There's a plethora of words in japanese that means "tell". For example: 言う、告げる、教える、伝える、聞く、you name it. Question is, which should I use when I just want a general "tell". For example: I want to tell you "Everything will be okay"

  • Think of all the different meanings of the English word tell. Which sense you intend will change which word you use when speaking a different language. What you describe as "a plethora of words in Japanese that mean 'tell'" is a manifestation of the different mapping of concepts between English and Japanese -- where those different English meanings that just happen to be expressed by the word "tell" are instead expressed using different terms. May 14, 2020 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


I want to tell you "Everything will be okay"

General case: 伝えたい
Acceptable, oral/casual: 言いたい
In case 'you' would not know in any chances: 教えたい
Inform: 告げる
In passive form: 聞かせてほしい

  • I want to tell you "Everything will be okay"。The "want" in this sentence is best represented by 伝えたい ということ? I really meant 聞かせる instead of 聞く. My bad
    – Newbie
    May 13, 2020 at 23:25
  • 聞かせる still doesn't fit because 'forcing' nuance of its word. 聞いてもらう is acceptable. The original sentence is (私はあなたがたに)「事態/状況は良くなる」と伝えたい Everything wouldn't fit すべてのこと in many cases.
    – user34216
    May 13, 2020 at 23:37
  • I take 聞かせて as "tell me", and hence the る form of the word 聞かせる would mean "tell you"(without forcing). 違うですか
    – Newbie
    May 14, 2020 at 0:05
  • @Newbie, in that case, the subject change. "I want to be taught from you." It's Okay to use, no forcing nuance.
    – user34216
    May 14, 2020 at 0:10
  • Soz, how did we get to 聞かせる meaning "I want to be taught from you". Do you mean "told" instead?
    – Newbie
    May 14, 2020 at 0:17

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