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I was browsing through a vocabulary list when I noticed that both words can mean "to pinpoint" as in

彼らは今日の火事の原因を特定しようとしている。

Are they interchangeable in this context? Are there cases when one is better used than the other?

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I think 指摘する is not appropriate in this sentence. The reason is :

  • 指摘する usually means "point out" which is already remarkable. If you point out my spelling mistake, it is already obvious to you.
  • 特定する usually means "make it clear something unknown" or "specify something ambiguous" So, this verb is more appropriate to describe "they are trying to specify the cause of today's fire" since it is still unclear.

I hope 指摘する has this kind of explanation in your word list.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks for this! I got these two words from two different word lists, so unfortunately, I haven't seen any explanatory note regarding these two. – rebuuilt Jun 8 at 14:07

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