Struggling with a group of related vocabulary items for "rules" and "laws"

I have been having a bit of trouble with some vocabulary items, both in WaniKani and on the production side using KameSame. I’m curious if anyone else has had trouble with these and if they have any advice on how to deal with them. Also, I’d like to know if these vocabulary items are the way the are on purpose, and if they are, I’d like to know the logic behind them so I can understand them better. If they are not, I would suggest adding new definitions to make them easier to deal with.

The vocabulary I am discussing are the following:

規則, meaning rule, also accepting regulation
規律, meaning rules, also accepting law, order, and discipline
法律, meaning law
法規, meaning laws, also accepting regulation

The primary issue I’m having has to do with plurals. Some of these meanings are plural, and some are not, and which ones are seems pretty arbitrary. Considering Japanese does not require plural forms unless you want to be explicit, and none of these vocabulary items follow the usual conventions for plural words in Japanese (たち, ら, or 々), there doesn’t seem to be any logic to which ones are and aren’t plural. Is it really important to remember which ones are plural and which ones aren’t?

The typo algorithm usually forgives an extraneous or missing S at the end of a word, but not when the word it’s looking for is only three letters long. Thus, it does not accept laws when it is looking for law. However, the reverse works; it takes law when it is looking for laws, so I have just been putting in the singular form. I could also just put in laws as a user synonym for 規律 and 法律 as a workaround if I wanted. However, I wasn’t sure if there was actually some logic to the way it’s currently set up, and I didn’t want to risk cheating myself out of learning an actually important distinction.

While the plurality issue is my biggest problem, the fact that 規律’s primary definition is “rules” despite being made from the kanji for standard and law is another stumbling block with this group of vocabulary. Of course, it also accepts law as an alternate meaning, which mitigates this somewhat.

I’d be a little surprised if I was the only one who ran into this difficulty; it seems like a pretty easy set of vocabulary to mix up.


I don’t think any of them are literally defined as plural, or as encompassing a set of some kind. So if you wanted to add singular and plural synonyms for all, I doubt anyone could argue that this is an impossible interpretation. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they do have differences in how they are used, tending to refer to sets or tending to refer to single items.

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Just posting to show support–these items screw me up every single time I come across them haha


With 規則 I answer with “rule” and everything else I answer with “law”. :wink:

And, honestly, that’s enough for you right now. I’ve found that latching on to a core meaning is fine for the purposes of WK since you can pick up the nuances while and usage while reading.

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