What are You Wearing?

One of the things that fascinates me about different languages is that some languages have words for things that other languages don’t. I assume that there is some sort of cultural difference in play.

In English you “wear” clothes. You “wear” socks, pants, shirts, hats, even glasses. It doesn’t really matter what it is, you “wear” it. Not in Japanese, though! There, for some reason, it depends where on the body you are talking about.


Hats? You かぶる a hat on your head.

Glasses? That’s かける.

Are you wearing earrings? つける。

Planning on wearing a tie today? That’s しめる。

How about gloves? はめる。

Going to wear a scarf? You are going to まく it.

What about clothing that you wear on the upper body, like a shirt? That’s 着る。

And, of course, you’ll want to wear pants with your shirt, right? はく. (This one is also used for wearing shoes. I wonder if you get to use the same word for “wear” because 足 means both leg and foot…)

And this isn’t even a complete list!

What’s up with that? I have no idea.

One of the important rules for learning a language is not to spend too much time trying to figure the why of something. It can utterly fascinating, but knowing it doesn’t help you speak the language. Save that for later. For now, concentrate on the how and let the why take care of itself.

I’m thinking that just trying to describe what you’re wearing right now could take a while. There are even different words for watch (する) and ring (はめる). Have fun with that.



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