熱い VS 暑い ( = atsui ) & 暖かい VS 温かい ( = atatakai)


= Kyou atsui? Atatakai?

= Is it hot today or warm?

Hi everybody! It is getting hotter lately in Japan. How about in your countries?

Maggiesensei.com reader, Jack, sends us this question:

  I was wondering if you could make a lesson about (or just including) the usage of  あたたかい ( = atatakai)  and あつい ( = atsui) , I’m always confusing them…

and what’s worse, both have two appropriate kanji, so I never know which one to use, 暑い ( = atsui) , 熱い ( = atsui) , 暖かい ( = atatakai)  or 温かい ( = atatakai) . I hope you can clear

this up for me. Thanks in advance.

There are many kanji that have the same sound but what’s worse, the following two pairs have the same sound and  the same meaning when you look them up in the dictionary.

:yy: 暑い = atsui、熱い = atsui  !to right! hot

!candy! 暖かい = atatakai、温かい = atatakai !to right! warm

Then how do we distinguish between them? Here are some tricks to help you remember! :)

:mm: 熱い ( = atsui)  VS 暑い ( = atsui ) = hot

!star! 1) If you touch something and  it’s hot, you use 熱い( = atsui)

Ex. 熱いコーヒー

= Atsui koohii

= Hot coffee

Ex. 熱いお風呂

= Atsui ofuro

= Hot bath

Ex. 熱いお茶

= Atsui ocha

= Hot tea

Ex. このお茶は熱い

= Kono ocha wa atsui

= This tea is hot.

Ex. スープ、熱いから気をつけてね。

= Suupu atsui kara kiwo tsuketene.

= The soup is very hot so be careful.

Ex. 家に帰って熱いお風呂に入りたい。

= Ie ni kaette atsui ofuro ni hairitai.

= I want to go home and take a hot bath.

Ex. マギー体が熱いよ。熱があるんじゃない?

= Maggie, karada ga atsui yo. Netsu ga arunjanai?

= Maggie, your body is burning (hot) . Maybe you have a fever.

!star! 2) You can also use 熱い  ( = atsui) for intangible things.

Ex. 熱い議論

= atsui giron

= a hot discussion

Ex. 熱い友情

= Atsui yuujou

= Strong ties of friendship

Ex. あの二人はお熱い仲だ。

=Ano futari wa oatsui naka da.

= Those two are really in love.

Ex. あの先生はとても熱い。

= Ano sensei wa totemo atsui.

= That teacher is very passionate/ enthusiastic.

Note : In modern Japanese  熱い  ( =  atsui) is often used to describe personalities.

It comes from the word  熱心  ( = nesshinn) = zealous, earnest

Ex.  熱い奴   ( = atsui yatsu ): 奴   =  yatsu) is a derogatory term used to refer to a guy, but it is also a very casual way to call to a guy in a friendly manner.

So “熱い奴”   ( = atsuiyatsu)  refers to a guy who is very enthusiastic, energetic, zealous, someone who goes after one’s goal without any hesitation, or believes in one’s dream and tries to make it come true.

If you say “He is hot!” in English it means sexually attractive. But  in Japanese,

Ex. 彼は熱い。=  Kare wa atsui. = He is very enthusiastic (energetic, passionate.)

!star! 暑い  ( =  atsui) is  used when you talk about climate.

Ex. 暑い夏  = atsui natsu = hot summer

Ex. 昨年の夏は異常な位、暑かった。

= Sakunen no natsu wa ijou na gurai atsukatta.

= It was abnormally hot last summer.

Ex. 昨日は暑くて寝られなかった。

= Kinou wa atsukute nerarenakatta.

= I couldn’t sleep last night because it was too hot.

:n:  暖かい   ( = atatakai)  VS  温かい ( = atatakai )

They both mean “warm”

!star! 暖かい  ( = atatakai) is used for climate, air or the temperature or something that you feel with your whole body.

Ex. 暖かい部屋

= Atatakai heya

= A warm room

Ex. 暖かい春の一日

= Atatakai haru no ichinichi

= A warm spring day

Ex. 日増しに暖かくなってきましたね。

=Himashi ni atatakaku natte kimashitane.

= It is getting warmer and warmer everyday.

Ex. 暖かい毛布

= Atatakai moufu

= warm blanket

Ex. 暖かい空気

= Atatakai kuuki

= warm air

:rrrr: The transitive verb is  暖める  ( = atatameru) = to warm, to heat up something and intransitive verb is  暖まる  ( = atatamaru)

Ex. 部屋を暖める

= Heya wo atatameru

= to warm up the room

Ex. ストーブのそばで暖まる

= Sutoubu no soba de atamaru

= to warm up oneself  by the heater

!star! If you touch something and it feels warm, you use  温かい  ( = atatakai) . Also for body, food, feelings, we use  温かい ( = atatakai)

温かい  ( = atatakai) is used when you feel with a part of your body.

