Japanese Language

My Name is in Japanese

How to say My Name Is in Japanese

Japanese textbooks typically teach the following two phrases as the standard way to say “my name is” in Japanese.

  1. 私の名前は [name]です。
    watashi no namae wa [name] desu.
    My name is [name].


  2. 私は [name] です。
    watashi wa [name] desu.
    I am [name].

However, although these ways of introducing yourself are correct, there are more natural expressions that you can use.

With that said, the easiest and most common way to tell someone what your name is in Japanese is to simply state your name and attach です (desu). For example:

  • [name] です。
    [name] desu.
    I’m [name].

At the same time, there are a plethora of expressions that you can use to tell someone your name in Japanese outside of using です (desu).

As politeness and formalities are crucial in Japanese, it’s important to know the nuances of each expression.

This ultimate guide is tailored for beginners and intermediate learners alike. Entries are coupled with audio for your pronunciation reference.

Easiest Way to say “My name is…” in Japanese

As mentioned, the simplest and most widely used expression to introduce your name in Japanese is to use the following expression:

  • I’m [name].
    [name]です。
    [name] desu.

Simply say your name and attach です (desu), which is the equivalent of saying “I’m [name]” in Japanese.

Pronunciation for です (desu):

The word です (desu) is a formal Japanese linking verb that means “to be” in English. You may have also noticed the lack of pronouns in this sentence. This is because you often omit pronouns in speech as it sounds considerably more natural.

Therefore, simply stating your name and following it with です (desu) is sufficient enough to convey the meaning of “my name is [name]” in Japanese.

Even though you can apply more levels of formality to your speech, (more on that later), employing です (desu) in your speech is an excellent means to assure adequate politeness.

Hence, this expression is a general way to introduce your name to anyone, without stressing about formalities too much.  It is a very natural and common way to say “my name is” in Japanese.

When introducing your full name in Japanese, you say your surname first, followed by your first name.

For example, if your name was Harry Potter, you would say:

  • ポッター・ハリーです。
    Potta ・ hari- desu.
    I’m Harry Potter.

It’s also interesting that for non-Japanese names, a ・ is used to separate the surname and first name instead of a space.

Saying “Nice to meet you, my name is” in Japanese

  • Nice to meet you, my name is [name].
    はじめまして。[name]です。
    hajimemashite. [name] desu.

When you meet someone for the first time, you may want to say はじめまして (hajimemashite), before telling them your name.

はじめまして (hajimemashite) is the way to say “it’s nice to meet you” in Japanese. it is as simple as using a single word!

The word はじめまして (hajimemashite) originates from the verb はじめて (hajimete), meaning “first time” in Japanese. With that said, はじめまして (hajimemashite) is a great word to use when you want to show politeness to someone whom you’re just meeting for the first time.

After you’ve said はじめまして (hajimemashite), follow up with your name before finishing withです (desu) to tell someone “nice to meet you, my name is…” in Japanese.

“I am…” in Japanese

  • I am [name].
    私は [name] です。
    watashi wa [name] desu.

Textbooks and other learning resources may teach you to use the above expression to tell someone your name.

The main difference with this entry compared to the one’s before it is the inclusion of 私は (watashi wa). This preceding 私は (watashi wa) translates as “I am” in Japanese. Unlike in English, however, removing pronouns helps your speech sound much more natural.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to reduce the frequency of 私は (watashi wa) in your speech.

Many learning resources may include 私は (watashi wa) in examples sentences as a means to help you remember the meaning. However, because the word appears in so many resources, you’ll soon find that you’ve retained it without having to drill it into your head.

It’s not that using 私は (watashi wa) in your speech is grammatically incorrect, it’s just that it comes across as repetitive.

  • 私は [name] です。
    watashi wa [name] desu.
    I am I’m [name].

Therefore, simply saying your name plus です (desu) is the easiest and most common method to use.

“Hello, my name is” in Japanese

Hello, I'm... in Japanese

  • Hello, I’m [name].
    こんにちは。[name] です。
    konnichi wa. [name] desu.

The standard way to include a greeting in your introduction and say “hello, my name is [name] in Japanese is it use こんにちは (konnichi wa).

こんにちは (konnichi wa), as you may have heard, is a common way to say “hello” in Japanese. Generally, you can also use it to say “good day” or “good afternoon” as well.

Those of you who are more familiar with the language may be aware that the final は (ha) is actually pronounced as (wa). See the audio for native pronunciation reference!

The reason for this originates from the seldom-used kanji for the greeting. In kanji, こんにちは (konnnichi ha) is written as 今日は (konnnichi ha). 今 means “now” and 日 is the kanji for “day”.

Combined they make 今日 (kyou), the word for “today” in Japanese. The は (ha) is actually a grammar particle that is typically pronounced as (wa) when used as one.

The modern こんにちは (konnichi wa) is a condensed form of the traditional greeting, 今日は (kyou wa).

It stems from typical greetings such as those that refer to the weather, such as 今日は暑いですね!(kyou ha atsui desu ne!).

Stating your name and following it with です (desu) after saying こんにちは (konnichi wa) is an excellent way to say “hello, my name is…” in Japanese!

Suggested: How to say Have a Good Day in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

“Please Call Me…” in Japanese

  • Please call me [name].
    [name]と呼んでください。
    [name] to yonde kudasai.

After you’ve told someone your name using one of the above expressions, you may wish to inform them of an alias, nickname, or another name that you’d prefer to be called by.

You can specify how you’d like to be called using the above phrase. Simply insert your prefered way to be addressed into the [name] section, and you’re good to go.

Just like in English, you will typically use this phrase immediately after telling someone your given name.

For example, first, you begin with your introduction.

  • 初めまして。マイケルです。
    hajimemashite. maikeru desu.
    Nice to meet you. I’m Michael.

Secondly, you introduce your preferred way of being called:

  • マイクと呼んでください。
    maiku to yonde kudasai.
    Please call me Mike.

