Difference between 【する】 and 【やる】

Probably one of the first words you’ll learn is 「する」 which is the verb meaning “to do”. This is a very useful verb to know for obvious reasons. This is especially true in Japanese because many verbs are simply a noun combined with this verb.

For instance, the verb, “to research” is simply the noun for “research” (研究) plus 「する」.

1) 半導体を研究する。 – Research semi-conductors.

Somewhere along your studies, you’re bound to come across another verb 「やる」, which also means, “to do”. The foremost question that should come to mind is, “How is it different from 「する」?” The answer lies in the examples below.

正) ゲームをする。 – Do game.
正) ゲームをやる。 – Do game.

正) 想像する。 – Imagine.
誤) 想像やる。 – [Wrong, you cannot use 「やる」 in this case]

「やる」 means “to do” only as a physical action. So while it’s ok to say 「やる」 for doing a game, you cannot use it with 「想像」 since mental processes do not involve any physical movement. (As long as you don’t get technical with the movement of electrical impulses in the brain or whatnot).

「やる」 means “to do” only as a physical action.

Another difference between 「する」 and 「やる」, is that 「やる」 can be used as a way to give things or do something for somebody while looking down at that person. 「する」 does not share this property.

1) お前にこれをやるよ。- I give you this. (looking down)
2) 絶対に勝ってやる! – I’ll win (beat you) for sure!

4 thoughts on “Difference between 【する】 and 【やる】

  1. I read somewhere that yaru is also used like ageru but for plants and animals. Do you every actually hear people use it that way?

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