How to Speak Japanese

The Best Free Online Japanese Dictionary

Japanese Dictionaries

 

Introduction

There are a lot of free online Japanese dictionaries. However, as the Japanese saying goes “玉石混交 Gyokusekikonko; some of them are good and some of them are bad”, you have to find which one is appropriate for you. In this article, I am going to show you the complete comparison for Japanese dictionaries. Considering the word “complete”, I have picked up these popular online Japanese dictionaries; Jisho, Nihongodict, Tangorin, Japanese Learner’s Dictionary, 英辞郎 on the WEB (Free version), and Google Translation. I also have adapted these evaluation criteria; translation accuracy, examples, user interface (*easy to use), audio file, and inflections. First, let’s see the results and then go check the details.

Comparison for Japanese Dictionary

 

Translation

Accuracy

Examples User interface Audio file Inflections

Mark

Jisho

2 2 3 1 2

10

Nihongodict

2 0 2 0 0 4

Tangorin

2 2 2 0 3 9

Japanese Learner’s Dictionary,

3 2 2 2 0

9

英辞郎 on the WEB (Free version)

1 2 1 0 0

4

Google Translation 2 0 3 2 0

7

Good… 3 Average…2 Poor…1 None…0

This is an unexpected result for me. Each dictionary has own original strengths more than I thought. Thus, the best idea is that you choose one of them depending on your purpose. Here are the summaries.  

Summary for Japanese Dictionary

For General

Jisho is the best dictionary for general purposes. The user interface is really well-designed. You can search English, Japanese, Romaji, words, text and even voice via the same form. If you use the hashtags, you will reach what to know only by 1 crick. For example, if you search for しゅう in this way; “しゅう#sentence”, 11 example sentences will come up. That’s amazing.

かれしゅうした。 He prepared his lessons. しゅうはじめたほうがいいですよ。 You may as well begin to prepare your lessons. 授業じゅぎょうしゅうをしてくるべきだったのに。 You should have prepared for the lesson. …And more. Quoted from Jisho-予習

For Vocabulary

Japanese Learner’s Dictionary has high accuracy in vocabulary. When you look up difficult words such as at JLPT N1 level, I recommend you to check here to make sure. In fact, I found mistakes in translations given by the above dictionaries except for the Japanese Learner’s Dictionary during this survey. The word was あくどい as shown below.

Jisho I-adjective Gaudy; showy; excessive Crooked; vicious

Tangorin Adjective Gaudy; showy; excessive Crooked; vicious

Japanese Learner’s Dictionary iA Nasty, wicked Meretricious, showy, loud (color) Vicious, wicked Quoted from Jisho, Tangorin, Japanese Learner’s Dictionary あくどい

From the view of native speakers, “nasty, wicked” translated by the Japanese Learner’s Dictionary is the most natural of all. Others said “gaudy; showy; excessive” for their first translation. However, Japanese people usually don’t use あくどい as such nowadays. Thus, it may lead learners to misunderstand even though the second translation is correct.

For Inflections

Tangolin is the most appropriate for inflections. I am sure you will be surprised by the quality. As you know Japanese language requires you to memorize not only for the words themselves, but also each inflection, such as, plain, te-form, provisional, conditional, Imperative, etc. Tangolin remarkably covers every inflection.

Form Plain Polite
Plain どりょくする どりょくします
Plain negative どりょくしない どりょくしません
Past どりょくした どりょくしました
Past neg. どりょくしなかった どりょくしませんでした
-te form どりょくして どりょくしまして
-te form neg. どりょくしないで どりょくしなくて どりょくしませんで
Provisional どりょくすれば どりょくしますなら どりょくしませば
Provisional neg. どりょくしなければ どりょくしなくちゃ どりょくしなきゃ どりょくしませんなら
Conditional どりょくしたら どりょくしましたら
Conditional neg. どりょくしなかったら どりょくしませんでしたら
Imperative どりょくしろ どりょくせよ どりょくしなさい
Imperative neg. どりょくするな どりょくしなさるな

…And more. Quoted from Tangorin―努力

Conclusion

Again, each dictionary has their own strengths and weaknesses. You should choose which to use depending on your purpose. One the other hand, the pronunciation field has been not sufficient for looking up yet. Of course you can just refer to the audio files, but it is just a “referral”. The intonation will be changed depending on your situations, emotions, opponents, etc. You may need to ask native speakers if you would like to know how to pronounce correctly.

Recommended Link

Jisho.org

Nihongodict 

Tangorin 

Japanese Learner’s Dictionary 

英辞郎 on the WEB (Free version) 

Google Translation 

Author and English Editor

Author – Takuya Tokiwa

Takuya is the co-founder, Project Director of Wasabi and a serial entrepreneur in the education field. He is utilizing all of his knowledge and experiences for innovating Japanese learning.

English Editor – Reka, Blue Kangaroo

Reka has been working as a native English teacher for the past 4 years and teaching students of all ages, background and ability, from 8-88 years of age, from absolute beginner to fluent. If you have any inquiry related English, please visit here.

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