Specificity of Japanese Verbs

When Describing an Action - To wear and to play

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Abe, Namiko. "Specificity of Japanese Verbs." ThoughtCo, Jul. 14, 2014, thoughtco.com/specificity-of-japanese-verbs-2027857. Abe, Namiko. (2014, July 14). Specificity of Japanese Verbs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/specificity-of-japanese-verbs-2027857 Abe, Namiko. "Specificity of Japanese Verbs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/specificity-of-japanese-verbs-2027857 (accessed September 26, 2017).

Some Japanese verbs are more specific when describing actions than English verbs. While there is only one verb used for a certain action in English, there might be several different verbs in Japanese. One of the examples is the verb "to wear." In English, it can used as, "I wear a hat," "I wear gloves," "I wear glasses" and so on. However, Japanese has different verbs depending on which part of the body it will be worn on.

Let's take a look how the Japanese describe "to wear."


  • Boushi o kaburu. 帽子をかぶる。 --- I wear a hat.
    ("Kaburu" is used for putting on the head.)


  • Megane o kakeru. めがねをかける。 --- I wear glasses.
    ("Kakeru" also means, "to hang.")


  • Iyaringu o tsukeru. イヤリングをつける。 --- I wear earrings.
    ("Tsukeru" also means, "to attach.")


  • Nekutai o shimeru. ネクタイを締める。 --- I wear a tie.
    ("Shimeru" also means, "to tie.")


  • Sukaafu o maku. スカーフを巻く。 --- I wear scarf.
    ("Maku" also means, "to wrap around.")


  • Tebukuro o hameru. 手袋をはめる。 --- I wear gloves.
    ("Hameru" also means, "to insert.")


  • Yubiwa o hameru. 指輪をはめる。 --- I wear rings.


  • Tokei o suru. 時計をする。 --- I wear a watch.


  • Shatsu o kiru. シャツを着る。 --- I wear shirts.
    ("Kiru" is used for putting on the body.)


  • Zubon o haku. ズボンをはく。 --- I wear pants.
    ("Haku" is used for putting on the legs.)


  • Kutsu o haku. 靴を履く。 --- I wear shoes.
    ("Haku" is also used for putting on footwear.)

    Another example is the verb "to play."


  • Omocha de asobu. おもちゃで遊ぶ。 --- I play with toys.
    ("Asobu" originally means, "to amuse oneself.")


  • Piano o hiku. ピアノを弾く。 --- I play the piano.
    ("Hiku" is used to play the musical instrument that requires the manipulation of fingers.)


  • Fue o fuku. 笛を吹く。 --- I play the flute.
    ("Fuku" is used to play the musical instrument that requires blowing.)


  • Taiko o tataku. 太鼓をたたく。 --- I play the drum.
    ("Tataku" is used to play the musical instrument that requires beating.)


  • Rekoodo o kakeru. レコードをかける。 --- I am playing a record.


  • Toranpu o suru. トランプをする。 --- I play cards.


  • Yakyuu o suru. 野球をする。 --- I play baseball.
    ("Suru" can be used for most sports.)


  • Romio o enjiru. ロミオを演じる。 --- I play the role of Romeo.