This thread’s goal is to finally help you figure out the differences between all those words meaning action, district and consent. In other words, think of it as the bible of nuances, where you’ll be able to come here and figure out the nuances of similar words/synonyms.
Why am I making this?
It’s very cool to be able to read and know the general meaning of a word. However, when it comes to actually use it, it makes me feel almost as helpless as if I didn’t know the word in the first place. I hate this feeling. So to fix it, as I’m learning new vocab, I’ve been doing some research to figure its nuances, even if it’s a mere “A is more common than B”, as that’s still relevant information. I’ve been making small summaries to a group of friends, but why would I limit myself to them? I still love you guys, I promise.
How is this going to work?
This post will be a wiki, meaning that everyone can add their own notes about vocab nuances. I don’t expect everyone to participate (because this is a ton of work), but please do expect me to update this thread on a daily basis. I’ve been doing at least 1 summary a day.
- Please follow the logic of the List. We want something organized.
- This is not limited to WK vocabulary.
- If you’re making a significant change in someone else’s work, please let us know in the comments below, even if you’re more native than natives themselves.
- Donate to the poor.
- Have fun.
List of Nuances:
傾向 vs 動向 (Tendency & Trend)
Obs: This is not absolute. Don’t kill me with exceptions. Just a general pov.
傾向 (tendency) is usually more connected to statistics or natural phenomena. Not directly influenced by man.
There’s the tendency for the rise in the sea levels.
動向 (trend) is usually related to man activities.
市場の動向 - market trend.
経済の動向 - economic trend.
Bonus vocab: 海面上昇 - sea level rise
音 vs 物音 vs 雑音 vs 騒音 (Sounds & Noises)
音 (sound) is the general denomination. It includes all types of sounds, from something hitting the floor to the sound of a musical note.
物音 (sound) is a category of 音. It usually refers to sounds that you don’t know their origin. For example, you’re at home and you’re hearing something in the next room. No one is at home, so you don’t know the source of this sound.
雑音 (noise) usually refers to small noises that are unpleasant/annoying to you.
騒音 (noise) is usually for big noises that irritate you. It gets to a point of being able to call it noise pollution.
Bonus vocab: 騒音公害 - noise pollution.
仮定 vs 仮説 vs 想定 (The Hypothesis Trio)
仮定 is a “true or false” hypothesis. As in “Let’s suppose he was on the crime scene at the time”.
(Basically we set it like that 定 for now 仮)
“Even if we suppose that the rumors are true”.
仮説 is a mathematical hypothesis. The main difference with the previous one is that this one is provable mathematically. “Let’s assume that the determinant of the matrix is non 0”. If we were wrong, we’ll get to a contradiction (eventually). In the crime scene case, even if we “prove” that the person was indeed there, we may never be 100% sure. (In any case, 仮説 is only used in science as far as I know).
“All sciences are only hypothesis” (I.e. stuff are only true until proven wrong)
想定 Supposition, Assumption/Presumption. Making a determination (提) based on conceptualization (想) In other words, when you make stuff up with your mind. For example “If you were at the beach what would you hear?” Even though we can’t prove it, we might say we would hear the waves, a hypothesis based on our concept of the beach.
“To do an evacuation exercise as if there was a fire”
Observation: Added example sentences from the デジタル大辞泉 dictionary; translations are
By Naphthalene (transcribed by jprspereira)
活動 vs 行動 vs 仕草 vs 作用 (All kinds of Actions)
Obs: My own translations are in parentheses.
活動 ([habitual] activity) refers to those actions/activites that you do as a routine/hobby (think extracurricular activities) or that require some sort of effort during a period of time (think job hunting). It’s also involved in group (animals included)/organizational/company/nature related activities.
課外活動 - extracurricular activities;
クラブ活動 - club activities;
就職活動 - job hunting;
火山活動 - volcanic activity;
ミツバチの活動 - bee activity;
行動 (action) is by far the most generic term of all four. It can be often used to describe one-shot type of actions as well. I’ve found that it can be translated as “conduct” when the context implies a group of actions (his actions/his conduct).
行動力 - ability to take action;
怪しい行動 - suspicious action(s)/conduct.
正しく行動する - to act right;
自己の行動を見直す - Reevaluate one’s actions;
In order to reach level 60, you need to take action!
