Let's say I'm explaning the meaning of a word in my mother tongue to a Japanese.

'Pomme' means apple in French.

I have three possibilities of translating this.




Are those sentence all correct, and what are the differences between them?


Your first sentence is correct and natural.


"Pomme means apple in French."

Of course you can also say:


(Basically, if you use ~~は, you'd end the sentence with 「[noun]+だ/です/である」.(「~とは」≂「というのは」). eg: ✕「空は青い。」 → 〇「空は青いものだ。」 〇「空は青い。」〇「空は青いものだ。」)

For your second sentence, it'd be natural to use には instead of とは, as in:


lit. "In Pomme, there is the meaning 'apple' in French." → "Pomme means apple in French."
(This could imply Pomme can mean (an)other thing(s) too.)

(We often omit the に and say 「~~~~っていう意味がある」 in casual speech.)

For the third, you can use the transitive suru-verb 「意味する」("to mean~~") if you want to use する:


"Pomme means apple in French."

This one sounds quite formal. To sound more casual you can say:


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Pomme means 'apple' in French. a = b


Pomme has the meaning of 'apple' in French (among other meanings). a = (b + α)


⇒ポムとは、フランス語でりんごっていう意味をする。(?) Pomme takes on the meaning of 'apple' in french. Pomme denotes (represents) apple in French. a = b ....... This would, however, likely be considered an unnatural-sounding sentence.

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  • 3
    「ポムとは、フランス語でりんごっていう意味をする。」 sounds strange and incorrect. – Chocolate Feb 22 '18 at 0:42
  • @Chocolate While not necessarily in common usage, I thought it was the closest thing (grammatically) to that example. Ex: 「ヒャゥルプ」はアイスランド語で「助ける」という意味をする言葉で、重要な役割を担いました。That's the only example I could find, so I will put it down as 'unused'. – BJCUAI Feb 22 '18 at 1:08
  • 2
    「~~という意味をする言葉で・・」って、変ですね・・。「~~という意味を持つ言葉で、」のほうがいいですよね。 – Chocolate Feb 22 '18 at 1:10

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