faq

What is the difference between 知る (shiru) and 分かる (wakaru)

At a glance, they both have the same or similar meaning. But the concept of knowing vs understanding is actually more serious in Japanese. Today we’ll learn the difference between these two words, and by the end of the lessons you will have something to brag to your friend who are also currently learning Japanese!

To know vs to Understand

知る (shiru) means “to know” while 分かる (wakaru) means “to understand/make sense”.

日本語が知る
Nihongo ga shiru
I know Japanese language (But I might not understand the meaning of the language)

日本語が分かる
Nihongo ga wakaru
Japanese language is make sense to me / I understand Japanese language.

The word “to understand” is actually a bad translation. It is actually “make sense”, it is not an action, but more toward a state of understanding something. And that is why we cannot use を, but rather we use が as with 好き.

考えれば、分かります OK
Kangaereba, wakarimasu
If you think about it, you will understand (it will make sense).

考えれば、知ります NO
Kangaereba, shirimasu
If you think about it, you will know

Why we cannot use を with 分かる (wakaru)

You might have noticed that we use が instead of を. This is because を is a particle that mark what object/situation that an action is act upon. As what we’ve discussed previously, 分かる (wakaru) is not an action but rather a state of something. Therefore we use が

Related About particle を

If you have received the information, you cannot use 知らない (shiranai)

Check out samples below:

説明を聞いたが使い方がわからない OK
Setsumei o kiita ga, tsukai kata ga wakaranai
I’ve heard the explanation, but I don’t understand how to use this thing.

Point You have heard the explanation, but you don’t understand how to use/apply the information you have received.

説明を聞いたが使い方を知らない。NO
Setsumei o kiita ga, tsukai kata wo shiranai
I’ve heard the explanation, but I don’t know how to use this thing.

Point You have heard the explanation, therefore you already know (receive information) about how to use the object. So you cannot use 知る (shiru) here.

That’s all for now! Hope it helps 。゚✶ฺ.ヽ(*´∀`*)ノ.✶゚ฺ。

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