I looked it up in my monolingual dictionary and I got the following:


Which seems pretty straightforward, but then I got this:


As you can see it doesn’t give a real explanation on the difference in usage between the two.

I know the difference between 親 and 両親 however. The first just refers to (a) parent(s), while the second refers to both parents.

Is their a difference in nuance like 二親 putting stress on the fact that you have (to consider) both parents?

Dictionary app I used

1 Answer 1


There is a difference in actual usage.

「両親{りょうしん}」 is the generic word meaning "one's parents". In other words, it has no particular nuance to it.

「二親{ふたおや}」 is not a generic word as 「両親」 is. While 「二親」 can be used just like 「両親」 for the same meaning (though that is not a common usage at all), it is more often used in the context of a family with a single vs both parents to refer to one with both parents. A single parent is often referred to as 「片親{かたおや}」 and 「二親」 is used like the antonym of that word.

Unless you are approaching a truly native-level fluency, I do not think you will have a chance to use 「二親」 very actively. You could stick with 「両親」 until that day finally comes. It is just safer in general not to use nuanced words unless you are 100% sure you are using them properly.

  • So if you have to get something signed by both parents they will use 二親 and if they just ask for ‘any’ parent’s signature they’ll use 両親? I know and appreciate the concern about using words in the wrong context. I’m just trying to understand it. Thanks for your fast response btw. May 16, 2018 at 1:04
  • 1
    @Otsukisama if you have to get something signed by both parents ...の場合も「二親」は使わないですね・・ 「(ご)両親」とかでしょうね。。。if they just ask for ‘any’ parent’s signature ...の場合は「両親」じゃないですね・・「お父さまかお母さま」(学校なら「保護者」)とかですかね。。
    – chocolate
    May 16, 2018 at 1:43
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    @Otsukisama If you need to be explicit, just use 両方の親, 両親のどちらか一方, etc. 二親 is so rare that I have probably not used it in my entire life.
    – naruto
    May 16, 2018 at 4:07
  • Some kanji 二s in your answer are typed as katakana ニ, typo?
    – Sweeper
    May 16, 2018 at 7:05

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