Newbie questions about Kanji with the same meaning

Hi everyone! I am getting confused with some of the Kanji that seem to mean the same thing, specifically 丸い and 円い, and on a lesser note 女の子 and 女子. How do you know which to use? Or are they interchangeable? This is my first time coming up on something like these, are they common?

1 Like

9 Likes

A lot of words are confusing like this. Usually I read the example sentence to see if it gives anymore context and if it doesn’t Google’s always a huge help.

In the case of 円い and 丸い the first can only refer to circular things while the second can refer to any round thing.

In the case of 女の子 and 女子 the first puts more stress on the child part while the later doesn’t. The later might be used to refer to both little girls and women, for example on a restroom sign. This one you can figure out if you look at the synonyms.

2 Likes

Ah, I guess it was right in front of my face the whole time. I guess I need to pay more attention! :disappointed_relieved:
Thanks for the help!

3 Likes

That makes sense. For some reason I never thought to google it. :woman_facepalming:
I will look into that next time I find things like this. Thanks!

1 Like

If you want, you can also tell yourself that 円 also ‘looks’ flat, like uh… I don’t know, half a window? (Thinking about yen coins as suggested is probably more intuitive though.) 丸 looks like a bunch of stuff (dough, perhaps?) scrunched up around that dot (、) in the middle.

Also, a bit of trivia that might be a comfort: if you grab a kanji dictionary/study book for Japanese primary school students, you’ll see a comparison between these two kanji too, so it’s not necessarily something natives just pick up from everyday usage either. :slight_smile:

3 Likes

ALSO - Let me welcome you to the community! I see this is your first post :slight_smile: You’ve got the right idea asking any question at all, everyone here is super happy to help and this forum is very friendly! - as you probably can already tell :smiley:

5 Likes

Just popping back in to say that fox is adorable.

And yes, welcome, @Biffles! Feel free to ask questions and explore the forums! :slight_smile: Glad to have you around.

4 Likes

Thanks! I’m very new to Japanese as a whole, so so it’s nice to hear natives struggle too. Is there a good dictionary you’d reccommend? I’m working (very slowly) through Genki, which so far hasn’t covered anything I’ve seen in WankiKani.

1 Like

Aww you found me out! You’re right, I wasn’t expecting so much help so quickly. Thank you for the warm welcome! <3

2 Likes

I think most people on the forums use Jisho.org, most likely because it’s quite easy to use (the interface is very clean) and because it also provides some WaniKani-related data, like the level on which a kanji appears. I personally prefer https://ejje.weblio.jp: the interface is in Japanese, which can be intimidating at first, but once you type something into the search bar and click the search button (or hit Enter), you get lots of definitions and translated example sentences. I mean, Jisho has some of those, but Weblio’s EJJE site has more, and it contains the same basic dictionary data as Jisho plus a few other dictionaries. If you happen to have an Apple device (typically an iPhone, iPad or Mac; I’m not as sure about availability on the others), you can also download the Wisdom JP-EN Dictionary for free in Settings/via the Dictionary app. Generally though, I think any dictionary with example sentences and translations is a good place to get a feel for how words are really used, provided the sentences are correct to begin with, of course (but they usually are).

If you feel like trying out monolingual Japanese dictionaries one day, you can find pretty decent ones online on Kotobank, Weblio and Goo (a Japanese search engine; I think you can find their dictionary by googling ‘goo dictionary’), but I guess you can explore those some time later. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I KNOW I love this fox - I forgot to use the one that says “Welcome Home” :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

3 Likes

Those look amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I will definitely use these a lot to understand things further! (and the monolingual dictionaries when I’m feeling brave!)

1 Like

One thing I’ve found super useful for context is is the Anime Sentences Script. It’s also great for reinforcing spelling and pronunciation. You don’t need to have watched the shows used as examples, the longer sentences usually provide enough context to get a feel for the usage. But don’t look at 円い with the script, because you will only be more confused :joy:

1 Like