1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. "Please tell me the meaning o…

"Please tell me the meaning of this word."


December 4, 2017



The correct answer should be この言葉の意味を教えてください。 答えて is unatural


I agree, 教えて sounds more natural.




i use ”知らせてください“ & it didn't work


「知らせる」 would be more like to announce something publicly or to make something widely known, like by using a flyer or a mass e-mail or something.


こたえ because this is in the context of a classroom. This is how a teacher would ask a student to answer a question in front of the class. It's also how the host of a quiz show would ask contestants. 教え would be if you don't know the meaning and want someone to teach you. Of course, on Duo the context is uncertain so both should probably be accepted.


I feel like this should be 教えて/おしえて? こたえ as far as I know is more "answer [this question]" where as 教える is more of a general "instruct" or "explain" this.




答える doesn't use the を particle. It makes sense but it's grammatically wrong.


The correct particle is に. We can use that when we are answering TO a question.


Jisho.org says it is intransitive. So yeah, this confused me. I believe this sentence may be wrong.


Maybe 答える is used transitively (using を) from time to time irl though it technically is an intransitive verb. I don't know.


Why is it not 教えてください? - Ive never seen 答えるused in that context before.


Shouldn't この言葉の意味を言ってください be accepted? And I don't understand - as some other people pointed out - why 答える here could be transitive.


I personally think a better translation would be「この言葉の意味を教えてください」"please tell me the meaning of this word". I don't really use 答える or 言う this way.

The difference between 教える and 言う is that the first one is about the transfer of information,

教える is about the information being passed by a speaker to the listener.

言う is about someone saying the words from their mouth. An utterance if I would say so.

In that manner, 教える is closer to "to tell" and 言う is closer to "to say".

I don't understand - as some other people pointed out - why 答える here could be transitive.

I'm not sure about the grammatical aspect, but people often confuse ditransitivity with transitivity.

I explained a bit more in my comment from the twin thread here:


... but the short version is that when you need to use a second object with an intransitive verb (it doesn't happens that often) you use something else to mark or represent that second object. Intransitive verbs in japanese use に to mark the first indirect object; a second object is marked then by を。

Taking an extract from my own comment...

The indirect object is the speaker making the request, the speaker is saying "Please answer my question with the meaning of this word"; the 意味 is the second object of the sentence,

so in that manner, you could complete that as:


But since this is obvious in Japanese because you use te-form to make polite requests to other people, it's omitted.

Here are some nuances between the three sentence:

「この言葉の意味を教えてください」"please tell me the meaning of this word"—the speaker is seeking information from the listener, he's asking for the meaning of the word, he probably doesn't know the meaning himself.

「この言葉の意味を言ってください」"please say (aloud) the meaning of this word"—the speaker wants the listener to utter the meaning of the word, he's not looking for information but for the listener to simply say the meaning from his mouth.

「この言葉の意味を答えてください」"please answer the meaning of this word (to me)"—This sentence is about seeking an answer (sometimes a reply) from the listener, the speaker could know the answer and what he's actually doing is evaluating the listener's knowledge. I picture a teacher saying this to a student during a verbal test.


Thank you very much for this detailed answer! It makes it much clearer to me now.


この言葉の意味を教えてください   is now accepted.


I think I'll be saying this a lot when I go to Japan. This, and トイレはどこですか?


The translation should be "Please, answer me the meaning of this word".

The fact that we can see that is wrong or inappropriate if the context is not included, it's a good thing


when do I use 質問 and when do I use 問題? I am confused.


Literally “question” and “problem”:

  • そこに 問題が ある
    There's the problem

  • 三体 問題
    Three-body problem

  • 質問をしてもいいですか
    May I ask a question?


This is more like "please answer me the meanjng if this word" which might make oerfect sense in Japanese for all we non matives know?

To answer is to tell afterall.


"This word's meaning, answer please."


But that's not really good Japanese.

"この単語の意味を教えてください” is the stock request if you don't know the meaning of a word.

Do a google search of "この単語の意味を答えてください” and you'll see that nothing comes up as an exact match (except for this Duolingo example), while you'll get lots of "hits" for "この単語の意味を教えてください”. That's one of the first things I learned when I began to study Japanese with Japanese student friends-- they would always ask me "Please teach me the meaning of this word".


