Questions tagged [word-choice]

使い分け. The differences between two or more words or phrases and how to select the best one for a given situation.

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24
votes
5answers
16k views

What is the difference between 見える【みえる】/聞こえる【きこえる】 and 見られる【みられる】/聞ける【きける】?

In Japanese, there is a potential form to express that it's possible for something to be done. My own examples of potential form: 辛【から】い食【た】べ物【もの】が食【た】べられる。 (I can eat spicy foods.) ギターが弾【ひ】ける。 (I ...
24
votes
6answers
8k views

What is the difference between 「はずがない」 and 「わけがない」?

I know the following two sentences give implication that "not expecting me to understand (it)" but I have a feeling that they give different nuances that I just can't put my finger on: それは分{...
24
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
4k views

に vs で again: 前に vs 後で

Following the current trend of pitting the particles に and で against each other, here is another question that does the same but from another type of usage and perspective. When we want to say "do X ...
24
votes
2answers
100k 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.
23
votes
7answers
4k views

What is the real difference between the proper use of the words さむい and つめたい?

In English it seems that cold is just always cold just as warm and hot regardless of whether the word describes a person's experience or the actual physical state of an object. In Japanese however ...
23
votes
4answers
19k views

Difference between 気をつけて, お大事に and お元気で

What is the difference between 気{き}をつけて, お大事{だいじ}に and お元気{げんき}で. How and in which context(s) are they used?
23
votes
2answers
9k views

What is the difference between 様子、状況、状態、and 事情

I'm unsure of the difference between these four words. They all seem to indicate some type of "condition" or "circumstances". (1) Are they interchangeable? (2) What are some example sentences which ...
23
votes
1answer
2k views

Would it be odd to refer to English-style tea as お茶?

If I were drinking English-style black tea, made by first placing a teabag in the cup, adding sugar, pouring boiling water on to it, stirring, adding milk, and stirring again, and a friend asked me, 「...
23
votes
2answers
11k views

What's the difference between 今日{きょう} and 本日{ほんじつ}?

I also see both in different examples. As in : 今日は暑い。 本日はおめでとうございます。 Both are translated as "Today", but when and how should I use either one? Can we say : 本日はあつい。 And 今日はおめでとうございます。?
23
votes
2answers
12k views

What is the difference between "〜がる" and "〜がっている"

I want to know the difference between 〜がる and 〜がっている, and in what situations I can use them. My friend said 〜がる is used for a regular activity that someone does every day or every week, and the ...
23
votes
2answers
2k views

Most appropriate word for 'food'

I have seen many ways of saying 'food'. I am wondering if there is ever a difference in appropriateness. 食品、食べ物、~物(type+物)、飯、ご飯、etc. Most commonly, I think, is 食べ物, but I thought I'd use 食品 for an ...
22
votes
4answers
37k views

What's the difference between "さけ" (sake) and "しゃけ" (shake)?

Today I saw onigiri claiming to contain "しゃけ" (shake). When I asked my friend what that was, she said it was the same as "さけ" (sake), "salmon". So are these two just different readings of a kanji, ...
22
votes
3answers
8k views

Difference between [行く末]{ゆくすえ}, 将来{しょうらい} and 未来{みらい}

I've been looking around and I got that the three words can mean "future". Is there a way to differentiate them? Can they be used the same way?
22
votes
6answers
20k views

Can somebody explain the various words and combinations thereof used for thanking?

To my knowledge there are three words which can be used in thanking and they seem to be usable together in some combinations: どうも (d­ōmo) どうもありがとう (dōmo arigatō) ありがとう (arigatō) ありがとうございます (arigatō ...
22
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the difference between 完了 and 終了?

Both 完了 and 終了 seem to have the connotation of finished/complete, but what is the difference, if any, in usage?
22
votes
4answers
7k views

Since Japanese already had several words for rice why was "ライス" (raisu) borrowed from English?

