Using a dictionnary ? (I'm a bit confused on some vocabs)

Hi everyone, I’m passing my fear and posting on here because I got back to WaniKani like 2 months ago, got to level 7 (8 tonight if I’m don’t mess up my kanji) and I learn a bit of grammar… Because I’m going to Japan for a month in 3 days and I don’t want to feel “totally” illiterate there.
Long story short I’ve struggling with some of the vocab, lurking on topic like 理 vs 由 and I think I got it, but then looking at the exemple sentence for 付ける I got lost because almost none of them use it as “to attach”, the translation given by the lesson.
Wiktionnary gives like 12 translations and… Okay, I guess japanese is full of nuances.
Is there a way to summarize the “core meaning” of a verb ? I think remembering 12 translations is difficult, I know japanese is really context sensitive, but I think I stumbled on something here.


Some verbs just have a ton of meetings. Take the word “take” for example.

  • Take a break
  • Take some medicine
  • Take care of yourself
  • Take off your shoes
  • Take out the trash

I’m sure there’s more I’m not thinking of. But naturally verbs like that exist in Japanese too.


Take a seat. Take a photo. Take oooon meeeee.


Take meeeeee ooooonnn (take on me)
Yeah using the same verb for different purpose, ok.
But it’s more “to attach, to give a name, to put on, to leave on, to make an entry (write), to settle, to direct one’s attention…”
Looking at it, it seems it is also used as a suffix and it’s getting worse…
But it’s a hard verb…

To be honest I wouldn’t worry about these kind of words yet. You’ll learn all the nuances once you start reading native material. Right now worry about learning all your kanji and grammar.


It might be helpful sometimes to check how native dictionaries explain the word. The Sanseido online dictionary in particular is reputed to be pretty helpful for learners because it gives extremely simple definitions (I think it’s based on their children’s dictionary?) that help limit the word to its most well-known meanings. See their definition for 付ける, for example.

I don’t know that word particularly well myself, so I know nothing about its nuances, but the impression I get from a Yomichan-aided scan of the definitions there is that its “core meaning” is something like “to stick” (i.e., to attach something to something else with adhesive), and the other meanings are basically metaphors that build on that (to stick a name/label on something, to stick information onto a form, to stick to someone you’re closely tracking, etc.).

1 Like

What I did was just learn one meaning, and then check the dictionary again if you find it in a context that doesn’t fit what you know. That way even if it has 12 definitions it’s easier because you kind of know what you’re looking for, and you don’t have to learn everything at once.

Also, you can make sense of most of the meanings with the “attach” meaning plus some imagination :wink: Like, you can think of “naming something” as “attaching a name” to something.


Don’t forget “take a dump”, where it has almost entirely the opposite meaning. :stuck_out_tongue:

I intentionally left that one out. :wink:

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.