A question about these: 聴く; 訊く; 聞く

Helly  Lucas Helly Lucas (1) on 23/07/14

聴く; 訊く; 聞く

All three of this words are pronounced as きく. My question is: do the Japanese get confused using these words?, I know it probably is understood in the context but, I wonder if there's a situation where it can be confused, and of course, i want to know if they have a way to avoid this confusion.



Hi Helly san,

Yes, although 聞く and 聴く are interchangeable, there are some difference. So, I still have to be careful when I write. 訊く can be used more like asking (asking the direction, 道を訊く), but it is not commonly used because 訊く isn't included in *常用漢字 "regular-use Chinese characters". 訊く can be replaced by 聞く; I'll explain the difference between 聞く and 聴く here.


聞く means "to perceive (sound) by the ear": Do you hear the noise? 雑音が聞こえる? And also used for learning by hearing; be told by others: She got married - 彼女が結婚したって聞いた。(NOT 結婚したって聴いた)

Also 聞く is used for the meaning of "to heed; obey". For example, if you wanted to say "Children don't listen to their parents.", we say 子供は親の言うことを聞かない。(NOT 親の言うことを聴かない)

Another way of using 聞く is pay attention: "Listen to me!" into 私の言うこと、聞いて!(NOT 聴いて!)

聴く has a connotation of "listen", 聴く means making an effort to hear something. Listen to the radio, listen to the music, and so on. (ラジオを聴く、音楽を聴く). But 聴く isn't used for heading or obeying or paying attention(as I mentioned above)

If you write ラジオを/音楽を「聞く」、it is still very natural. If you write ラジオを/音楽を「聴く」、I'd think you are listening it attentively.

Hope it helps!



Helly  Lucas Helly Lucas (1) on 24/07/14

Very helpful misako san. It's still a little difficult but think i just have to get used to it, i'll practice a lot. I didn't now that 訊く isn't commonly used, it's good to know this. By the way, thank you very much again. ありがとう ;)

Misako Yoke Misako Yoke (1) on 25/07/14

It sure is complicated, but I'm sure you will get used to it! Thank you for learning my first language :) ありがとう!

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