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Questions tagged [nuances]

ニュアンス. Subtle differences between two seemingly interchangeable expressions.

117
votes
9answers
19k views

What is the こと in sentences such as あなたのことが好きだ?

There were a lot of great answers here. I gave the checkmark to ento's answer because I felt it most completely explained all aspects of this use of こと. But many of the other answers are excellent, so ...
85
votes
10answers
8k views

How should I choose between [知]{し}る and わかる?

Both 知る and わかる get used for "know", "understand", "learn", "find out", and various other concepts. How do you know which to use when? Are there any rules to help you decide? Additionally, both of ...
49
votes
5answers
44k views

Usage of すみません (sumimasen) versus ごめんなさい (gomen'nasai)

There are several situations in which one of these words (phrases?) should be used but there's not usually a 1:1 mapping between any two languages. Get somebody's permission. English: "excuse me", "I ...
41
votes
5answers
7k views

i-adjectives used as na-adjectives: is there a difference? (e.g. 大きい versus 大きな)

There are at the very least several i-adjectives can be used as na-adjectives by dropping the final い and adding な in its place. The most common examples of this, as far as I am aware, are 大きい and 小さい,...
38
votes
3answers
8k views

What is the difference between -さ and -み suffixes to make a noun out of an adjective?

For example, both 悲しさ and 悲しみ are glossed as “sadness” in JMdict. What's the difference? According to A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, 〜み “is more emotive and concrete characterization of some ...
37
votes
4answers
23k views

What is the difference between 大事 (daiji) and 大切 (taisetsu)?

These are two words that seem like they are basically interchangeable at most levels, as they generally are. The difference between them appears to be small, but what is the difference, if one exists? ...
36
votes
1answer
7k views

What is the difference between いえ and うち?

I am trying to understand the difference between using いえ and うち. I originally drew the conclusion that うち is used for your own house and いえ for others' houses, but my Japanese teacher said that this ...
35
votes
7answers
4k views

What is the most natural way to refer to someone when you don't know their name and don't have a close relationship with them?

I wanted to mention to a female staff member in a shop that I visit every day that I had seen their photograph in the Shibuya shop. I was going to say: 渋谷店であなたの写真を見た。 ..but あなた seemed too intimate. ...
31
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the difference in nuance between 間違う and 間違える?

I've heard from a Japanese native speaker friend of mine that both 間違う and 間違える are correct usage, but he wasn't able to explain the difference in nuance between them. Is there a difference, and if so,...
30
votes
4answers
104k views

When is it appropriate to use お疲れ様 (otsukaresama)?

I know the general meaning of using お疲れ様です/でした to express gratitude for some work, but I'm a bit fuzzy about appropriate times to use it. I know it is a common saying when leaving for the day, and I'...
30
votes
3answers
8k views

What connotation does なんだ add?

Specifically, in the expression 好きなんだ (I love you) why not just say 好きだ or 好きです?
30
votes
1answer
6k views

ひらく / とじる vs. あける / しめる

The verbs ひらく and あける both mean to open, and とじる and しめる both mean to close. I understand that ひらく and とじる are antonym pairs, as are あける and しめる, but have never been clear on the difference between ...
29
votes
3answers
10k views

How can I differentiate between feet and legs?

Feet are 足, and legs are also 足. Is there a word or method with which I can easily talk about one and not the other? And if not, why is there no word for feet in the Japanese language? Caveat: I ...
29
votes
1answer
7k views

Must do : ~なければならない vs ~なくてはいけない

What are the differences when using ~なければならない and ~なくてはいけない, or their colloquial contracted forms ~なきゃ and ~なくちゃ when saying "must do"? For example, what is the difference in the nuance and usage of ...
28
votes
1answer
8k views

Japanese Buts: でも, しかし, ただ, ただし, ところが, が, けど, けれど, けれども

I'm sure someone asked a similar question but I did a search and couldn't find any. Usually I just translate everything into but, but (no pun intended) I think it's about time I got into the nitty ...
27
votes
2answers
6k views

The differences between ~がたい、〜にくい、〜づらい

I was wondering what the differences are between these three: ~がたい、〜にくい、〜づらい They all seem to be some sort of variant of "Hard to do ~". But it seems they are used with different verbs and/or imply ...
27
votes
2answers
4k views

Particle と with へ; ~へと

Consider ~へと in these cases: ~へと下がる : (of some quantity) to fall to ~ ~へと先送りされる : to be postponed to ~ ~へと旅立つ : to make a trip to ~ ~へと広がる : to spread to ~ へと seems to be equivalent to ...
27
votes
1answer
4k views

What are the differences between 〜ので and 〜から?

