Regarding 先

I don’t really get the difference between 去 and 先 anymore.
Why does 先日 mean ‘the other day’
And 先年 ‘previous years’ (so unspecific)
While 先月 means ‘last month’.

I thought 去 was specific, as in
去年 ‘last year’

I see now that’s not right, but how do you know when 先 is specific or not?

I’m currently level 5

Thanks in advance! :smile:

I haven’t got to that level or point of learning that kanjis yet, but on this topic they clear some of the questions regarding this couple of words:

I hope any senpai can help you out more with this, or maybe this topic give you some hints.

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先 revers to previous, last, and old.


去 = refers to things that have gone, and or quit.

先年= year(s) that where before
去年= year that has ended


I will copy this explanation. Good think to learn before getting to level 5.

Thanks for this!

But why does

先日 mean ‘the other day / a few days ago’
先年 mean ‘previous years / a few years ago’
(so not yesterday or last year)

While 先月 does means ‘last month’ (not a few months ago)

Because they chose to use ateji (phonetic kanji) for it.
一昨日、昨日、今日、明日、明後日 (day befor yesterday, yestarday, todoy, tomorrow, and days after tomorrow.all ateji

The Japanese already had names for those days and used Chinese writing for it, but their old japanese sayings.

Where with last month etc they use the chinese writing and saying.

Unfortunately, these are things you just have to accept, because will happen often.

I also think that the ending of a year is more profound, so that they are comforatble to calling it the “the year that has ended” days and months come and go. :wink:


The future you come, the more sense the kanji will make. but sometimes the pronounciation makes no sense in combination with the kanji.

But I think that is part of the charm of Japanese. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be half as much fun.

I still get them wrong every time, especially the ones with years. It might be best to make a chart and just drill it to memory.

You learn the words :wink:

I was also confused two levels ago and I found some explanations here Multi-lingual language learning and language exchange | Lang-8: For learning foreign languages

[quote]去年:You can use this kanji for casual situations, like speaking and texting. it means only “last year”
先年:It is used in formal writing, for example, in newspaper. We don’t use it in conversation. Also, it can mean " a few years ago" as well as “last year”[/quote]

先年 means several years ago. I don’t think it has the meaning of “last year”.
FYI, 昨年 (sakunen) means “last year” but this is more formal than 去年.

Yeah, words are represented by kanji. The word exists and kanji are used to write it. The kanji don’t dictate the meaning.

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@plantron Hahaha!! Thanks, at least someone gets me :slight_smile:

I think it would be nice if it was commented upon in the explanation. Now I’ve been thinking I’m going crazy for a few weeks :stuck_out_tongue:

Edit: The difference between先月 and 先日 or 先年 i mean

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