This phrase uses a conjugated form of the verb 呼ぶ (yobu), meaning “to be called” in Japanese. 呼ぶ (yobu) is conjugated into the te-form, which, in this case, transforms the sentence into a request.

Conjugating 呼ぶ (yobu) into the te-form makes it 呼んで (yonde).

Located at the end of the phrase is ください (kudasai) which means “please” in Japanese.

Therefore, when you use this phrase, you request that the person addresses you by a certain name.

Suggested: How to say Thank You in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Direct Japanese Translation of “My name is”

  • My name is [name].
    私の名前は [name] です。
    watashi no namae ha [name] desu.

You may also see the above expression listed in Japanese textbooks.

We’ve established that 私 (watashi) is the pronoun for “I” in Japanese. Following the 私 (watashi) is の (no), a Japanese grammar particle that connects two nouns together.

Although it has many uses, its general function is to indicate possession of the preceding noun.

For instance, the word for “today” in Japanese is 今日 (kyou). Attaching the particle (no) to the word would make it: 今日 (kyou no), meaning “today‘s” indicating that “today” is in possession of something.

Add the word for “weather“, being 天気 (tenki) and you can make the sentence:

  • 今日天気はいい。
    kyou no tenki ha ii.
    Today‘s weather is good.

With this in mind, combining the の (no) particle with 私 (watashi) makes 私の (watashi no), meaning “my” in Japanese.

Suggested: How to say Good in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

The next part of this expression is 名前 (namae), the word for “name” in Japanese. This word just so happens to be similar to the English word in terms of pronunciation, making it easy to remember!

Following this is は (ha), another particle that marks the preceding noun as the subject of the sentence. In the case of 私の名前 [name] です (watashi no namae ha [name] desu), emphasis is on the word “name” as the subject.

Like the previous entry, this method of telling someone your name is also not very common.

People typically choose the easier alternative of simply saying “I’m [name]” rather than dragging it out by saying “my name is [name].”

With that said, this is still a method you’ll see in textbooks and may hear used when speaking with children, for example.

Asking “What Is Your Name?” in Japanese

What is Your Name in Japanese

  • What is your name?
    お名前は何ですか。
    onamae ha nan desuka?

The standard way to ask someone for their name in Japanese is to use the above expression.

When introducing your own name to someone, it’s natural to omit pronouns, and the same is true when asking for someone’s name.

Therefore, when asking for someone’s name in Japanese, you don’t need to address them as “your”. Let’s break down the expression!

  • お名前 (onamae) is made up of two parts. The latter 名前 (namae) is the word for “name” in Japanese. The preceding お (o) acts as a kind of word-beautifier that transforms the following noun into a more respectful and polite word.
  • You could drop the お (o) and simply use 名前 (namae). It just sounds a little less polite. Whether you use 名前 (namae) or お名前 (onamae) is up to you. Although I recommend using the former!
  •  Appearing next is は (ha), a Japanese grammar particle that marks the preceding noun as the subject of the sentence.
  • 何ですか (nan desuka) is a polite way of saying “what is?” in Japanese. You may have noticed the lack of a question mark on the Japanese text. This is because the ending か (ka) functions similarly to the question mark!

An easier way to understand this expression is to read it backwards. In doing so, we can understand it as literally”what is (your) name?”.

An even easier way to ask someone “what is your name” in Japanese is to use:

  • お名前は?
    onamae ha.
    Your name is…?

It’s perfectly natural to drop the last part of the original expression and simply ask お名前は (onamae ha). If you do decide to opt for this method, be sure to not drop the お (o) before 名前 (namae) as it can come across as quite blunt!

Asking “Could You Tell Me Your Name?” in Japanese

  • Could you tell me your name?
    お名前を教えてもらえますか。
    onamae wo oshiete moraemasuka.

Although the above expression is considerably longer than the others, it’s the most natural way to ask someone if they could tell you their name in Japanese.

お名前 (oaname), the word for “name” in Japanese, is followed by を (wo), a grammar particle that designates the preceding noun as the object of the following verb.

The subsequent verb conjugation, 教えてもらえますか (oshiete moraemasu ka) is the Japanese phrase for “could you tell me”.

Similar to the previous entries, you don’t need to include any pronouns for this expression either!

The nature of this phrase is that it indicates that someone is doing you a kind of favour by telling you their name.

Therefore, when you need to be a little humble, you should use this phrase.

As an example, an interviewer may ask another if they could tell them their name using this phrase. The reason for this is that it sounds more polite than simply asking “what is your name?” directly.

Asking “What Was Your Name Again?” in Japanese

When you don’t know, or worse, have forgotten someone’s name in Japanese speech, the conversation can become extremely challenging.

This is because the most common way to say “you” in Japanese, is not to use the pronoun but to refer to the person by their name, even if you’re speaking with them directly.

This took some time to get used to as a beginner, yet, in basic terms, every time you refer to someone as “you” in Japanese, use their name. This is the most common and natural way to speak to someone.

For this reason, remembering names in Japanese is extremely important.

If you don’t know or don’t remember their name, you’ll be having a conversation without using the word “you”. It’s very difficult and it does become obvious that you’ve forgotten their name.

Therefore I recommend asking the person as soon as possible to remind you of their name. There are plenty of ways you can do this, and here’s how!

Suggested: I Don’t Know in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Asking Them Directly

  • Sorry. Could you tell me your name once more?
    すみません。もう一度お名前を教えてもらえますか。
    sumimasen mou ichidou onamae wo oshiete moraemasu ka.

The first method is to ask them directly. This is a very polite expression that you can use when you have forgotten someone’s name and wish to be reminded.

You can opt to begin with an apology by saying すみません (sumimasen). This is a respectful word that means “sorry” or “excuse me” in Japanese.

The main expression begins with もう一度 (mou ichidou), which means “once again”, or “once more”.

We’ve established that お名前 (onamae) is the polite word for “name” in Japanese.

This is followed by を (wo) which is another grammar particle that marks the preceding noun as the object of the following verb or action.