When I was studying this, my 先生 kind of brushed over the point, and then years later, I realize that they are different, but I don't know exactly how. The only thing I understand is that ので is more ...
25
votes
3answers
6k views

What's the difference between “家” (ya), “屋” (ya), and “や” (ya) as used in the names of shops/stores/restaurants?

As a gyudon addict I have noticed that the names of the three major national restaurant chains all end in "ya" but they used two different characters: "吉野家" (Yoshinoya) "松屋" (Matsuya) "すき家" (Sukiya) ...
25
votes
3answers
7k views

寝る vs. 眠る, what's the real difference?

What's the real, definite difference between [寝]{ね}る and [眠]{ねむ}る? I know they both mean "sleep", but also that each carries some additional (sometimes, figurative) meanings. Where do the meanings ...
22
votes
3answers
6k views

Love in the air: 愛x恋 {あい vs こい}

From WWWJDIC: 愛 【あい】 (n,n-suf) (See 愛する) love; affection; 恋 【こい】 (n) love; tender passion; My understanding on affection, love and tender passion is like the following: affection < love ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the difference between “verb+て+みる” and “verb+(よ)う+とする”?

In Japanese there are words which mean "to try something or attempt at doing something", e.g. 試す, 試みる and つとめる. However, at the same time we also have two grammatical constructions "verb+て+みる" and "...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

Confusion about “Seemingly not ~”

So there are several ways to express something is "seemingly not ~": ~なさそう ~そうにない ~そうもない ~そうにもない (is this one even real?) I was always taught ~なさそう in my Japanese classes, and it was ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

is there a difference between さみしい and さびしい?

Both mean "lonely" and appear to be valid readings for 寂しい. Is there a difference in nuance? Is this difference due to dialect?
21
votes
2answers
4k views

明日: あす & あした; Is there a difference in meaning and when each is used?

Is there a difference between these two words for "tomorrow" and when each is used? (and is it just coincidence that あした sounds like the past tense of あす?) We tend to be taught あした and then discover ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

How are 化け物, 妖怪, 幽霊, etc. related to each other?

In the past few years, reading light novels and the like, I have come across many different terms for ghosts, spirits, monsters, etc. in Japanese, and I'm wondering how they relate to each other. What ...
20
votes
4answers
1k views

How to “shoo away” a sales clerk?

When I go window shopping, the sales clerk would usually come near me asking what I like. How should I politely shoo them away? Can I simply say いいえ、けっこうです or something like 自分で見る I know I ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

<adv> versus <adv>+と versus <adv>+に

I often see adverbs used in one of three ways: 1) Adverb appears in isolation in a sentence: あまり 好きじゃないんですが。 2) Adverb is followed by に 別々に お願いします。 1970年代後半、多くの罪もない日本の一般市民が 次々に 失踪した。 3) ...
19
votes
2answers
7k views

What are the various ways to express 'or' and when are they appropriate?

I'd like to get an idea of when it is appropriate to use different expressions for expressing disjunction (of the inclusive AND exclusive variety). 「AとBとCの中で...」、「どちら」、and 「か] come to mind, but I ...
18
votes
4answers
8k views

What's the difference between せっかく and わざわざ?

せっかく and わざわざ seem to be pretty close in meaning/usage, but is there ever a time you would use one and not the other? Or is there a small nuance there? Just to give some example sentences: 「...
18
votes
1answer
4k views

What does どうした mean and how does it differ from 何をした?

I've never really understood how どうした works and hope someone can explain or point me towards further reading. For example, in my textbook, the following question is asked in relation to a short ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the difference between くる and やってくる?

Can someone explain the nuance between them? They both mean "come", but I'm unsure of when they are interchangeable. My perception is that やってくる seems to put more emphasis on the actual action of ...
18
votes
1answer
16k views

How to differentiate friend level in Japanese?

I am sometimes having difficulty differentiating friends level when explaining it to a Japanese. For example, when I am telling a story about a friend, I want to specify the level of friendship we ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

When the agent takes を in the causative form

I've seen a few sets of terminology when referring to the causative form, so for the basic case, I will use the following: instigator が agent に 〇〇 を v-させる。 In its most basic, text-book form, we have ...
17
votes
5answers
11k views

What is the correct usage of 承知しました, 了解です and かしこまりました, the more formal forms of 分かる?

