Roof vs rooftop / 屋上

OK, this may be dumb but could simple “roof” be used for 屋上? I often fail this one as it requires “rooftop” and I’m itching to add “roof” as a synonym (in my native language there is no distinction between the two and it’s simply “dach” [polish]).


Not quite, my monolingual dictionary says:

  • 屋根の上
  • ビルなどの屋根の上で,人が出られるようにしてある平らな場所。

So it specifically refers to the top of a building’s roof, whereas just “roof” can also refer to the entire roof itself, as in the topmost part of a building.

That said, as long as you make sure you’re aware of that distinction, there’s nothing wrong with adding any synonym you like. It just seems to me like that might be confusing in the long run, and it could set you up for misunderstandings because the SRS won’t warn you if you don’t end up making that distinction.


屋上 is a flat roof that you can stand on. Like this:



wait, did you import that word from German? :sweat_smile:

It’s up to you how much you want to focus on these subtleties. SRS is not a replacement for learning through immersion (where you would actually pick up nuances), but a first step so immersion doesn’t suck all the energy out of you. Consequently, you don’t need to learn everything perfectly 100% through SRS.

Personally, I would probably not care much about this difference, add a synonym and move on. (Although I never found this particular word to be troubling me, since “rooftop” is just the literal translation…)


Thank you all. I think that for now using just “roof” would be enough for me (making the distinction would probably be due when reaching level of using monolingual dictionary where words can be better explained, especially if owns language just doesn’t cut it).

That struck my curiosity and indeed it comes from German! Dach on wiktionary:


niem. Dach[2]

Though, not that surprising - we have lots of words borrowed from German, especially in my regions (Silesia) dialect.


A rooftop is the outside bit, basically just the tiles or flat area where you can stand on the top of the building. The bit you can see.

A roof is the whole thing, including the support beams etc… The insides AND the bit you can see.

There’s basically no significant difference unless you’re a carpenter or describing where someone/thing is. You can be in a roof you cant be in a rooftop.

So I’d combine them. They’re so similar and context will tell you.

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I feel like making the distinction between “roof” and “rooftop” is necessary here because the important point is making the distinction between 屋上 and 屋根.


This is in a way fascinating and is country/culturally specific. As I said - in Polish we only have one for it “dach” and it may stem from the fact that almost all building have slated roofs therefore there are almost no buildings with flat roof (except maybe for high-rises, but in that case the roof is usually off limits) thus usually noone is walking on that part of that building (save for carpenters or chimneysweep or somesuch). FAAASCINATING :smiley:

In that sense, possibly yes (上 being ‘up’, ‘above’ and ‘根’ being core/root of something) but again - usually there is not practical difference (for me) so in the end for quick reviews “roof” is enough (for me) and I can make the distinction when focused (same probably goes for colours :wink: )