What’s the difference

Hello everyone! Would be great of someone could explain in an easier way what’s the difference in use of f.e. this two words 科 and 科学. The meaning is the same but do people not use first variant when speaking?

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科 is generally not a word on its own, it’s a suffix. It can mean either:

  • the X department/field, like 数学科 the mathematics dept, or 社会科 social studies
  • the X family in the “scientific species name” sense, like ネコ科の動物 == “animals 「belonging to [of/in] the cat family”

科学 on the other hand is a simple noun meaning “science”.

PS: if you found 科 via wanikani, note that WK does not teach 科 as a vocabulary word, only as a kanji. The difference between kanji and words is important – most kanji are not words on their own.


Fun fact! The Japanese linden tree is called しな in Japanese, though as a plant species name, it’ll usually be written entirely in katakana - シナ. And also you’re not likely to get its meaning confused with 科学. :slightly_smiling_face:

Also, I can count how many times I’ve come across a Japanese linden tree on the toes of one hand.


So the science of Japanese linden trees would be 科科? And the science of the Japanese linden tree family would be 科科科 :thinking: