きれい vs うつくしい

06/18/2010 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

This is a TV Ad for SHISEIDO shampoo.

It says ‘ 日本の女性は美しい

美しい ( =うつくしい / utsukushii ) means ‘ beautiful ‘ in English.

Then what is the difference between うつくしい and きれい ?

Here are some explanations the difference.

きれい

usage #1

きれい indicates that the shape or color of something is arranged in a clear and pleasing fashion.

eg.

・部屋にきれいな花の絵がかざってある。

= heya ni kirei na hana no e ga kazattearu.

= The room is decorated with a beautiful picture of flowers.

・彼女は、とてもきれいだ。

= kanojo wa totemo kirei da.

= She is very beautiful.

usage #2

It is also expresses a clean or neat state, or implies innocence or lack of ill-will.

eg.

・食事の前に、手をきれいに洗ってください。

= shokuji no mae ni, te o kirei ni aratte kudasai.

= Please wash your hands well before you eat.

・正しい政治を行うために、きれいな選挙をするべきだ。

= tadashii seiji o okonau tameni, kirei na senkyo o suru beki da.

= In order to have honest government, we must have clean elections.

usage #3

It may be used as an adverb meaning ‘ completely ‘ or ‘ entirely ‘ in the form of  きれいに.

eg.

・残さずきれいに食べてください。

= nokosazu kirei ni tabete kudasai.

= Please eat everything on your plate.

・きのう覚えた日本語の単語を、一晩寝たらきれいに忘れてしまった。

= kinou oboeta nihongo no tango o, hitoban netara kirei ni wasureteshimatta.

= I’ve completely forgotten all of the Japanese words I learned yesterday.

うつくしい

usage #1

うつくしい is used when the speaker is impressed with the beauty, splendor, or magnificence of something, may include a person’s figure, or the color or sound of something.

eg

・日本の女性は美しい

= nihon no josei wa utsukushii.

= Japanese women are beautiful.

・五月は新緑が美しい季節だ。

= gogatsu wa shinryoku ga utsukushii kisetsu da.

= May is the month of beautiful new green leaves.

usage #2

It may also be used to express that something has qualities of spiritual or moral value.

eg

・彼らの美しい友情の話は、人々の心を打った。

= karera no utsukushii yuujou no hanashi wa, hitobito no kokoro o utta.

= The story of their beautiful friednship touched people’s hearts.

Note:

美しい is more commonly used in written language and きれい is in spoken language.

In comparing usage,  きれいな字 (字 = ji ) refers to neat, easy to read writing, while うつくしい字 implies more evaluation of its artistic value.

In other words, things described as うつくしい are more conventionally and popularly accepted as beautiful, while きれい suggests a more personal and casual assessment of beauty.

– Maki

tutorjapanese2000@yahoo.co.jp

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Entry filed under: Lesson with Japanese Culture, Vocab & Grammar. Tags: , , , .

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