Last night I had dinner in a ramen restaurant in northern Japan and was surprised to read the katakana "ライス" (raisu) on the menu. This is obviously the English word "rice" borrowed. But what kind of ...
22
votes
1answer
12k views

Why does そう in 「美味しいそう」 not mean "seem" the way I think it should?

Here's another habitual mistake I make. I'm looking at a sign for a restaurant with pictures of great food. So I remark to my friend: 美味{おい}しいそう、ね? ... intending to mean, "that looks good, don't ...
22
votes
4answers
47k views

What's the difference between ようこそ and いらっしゃいませ?

Both "ようこそ" (y­ōkoso) and "いらっしゃいませ" (irasshaimase) seem to mean "welcome" but what are the precise circumstances under which each should be used? "いらっしゃいませ" (irasshaimase) is uttered in unison by ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

Difference between 重い and 重たい

In some situations everybody around me use 重い, and when I went to the bicycle shop everyone was only using 重たい. Both mean heavy, but what is the difference in meaning or context between them? Can ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

Difference between sentence final ものだ and ことだ

My understanding is that ものだ is used to assert things which are mostly known to everyone. 誰かの家に招待されたときは、何か手土産をもっていくものだ 'When invited to somebody's home it's customary to bring presents'. On the ...
21
votes
1answer
58k views

When is "na" used at the end of a sentence?

When is "na" used at the end of a sentence, is it like "ne" or "yo" and has no meaning really? For example: Mata Nihon ni ikitai na. また、日本に行きたいな。
21
votes
4answers
12k 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: 「...
21
votes
2answers
10k views

Difference between 簡単{かんたん} and 易しい{やさしい}

I only know that both mean "easy". But when would I use 簡単{かんたん} or 易しい{やさしい} respectively?
21
votes
2answers
2k views

When writing for general public, is there a general guideline for selecting kanji?

After reading numerous publications, I've spotted a trend or custom on determining whether kanji is or is not used for certain words. The most obvious ones are: こと・事 …が実は犯人だったということがわかる。 (haven't ...
21
votes
3answers
35k views

Differences between くれます, もらいます and いただきます

I have been taught that they are used when receiving something (or a favor) from someone. But how exactly do they differ? I've searched the web for an answer and One site suggests that くれます is ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the difference in usage between 氏名 (しめい) and 名前 (なまえ)?

What's the difference in usage between 氏名 (しめい) and 名前 (なまえ)? I often see these two words used interchangeably, but more often than not I see 氏名 on websites. Is this a politeness difference or an ...
21
votes
3answers
1k views

What's bugging the Japanese language?

In my JLPT workbook, it has a section which gives a list of idioms that use [虫]{むし}. 仕事{しごと}の虫 (worker bee) 点取{てんとり}虫 (derogatory term for a student who tries too hard) 虫がいい (selfish) ...
21
votes
1answer
4k views

Honorific prefixes: 「ご」 vs 「お」

Some nouns take the 「ご」 prefix: ご両親 {りょうしん} ご家族 {かぞく} ご無事 {ぶじ} ご安心 {あんしん} ご丁寧 {ていねい} While many others take the 「お」 prefix: お母さん お仕事 {しごと} お月 {つき}さま お家 {うち} お客 {きゃく} In general,...
21
votes
3answers
6k views

What are slang terms for Japanese money?

This question about alternate terms for coins focused on the use of ワンコイン, but it got me thinking about slang terms for money in general. In all the years I've been in Japan, I don't think I've ...
20
votes
3answers
10k 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 (...
20
votes
1answer
5k views

Difference between the words for "feeling"

I have seen and been taught many words meaning "feeling", but what is the difference between the words, and where are they used? I have done a bit of research myself and have come up with these ...
20
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the difference between 一応 and とりあえず?

What's the difference between 一応{いちおう} and とりあえず? While I think they can both mean "tentatively" or "for the time being", there seems to be a difference in their usage. How do the two translate ...
20
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I differentiate agreement with the person and agreement with the idea?

