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So, when I typed “this school” in the Weblio search, it brought up these three terms: この学校, 本校, and 当校.

  • I know that この means “this”.
  • 学校 definitely means “school”.
  • 校 means “school”, but it seems to need a modifier most of the time.
  • 本 means “this”, “the same”, “present”, “in question”, “head”, “main”, “real”, and “regular”.
  • 当 means “this”, “the present”, and “the current”.

Let me try an example. I went to a school for a year before I dropped out. If I refer to it as “this school” after I dropped out, which term should I choose?

If I knew the difference, it would probably make it easier to pick one!

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I went to a school for a year before I dropped out. If I refer to it as “this school” after I dropped out, which term should I choose?

そういう場合には通常、「当校」「本校」は使いません。

「当校」「本校」は通常、学校関係者(学校を運営している人や、教員・事務員などとしてそこに勤めている人)が使います。

「同校」は、一度その学校を話題に挙げた後で、二度目以降に言及する際に繰り返しを避けて使います。少し硬い表現です。

学生・生徒が在学中の学校を言うときは「[我]{わ}が校」が使えます。これも少し硬い表現です。

卒業した学校なら「母校」を使います。

中途退学した学校を「母校」という人もいますが、あまり一般的ではないかもしれません。

どういう文脈で使いたいのかよくわかりませんが、「中退した学校」とか「XX高校に一年間通いました」とか「XX高校を中退して…」などと言った後で、もう一度その学校について述べるなら、学校名を繰り返して「XX高校」と言うか「その学校」などと言うとよいと思います。

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    This answer is amazing! If you don't mind, I would like to provide a translation of it in English. Please don't hesitate to point out any mistakes! Jun 24 '18 at 14:48
  • In such a case, you usually don’t use “当校” or “本校”. Jun 24 '18 at 14:49
  • School officials (people who work there as people who manage the school, teachers, officer workers and so on) usually use “当校” and “本校”. Jun 24 '18 at 14:49
  • After you have brought up that school as a topic of conversation once, you will avoid repetition in case you refer to it the second time and after, and use “同校”. It is a slightly formal expression. Jun 24 '18 at 14:50
  • When university students and schoolchildren talk about their school in the school, they use “我わが校”. This is also a slightly formal expression. Jun 24 '18 at 14:50
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As you analyzed, the three expressions have nearly the same meaning. Although it is not strict, I will use them properly for the following reasons.

(1) Whether it is "Yamato kotoba / wago" or "Kango".
(2) In case of kango, which is more commonly used, or whether there are many homonyms in a particular case. It is essential to pay attention to the number of homonyms, especially when used in conversation in order to avoid confusion.

So, when you are talking about school, since honkoh has fewer homonyms than tohkoh, in general [本校]{honkoh} is safely used in conversation.

As for Yamato kotoba / wago or Kango, I'll show you some useful infomation from here.

It says:

  • Yamato kotoba (大和言葉, literally "Japanese words") are native Japanese words, meaning those words in Japanese that have been inherited from Old Japanese, rather than being borrowed at some stage. They are also known as wago (和語). Together with kango (漢語) and gairaigo (外来語), they form one of the three main sources of Japanese words (there is also elaborate Japanese sound symbolism, of mimetic origin).

  • Very roughly, kango are generally more formal, often restricted to writing, while yamato kotoba are more casual and more often used in speech, but both types of words are commonly used in both speech and writing.

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