I have always used the word otona to signify adult. Recently, I have seen the word shakaijin. Is there a significant difference between the two words？ It seems like shakaijin is a member of society. Can I use both words interchangeably?
3It would seem strange to routinely use "member of society" in place of "adult" in English. I would guess the same applies to Japanese.– jkerianAug 5, 2019 at 19:32
1@jkerian, there must be a meaning or situation that I am not familiar with.– Jack BosmaAug 5, 2019 at 19:35
2That sounds like you're wondering about a particular use. In that case it might be best to post that example.– jkerianAug 6, 2019 at 0:33
- 大人 is "adult", someone who is mature enough. It typically refers to anyone over 18 or 20.
- 社会人 is someone who has started to work regularly. It's mainly used in business contexts. A 22-year old university student is usually not called a 社会人 yet. So 社会人 is somewhat closer to a (responsible) businessperson, although 社会人 also includes farmers, novelists and such.
See also: What's the difference between 成人 and 大人?