When I look at them in the dictionary, they all mean the same thing. How to know which one to use?

If I want to say: "Generally, I go to school by bus" or "Generally, people grow taller" or even "Generally, I like cats", which one should I use? Or can several of them be used for the same sentence?

Examples would be much appreciated.

Edit: Okay, some of the sentences I gave lack context. Here would be the entire sentence:

"Generally, people grow taller but some suffers from dwarfism"

"Generally, I like cats but this one is horrible"

  • Is that really なべて? Not すべて?
    – YOU
    Aug 6, 2012 at 4:52
  • 1
    Haha, actually I found both in the dictionary ... Seriously, there are too many "general" words ...
    – Kalzem
    Aug 6, 2012 at 4:56
  • 1
    How about 通常? That seems to fit your sentences.
    – Flaw
    Aug 6, 2012 at 5:30
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    If you add なべて, I'd add おしなべて too
    – user1016
    Aug 6, 2012 at 6:32
  • 2
    全般的に would be more common than 一体に, no?
    – user1016
    Aug 6, 2012 at 6:37

3 Answers 3

  • Ignoring the details or minor exceptions, as a tendency: 概して, 総じて, (おし)なべて

'Generally, Japanese are highly strung and Americans are coarse/sloppy.'

  • Generalizing: 一般に

'4 is expressed 2+2. In general, an even number that is four or greater can be expressed as the sum of two primes.'

  • As a whole, adding up: 全体(的)に

'There were quarters that we had deficit, but for this year as a whole, we gained profit.'

  • The hell, on earth: 一体に

'What in the hell do you have complaints about? You ass hole.'

  • This is really helpful ! Thank you :) (Can you add the translation for the sentences please ?)
    – Kalzem
    Aug 6, 2012 at 17:54

Aside from 一般{いっぱん}(的{てき})に I don't think I've seen any of those used, but I think I've fairly often seen 普通【ふつう】, 通常【つうじょう】 大体【だいたい】 and 大抵【たいてい】 used for "generally" (Japanese sentences from Tatoeba):

Mahjong is [generally/in general] a game played by 4 people.

My mother was in general extremely busy.

He generally goes to school by bus.

The weather is generally hot in July.

(Disclaimer: I'm not sure how correct/natural these are):

Most people grow taller, but there are also some who suffer from dwarfism.

Generally, I like cats but this one is horrible!

  1. To understand better what the difference is, you must look at the meaning of the kanjis…

  2. For your questions: I'd say

    • 普段は、バスで通学します -> meaning "usually"
    • 一般的に、人が成長します -> meaning "as a law/rule"
    • not meaningful to me, so I can't translate.
  • 1
    I still don't know what one would mean by the 2nd sentence...
    – user1016
    Aug 6, 2012 at 6:40

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