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Figuring out the Difference Between Similar Words — 9 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the link to the site! Bookmarked it.

    Usually I don’t spend too much time actively trying to figure out nuance unless it’s specifically important for some reason, i.e, I’m curious, or I want to translate something properly. I am a bit weak in this area, though, especially when I can’t catch the differences of meaning in the definition. Exposure is instrumental in getting things to click, so when I just don’t get it, I trust that immersion will do its work in time.

    I do love learning about the meaning subtleties of kanji that are used situationally for the same word (会う• 逢う• 遭う等), and find Chiebukuro to be a great resource for this.

    • Yes, exposure solves all.

      But sometimes a few areas can use a little push head start when you are too eager too wait. The kanji variations for the same words are a fun and deep part of Japanese.

  2. I’ve actually used this site a ton, though only ever through Google searches. 知恵袋 is great for this as well.

    • Yes, I agree on 知恵袋. And it seems that the people that answer are usually more reliable as a resource than the English version Yahoo Answers.

  3. Oh, 恋 and 愛 are two different words. I kept seeing them as the same somehow. It all makes a lot more sense now. (Though 愛 still has あい and まな readings). Reminds me of not realizing “crocodile” and “alligator” were different words.

    • They are different and the debate between how they are different takes on many different interpretations.

  4. Personally, I find that when I ask the question “what’s the difference between X and Y?” it rarely results in a satisfactory answer. I think it takes time to consider what the subtle differences in nuance are, which is why written explanations are so much better for this. I think people understand the difference implicitly, sometimes as second nature, but struggle when it comes to actually explaining what that difference is. I recall being asked what the difference was between “talk” and “speak” in English, and I realised that I didn’t really know. As I tried to explain, I just ended up confusing the person who asked me, as well as myself as I talked in circles.

    I’ve found I get much better responses when I ask something like “in what different situations do you use X and Y?”. I think many people are much more comfortable describing or imagining a scene than they are talking in abstract terms about the difference between two concepts. Once you have an example, real or imagined, it becomes much easier to move on to abstract ideas because you have a more tangible point of reference.

    I encourage people to try this out!

    • I agree, that having specific examples or situations where it is used is usually the best route to go, and the easiest way for people to explain it.

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