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"I looked up the meaning of the kanji in a dictionary."


June 16, 2017



Duo. I hate you sometimes...these sort of questions confuse first time learners who have only, to this point, seen wo with jisho and hikimasu. Now you change the direct object and expect learners to know that's why there is now a de to the left of the verb...well most learners wouldn't recognize a direct object if it bit them on the ass and most lerners are already struggling with wo de he and ni! You should atleast try and explain some of the grammatical points before each lesson.


Yeah it's exactly what I'm wondering! を , で why?


The explanation is more in the definition of the word and the way it and the particles を, は & で are used.


So the verb means more like "to consult/refer to (a dictionary)", with a dictionary or other source of reference being implied. So in sentences like 辞書を引いてください, which translates to "look it up in a dictionary", more literally means "consult a dictionary", with dictionary being the Direct Object.

In this current sentence, 漢字の意味を辞書で引きました, dictionary is no longer the DO because this means something more like "I looked up the meaning of the kanji USING a dictionary.

If we tried to write this any other way, it simply wouldn't make sense. If we try は, then we get 漢字の意味は、辞書を引きました, which would mean something like "The kanji's meaning, I consulted a dictionary". This gives us why it can't be 辞書を in this sentence.



Then this sentence should not be here in this lesson. If they can't make it work then no point in forcing it.

I still have no idea why it couldn't be は.

Oh, well. Back to the usual, memorize without understanding...


I'm still really confused, are the two sentences completely different constructions? In your explanation, you explained what the sentences would mean at first glance, but not why the を particle can take two separate roles for the same verb.


Google turns up both "辞書を引" (276K hits) and "辞書で引" (20K hits). Both forms can also be found at Jisho.org:


  1. to look up (in a dictionary, phone book, etc.); to consult; to check​ (See also 辞書を引く) その単語を 辞書で ひいて ごらん。


  1. to consult a dictionary​

Mayyybe both usages stem from the meaning of 引 as “pull, draw”: you pull a dictionary to consult it, and you pull a word from a dictionary.


I'm still really confused, are the two sentences completely different constructions? In your explanation, you explained what the sentences would mean at first glance, but not why the を particle can take two separate roles for the same verb.

(I) looked up the dictionary.

(I) looked in the dictionary.


I was more confused at why jisho was using wo previously. I thought it was something to do with the verb. Then this bit me in the ass. Why wouldn't "look it up in the dictionary" be "辞書で引いてください"?


I have seen that there are some grammar points explained in the French course on iOS so I'm hoping that's in the works for Japanese. We do need it!


The sentence in the same lesson, i looked up the meaning of that word immediately, used はinstead of をand duolingo doesn't accept をthere. It doesn't accept はhere. Very confusing


Making mistakes is part of learning. Perhaps, let yourself be okay with getting a few wrong answers the first time you encounter new material. It will let you focus on abosrbing it rather than worrying about being right or wrong. /zen


The problem is that the lack of consistency, or alternatively an explanation, makes it needlessly difficult to apply what we've learned. Without the explanation given to us by a kind commenter, we would all have little knowledge on how to translate a third, different sentence that includes "dictionary".


I understand what を (object) and で (place where something happens or you do something in this case) mean but doesn't the direct object usually go right before the verb?

de で particle https://www.thoughtco.com/particles-de-4077278

o を particle https://japanesemeow.com/japanese-grammar-lessons/connect-a-verb-to-a-direct-object-with-wo/

辞書で 漢字の意味を引きました is also accepted.


No. 辞書で漢字の意味を引きました is not accepted, at least not as of 01/03/2020.


It is now, as of 11/11/2020.


didn't accept it for me


In another exercise in this lesson "難しい漢字は辞書を引いてください" means "please look up difficult kanji in your dictionary" (literally "As for difficult Kanji, please consult your dictionary"). And yet here we can't use

漢字の意味は辞書を引きました ("as for the meaning of the kanji, I consulted a dictionary").

It appears it's been like this for at least 3 years so the contributors have intentionally been rejecting any reports that the sentence above is an acceptable alternative. But for the life of me I can't see why the distinction... .


I've been seeing your comments a lot in these threads, and I'm so glad to realize that I'm not the only one continuously scratching my head at the weird contradictions that these exercises have.


In this exercise, there are two very similar sentences:

  • 漢字の意味を辞書で引きました。

  • その言葉はすぐに辞書で引きました

One uses は and the other uses を and if you swap them, the answer is marked incorrect. Does adding すぐに change the particle? My very limited understanding would say that both should be accepted in both cases. If this is not the case, I'd love to know why.


Does adding すぐに change the particle?

I don't think so. In the first sentence, the thing being looked up is used as the verb's direct object, and in the second sentence it's the context/topic of the sentence. Maybe it's just the answers that have been registered for each exercise.


It would help if DuoLingo actually played the audio for the kanji as you selected it, or taught you the kanji for the terms they're trying to make you select earlier in the lesson.


Every Kanji was missing audio for the voice the excercise used, I reported it as incorrect audio, here's to hoping it gets fixed.


Agreed. If I could hear the kanji, then I often wouldn't need to check the hints to see what it meant if I recognized the sound of it.


What is wrong with 漢字の意味は辞書で引きました I literally thought that the は Particle made sense for this sentence? Why is は wrong in this case?


Yep, that's exactly what I asked a month ago...no replies...


I swear they keep switching up the "wo" and "de"


That's because the object of the sentence is changing. Before, an example would be「辞書を引きます」、where を is in between 辞書 and 引きます because the object is 辞書、and you are consulting a dictionary.

Here though, you are looking up the meaning of the kanji, in a dictionary, so the object is 漢字の意味 because it's being acted upon, and 辞書 is just the location in which you are doing so.

You can think of 辞書で as more of an adverb here, and it is going in between the object and the verb, which isn't something that you can really do in English. The literal English translation would be more like "The meaning of the word, in the dictionary, I looked up."

To make it a bit less confusing, you could also put 辞書で at the beginning of the sentence so altogether it's「辞書で漢字の意味を引きました」、and it translates better to "in the dictionary, I looked up the meaning of the word", and makes it a lot more clear what is going on in the sentence.


That's because the same verb is used to mean consulting a dictionary (を) and looking for a something with a dictionary (で).

There's a lot more in the discussion above.


That moment when you realize even the word kanji has a kanji to it


If this helps anyone, the root meanking of 引くis "to pull". It can be used to play stringed instruments, catching a cold ("pulling" a cold), pulling a word from a dictionary, etc...

The particle で after a noun typically has the effect of saying "via" or "by means of".

What is being pulled in this sentence? The meaning of the kanji. So "the meaning of the kanji" is the direct object. How is it being pulled? Via a dictionary.

So we end up with: 漢字の意味(kanji's meaning)を(direct object marker)辞書(dictionary)で(via/by means of)引きました(pulled, or in this case 'looked up').

Reading backwards, you get literally: (I) pulled by means of (a) dictionary the meaning of the kanji.



At least give me the OPTIONS to get it right. D<


You were supposed to have selected ひきました, there's an unused まし at the bottom. Also, you can switch to manual input as well.


How do you use manual input? That would be nice!


I don't know how to do it on the mobile version, but on a browser on a conputer there are grey underlined words that say "use keyboard".


Install a Japanese keyboard on your phone's OS. On samsung, you switch input by swiping on the space bar


Kanji: 漢字の意味を辞書で引きました。


I had じしょで 漢字の意味を引きました. ("じしょで かんじのいみをひきました)

Is that wrong? If so, can anyone explain? Duolingo says that I used the wrong word, but 辞書 and じしょ mean the same thing don't they? Or maybe it was the placement? This is discouraging because I can't identify if this is truly wrong or what's exactly wrong with it.


Report it, that sentence is fine. Might just be the kanji use being flagged.

[deactivated user]

    I was even marked wrong with 私は辞書で漢字の意味を引きました。which has all the right kanji and seems to be correct grammar according to the other comments. I think sometimes Duo just doesn't have enough permutations of grammatically valid translations in its bank to check against.


    If your translation is correct, just click on the report option, and they will add it into the list of acceptable translations.


    Could I have used 漢字の意味は辞書に引きます?


    No, since you need で to mark a location where an action takes place, に is for the target of an action, or the location of an existence verb.


    Just an observation: で can also be the means for an action: ナイフで パンを 切る.


    辞書に漢字の意味を引きました was not accepted. Could anyone please explain to me why?


    Because に doesn't mean exactly “in”. In reality, it's used with locations because it marks an “indirect object” or “target” of an action, and verbs of existence and travel consider that location as their indirect object. So you can say:

    The word is not in the dictionary.

    引く can mean either consulting a piece of information or consulting specifically a dictionary:

    Consult a dictionary

    Consult a word “with” a dictionary

    Remember that the means of an action are marked with で.


    辞書に漢字の意味を引きました was not accepted. Could anyone please explain to me why?