仕草 (gesture/mannerism) - This usually refers to one’s small motions. Think playing around with one’s hair, the way one’s smiles, the way one’s acts. This word carries a positive nuance with it. A cool way to visualize this better is to search this word on Google Images.
素敵な仕草 - elegant gesture.
犬の可愛い仕草 - cute dog gestures.
作用 (effect/action) - is highly associated with science related actions. From the effects of a pill to the action of an enzyme: if it’s science related and it does something, you use 作用.
薬の作用 - medication effect;
副作用 - side effect;
作用と反作用 - action and reaction;
酵素の作用 - enzyme action;
化学作用 - chemical action;
Thank you https://ejje.weblio.jp/ for helping me with examples in times of creativity crisis.
出かける vs 出る vs 去る vs 立ち去る (Leavingx4)
出かける’s focus is that it implies the purpose of leaving for the sake of going somewhere (intention is present in -かける verbs). This purpose can simply be “going for a walk” or even going on a trip. General principles:
- You need to have a purpose for going somewhere else;
- It implies that you’re human (animals are not perceived as having a clear intention);
- It implies leaving to somewhere on your will (getting arrested can’t be used with 出かける because you’re being forced to leave);
- The place you’re leaving can not be the reason for you to leave (think: house on fire). Your destination/goal is always the motive.
- You don’t use it for extremely short-distances: house to garden, office to parking lot.
出る (to exit) is the most general term of all and has no restrictions that I can think of. It simply means “to exit from certain place/area”. If we were to compare it with 出かける:
家から出る = to simply exit/leave the house;
家から出かける = to leave the house in order to go somewhere/do something as intended (going out with friends).
去る differs from 出る in that it implies that something/someone is leaving from a current (physical/social/emotional) place to somewhere remote/permanently. This time, the focus is on the place that you’re leaving: you’re probably not coming back, at least for a good while. This change does not necessarily have to be positive or negative.
会社を去る - to leave/to quit one’s company;
地元を去る - to leave one’s hometown;
この世を去る - to depart from this world;
夏が去る - Summer to be gone;
片時も念頭を去らない - Moment that can’t leave one’s mind.
立ち去る, much like 去る, implies the long-term/permament leaving of something/someone. However, it can only be used for situations that imply physical movement. Due to it being a junction between 立つ + 去る, it also implies the movement of “standing and going somewhere”. It seems that due to 去る having a more broad meaning, it takes the preferential treatment over 立ち去る in all situations.
陣営を立ち去る - To leave the camp;
ポルトガルを立ち去る - To leave Portugal ();
この世を立ち去る - -
to depart from this world
夏が立ち去る - -
Summer to be gone
片時も念頭を立ち去らない - -
Moment that can’t leave one’s mind.
休み vs 休憩 vs 休暇 vs 休日 vs 休養 vs 休息 vs 安静 (7 different ways to rest)
休み is used to mean either “off time” (e.g. school breaks, lunch breaks, or a business’ closed days) or “taking a day off” (e.g. from work/school) or “absence” (e.g from school/work).
Summer break = 夏休み
Lunch break = 昼休み
This store is closed on Sundays.
I’d like to take next Monday off from work.
I didn’t go to school for a week because I was sick.
休憩 is used to mean a short break during some activity (e.g. working, studying, hiking, etc).
We’ve been studying for a while so let’s take a break.
(at work): I’m on break right now.
休暇 means “holiday/vacation.” It’s generally used for working people not for school breaks.
- I took a week off from work.
*You can also use 休み in this case as well. However, they are not always interchangeable. In the 休み examples above, you cannot use 休暇 because 休暇 specifically refers to holiday/vacation.
休日 usually refers to official holidays (e.g New Years). You will often see this on calendars.
- January 1st is a holiday.
*In Japan, girls’ day (March 3rd) is a celebrated holiday but it is not an official holiday so you would not call it a 休日。
休養 means something like “rejuvenation” or “recovery.” It is a break that is desperately needed (e.g. from a stressful environment) or to recover (e.g. from an illness).
- After the surgery, I needed time to recover.
休息 is quite similar to 休憩. However, 休息 emphasizes that you’re resting the body such as after physical activity (e.g. running or construction work) whereas 休憩 can be a break from any activity whether physical (e.g. running, swimming) or not physical (e.g. playing video games, reading, computer work).