At work, it is wrong to simply say 分かる to say that you understand something. In what situation should I opt to use one of the previously mentioned forms?
17
votes
3answers
861 views

What is the difference between 蔵, 倉, and 庫?

The word 【くら】 can be written with any of the kanji 蔵, 倉, or 庫. However, WWWJDIC lists them all under one entry, defined as: (n) warehouse; cellar; magazine; granary; godown; depository; treasury; ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

Terms for Royalty

Why are there so many terms for royalty? And I'm talking about generic words like "king", "queen", etc. I seem to remember from my studies that certain terminology was used specifically for Japanese ...
17
votes
4answers
4k views

“Seemingly cute” - かわいい + 〜そう

The 〜そう form means "seemingly 〜" and is usually conjecture made based on first-hand information. This usually means seeing something or hearing about something and making a conjecture, e.g., おいしそう ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

When describing time span, are 間 {あいだ} and 内 {うち} interchangeable?

Both 間 {あいだ} and 内 {うち} can be used to describe time span relative to specific situations, similar to "while" in English. But are they interchangeable all the time? Are there any scenarios where one ...
17
votes
2answers
580 views

住んでいたい and 住みたい

Can anyone tell me, what is the difference between 住んでいたい and 住みたい? Both seem to be valid words... But I'm unsure which I should be using.
17
votes
3answers
10k views

Why is 空【くう】, and not 無【む】, used to define “void”, “emptiness” in a buddhist context? What are their nuances?

Feel free to participate to the meta-discussion on whether this type of question (relying on buddhist terms) should be allowed on JLU. A while back, looking at a reproduction of some famous zen ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the difference in usage between 準備 用意 and 覚悟

The dictionaries translate these three words roughly as preparation/preparedness or ready/readiness. I don't think I undersand the subtleties of their usage. Not to mention できる also has another ...
17
votes
5answers
14k views

What is the meaning of のか and how does it differ from か?

What is the meaning of のか in the following sentences? Does it have the same meaning as のですか? 漢字はどう正しく書くのか、どう正しく読むのか、彼らは時々迷います。 参加するのか、参加しないのか、ここではっきり返事しなさい。 Also, I have found sentences of ...
17
votes
1answer
9k views

Differences between いよいよ / やっと / ようやく / ついに and とうとう

I've come across these words which can all mean "finally". What I'd like to know is how they differ in usage [nuance and formality]. Below are their respective entries in the 研究社 新和英大辞典 第5版. いよいよ 1 〔...
16
votes
3answers
4k views

Differences in usage between する and やる

On the surface, many Japanese-English dictionaries define both する and やる as "to do", with little extra context. Offhand, I know the following: やる and する are not interchangeable when it comes to する ...
16
votes
2answers
859 views

What is the difference between all the words for tools / devices?

There is too many words for 'tool' that I am having hard time figuring out when to use which, or if some of them are just synonyms, meaning essentially the same thing. So far I know at least the ...
16
votes
1answer
513 views

Is there a difference between に伴う and を伴う?

In a report I handed in earlier this week, my professor corrected my sentence to 日本において、金融政策の目的に関する考え方が時間を伴い、変わってきた。 from 「に伴い」. Is there a practical difference between the two? ALC shows a bunch ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Am I coming or going? 戻ってくる vs 戻っていく

A little while ago I was in a shop, and about 5 minutes after I left, they phoned me to tell me I had left my USB stick there. I said I would head back and pick it up. I used 戻{もど}って行{い}く to mean "I'...
16
votes
2answers
734 views

Nuances between the different kanji spellings of あける:明ける vs. 開ける vs. 空ける

開ける, 明ける and 空ける are all read as あける. From their kanji, it is obvious that 開ける has to do more with opening (a door etc), 明ける with dawning and 空ける with emptying... However, JMDict gives the exact ...
16
votes
2answers
373 views

“Te-form” versus “masu-stem + して” (消しているうちに versus 消ししているうちに)

Is there any difference between 消して and 消しして in the following sentences? For example, A: 手紙を書いては消し、書いては消ししているうちに、朝になってしまった。 B: 手紙を書いては消し、書いては消しているうちに、朝になってしまった。