The final and longest section is 教えてもらえますか (oshiete moraemasu ka).

It begins with 教えて (oshiete), the te-form of the verb 教える (oshieru) meaning “to teach” or “to tell”.

One of the functions of the te-form is to link verbs together to extend the length of a sentence.

教えて (oshiete) connects to もらえます (moremasu), the potential form of the verb もらいます (moraimasu), meaning “to receive”.

Verbs in the potential form express the capability of being able to do an action. Essentially, this means that the potential form of “receive” is “can receive”.

Lastly, the か (ka) marks the entire sentence as a question. When か (ka) is present, question marks are not needed!

In summary, this expression asks if it’s possible to receive certain information once again, with that information being the person name.

For this reason, The inclusion of もらいます (moraimasu) makes the phrase humbling.

Thus it’s a formal and respectful phrase you can use when you wish to ask someone directly if they could remind you of their name!

Asking Another for Another’s Name

  • Who was that person just now?
    さっきの人は誰なんですか?
    sakki no hito ha dare nandesu ka.

Another way to discover a person’s name is to ask someone who has just spoken with them.

Using the above phrase, you can ask “who was that person just now” to someone else.

It goes without saying that you can only use this phrase to communicate naturally after someone has just finished interacting with the individual whose name you would like to find out.

The first word of this phrase is さっき (sakki), which refers to a moment in time that has just happened. Essentially, さっき (sakki) means “just now” or “a moment ago”.

Following さっき (sakki) is の (no), the possessive grammar particle. You use の (no) to indicate the possession of the following noun by the preceding one. The subsequent noun is 人 (hito), which means “person” in Japanese.

Therefore, we can understand the phrase さっき (sakki no hito) to mean “the person of just now“.

は (ha) is another particle that marks the prior noun as the subject of the sentence.

Finally, 誰なんですか (dare desu ka) is made of two parts. The first is 誰 (dare), which means “who” in Japanese. なんですか (nan desu ka) functions as the part that transforms the sentence into a question.

I Have Completely Forgotten Your Name

  • I’ve completely forgotten your name, what was it?
    名前を忘れちゃったんだけど、なんだっけ?
    namae wo wasurechattandakedo, nanndake?

The above phrase is a very casual way of telling someone directly that you have absolutely no memory of their name. You’ve completely forgotten it and are asking for it again.

As this phrase is best reserved strictly for casual speech, be careful with who you use it with.

It’s worth noting that this phrase also lacks any pronouns. As such, you can use this phrase as-is to ask someone what their name is or to ask someone else what the name of someone else is. 

The reason why you will be able to comprehend what this question is specifically asking, depends on the context of the prior conversation.

Let’s say you were having a talk about the Harry Potter series. You’re talking about the main antagonist of the series, but you’ve forgotten their name.

In this case, if you were to use the above phrase, you’d be saying “I’ve completely forgotten their name, what was it again?” rather than “I’ve forgotten your name…”.

Suggested: How to say Or in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

The Best Way to say “My name is” in Japanese

  • My name is [name].
    [name]と言います。
    [name] to iimasu.

As you’ll likely have just met the person for the first time, you will need to speak politely when you introduce your name to them. This is because there are many levels of honorifics in Japanese.

Which honorific you should use, depends on the situation and whom you’re speaking with.

When introducing yourself to a classmate, for instance, you could use slightly less formal speech.

Since it’s likely you are of the same age, and are of the same social status as “classmates”, lessening the extent of your formality during your greetings is a common thing to do.

On the other hand, you would be expected to speak much more humbly when speaking to a hiring manager, for instance.

The expression [NAME]と言います ([name] to iimasu) is a safe option to choose from when deciding on how you want to tell someone what your name is in Japanese.

Just like stating your name and attaching です (desu) is a great means to introduce yourself, this expression can be an excellent alternative.

The と言います (to iimasu) is a formalised version of the verb 言う (iu), which means “to say” or “to be called”.

Hence, when you tell someone your name using this expression, you’re essentially telling them “I’m called [name]”, which is a very natural way to introduce yourself in Japanese.

By saying your name followed by と言います (to iimasu), you’re communicating with a reasonable level of politeness.

With that said, there be some occasions where you may wish to increase formalities higher.

Telling Your Name in Formal Japanese

My Name is... Formally in Japanese

  • My name is [name].
    [name]と申します。
    [name] to moushimasu.

The most polite and formal way you can tell someone your name in Japanese is to use the above expression.

During business scenarios, interviews or meetings etc you will need to apply the highest formality possible to your speech.

For instance, during your self-introduction at an interview for a job, you should introduce yourself with と申します (to moushimasu).

It’s also important to remember that when introducing your full name in Japanese, you should say your surname first, then your first name.

The 申します (moushimasu) is the kenjougo, or humble version of the 言います (iimasu), which we looked at in the above entry.

This means that 申します (moushimasu) is just an even more formal way of introducing your name with 言います (iimasu).

How Are You in Japanese

As introducing your name to someone is typically a part of a greeting, you may wish to ask the person how they are doing too.

However, in Japanese, asking someone how they are doing is typically only done when you talk to someone for the first time in a while.

Therefore, asking someone how they are in Japanese is not something you’d really see to someone you saw just yesterday.

With that said, there are alternative expressions and phrases that you can use.

I’ve composed an extensive list in this ultimate guide that details how to say “how are you in Japanese.”

Asking “Should I Write My Name Here?” in Japanese

Write Your Name Here

  • Shall I write my name here?
    ここに名前を書きますか。
    koko ni namae wo kakimasu ka.

This is a particularly useful phrase to know when filling out forms in Japanese.

Many places in Japan prefer to use paper forms and paper documents, rather than digital ones.

For this reason, you’ll definitely be asked to write your name down a good few times.

But, what if you’re not sure where to write your name… as the form is in Japanese?

To confirm the location you can use one of two phrases. The first is the above phrase, which you can use to verify that you are going to write your name in the correct place.

