Difference between 者 and 身?

Hi all!
I just reached lvl 8 on WaniKani and I was presented with these two kanjis. Bear in mind, while I’m highly proactive at it, I’m not a native english speaker.
Anyways, I’ve spent my whole life interchanging both these words with no real gramatical reason behind it: someone and somebody. Is there something I might be missing here? is there some kind of rule to use them differently on english? if not, what about in japanese?
者 = someone
身 = somebody


身 is more like “body” as in, literally a physical body. But it can also mean “oneself” (it’s used in reflexive pronouns, myself, yourself, himself, etc.)

者 is an individual, a person. It does not ever mean “body” or get used in reflexive pronouns.

The choice of “somebody” is a little strange for 身, because I would say it never literally means “somebody” (which would be だれか). But it’s difficult to encapsulate the full meaning of 身 in one word, so they must have thought that was a compromise.


When you come across kanji with a somewhat similar meaning it may often help you to quickly look up some of the vocabulary words associated with them. Wanikani makes it relatively easy to look up words, as it always provides us with vocabulary for each kanji. In this particular case, it becomes clearer that;

身 is used for words like 全身 “whole body” and 身体 “the body” while…
者 is used for words like 医者 “doctor”, 作者 “author”, 学者 “schoolar”, 若者 “young person” etc.

So as Leebo already nicely summarized, thank you :smile:
The kanji 身 is more used for “the physical body”, while 者 is more used for “the person in a figurative sense”.


Thanks a lot for the tip. As obvious as it may seem, I never looked for purple cards to further understand the meaning of a kanji :man_shrugging:. Will definitely start doing that, it is not the first time something like this happens lol