I would like to know the difference in usage between these two godan and intransitive verbs :
When is one chosen over the other? Is 戦う more related to the war and 闘う to the fight?
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According to The Kodansha Kanji Usage Guide dictionary:
戦う has these meanings:
And 闘う is:
(struggle with) fight (against), contend with, strive against
The following examples are given:
敵と戦うfight one's enemy
議論を戦わす have a discussion
正正堂堂と戦おう Let's play the game fairly
闘い struggle, conflict
困難と闘う contend with difficulties
Sanseido’s Daijirin has this notice:
So it seems that 戦う is more suitable in military, sports or political contexts (win or lose against an opponent) and 闘う in the context of struggling with or overcoming difficulties.