Questions tagged [nuances]

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

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139 votes
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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 ...
Derek Schaab's user avatar
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108 votes
10 answers
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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 ...
Derek Schaab's user avatar
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57 votes
6 answers
13k 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,...
rintaun's user avatar
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53 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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52 votes
1 answer
28k 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 ...
atlantiza's user avatar
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48 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
rurouniwallace's user avatar
47 votes
4 answers
37k 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? ...
ssb's user avatar
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40 votes
3 answers
13k 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 ...
pingish's user avatar
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40 votes
3 answers
25k 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 ...
istrasci's user avatar
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38 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
Lukman's user avatar
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37 votes
3 answers
15k 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 ...
phirru's user avatar
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36 votes
2 answers
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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,...
bdonlan's user avatar
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35 votes
3 answers
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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 ?
Goku's user avatar
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1 answer
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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 ...
Lord of Gall 胆 Bladder's user avatar
34 votes
2 answers
10k 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 ...
Flaw's user avatar
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33 votes
4 answers
22k 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 ...
Kdansky's user avatar
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33 votes
7 answers
9k 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. ...
Stuart Woodward's user avatar
31 votes
2 answers
10k 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 "...
quantum231's user avatar
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30 votes
5 answers
44k views

Difference between そうです、 ようです and らしいです.

Here are the example sentences. デイビットは料理が上手そうです。 デイビットは料理が上手なようです。 デイビットは料理が上手らしいです。 Firstly, what does デイビット mean as based on reading alone its sounds like 'debit' to me which is a strange name ...
Mononoke's user avatar
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30 votes
4 answers
129k 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'...
Troyen's user avatar
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29 votes
3 answers
21k 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 < ...
Lukman's user avatar
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29 votes
3 answers
17k views

Differences between 勉強する、習う、学ぶ and 学習する?

What is the difference between 勉強する, 習う, 学ぶ, and 学習する? I've read some explanations in another question but it's still not clear enough to me how they are different.
Nhu's user avatar
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28 votes
2 answers
12k 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 ...
Tim's user avatar
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27 votes
2 answers
127k views

What is the difference between そして (soshite) and それから (sorekara)?

Can anyone explain what is the difference between そして and それから, and when to use which? Thanks.
Marilou's user avatar
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27 votes
1 answer
8k 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 ...
makdad's user avatar
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27 votes
3 answers
9k 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 understand the subtleties of their usage. Not to mention できる also has another ...
Brandon Tyrell Syms's user avatar
27 votes
1 answer
25k 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. ...
ポヨー's user avatar
  • 373
26 votes
3 answers
10k 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) ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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26 votes
2 answers
6k 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) ...
Zach's user avatar
  • 1,436
25 votes
5 answers
45k 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 the same ...
Misaka's user avatar
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25 votes
2 answers
5k 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 ...
istrasci's user avatar
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24 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
rintaun's user avatar
  • 7,599
24 votes
1 answer
5k 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?
pinguish's user avatar
  • 241
24 votes
3 answers
4k 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 ...
istrasci's user avatar
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23 votes
3 answers
6k 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 ...
Lukman's user avatar
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23 votes
3 answers
12k views

Five different verbs meaning "to close" with the same kanji (閉)

When using Google Translate for the verb "to close", among the many suggestions, there are five different verbs all with the same Kanji: 閉じる (tojiru) 閉ざす (tozasu) 閉める (shimeru) 閉まる (shimaru) 閉てる (...
Pedro A's user avatar
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23 votes
3 answers
12k 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 ...
Kaji's user avatar
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23 votes
1 answer
6k 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 ...
pyrmont's user avatar
  • 475
22 votes
1 answer
4k views

ねば in 食べねば; relation between ねば and なければ

I would like to know a bit more about the "ねば" grammatical construction. Every now and then, I hear people say sentences like 東京に行かねばならぬ 粘々丼を食べねば倒れる なんとかせねばいい It's quite clear that ねば ...
Axioplase's user avatar
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22 votes
3 answers
4k views

が and に interchangeability and difference in meaning

Consider these sentences: だれ{が・に}これが出来るか だれ{が・に}日本語が分からないか When both が and に are acceptable, what is their difference in meaning and practical usage?
Flaw's user avatar
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21 votes
4 answers
13k 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: 「...
cosmiccircus's user avatar
21 votes
3 answers
5k views

do people actually respect the nuances of 探す vs 捜す?

Part 1 I understand 探す to be to search for something (general) and 捜す to be to search for something lost But do people actually care about the difference in nuance when they use it? I mean do ...
Pacerier's user avatar
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21 votes
2 answers
8k views

What is the proper use of だろう, is it "masculine", and how is it different from と思 【おも】う?

Like a lot of other foreign guys, I picked up some of my Japanese from imitating the women I spoke to. Certain phrases may have made me sound unwittingly effeminate in the early days when I had less ...
Questioner's user avatar
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21 votes
2 answers
17k views

What is 〜からです and when is it used? How does it differ from 〜ですから and 〜んです?

I have seen this expression a few times, and have never quite understood it. In particular, it seems to be equatable both to ですから and to んです, but I can't figure out where it would be used over either ...
rurouniwallace's user avatar
21 votes
2 answers
8k views

What is the differences in nuances between とうとう and やっと?

What is the differences in nuances between とうとう and やっと? is it true that やっと has a more "happy" feeling attached to it?
Pacerier's user avatar
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20 votes
3 answers
2k 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; ...
rintaun's user avatar
  • 7,599
20 votes
4 answers
2k 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 ...
Nap's user avatar
  • 2,314
19 votes
3 answers
37k views

What's the difference between でしょうか and ですか at the end of a question?

I am having a little trouble understanding the nuance of でしょうか in comparison to ですか. People say it makes it more hesitant and polite, but that doesn't explain the nuance enough for me. Why would you ...
Nathan's user avatar
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19 votes
2 answers
5k views

What's the difference in usage and nuance between やはり and やっぱり?

I know that we say にっぽん instead of にほん when we want to inject a little national pride into the word, but I've never had a good understanding of the difference in meaning/nuance/usage between やはり and ...
Ali's user avatar
  • 632
19 votes
3 answers
5k views

What are the differences between 広める and 広げる and between 広まる and 広がる?

I find the difference between 「広める (他動詞) 広げる (他動詞)」 and between 「広まる (自動詞) 広がる (自動詞)」 to be complicated. Can someone explain?
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