Both words mean condition. In what context do we use them? Is one for expressing the condition of living things and the other one for the non-living things?

  • 1
    Related? : Difference between the words for “feeling” You might be asking 体調{たいちょう} for living thing and 具合{ぐあい} for non-living thing? Sep 24 '19 at 14:25
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    ^ OP's asking about 調子vs具合, not 体調vs具合, no?
    – Chocolate
    Sep 25 '19 at 8:11
  • @Chocolate Yes I am asking about what you said
    – Zaks
    Sep 25 '19 at 12:11

They are very similar, but I feel the threshold between よい調子 and 悪い調子 is higher than that between よい具合 and 悪い具合.

  • 彼は調子が良い: He is at his best
  • 彼は調子が悪い: He is not in his best condition, if not ill
  • 彼は具合が悪い: He is sick
  • 機械の調子が悪い: The machine is working, but something is wrong
  • 機械の具合が悪い: The machine may be broken
  • 調子はどう?: How's it going? / How are you?
  • 具合はどう?: How is your health? / Are you feeling any better?

And there are several set phrases where you can use only one of the two, for example:

  • 調子がいいことを言う: to sweet-talk; say nice things
  • 調子にのる: to push one's luck
  • その日は具合が悪い: I'm busy that day; It's not a good day for me
  • If the threshold between よい調子 and 悪い調子 is higher than that between よい具合 and 悪い具合, does it mean that よい調子 is a better condition than よい具合 and 悪い調子 is a worse condition than 悪い具合?
    – jarmanso7
    Oct 10 '19 at 7:13
  • If so, it seems contradictory to me that in 機械の調子が悪い the machine is still working, while in 機械の具合が悪い it may be broken. Because working is definitely a better condition than broken. Could you explain it a little bit more, please? よろいくお願いします!
    – jarmanso7
    Oct 10 '19 at 7:16
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    @jarmanso7 No, "high threshold" means 悪い調子 may be used even if someone/something is just a little worse than "best". For example 調子が悪い is typically used to describe a poor-performing sport player who is not really sick.
    – naruto
    Oct 11 '19 at 16:52
  • Thank you very much, I understood it now.
    – jarmanso7
    Oct 11 '19 at 18:15

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