The second phrase to use is:

  • どこに名前を書きますか。
    doko ni namae wo kakimasu ka.
    Where shall I write my name?

Use this phrase to ask where you should write your name when you’re completely unsure.

To clarify for anyone wondering, you do not need to use お名前 (onamae) in place of 名前 (namae) here.

This is because お名前 (onamae) should only be used when talking about someone else’s names. When you’re talking about your own name, omit the お (o), and use 名前 (namae).

 Surname/Family Name in Japanese

The word for “surname” in Japanese is 名字 (myouji).

It is made up of two kanji, 名 which means “name” and 字, meaning “character”.

You could use it to ask questions such as:

  • 名字は何ですか。
    myouji ha nandesu ka.
    What is your surname?
  • 名字の綴りは?
    myouji no tsutzuri ha?
    How do you spell your surname?

How to say Your Actual Name in Japanese

You may be wondering how your name is written and sounds in the Japanese language. While traditional Japanese-style names contain kanji, foreign names are typically rendered in katakana.

Katakana is one of the three scripts in the Japanese alphabet. It is used primarily for words of foreign origin. Therefore, there are plenty of words that may initially sound similar to English, however, they are phonetically different.  To learn more about what katakana is, refer to this ultimate guide.

For instance, my name is Aaron. Rendering it in katakana looks like this: アーロン. Use the audio below for a native pronunciation reference.

It’s also important to know that you don’t write foreign names in hiragana. It is always katakana.

So, how do you say your name in Japanese? Enter your name in this resource to see how it looks in written Japanese!

Take a look at the complete collection of ultimate how-to Japanese guides here!

[View all Ultimate How-to Japanese Guides]

Thank You in Japanese

How to say Thank You in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

The most common and natural way to say “thank you” in Japanese is the casual ありがとう (arigatou) or the formal ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu).

You can use ありがとう (arigatou) or ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu) as a means to express thanks for a gift, a compliment, a service or even to accept or refuse an offer in Japanese.

ありがとう (arigatou) is the most common casual way to say “thank you” in Japanese. You should refrain from using ありがとう (arigatou) when expressing thanks to anyone who is not your friend or family. This is because ありがとう (arigatou) is strictly a casual expression.

It would be considered rude If you were to use ありがとう (arigatou) with those who are of a higher social status than yourself, such as a teacher, manager, or even a shop assistant.

Therefore in scenarios where a display of politeness is necessary such as those listed above, it’s natural to use ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu).

With that said, there are plenty of other ways to express thanks in Japanese outside of using ありがとう (arigatou).

There may be situations where you wish to express more than just “thanks” to someone. One example could be to attach 本当に (hontou ni) before ありがとう (arigatou) to make 本当にありがとう (hontou ni arigatou). This expression means “thank you very much” in Japanese.

The Japanese language is full of expressions that have unique implications and meanings that are absent in English. For instance, the term いただきます (itadakimasu) is an expression that’s commonly used to express thanks before eating a meal.

This ultimate guide is tailored towards beginners and intermediate learners alike. All entries are accompanied with audio, examples and explanations for your reference!

Thank You in Japanese

  • Thank you.
    ありがとう。
    arigatou.

The most common causal way to express your thanks to someone in Japanese is ありがとう (arigatou).  It’s a non-complex word and there are minimal nuances.

However, it should be noted that you should not use it to thank a stranger, manager, or anyone of a higher social status than yourself. This is because the Japanese language has an extensive array of honorifics.

Despite your good intentions, it would be considered rude to say ありがとう (arigatou) to a cashier after they’ve served you, for instance.

Therefore, the best time to use ありがとう (arigatou) is when you want to express thanks to someone you have an intimate relationship with. This could be a friend, classmate, or even a co-worker, depending on the context.

ありがとう (arigatou) Examples

ありがとう (arigatou) Example

You can use ありがとう (arigatou) by itself, however, sometimes you may wish to be a little more specific about what you’re expressing your gratitude for.

  • プレゼント、ありがとう!
    purezento, arigatou!
    Thank you for the present!

You’ll find that short sentences in Japanese can be enough to express what you want to say. Often, you won’t need to add extra fluff to the sentence like “for” and “the” in English.

Instead, simply stating the item, followed by ありがとう (arigatou) translates to “thank you for X”. This formula cannot be applied to verbs.

If someone has been particularly helpful with a lot of things, you may wish to thank them with:

  • いろいろ ありがとう。
    iroiro arigatou.
    Thank you for everything.

The word いろいろ (iroiro) in the above expression refers to “various” or literally to “a variety of things”. You can use it to form sentences such as

  • いろいろな本が好き。
    iroiro na hon ga suki.
    I like various books.

Related: How to say I Like You in Japanese [Ultimate Guide].

In the case of the first example “thank you for everything”, the いろいろ (iroiro) functions similarly to the second example. This means that a more literal translation of the first example would be “thank you for a variety of things”.

With that said, いろいろありがとう (iroiro arigatou) is used to express your gratitude to someone for all the things (no matter how big or small) that they’ve done.

This is a generic way of expressing your gratitude for “everything” someone has done. There are more intimate ways to say this, see the entry #Thank You For Everything in Japanese, below.

You can also make the expression more personal by saying the name of the person whom you’re thanking, followed by ありがとう (arigatou).

  • [name]、ありがとう。
    [name], arigatou.
    [name], thank you.

Thank You for Everything in Japanese

Although you can express “thank you for everything” in Japanese with いろいろありがとう (iroiro arigatou), explained above, sometimes you may want to add more emotion to your words.

  • Thank you for everything.
    いつもありがとう。
    itsumo arigatou.

When you use いつもありがとう (itsumo arigatou) you’re expressing your gratitude for quite literally everything the person has done for you.

This is because いつも (itsumo), the first part of the expressions, translates as “always” or “all the time”.

We know that ありがとう (arigatou) is a casual way of expressing general thanks in Japanese. Therefore when you tell someone いつもありがとう (itsumo arigatou) you communicate that you appreciate the things that they’re always doing for you.