Ex. 温かい食事

= atatakai shokuji

warm meal


=Samui kara nanika atatakai mono wo tabeyou ka?

It’s cold so why don’t we eat something warm?

Ex. 温かいコーヒー

= Atatakai koohii

= Hot coffee

!kirakira! Note : 熱い  ( = atsui)  VS  温かい  ( = atatakai)

Now some of you might have wondered what the difference between 温かいコーヒー  ( = atatakai koohii)  and 熱いコーヒー  ( = atsui koohii) because both translations are “hot coffee”. Usually when we say  熱い ( = atsui), it is simply “hot” temperature-wise and  温かい  ( = atatakai) implies “comfortably hot” which you feel with your heart.

So if someone says


= Kono koohii atsui!

The person is complaining that the coffee is too hot,  ”This coffee is burning hot!”

But if they say


= Kono koohii atatakai!

It means “I like this coffee. It’s nice and hot” and we can tell they are very happy with that coffee.

But if you expect something is supposed to be “hot” we use 熱い = atsui

(Ex. 熱いお茶が飲みたい! =  Atsui ocha ga nomitai = I want a hot tea!)

Ex. 温かいお飲み物は如何ですか?

= Atatakai ononimono wa ikaga desu ka?

= Would like some warm drink?

!star! Also we can use 温かい = atatakai) for intangible things when we feel warm in our hearts.

Note: The transitive verb is 温める ( =  atatameru) = to warm (up), to heat up something and intransitive verb is  温まる ( =  atatamaru)

Ex. 温かい家庭

= Atatakai katei

= warm family

Ex. 温かい人

= atatakai hito

= A warm person

Ex. 心温まる話

=Kokoro atatamaru hanashi

= heart warming story

Note 1 ) When we talk about “heart” or “feelings”it is said not to use  暖かい ( = atatakai)  but actuallyI found  暖かい心 ( = atatakaikokoro) in a Japanese dictionary and  you will get a lot of hits with 暖かい心  ( = atatakai kokoro) if you do a search on the net. That proves, even many Japanese people don’t know which one to use. Yet, basically when you feel warm in your heart, we are supposed to use  温かい =  atatakai)

Note 2) 温い ( =  nurui) can be readぬるい  ( = nurui) it means lukewarm, tepid.  Since it is confusing to write it in  kanji, it

isoftenwritten in hiranaga.


Ex. コーヒーがぬるくなる。

= Koohii ga nurukunaru.

= My coffee gets lukewarm


:i: Special cases :

:w:  懐が暖かい

= futokoro ga atatakai

= to have a fat purse

懐  ( = futokoro) is the inside breast pocket but it also refers one’s financial situation at that time.

So when you say

Ex. 今日は懐が暖かい

= Kyou wa futokoro ga atatakai.

It means to have plenty of money today.

:rrrr: opposite : 懐が寒い ( = futokoro ga samui )  or  懐が寂しい ( =  futokoro ga samishii)

:: 暖かい色  = atatakai iro = warm color(s)  (or  暖色 = danshoku)

When you refer to colors, you use 暖かい ( =  atatakai)

:s: 温暖= ondan = warmth

When we combine   and  , it will be  温暖  ( = ondan) and it used to describe mild warm climate.

Ex. ハワイは一年を通じて温暖だ。

=Hawaii wa ichinen wo tsuujite  ondan da.

= The climate in Hawaii is mildly warm all through the year.

Ex. 温暖化現象

=ondanka genshou

= Green house effect

:qq: あったかい  ( =  attakai ) a casual way to say  暖かい+温かい あたたかい  ( =  atatakai)

Ex. 今日はあったかいね。

= Kyou wa attakai ne!

= It’s warm today, isn’t it?

Ex . マギー、あったかい!

= Maggie  attakai!

= You are warm, Maggie!

マギー先生より = Maggie sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

私は、”熱い”先生?それとも “温かい”先生?

=  Watashi wa”atsui” sensei? Soretomo “atatakai” sensei?

=Am I a “passionate (energetic)” teacher or a “warm” teacher?


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    1. Hello Ben,
      I’m glad to hear you like my explanations.
      Yes, you use 熱い for fire.
      But if you are in a nice and warm room around the fireplace, you can describe the fire as 暖かい as well.

  1. So, what’s the difference between 温和 and 温暖? 温和 seems to refer more to a person’s gentle nature, but I have seen it used to describe mild climates as well. Thanks in advance for any clarification!

    1. @Natasha

      You are right. Sometimes you use 温和 to describe mild climate like 温暖. (In that case, they are the same meaning, mild
      But you don’t use 温暖 to describe gentle personality. Just for climate.