A zillion years ago, before I came to Japan, I took a short introductory course on Japanese. In it, they showed a video of a business meeting where an American businessman is speaking to a Japanese ...
20
votes
2answers
15k views

How to use へ (-e), に (-ni), まで (made) and の方 (no-hō) with destination and direction?

It is common to ask the difference between just "へ" (-e) and "に" (-ni) but it seems to get even more complicated when you also mix in "まで" (made) and even "の方" (no-hō). When Japanese people ask me ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the proper way to use 先 versus 前に or 以前?

I'm trying to understand why 先 is not the best choice to use in these sentences. Is it wrong to use it in this way? × 先、学校で何かが起こった。 ○ 以前、学校で何かが起こった。 × 先の書いた本から十年間が過ぎました。 ○ 前に書いた本から十年間が過ぎました。
19
votes
6answers
64k views

What's the difference between "gohan" and "meshi"?

In answer to my question on the difference between "gyūdon" and "gyūmeshi" I learned that "meshi" just means cooked rice. But I thought "gohan" meant cooked rice, so please, what is the difference? I ...
19
votes
2answers
6k views

Why can't だ be used after an I-adjective?

I have been constantly told that だ can not be placed after an I-adjective. Why is that?
19
votes
5answers
3k views

In modern usage how do Japanese natives regard the differences between 外人, 外国人 and 外人さん?

As a near native speaker of Japanese, I find it annoying to be called 外人 since it seems to imply that I "know nothing about Japan" (outsider). I much prefer 外国人. In modern usage, how do native ...
19
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
6k views

What's the difference between 思う and 考える?

These two words both seem to mean "to think", but is there any difference between them? Is it related to the difference between 言う and 話す by any chance?
19
votes
5answers
827 views

What is the origin and usage of the word いい?

According to Denshi Jisho, いい and よい share the same kanji, and that both roughly mean "good". Why are there two different pronunciations despite the similarity, and what are some ways to figure out ...
19
votes
1answer
2k views

Why isn't a large amount of money a good enough reason to kill someone?

In my JLPT workbook, there is this example question: 適当{てきとう}な語{ご}を選{えら}びなさい この殺人{さつじん}事件{じけん}の裏{うら}には(  )上{じょう}のトラブルがあるようだ。 A 金額{きんがく}  B 大金{たいきん}  C 金銭{きんせん}  D 基金{ききん} The answer is......
19
votes
2answers
17k views

What's the difference between 少{すこ}し (sukoshi) and 小{ちい}さい (chiisai)?

What's the difference between 少{すこ}し (sukoshi) and 小{ちい}さい (chiisai)? In what situations would I use each one?
19
votes
2answers
7k 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 foreign guys, some Japanese I picked up from imitating the women I spoke to. Certain affectations made me sound unwittingly effeminate in the early days when I had less grasp on the ...
19
votes
1answer
768 views

What's the (real) difference between 飲む and 食べる?

When I first started learning Japanese, I learned that 飲む meant "drink" and 食べる meant "eat". These translations seemed to work for a while, but then I learned that you could 飲む things that you can't ...
19
votes
1answer
21k views

How to differentiate friend levels in Japanese?

I sometimes have difficulty differentiating friend levels when explaining something to a Japanese person. For example, when I am telling a story about a friend, I want to specify the level of ...
19
votes
1answer
6k views

Different ways to show intention to do something

How can one say "I am going to", express intention to do something in the future. I know some expressions such as: たいと思う -  I'm going to/ I want to ましょう - I will/ Why don't I しようと思う - ...
19
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the difference between 「この辺{へん}」 and 「この辺{あた}り」

What's the difference between 「この辺{へん}」 and 「この辺{あた}り」? I used to always read 「この辺{へん}」as 「この辺{あたり}」 as I thought it would be confused with 「変{へん}」 but it apparently is different.
18
votes
4answers
4k views

とっても versus とても

I've had a teacher flatly tell me that とっても is incorrect, but I do see it written here and there and I'm pretty sure I hear it as well. Is it just so informal relative to とても that I should never use ...

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