Specificity of Japanese Verbs 'to Wear' and 'to Play'

Girl learning to tie her shoelaces
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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 be 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 at how the Japanese describe "to wear" and "to play."

  • 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 a 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.)
  • 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.