You made the query too specific.

  • "意味を答え" (to allow for conjugations): 700K results
  • "を答え": 10M results


Well, the first example that pops up is someone who doesn't know what it means.「次の語句の意味を答えなさい。」と言う問題が分かりません。教えてください

My own Japanese dictionary lists no entries for "を答える", especially in the sense of "tell (me) the meaning"

こたえる【答える】 answer; 【改まって】⦅やや書⦆reply⦅to⦆ (!文書で答えることを暗示することがある) . 解説 answer が answer A (人)+B (質問など)の文型で用いられるのは, Answer me this [that] (question). (この[その]質問に答えてください)のような決まった言い方に限られており, ╳Answer this [that] (question) to me. の語順は不可. ▸ はっきりと答える answer definitely / give a definite answer. ▸ 質問に答える answer [reply to] a question. (!╳answer to [reply] a question は不可. answer が名詞のときは to が必要 (⇨答え)) ▸ 彼は私の質問には答えなかった He didn't answer [reply to, respond to] my question.He didn't answer me. (!後の方は質問だけでなく話しかけられて返事をする場合などにも用いる) To my question he didn't answer. (!my question を強調する言い方. このような場合以外, 前の他動詞用法が普通) ▸ 彼はそれには何も答えなかった He gave no answer to that.He made [gave] no reply to that. ▸ 何と答えてよいか分からなかった I did not know what to reply [what to say in reply].I was at a loss for an answer. ▸ 彼はそれを知っていると答えた He answered (me) [replied (to me)] that he knew it.“I know it,” he answered [replied]. (!直接話法で用いるのは主に書き言葉. 会話では He said, “I know it.” が普通)


Well, the first example that pops up is someone who doesn't know what it means.「次の語句の意味を答えなさい。」と言う問題が分かりません。教えてください。

That person is asking about the meaning of the three expressions that follow (次の語句), not of 答える. Still, would all 700K examples be wrong too?

My own Japanese dictionary lists no entries for "を答える", especially in the sense of "tell (me) the meaning"

I just posted an answer quoting another dictionary that does, but the forum ate it (maybe it doesn't like a character).

明鏡国語辞典 says:

1 〘他下一〙相手の質問などに対して、言葉を返す。返事をする。「問われるままにありのままを答えた」
2 〘自下一〙問題を解いて答えを出す。解答する。「次の問いに答えよ」


On the other hand, 教える has the sense of not only "teach", but also "tell", as in the sense of "telling (someone) how to do something" or "informing someone"

2 【教示する】 【口頭で】tell; 【実際に示して】show; 【知らせる】let* 〘him〙 know, ⦅書⦆ inform. (⇨通知する) ▸ 彼にその機械の使い方を教える show him how to use the machine. ▸ お名前を教えていただけませんか Could you tell [╳teach] me your name(, please)? / May I have [ask] your name(, please)? ▸ 何か変わったことがあったらすぐ教えてください Let me know at once if anything happens.Please inform me at once of any change. (!後の方は堅い言い方) ▸ 彼の電話番号を教えてくださいませんか Could you give me his phone number? ▸ アメリカの大学への入学について教えていただきたいのですが I'd like (you to give me) some information on how to get into an American university. 会話 ▸ 「すみませんが, ここの電話のかけ方を教えてくださいませんか」「いいですとも. こちらは初めてですか」「ええ, 今着いたばかりです」 “Excuse me. Could you show [╳teach] me how to make a phone call here?” “Sure. Are you new to this country?” “Yes. I've just arrived.” ▸ 「ちょっと教えていただきたい⦅不思議なので知りたい⦆のですが, どうしたらそんなにお元気でいられるのですか」「ただ規則正しい生活をしているだけですよ」 “I'm just curious. How do you keep yourself in such good shape?” “Just by keeping regular hours.”


答える is to answer why would it be used here


It's a mistake. The correct answer should be 〜教えてください


This lesson has me so confused and turned around as to when to use に with 答える and when to use を that this feels like the opposite of learning; this is confusing.


答える really isn't the proper word to use here.

At any rate, を isn't usually used with 答える. に is usually used in the sense of "answering a question"-- 質問に答える

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.