You can pair the expression with other phrases to better communicate what you’re grateful for or/and how it’s made you feel. For instance,

  • 本当に嬉しい!いつもありがとう。
    hontouni ureshii! itsumo arigatou.
    I’m so happy! Thank you for everything.

Related: How to say Happy in Japanese [Ultimate Guide].

Thank You For Today in Japanese

  • Thank you for today.
    今日はありがとう。
    kyou ha arigatou.

If you’ve had a particularly enjoyable day with someone, you may wish to thank them for the experience. You can do this with 今日はありがとう (kyou ha arigatou), which also makes an excellent parting phrase.

The first part of the expression, 今日 (kyou) is made up of two kanji. 今 which means “now” and 日 which means “day”. Combine them and you get 今日 (kyou), the word for “today” in Japanese.

Following 今日 (kyou) is は (ha), a Japanese grammar particle that marks the preceding noun as the subject of the sentence. Grammatically speaking, the は (ha) emphasises the 今日 (kyou) as the subject.

Finally, by attaching ありがとう (arigatou), you complete the informal expression, 今日はありがとう (kyou ha arigatou).

You can pair the expression with remarks on why you’re grateful. You could do this by expressing how you feel. For example,

  • 楽しかった!今日はありがとう。
    tanoshikatta! kyou ha arigatou.
    That was fun! Thank you for today.

If you especially enjoyed the day, you could communicate how you’d like to hang out again.

  • 今日はありがとう!また遊ぼう!
    kyou ha arigatou! mata asobou!
    Thank you for today! Let’s hang out again!

You may even wish to ask someone directly how their day has been and if they’ve enjoyed it or not. To learn how to do so, visit the below recommended ultimate guide.

Recommended: How to say Have a Good Day in Japanese [Ultimate Guide].

Thank You For Today (Formal)

There may also be occasions where you wish to use this phrase in more formal scenarios. Perhaps you’ve just finished a training session with a manager at a job and you wish to express your thanks, for instance.

To do this, you will need to use honorific speech. This involves changing the expression to:

  • 今日はありがとうございます
    kyou ha arigatou gozaimasu.
    Thank you for today. (formal).

More information on expressing gratitude politely in Japanese is explained in the appropriately titled entry below!

Thank You For That (Informal) in Japanese

When you want to thank someone for something that happened a few moments ago, there are two expressions you can use.

Thank You For That #1

The first is:

  • Thanks for that.
    さっき、ありがとう。
    sakki, arigatou.

This expression incorporates ありがとう (arigatou), which we’ve established is the standard translation for “thank you”.

The preceding word is さっき (sakki). This word is both a noun and adverb that conveys the meaning “a moment ago” or “just now”. You use it when referring to an event that has recently happened. How recently, exactly, depends on the context.

If someone did you a favour for you, but you didn’t get a chance to properly thank them at the time, you can use this expression.

Thank You For That #2

The second is:

  • You helped me/”I’m saved”.
    助かった。
    tasukatta.

This expression is an indirect way to show your appreciation. You use it when you feel a sense of relief, or if someone “saved” you from a certain fate.

By using 助かった (tasukatta), you express that you feel thankful for having been removed or saved from a situation or circumstance.

For instance, your computer could have just broken down, and in that heart-breaking moment, you realise that all of your personal data may be lost. Luckily you have a friend who knows just how to solve the problem – and they do just that!

You could say:

  • [name] のおかげで助かった。
    [name] no okagede tasukatta.
    I’m saved thanks to [name].

Note that in the above example, you should always refer to the person’s actual name when you want to address them as “you” in Japanese. Although there are ways to say “you”, the most natural way is to call them by their name, even if you’re speaking to them directly.

It may be even more appropriate to combine the two expressions.

  • さっきありがとう! 助かったよ!
    sakki arigatou! tasukatta yo!
    Thanks for that! You helped/saved me!

The magic of Japanese is that even if you don’t know the person’s name, or if you don’t feel like using it, you can drop the pronouns altogether and the sentence will remain natural.

Thank You For This in Japanese

  • Thank you for this.
    [te-form verb]くれてありがとう。
    [te-form verb] kurete arigatou.

To express gratitude specifically for something that someone did for you, you’ll need to use the above formation.

You need to use this formation when working with verbs. For instance, perhaps you’d like to thank someone for inviting you to an event or party.

First, you’ll need the verb for “invite” in Japanese, which is 誘う (sasou). Secondly, you’ll need to transform it into the te-form, which makes it 誘って (sasotte). Then you can insert it into the formation listed above. This would make:

  • 誘ってくれてありがとう。
    sasotte kurete arigatou.
    Thank you for inviting me.

I appreciate that may have been a lot of information to take in. Here’s how it works.

Firstly, you can make sentences with this formation using any verb. Secondly, that verb must always be conjugated into the te-form.

The te-form is perhaps one of the first challenging “forms” you’ll encounter when learning Japanese. It is a grammatical conjugation pattern that has many uses. In this case, it lets us connect sequential actions together, something you can’t do with verbs in Japanese unless you conjugate them!

I recommend this page for more information on how to conjugate the te-form, should you be interested.

Once the verb has been conjugated into the te-form, you can then attach くれてありがとう (kuretearigatou) which will allow you to thank someone specifically for what they’ve done.

くれて (kurete) Explanation

The magic in this expression happens with くれて (kurete), which is the te-form of くれる (kureru), a verb that doesn’t quite have a literal English translation. The best way to understand くれて (kurete) would be to interpret it as a word that adds a subtle notion of “especially” to the English expression “for me”.

Although the nuance is different to the full impact of saying “especially for me” in English, similarities are present in the overall feeling of the meaning.

Therefore, when you use くれて (kurete), you’re expressing that extra little sense of gratitude.

For example, you could thank someone for accompanying you to a location.

  • 一緒に行ってくれてありがとう。
    isshouni itte kurete arigatou.
    Thank you for going together with me.

