. Any three-year-old native speaker will use it freely, actively and correctly.

「日々」 is a far more nuanced word than 「毎日」. You will not find a three-year old who could form a good sentence using 「日々」.

「日々」 carries a more literary nuance of accumulating skills, knowledge, experience, etc. over time. It is altogether a heavier- and more poetic-sounding word than 「毎日」, which, in all honesty, sounds quite plain in comparison.

In conclusion, there certainly is a sizable amount of interchangeability between the two words on one level, but one could generally say that the more refined the speaker, the less often the two words would be used interchangeably.

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  • How much would you say 日々 overlaps with 日常?
    – istrasci
    Jan 18, 2017 at 18:10
  • nichijou means "everyday" not "every day"
    – frei
    Jan 19, 2017 at 6:48
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These words are close in meaning, but I think there is a difference.

If you say 「毎日」, it is strictly every day, and is mentioning each individual day.

Compared to that, 「日々」 sounds less strict and more continuous to me. So 「日々」 refers to the whole period longer than a day. It may refer to a few days, a few years or even whole life. Or it can be left not clarified.

For example:

毎日[勉強]{べんきょう}する。
The event of studying occurs every day.

日々勉強する。
Continue studying day by day.


[戦]{たたか}いの毎日を送る。
Spend every day fighting.

戦いの日々を送る。
Spend one's days fighting.


As for formality, I don't feel any difference in their formality, though it seems that 「日々」 occurs far less often than 「毎日」 in colloquial words.

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日々 can be used as [days]. As in Aさんの日々 which can mean [Mr.A's days (a period of life)]. 日々 tends to be used more in literature and title than in normal conversation.

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