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I've been communicating back and forth with my host family in Japan.

We recently talked about a picture that I sent involving my backyard and my host mom used the kanji 庭(にわ) which means garden or yard.

My yard actually has a garden in it though. Is she talking about the yard as a whole or the garden in it? Is this an ambiguous case? How would I ask if she meant the garden explicitly or the yard as a whole?

EDIT 0: In the US, yard typically means the region in back of a house, whereas garden typically means a region for growing food.

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    You may want to clarify what's the difference in English first, because many non-native English users answer here (especially Japanese natives) and it seems tricky. In British English, yard and garden are pretty much the same. What does mean "My yard actually has a garden in it though" ? – Thomas Petit Apr 28 at 5:18
  • I think the primary difference in English is that yard is an enclosed space typically in the back of a house, whereas garden is a place (usually enclosed) region for growing vegetables. – Sarah Szabo Apr 28 at 18:17
  • @SarahSzabo Oh, so the word you need is 家庭菜園 :) Can I ask how do you call 花壇 in English? – naruto Apr 28 at 18:29
  • @naruto I would say that is a flower bed :) – Sarah Szabo Apr 29 at 1:03
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庭 refers to a (wide but usually enclosed) place adjacent to a house. Assuming your yard looks like this, 庭 refers to everything in this picture, including the brick-paved part.

enter image description here

Your "garden" may be 花壇, 家庭菜園, 庭園, ガーデン or 植木 in Japanese. It's possible to explain the difference in sentences, but perhaps it's best to see images, so please check the links.

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  • 花壇 is a “flower bed” in English, or sometimes a “flower box”. – Ragaroni Apr 28 at 18:53
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    I think a better definition of the American “yard” is an area near a house for growing mowed grass. If it’s in the back of a house, it is a “back yard”, if in the front of the house, it is a “front yard”. Neither need be enclosed, although backyards are typically more private and more likely to be enclosed. Yards can contain things other than just grass, for example gardens. Gardens cannot contain grass unless by accident. – Ragaroni Apr 28 at 18:55
  • @Ragaroni Thank you. In Japanese ガーデニング includes creating small flower beds near your house, too, but looks like "gardening" in English is a narrower term. As for "yard", Wikipedia says "A yard will typically consist mostly of lawn or play area". Interestingly, the image search results of "garden" and "家庭菜園" are very different, but I can see almost no difference between the image search results of "backyard" and "庭". – naruto Apr 29 at 1:26

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