Although the addition of 一緒に (isshouni) is also optional, it adds even more weight to the already unique expressiveness of くれて (kurete).

Thank You Too in Japanese

There are two ways to express “thank you” back to someone who has just said it to you. The first way is to use the following sentence structure:

  • [name]もありがとう。
    [name] mo arigatou.
    Thank you too.

As previously highlighted, when you want to refer to someone as “you” in Japanese, it’s always best to use their actual name. Therefore, you begin this phrase by stating their name.

The last part of the phrase is ありがとう (arigatou), the standard way to communicate thanks in Japanese. The key difference with here though, is the inclusion of も (mo) between the person’s name, and the word ありがとう (arigatou).

This も (mo) is a Japanese grammar particle that means “also”.

Combining all three elements makes the complete phrase. To formalise it, extend ありがとう (arigatou) to ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu).

Thank You To You Too in Japanese

The second way to thank the thanker back is to use the following phrase:

  • Thank you to you too.
    こちらこそありがとう。
    kochirakoso arigatou.

When you say the above phrase as a response to someone who has just thanked you, you’re emphasising that you’re the one who should be thanking them.

Essentially you’re saying “no, thank you!“, or “I’m the one who should be thanking you” in Japanese.

This phrase can also be formalised by changing the ありがとう (arigatou), to ありがとうございます (arigatou gozimasu).

Thanks in Japanese

Thanks in Japanese

  • Thanks.
    どうも。
    doumo.

Although they are both a statement of gratitude, generally, “thank you” is considered to be slightly more formal than “thanks”.

The same applies to Japanese with ありがとう (arigatou) meaning “thank you”, and どうも (doumo), meaning “thanks”.

どうも (doumo) is marginally informal compared to ありがとう (arigatou). Therefore どうも (doumo) is the best way to express “thanks” in Japanese.

Another difference between the two is that ありがとう (arigatou) carries slightly more “emotional impact” or earnestness compared to どうも (doumo). For this reason, it’s better to use ありがとう (arigatou) when saying “thanks” to your friends. Using どうも (doumo) in these situations could be considered a little rude, depending on the person.

On the other hand, it’s natural to use どうも (doumo) as a casual response to a cashier at a convenience store who has just thanked you with the formal ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu).

  • どうもありがとうございます
    doumo arigatou gozaimasu.
    Thank you so much. (formal).

You can, however, combine どうも (doumo) and ありがとう (arigatou) together to make the phrase どうもありがとう (doumo arigatou), which would mean “thank you so much” in Japanese.

The addition of ございます (gozaimasu) in the example sentence above, makes the expression formal.  This is further explained in the entry below!

Thank You in Formal Japanese

Thank You Formally in Japanese

  • Thank you (formal).
    ありがとうございます。
    arigatou gozaimasu.

As mentioned, the Japanese language has many honorifics that require you to speak with different levels of politeness, depending on who you’re speaking to.

The way you do this with “thank you” in Japanese is to take the standard way to express gratitude, ありがとう (arigatou) and extend it to ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu).

You will be expected to use the formal ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu) to communicate your thanks to strangers, teachers and managers. For instance, when saying thank you to shop staff, you’ll want to use ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu), rather than ありがとう (arigatou), which would be considered rude.

Saying ございます (gozaimasu) is also necessary when saying “good morning” to someone formally in Japanese, which is おはようございます (ohayou gozimasu).

I recommend this video that explains the nuances of ございます (gozaimasu) in other words.

Thank You Very Much in Formal Japanese

  • Thank you very much (very formal).
    誠にありがとうございます。
    makotoni arigatou gozaimasu.

Perhaps the most polite way to express gratitude in Japanese is with the above phrase. It is an exceptionally sincere way of saying thank you, and you’ll most likely hear this from retail workers when speaking with customers, or from a company to their clients/viewers or customers.

As this is an expression that’s reserved for occasions when a high level of politeness is required, the words that you would typically find paired with it are also that of Keigo (honorific speech).

For instance, the word for “today” in Japanese is 今日 (kyou). Therefore the casual way of saying “thank you for today” in Japanese is:

  • 今日はありがとう。
    kyou ha arigatou.
    Thank you for today.

It’s most natural to use the above expression with friends and family.

To increase the politeness, you can use:

  • 今日はありがとうございます。
    kyou ha arigatou gozaimasu.
    Thank you for today.

This addition of ございます (gozaimasu) adds a considerable amount of formality. You can use this with managers, teachers or strangers.

The final, and most polite version would be:

  • 本日は誠にありがとうございます。
    honjitsu ha makotoni arigatou gozaimasu.
    Thank you for today.

Firstly, not only does the addition of 誠に (makoto ni) add more overall weight to the expression, but 今日 (kyou) changes to 本日 (honjitsu).

The reason for this change is that essentially, 本日 (honjitsu) is a much more formalised version of 今日 (kyou). You’d typically hear this phrase being used by a business to thank their clients or customers, whom they wish to treat with the utmost respect.

Hence, you’ll most likely hear 誠にありがとうございます (makoto ni arigatou gozaimasu) paired with unfamiliar words that are infrequently used outside daily conversation.

Thank You Very Much in Japanese

Thank You So Much in Japanese

  • Thank you very much.
    本当にありがとう。
    hontouni arigatou.

The expression 本当にありがとう (hontouni arigatou) has different nuances compared to other ways to communicate a deep thanks. The reason being is that the first part of the expression, 本当に (hontouni) is a word that means “really” or “truly”.

Therefore when you say 本当にありがとう (hontouni arigatou) to someone, you communicate an exemplified genuine expression of gratitude.

In other words, during situations where you feel you are truly grateful for something you can express this with 本当にありがとう (hontouni arigatou).

  • いつもそばにいてくれるね。本当にありがとう。
    itsumo soba no itekureru ne. hontouni ni arigatou.
    You’re always there for me. Thank you so much.

This expression is also a fantastic one to use when receiving a heartwarming gift from someone. For instance:

  • 結局買ってくれたんだ。本当にありがとう!
    kekkyoku katte kuretanda.  hontouni arigatou!
    You (kindly) bought it for me after all. Thank you so much.

