I’m having trouble figuring out how to translate “different.”

I know the words 違う and 違い but I don’t know how to incorporate those to mean “different” or if that would even be correct.


“The different colors are pretty.”



“No, they have a different dog.”

I’m thinking it would be 違う used in a relative clause like “No, they have a dog that differs” (a different dog) but I’m not sure.

  • 5
    Am I correct that "the different colors" means that you see a colorful scene in front of you? Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 14:30
  • 2
    Different in the context of 'different colours' means 'various', right? So how about 色々な色 just for maximum confusion :-) Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 21:18
  • both of you are right haha maybe i didn’t provide the best example ;) Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 21:19
  • Yep agree with @user3856370 that "different colours" could be interpreted as "various", "combination" etc. Your first sentence could be written as 「彩り(いろどり)がキレイですね」. Sometimes it takes a bit of lateral thinking!
    – user65218
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 8:31
  • 2
    「ううん、違う犬が持っている。」 <-- This means "The other dog / Another dog has (it)". "They have a different dog" would be 「違う犬 [飼]{か}っている」. You know「を」 is the object marker, right?
    – chocolate
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 12:48

4 Answers 4


別{べつ}(の) sounds like what you are looking for. It's a common word meaning "different", "distinct", "separate", and works well in a lot of situations.

別の道{みち}を探{さが}そう。 Let's look for a different path.

彼は酔{よ}っ払う{ぱらう}とまるで別人{べつじん}になる。 He turns into a completely different man when he's drunk.

それとも別の味{あじ}がいいの? Or would you prefer a different flavour?

違う is usable in that way, but rarer; it tends to convey the idea that a previous proposition was false, which is why it is so commonly used as standalone to mean "no" ("not quite").


Based on you example I think you mean to say:

ううん、違う犬がいる。 No, (they have) a different dog.

持つ does mean 'to have' as well as 'to hold'. However in terms of living things, ownership is better expressed with いる as in 'to exist'.

There are actually many ways to express difference/different/being different and depends on what you are trying to express.

Off the top of my head, two widely used ways to express 'different' would with 違う and in addition 変わる.

変わる ー be different (from)

If someone is confirming the type of dog, 違う would be appropriate.

彼らプードルがいる? Do they have a poodle?
ううん、違う犬がいる No, they have a different dog. (maybe a shiba-inu)

And for example, someone is asking what type of dog, 変わる can be used.

彼ら面白い犬がいる? Do they have a fun/interesting dog?
ううん、変わった犬がいる No, they have a different/weird dog.


I don't think a single word would work for you in both cases, as they're different contexts.

The different colors implies a variety of colors is what's pretty, not a color that's not the same as the current one.

They have a different dog isn't implying a variety of dogs, but a dog that isn't the same as the current one.

So, I think for the "different colors" where you're trying to emphasize variety, you want something along the lines of いろんな or 種々{しゅじゅ}の, so:


Or, just to be annoying:



All three of these mean something along the lines of "various colors are pretty" or "different colors are pretty," which is slightly different than saying "the variety of colors is pretty:"


For "a different dog," you'd probably want to use 別の over 違う as it sounds more natural to my (admittedly gaijin) ear:


As an aside, your use of 持ってる implies they're literally holding a dog in their hands, not that they have or are keeping (飼う) a dog as a pet.


As the point with the 1st example essentially seemed to be that it is the combination of the colors that makes it look nice, one way would be to say "この色の組み合わせはきれいです". (Ie "combination of colors").

The 2nd example could depend even on whether the question is about distinguishing between 2 dogs of same race, or 2 completely different [types of] dogs. (Maybe I my explanation isn't good, and it's not so black&white, but, the word "different" could mean either:

  1. "A different one" ("another", where "one" could be essentially identical to "the other one") I think [別]{べつ} works well in such case

  2. "A different kind of" (like when saying "this time it is different") I think [違]{ちが}う works well in this case

If answering a question like "Isn't that the poodle of Mr. X?" [and that not being the case] it could be "ちがいます、Xさんのはまた別の犬です" [could continue with e.g. "ほら、こっちのほうが大きいでしょう"].

If asking if they had this type / race of a dog [which was not the case] it could be "いいえ、むこうはちがう犬をかっています。" although maybe more naturally one would phrase it as "their dog is different" by saying "むこうの犬はちがいます。"


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