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Oct 7, 2018

How to say "sleep" in Japanese - Neru and Nemuru


Hello. I'm Kosuke!

Today, let's learn how to say "sleep" in Japanese!



When you search "sleep" in a dictionary, you will find two Japanese words, "neru" and "nemuru".

However, their meanings are a little different.

Let's look at their differences in this article!




1. Summary

HiraganaRomajiEnglishKanji
ねるne rusleep寝る
ねむるne mu rusleep眠る

"Neru" and "Nemuru" sound similar, and both have the meaning "sleep".

I'll explain the difference!






"Neru" means "sleep". 

However, it also means "lie down".

Even if you don't fall asleep, you can use "neru".



For example, you can use "neru", like below.


かのじょは ながら ほんを よんで いる。
ka no jo wa ne na ga ra ho n wo yo n de i ru

Meaning: "She is reading a book while lying down."

かのじょ: She
ね(る): lie down
ながら: while
ほん: book
よんでいる: is reading

If you don't know about "は(wa)", please check this:

If you don't know about "を(wo)", please check this:


As I explained in the previous article, when we use "ながら(nagara)", verbs change their form.

Therefore, in this example, "ねる(neru)" becomes "ながら(ne nagara)", which means "while lying down", or "while sleeping".

Let's see another example!






かれは ながら おさけを のんで いる。
ka re wa ne na ga ra o sa ke wo no n de i ru

Meaning: "He is drinking alcohol while lying down."

かれ: he
おさけ: alcohol
のんでいる: is drinking


Like the examples above, "ねる(neru)" means "sleep" or "lie down".







On the other hand, "ねむる(nemuru)" means "sleep".


What will happen if we use "ねむる(nemuru)" for the example sentence above?


かのじょは ねむりながら ほんを よんで いる。
ka no jo wa ne mu ri na ga ra ho n wo yo n de i ru

Meaning: "She is reading a book while sleeping."


...

It is impossible, right?


When people do "ねむる(nemuru)", they aren't conscious.
So they can't read, and they can't drink alcohol...




When we say "rest in peace" in English, it means "die".

In Japanese, "ねむる(nemuru)" can also mean "die".


"Rest in peace" can translate to "やすらかにねむる(yasurakani nemuru)".

"やすらかに(yasurakani)" means "in peace".
So "ねむる(nemuru)" means "die".


However, "ねる(neru)" doesn't have the meaning of "die".







How was it?


"ねる(neru)" and "ねむる(nemuru)" are very similar words.

However, they have a slightly different meaning.



Please remember the items below!


  • Both "ねる(neru)" and "ねむる(nemuru)" mean "sleep".

  • "ねる(neru)" can also mean "lie down".

  • "ねむる(nemuru)" doesn't have the meaning of "lie down".

  • "ねむる(nemuru)" can mean "die".


I hope this article helps you study Japanese!
Thank you for reading!

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