To sum up, you can use 本当にありがとう (hontouni arigatou) to express a heartfelt thanks in Japanese.

Responding to Thank You in Japanese

One of the best ways to respond to someone when they say “thank you” in Japanese is to say “no problem”.

I’ve composed an ultimate guide that details all the possible ways you can express this, here’s the link!

How to say No Problem in Japanese [Ultimate Guide].

You’re Welcome in Japanese

Perhaps the safest and standard way to respond to someone else’s expression of thanks is to say “you’re welcome”.

  • You’re welcome.
    どういたしまして。
    douitashimashite.

You can respond to ありがとう (arigatou) with どういたしまして (douitashimashite), which is the same as replying with “you’re welcome” to “thank you”.

Although this expression is generally formal, you can use it in casual situations to communicate a sincere “you’re welcome” to friends and family.

A typical conversation may flow like this:

  • パソコンのことを手伝ってくれてありがとう。
    pasokon no koto wo tetsudatte kurete arigatou.
    Thank you for helping me with my computer.

The reply:

  • どういたしまして。いつでもいいよ。
    douitashimashite. itsudemo ii yo.
    You’re welcome. Anytime.

I Appreciate It in Japanese

  • I appreciate it.
    感謝します。
    kansha shimasu.

To express feelings of gratitude outside of the bounds of ありがとう (arigatou), you can use the formal 感謝します (kansha shimasu) or the casual 感謝する (kansha suru).

The word 感謝 (kansha) means “gratitude” or appreciation in Japanese. There are two kanji that make up this expression. Firstly, 感, which means “feeling” or emotion”. This kanji is then followed by 謝 which means “thanks” or “apologise”.

Quite literally, the meaning of 感謝 (kansha) can be understood as “a feeling to apologise”. This is because Japan and Japanese are both polite culturally and linguistically. Therefore, when you thank someone with 感謝 (kansha), you’re expressing an apology for the inconvenience that you may have caused them.

However, you can use 感謝します (kansha shimasu) in a wide array of situations; at a time when you wish to communicate that you appreciate something that someone has done for you.

For instance, you could attach more emotion to the expression and make it into the phrase:

  • 心の底から感謝します。
    kokoro no soko kara kansha shimasu.
    I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart.

Remember that you’re absolutely fine to omit pronouns in colloquial Japanese you’ll sound more natural if you do! For that reason, although the above phrase lacks any pronouns, when it is directed from one to another, context is clear enough to allow the omission.

Using すみません (sumimasen) to Express Thanks

  • I’m sorry (thanks).
    すみません。
    sumimasen.

すみません (sumimasen) is a formal word that means “excuse me” in Japanese. Typically, you would use it when trying to grab someone’s attention. This could be when you want to ask a shop assistant for some assistance, or when you’d like to initiate a conversation with a stranger, for instance.

However, you can also use すみません (sumimasen) to express a form of gratitude in Japanese. A great example of this is when you find yourself on a crowded train and are trying to make your way to the exit as you have reached your stop. The sheer number of people is making this difficult to do so. So, as you’re hastily making your (non-forceful) way through, it would be polite to say すみません (sumimasen) a few times.

Let’s look at another example! You find yourself busy at work. However, lucky for you, your kind co-worker has offered to complete some of the work on your behalf. In this situation, you would be better off using すみません (sumimasen), rather than simply ありがとうございます (arigatou gozimasu). The reason for this is that すみません (sumimasen) is considerably more humbling.

  • すみません。お願いします。
    sumimasen. onegai shimasu.
    Thank you. Yes, please.

By using すみません (sumimasen) to express your thanks, it’s as if you’re saying “I’m sorry for this, but thank you” all in a single word.

More Ways to Express Thank you in Japanese

  • Thank you.
    サンキュー。
    sankyu-.

The Japanese word サンキュー (sankyu-) derives from the English word “thank you”, hence the similarities in pronunciation. Unlike the English word, though, サンキュー (sankyu-) is considered to be a casual expression.

Therefore, you should use サンキュー (sankyu-) when speaking with friends, family, or those you have an intimate connection with. Furthermore, the word may come across as somewhat playful, so, during serious conversations, you may be better of sticking with ありがとう (arigatou) instead.

Interestingly, the word サンキュー (sankyu-)  also happens to have the same phonetics as the numbers 3 and 9 when spoken in Japanese. The pronounciation for the number 3, being さん (san), and 9 being きゅう (kyuu).

For this reason, you may encounter some interesting takes on the numbers 3 and 9, that when put together, can represent サンキュー (sankyu-) in Japanese.

No Thank You in Japanese

There are a number of ways you can express “no thank you” and decline someone’s offer or request in Japanese.

Very Formal No Thank You

  • No thank you (formal).
    結構です。
    kekkou desu.

The word 結構です (kekkou desu) is the most formal and direct way to express “no thank you” in Japanese.

Being quite a direct word, it can come across as quite blunt or abrupt if used during the wrong scenarios. Thus, using it when you need to convey precisely that you are declining something is recommended.

It has the nuance of “I’m good, no thanks”.

For instance, perhaps a shop assistant is advertising a product to you. To state that you do not want it, you can say:

  • 私は結構です。
    watashi ha kekkou desu.
    No thank you, I am good.

Interestingly, you can pair 結構です (kekkou desu), meaning “no thank you with ありがとうございます (arigatou gozimasu) meaning “thank you”. Here’s how it works.

As mentioned, the subject of sentences in Japanese can be dropped. This means that if you are asked if you’d like something, you could first reply with simply 結構です (kekkou desu) which would convey the meaning of “no thank you”.

Following up with ありがとうございます (arigatou gozimasu) afterwards would then tell the other person that you’re grateful for their help.

  • 結構です。ありがとうございます。
    kekkou desu. arigatou gozaimasu.
    I’m good (no thanks). Thank you (for your help).