  2. dear Maggie sensei、

    I’ve got a problem with this phrase 「熱く なつちまってる」 cus I know only 熱く but what is なつち and why まって+いる =waiting???

    I don’t know where to post this pharse cus I don’t get its structure then after I met “atsui” I decided to post it here, hope u don’t mind ><.

    1. @Nicole

      Haha, I wonder where you saw the line. It is a kind of vulgar. Anyway it must be
      熱くなっちまってる with small っ not 熱くなつちまてる

      The original line is
      熱くなってしまっている = it has become hot
      By using ~ってしまう or ~ってしまっている, you can express your feelings of regret or dissatisfaction for the result or certain condition.
      So it means “It got hotter than it should be/we expected / It shouldn’t be this hot but it has become hot.)

      Now let’s see how they change :
      ★present tense / future tense : なってしまう →(more vulgar) なっちまう = will be ~ / will turn into ~ / will become / becomes /changes to
      ★present tense / present progressive form : なってしまっている →(more vulgar) なっちまっている = to be ~ / is being/ is becoming /to have become ~ /to have changed to ~
      ★past tense / past perfect form : なってしまった→(more vulgar) なっちまった = has become ~ / became ~ / has turned into ~ /turned into / have changed to/ changed to

      so なっちまう/なっちまってる/なっちまった are all very casual/vulgar male speech (a bit old fashioned)

      Hope I answered your question.

      1. doumo arigatou Maggie sensei….LOVE UUUUU

        I’ve got this phrase from a manga, it’s shounen type. I’m trying to translate it cause this book in my country has too late publishing. Then I gotta face with many strange structures plz help me.
        like this one…

        熱く”なっち”まってる –> 熱く”なって”しまっている

        That means whenever I meet this “なっち” can I always presume it is “なって”,right ? and its measuring like “damn”?

        and in まってる the author can leave ”い” anytime isn’t it?

        Sensei from this phrase, Does it have some other young men using in real life? or this is a bookish word?

        and the last one I know only this word “熱くなっている” form but what’s まう and まってる they’re using only with vulgar expression?

        sorry to ask alot and Thank you in advance

        1. @Nicole Hi, Nicole!
          OK, let me answer your questions one by one.
          1)That means whenever I meet this “なっち” can I always presume it is “なって”,right ? and its measuring like “damn”? →Yes
          2)and in まってる the author can leave ”い” anytime isn’t it?→Yes, we can either leave it or delete it.
          3) Does it have some other young men using in real life? or this is a bookish word?→Yes. Not necessary young men.. some older men use it in real life as well. But women don’t use it.
          4)まう and まってる they’re using only with vulgar expression?→This suffix is used with なっち and you have to think as a set. And yes, it is a rough expressions.

          FYI not just なっちまう you can form this type of phrases with other verbs.

          1. あああ~ 分かったね.Then these examples should say like this, right?

            やってしまう –> Damn..to do this.(that I don’t want to do.)
            やっちまった –> Oop! I did it.

            Thank you Maggie Sensei for the wonderful explaining.

          2. @Nicole

            Yes, and these expressions implies the feeling of regret.
            FYI やっちまえ!is a typical line for Yakuza type of people which means “Kill!” “Beat them up!
            and やっちまった is often used now as a joke when you made a mistake.

    1. hope u can reply asap now.. dont know how to read kanji .. i just know how to right them…^_^very confusing.. nihonggo musukashi desu ne..yorushiku onegaishimasu..

      1. oopps sorry i mean i just know only how to write kanji katakana and hiragana..i cant read kanji but hiragana and katana is not that easy but i can read sometimes..^_^

  3. 遅れてしまった、私@_@


    1. @薫

      Haha, 遅れてないですよ!いつも来てくれて有り難う!!

  4. sensei you are 温かい人!!! well, 温かい犬(笑)
    and yes, you must be very passionate to have the energy to deal with all of us!^^
    有り難う!!m(_ _)m

  5. Thanks a lot for fulfilling my request! You’ve explained it perfectly, I don’t think I’ll have trouble with this in the future… and if I do, I’ll refer to this lesson again ^^

    1. @Maggie’s Mind

      Oh, Hi, Maggie!!! What a neat site you have! And we have the same name!! :)
      Thank you for the feedback!! I am happy to hear my lessons are useful. ありがとう!

  6. thanks for the lesson sensei!
    hope you cover something confusing like this again on your next lesson.
    I have a lot of confusion about this kind of problem.
    like, the difference of this 見る and this 観る..

    by the way, I learn 温 kanji lately. but the word is ぬるい not あたたかい. please explain about it sensei! >_<

    ありがとう! ;)

    1. @umashika kyou

      ぬるい means “lukewarm”. When you expect something hot or cold, and it is not warm or cold enough we say ”ぬるい”
      I added the information in the lesson.
      More lessons like this are coming!

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