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I am referring to specifically when they are used for the purposes of physically burning an object without the purpose of eating it afterword. For example, the two example sentences on goo:

  • 枯れ草を焼く
  • 失火で家を焼く

While I get results in Google exact search for these, when I replace 焼く with 燃やす, I get basically nothing. Is there a reason for this? Also, any explanation of nuances between these two for the purpose of literal burning would be apprecated.

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Practically 燃やす is used in much more limited contexts than 焼く as you can see in the definitions.

A thesaurus entry tells

1「燃やす」は、炎を上げさせることをいうのに対して、「焼く」は、火をつけて灰にすることをいう。

2「燃やす」は、「闘志を燃やす」のように、感情を高ぶらせる意にも用いる。

3「焼く」は、「炭を焼く」「パンを焼く」のように、加熱して作り上げる意や、「日光で肌を焼く」のように、日光に当てて変色させる意でも用いる。

3 indicates the meaning of 焼く is wider (cooking, burning things for later use, etc.) .

Regarding 2, usually 燃やす is used for passion. 焼く is used for やきもち(jealousy).

For the normal sense of burning, as 1 suggests, 燃やす is more to set sth on fire while 焼く means to burn sth to ashes.

For example, comparing 枯草を焼く/燃やす, 焼く implies setting fire to clear up some fields and 燃やす more literally means setting fire on brown grasses. On the other hand, in the context of 家を焼く, it is implied that the house is already burnt down and 燃やす does not fit (but if the house is on fire now, then it is 燃えている and using 焼く is not possible).

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  • Especially for cooking, パンを焼く means to bake bread, but パンを燃やす(?) would mean to burn the bread (e.g. turn it black), right?
    – rjh
    Jan 4 at 19:36
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    @rjh Yes. I think 燃やす would never be used for cooking. パンを焼く can mean baking or toasting. パンを燃やす sounds burning bread as trash. Another example: 焼肉 is the Korean BBQ. When the meat catches fire, we may say (half-jokingly) 肉が燃えた.
    – sundowner
    Jan 5 at 0:19

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