Similar words question

Is there anywhere that disambiguates similar words? I’m getting words that seem to have the same meaning as words I’ve already learned, but I don’t know if they are used in different contexts or particular words are more used than others… it’s confusing.

i.e., 入り口 and 入所, 所 and 場所, 作家 and 作者

P.S. I know there are context sentences, but it would be nice if similar words were part of the explanation given for these when you learn them.

This thread could help looking into!


The best answer is “dictionaries” (and I’m honestly not being flippant).

The single most helpful thing I ever did for my own learning (beyond WK itself) was installing Yomichan with several dictionaries (search the web for advice on how to best configure Yomichan). Initially, you’ll just want J-E dictionaries, but eventually monolingual J-J dictionaries are even more helpful.

Seriously, anything you can do to make looking up words faster and easier will pay huge dividends. It’s hard to imagine it being easier than just hovering your mouse over a word while holding down the shift key!

I’ve asked similar questions here, but I’ve grown to appreciate that WK only teaches us how to read and roughly understand a wide range of basic Japanese words, while glossing over an awful lot of nuance and subtlety. There’s value in getting people through the basics as quickly as possible. That they are adding more context sentences is hugely beneficial, but I’d rather they not lose their focus.

Think of WK like elementary school instruction on how to read. It’s truly just the “ABC’s” of reading. You’ll get more advanced instruction after the basics are out of the way.

The word pairs you’ve listed above all have very similar meanings (just like English synonyms). If you want to understand the finer nuanced differences between them, context sentences and outside research provide the answers.


In addition to dictionaries (preferably monolingual ones), I’ve found sites like HiNative helpful for quick questions about stuff like this. Just googling something like “作家と作者はどう違いますか” usually let’s you find an existing post, and sometimes you can even discover more synonyms and their nuances (I tried my example search and there’s a post about 作者, 著者, 作家 and 筆者). For JLPT vocab the 語彙 (vocab) books in the Shin Kanzen Master series are very good (I’ve personally only used the N2 one). It goes in depth about the use case for each word and there’s questions testing you on your ability to use similar vocab correctly.


Yeah I actually do use HiNative. I asked the question about 作家 and 作者 and was told the first one means author, as in a writer specifically, while the second one means creator and could apply to a wider variety of professions.

This would’ve perhaps been more clear if they used creator as the primary listed meaning, instead of author.

The WK staff are constantly making updates and are quite receptive to constructive feedback. You may want to subscribe to the content update threads.

They won’t always implement every suggestion, of course, but they are receptive and will at least consider any suggestions sent to

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