Does anyone have suggestions for a mnemonic or other memory device for the different verbs meaning "to wear" in 日本語?

かぶる (kaburu) - hat / headwear
着る (kiru) - Tops / jackets and all-over clothes
履く (haku) - Bottoms and shoes
かける (kakeru) - Glasses and sunglasses
つける (tsukeru) - Perfume / cologne

3 Answers 3

  • Headwear: kaburu sounds a bit like English "cover".
  • Tops: Traditionally, upper-torso coverings in Japan were robe-like, where the hems of the two sides "cut across". This helped me remember when I was studying, as "cut" in Japanese is the other kiru. :)
  • Bottoms and footwear: One of the other haku verbs in Japanese is 掃く "to sweep", a bit like the sweeping motion of pants as you pull them on. Alternatively, think about the verb hiku, "to pull", perhaps adding in the あ from the idea of "pulling on".
  • Glasses: You kakeru something when it catches on something else, like a lock catching on the doorframe to keep a door shut, or a wall hanging catching on the hook when you hang it up. Glasses similarly catch onto your ears.
  • Perfume: tsukeru can be thought of as sticking something into or onto something else. I find this one might be easier to remember if you think about dabbing scent with a finger, as opposed to using a spray bottle, since you physically stick the scent onto your body.
  • @istrasci - Thank you, knowing the literal definitions certainly makes the reason for, and remembering the words, much easier.
    – illmortem
    Jul 12, 2017 at 17:58

Some of the literal definitions of かける are "to hang", "suspend", or "hook". This should be easy to remember for glasses (easier, I think, than thinking of "catching").

  • FWIW, the initial /ka/ in "catch (onto)" and kakeru was how I remembered the various shades of meaning. Your point is a good one, and I'm certainly a fan of having more tools in the toolbox, so +1. :) Jul 12, 2017 at 16:59
  • @EiríkrÚtlendi: Agreed. And I wasn't meaning to speak negatively of your answer. Hope it wasn't received that way.
    – istrasci
    Jul 12, 2017 at 19:47
  • No worries, not at all! :) Jul 12, 2017 at 20:09

For those that know what a kimono and hakama (a kind of traditional lower-body garment) are, you can see how they match with kiru and haku to clarify those two verbs.

Just adding to the answer, it was great already (and the first search hit).

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