So I know that a few words could be used interchangably. But I wasn't sure if I got the nuance(s) correct. So I have this sentence: 車はどこにありますか。 車庫のそばです。 And as far as I can see, I can change そば in this sentence and the meaning stays the same.

  • 車はどこにありますか。 車庫のそばです。
  • 車はどこにありますか。 車庫のよこです。
  • 車はどこにありますか。 車庫のところです。
  • 車はどこにありますか。 車庫のちかくです。
  • 車はどこにありますか。 車庫のとなりです。

Now the sentence with となり, I'm not sure of because a car is certainly nothing like a garage. However, car and a garage are car-related. Any fine details I overlooked?

  • 2
    I don't think all your five sentences have the same meaning. そば、よこ、となり can be similar but they are different from ところ and ちかく.
    – oldergod
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 4:41
  • となり (隣) means "next to". It is not と+なり, which, based on your question, seems like what you were thinking.
    – istrasci
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 6:18
  • @istrasci No, I meant となり (隣). Isn't 隣 used for objects which are alike? I am completely unfamiliar with と+なり. So I definitely wasn't thinking of that.
    – dotnetN00b
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 6:56
  • @dotnetN00b: I've never heard that usage for となり. I think you're either mistaken on it, or it's some slang I'm not familiar with. Here's a reference to what I thought you were talking about.
    – istrasci
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 15:11
  • You could also have 車庫のへんです, (maybe the kanji is 片, not sure) which I think is a common way to say located "around the garage".
    – wip
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 9:22

2 Answers 2


Your sentences (mostly) have the same general meaning of the car being near the garage, but the choice of word does have nuances that will determine the flavor of that nearness.

  • そば says specifically that it is next to, or beside, the garage.
  • よこ emphasizes that it is horizontally next to the garage, as its counterpart is たて. Basically using this can be alternately phrased as "not たて."
  • ところ is much more vague. You're saying the car is in the same place as the garage.
  • ちかく is like a half way point between そば and ところ in terms of distance with regard to an unspecified location. You're saying it's near the garage somewhere.
  • となり has a generally equivalent meaning of "neighboring" even here, and has an image similar to よこ and そば. As you know it's usually used with houses or the like.

So as you can see it's not exactly true that that they all have the same meaning. They all convey the same general idea, but nuances still have an effect. The more general a word is, like そば or ちかく, the less you will invoke potentially unexpected nuances.

  • So does 仲間言葉 mean "opposite"? Because Google Translate says it means "vernacular". I tried two other dictionaries and they don't have the word in their dictionaries.
    – dotnetN00b
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 10:17
  • oh sorry for throwing that jargon in there. It basically just means that they are related, like opposites or something.
    – ssb
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 14:49
  • 仲間言葉==> Officially my new favorite word. Also, for anyone (else) confused, it's been edited out and replaced with "counterpart". Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 20:13

My previous link about tonari was lost. So I'm going to post another link I found here as an answer for completeness.

Source: Japanese Words and Their Uses

Tonari is used especially when two objects of more or less the same category are in question. When two objects belong to two entirely different categories, tonari is not appropriate. Examples (1) and (2) are correct, but (3) and (4) sound very strange.

  1. Sakanaya wa nikuya no tonari desu.
  2. Uchi no tonari ni Amerikajin no kazoku ga sundeiru.
  3. Boku no uchi wa ooki na sakura no ki no tonari desu.
  4. Kadan no tonari ni inu ga neteiru.

In such cases, (3) and (4) should be replaced by [sugu] yoko ("by, at the side of").

In English, a person living next to you is a neighbor, but a person living several doors away is also a neighbor. In Japanese, however, only the former would be a tonari no hito, whereas the latter would be a kinjo no hito ("person in the neighborhood").

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