    You need to use で in this sentence. While I'll let others explain what で means grammatically, I will simply say this. In everyday speech, に means "AT" (well, there are more meaning than this, but this will suffice here for now). You're merely pointing out the where. No action needs to happen at that place. With で, other hand, there must be an action "IN" some place or thing. For example, in your sentence, you're looking up the meaning in the dictionary (--> action), hence, で should have been used.


    In everyday speech, に means "AT"

    I eat at the restaurant.

    With で, other hand, there must be an action "IN" some place or thing.

    Be sick.

    Mechanical translation is no one's friend; less so with English prepositions - they're so fickle!


    I eat at the restaurant.

    食べる is an action and, as mentioned in my previous post, で requires action whereas に does not.


    This actually means "to become" sick. For instance, when you're sick, you vomit, you have chills, etc. Don't know about you but I call that action (at least that how I see it).


    で requires action whereas に does not.

    That's true when it follows a location. “Being sick” is not an action.


    This actually mean "to become" sick.

    Nope: https://ejje.weblio.jp/sentence/content/病気である. State, not action.

    “Become sick” = 病気になる. Notice that に isn't marking a location here either.

    I gave counterexamples to show that に・で don't necessarily mean “AT”/“IN” respectively, not even with locations:

    IN AT
    公園で歩く 家で働く
    walk in the park work at home
    公園に住む 家にいる
    live in the park be at home

    And when they're not applied to a location, maybe neither preposition can be used, e.g. 病気に・で.

    に can be said to mean “at” in the sense of “I threw the ball at him”; that's called an indirect object.

    My big point is that it's much more productive to connect them to the Japanese concepts than to try to connect or shoehorn them into an English vocab. To summarize without getting too academic:

    で: means; cause; where an action, not a state, happens (that's probably what you mean).

    に: indirect object or “target”; specific time.

    を: direct object.

    The only thing that's left to “just know” is what's the direct/indirect object for a given verb. E.g. that “going” and “being” verbs have a place as their に-target.


    I did じしよでかんじのいまをひきましや and it worked. Not sure if it is correct.


    Trying to do it on a mobile is hopeless, there seems to be a lot missing just by reading these comments. The sudden switch to kanji not shown before is confusing enough without the particle issue!!




    Yes, this. I'm completely confused by saying 引きました for looking up the meaning of a kanji. It seems as if the sentence is saying that someone opened the kanji. 辞書を引いて漢字の意味を調べました。And if I wanted to say look it up in a dictionary, I might say 辞書を引いて, but that means open a dictionary, or use a dictionary. But if we remove dictionary and just say 漢字を引いて it doesn't make sense.

    Is it just me, or does something about this seem wrong?


    Nothing is wrong; one of the meanings of 引く is "to look up (in a dictionary)

    Definition 8 at https://jisho.org/search/引く


    Furthermore, none of the definitions say "open", even for a drawer!


    That "を辞書で" looks weird to me. I thought を is is always followed by the verb. In any case, it took my answer "辞書で漢字の意味を引きました".


    Japanese particles can come in any order the speaker would like. Some orders might be less common or more for poems and such, but any order really is admissible.

    This sentence could be written two different ways:

    1. 漢字の意味を辞書で引きました。
    2. 辞書で漢字の意味を引きました。

    If we add in subjects to be a little more specific, we could write it more ways

    1. 僕は辞書で漢字の意味を引きました。
    2. 僕は漢字の意味を辞書で引きました。
    3. 漢字の意味を僕は辞書で引きました。
    4. 漢字の意味を辞書で僕は引きました。
    5. 辞書で漢字の意味を僕は引きました。
    6. 辞書で僕は漢字の意味を引きました。

    However, 3-6, You'll either never hear, or extremely seldom, even though you could do it; you might see odd constructions like this more frequently in poems in order to fit certain schemes / morae counts



    I'm wondering why 調べます is not accepted in any of these sentences. I was taught to use 調べる for looking stuff up. I have never seen 引く used in this context before, so I've learned something too, but I'm really surprised that duo hasn't accepted shiraberu once no matter how many combinations I try.


    Looked up:「調べた」(しらべた)or 「調べました」(しらべました) I looked up the meaning of the kanji in a dictionary. 「漢字の意味を辞書で調べました」


    why isn't 漢字の意味を辞書で調べました accepted? in the 5 years i've lived in japan i have never once heard anyone say 辞書で引きます


    I don't think i have ever gotten this one right. :(

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