安静 is exclusively used for when a person is sick and they need to rest (i.e. they shouldn’t do much activity (both physically or mentally)).
- When I was sick and visited the doctor, he told me to rest.
*In Japan, people refer to doctors as 先生
Overall, if you don’t know which one of these words to use, 休み・休む is the best choice to use because it has the broadest meaning out of all of these words.
Bonus: お休みなさい means good night and it emphasizes resting through sleep. It is a set phrase.
Hope this helps a bit!
湿気 vs 潤い (The moisture of nuances)
湿気 (moisture, humidity, dampness) is used to describe either something related to the atmosphere or food. It often carries a negative connotation to it. I mean, who likes humid weather after all?
As for this summer, there was a lot of humidity (refering to the weather).
To dehumidify. (literally: to take away the moisture).
To get sad when sweets get humid (using the verb 湿気る)
潤い (moisture, richness) carries a positive connotation and it means moisture when associated with skin. You might find it somewhere in the packages of skin creams Metaphorically, it can also be used to describe the richness of something (like life itself) or even the economy (when it’s going well).
A moisturized skin.
An enriched voice.
A life that has richness.
The hosting of the Olympics brought richness to the economy of Tokyo.
合意 vs 疎通 (Can we agree to disagree?)
合意 (mutual agreement, consensus) is when 2 or more people hold the same opinion.
Consensual divorce (both want to get divorced).
To reach a (mutual) agreement (both want the same deal).
疎通 [understanding (each other), communication] is when 2 or more people might come to an understanding, but they don’t necessarily hold the same opinion. It’s the typical “I don’t agree, but we’ve found a middle ground” kind of idea.
To work towards mutual understanding.
To get one’s thoughts/feelings/ideas across someone.
To lack understanding (between you and someone else).
言い返す vs 口答えする (Don't talk back at me, b-baka!!)
言い返す (to reply back, to answer back) simply means to reply back to someone, not necessarily in a bad tone. It has a neutral connotation, unless context implies otherwise.
In situations like this, what do you reply back?
口答えする [to retort, to talk back (when you shouldn’t)] is the thing you must not do to your boss or teachers… or else…
Don’t talk back to your teacher!
見落とす vs 見逃す (To overlook, or not to overlook, that is the question.)
Both 見落とす and the 見逃す have the common meaning of when the subject is checking something, but fails to notice some, a mistake, a situation, etc (to overlook, to fail to notice, to miss).
When I looked over the document, I missed a serious mistake.
When I looked through the document I failed to notice a serious mistake.
However, 見逃す also carries the meaning of overlooking someone’s wrongdoings (on purpose) or turning a blind eye to something. 見落とす does not have this meaning.
I caught (sight of) cheating, but I turned a blind eye to it.
I caught (sight of) cheating, but I failed to notice it.
In other words, you can 見落とす the mistakes you wrote on a paper, since you have to deliver it in a couple of minutes and you had no time to actually check it from start to finish. On the other hand, the teacher can choose to 見逃す your errors and give you a good mark
学ぶ vs 習う vs 知る (Acquiring Information/Learning)
I’ve learned there’s a lot of ways to learn in Japanese. hehehe. I’ll do the three common ones I’ve had trouble with so far, but these are not the most common, according to Jisho. As and when I learn more ways to learn (又？) I may revisit this section to add more if they trouble me.
(学ぶ 「まなぶ」- to study in depth, implies great effort. While this can mean to take lessons, it seems the primary meaning implies more of a self-study or relatively autonomous, unguided effort.)
You will have studied Japanese for three years this March.
(習う 「ならう」 - implicitly implies learning something under guidance from another.)
I learned cooking under my sister’s tuition.
(知る 「しる」 - [in this context, to learn] - learning something passively rather than actively studying it, such as through personal experience or passive information acquisition, coming to know something i.e. “passive learning”.)
I learned about Keiko’s problem from gossip.
Added by Krispy
正義の味方 vs 縁の下の力持ち vs @jprspereira (Very Subtle Nuances)
Take everything you read in this section with a pinch of salt because I’m only level 9 at the time of writing. Definitions taken from Jisho.
正義の味方 - Champion of justice
WK; knight in shining armor; hero
- 縁の下の力持ち - Unsung hero; person who does a thankless task
- Jprspereira - All of the above