Body language is also important in Japanese culture, bowing and other etiquettes can go a long way when wanting to be polite.

Formal No Thank You

A slightly less formal way to express “no thank you” in Japanese, and the way I personally prefer using is to use is the following phrase:

  • 大丈夫です。
    daijoubu desu.
    It’s okay.

I fully explain the ins and outs of expressing “okay” in Japanese in this ultimate guide.

In short, 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) is a much more friendly, yet polite way to express that you don’t need or want something in Japanese. The expression 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) is extremely flexible and can be used in a plethora of situations.

For instance, a cashier may ask you if you’d like a plastic bag at the convenience store. You could say:

  • 袋は大丈夫です。
    fukuro ha daijoubu desu.
    Don’t worry about the bag.

Of course, replying simply with 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) would also be sufficient.

As another example, imagine you’re at a restaurant and the waiter asks if you’d like a refill on your drink. You could reply:

  • 私は大丈夫です。
    watashi ha daijoubu desu.
    I’m okay.

By itself, 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) has many meanings. These include “no thanks”, “I’m good”, “okay”, hence the wide variety of uses.

Casual No Thank You

You may also wish to express “no thank you” casually in Japanese, such as when speaking with friends. To do this, you can simply remove the です (desu) and say:

  • 大丈夫。
    daijoubu.
    It’s okay.

It’s also worth noting that as you don’t need to specify pronouns in Japanese, simply saying 大丈夫 (daijoubu) can mean both “I’m okay” or “it’s okay”. Which meaning is being referred to, can usually be understood from the context.

Thanks For The Meal in Japanese

Thanks for the Meal

  • Thanks for the meal.
    いただきます。
    itadakimasu.

The above phrase is often said before eating a meal in Japan. It is similar to saying grace, however, there is much more to this word that can’t be justified in a single translation.

The literal meaning of いただきます (itadakimasu), is “I humbly accept it”, yet there is an underlying sense of gratitude to be felt with these powerful words.

When you say いただきます (itadakimasu), you’re emphasising your gratitude for the source of the food and meal entirely. You honour those who were involved in making the meal a reality, not just the cook, but the farmers, fishermen, merchants – everyone and everything.

For that reason, while reciting the phrase, some people will clasp their hands together, occasionally grasping the chopsticks with their thumbs and closing their eyes.

Thanks For Your Work Today

  • Good work today/thanks for your work.
    お疲れ様です。
    otsukaresama desu.

The above phrase is often used to thank someone for their hard work. You can use it in the workplace with colleagues, or you can even say it to a friend who has just finished a study session.

You have reached the end of this ultimate guide! お疲れ様です!(otsukaresama desu).

There are, of course, many more nuances to this expression. You can find the full explanation and a list of synonyms in this ultimate guide, that details how to say “Good Job” in Japanese.

Or, if you fancy browsing through the collection of How-to Japanese Ultimate Guides, you can find a link here:

More Ultimate How-to Japanese Guides

Good in Japanese

How to say Good in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

The best way to say “good” in Japanese is いい (ii). The word いい (ii) is an i-adjective that is very common in colloquial speech.

Simply saying いい (ii) by itself can have a multitude of meanings. Depending on the context, it can mean “good”, “that’s good” or even “I’m good”. This is because when speaking Japanese, you drop the pronouns and other parts of the sentence when it’s already obvious from the context what exactly it is you’re saying.

いい (ii) can be paired with many Japanese words to create entire different meanings. For example, pairing the word for “head” in Japanese with the word for “good” in Japanese creates the meaning “smart” or “intelligent”. You can get pretty creative with word pairings, and it’s so much fun to discover new ways to say things.

Furthermore, you conjugate いい (ii) a little differently from regular i-adjectives. This makes some word pairings a little tricky to conjugate at times.

This ultimate guide is tailored for beginners and advanced learners alike. Entries cover the many circumstances in which may want to say “good”, and how you can say it naturally.

As such, all entries are accompanied by examples, explanations and audio for your pronunciation reference!

Good in Japanese

  • Good.
    いい。
    ii.

The word いい (ii) is an i-adjective and the best way to say “good” in Japanese. There are two types of adjectives in Japanese; i-adjectives and na-adjectives. The difference is that you conjugate i-adjectives a little differently than na-adjectives.

Although the overarching meaning of いい (ii) is “good”, it can also mean “fine”, “nice”, “well” or “sufficient”. Despite the many meanings, the concept is the same.

Examples of いい (ii)

Good Idea

For instance:

  • いい考えだ!
    ii kangae da!
    Good idea!

We could also interpret the above example as “nice idea”, which ultimately shares the same meaning as the original. Therefore, during these occasions, “good” and “nice” are interchangeable.

It goes without saying that there are times where the “nice” may be a more natural interpretation of いい (ii). For example,

  • いい笑顔だ!
    ii egao da!
    Nice smile!

In this instance, the word “nice” fits much better than “good”. The meaning of the smile being “good” is still present, we just deliver it slightly differently in the English interpretation.

Suggested: How to say Happy in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

I’m Good (no thanks) in Japanese

Just like in English, when we say something is “good” we’re not always directing it as a compliment. Let’s say a family member has asked you if you’d like some cake. You may reply:

  • 私はいい、ありがとう。
    watashi ha ii, arigatou.
    I’m good, thanks.

During these circumstances, we’re using いい (ii) to decline an offer or request. The connotations here are the same in both Japanese and English.

Note that you can also just say いい (ii) by itself to decline something. However, this is a very casual way of speaking and would be considered rude if you were to say it to people who are not your close friends or family.

That’s Good in Japanese

Sometimes we say “that’s good” when something is sufficient enough in English. Imagine that someone is pouring you a glass of your favourite beverage, and ask you to let them know when to stop pouring. You can say:

  • いい!
    ii!
    That’s good!

We frequently omit pronouns and other parts of a sentence or phrase when the context is understood. This also applies to the above case, as it’s obvious from the context you’re referring to the fact that there is a sufficient amount of drink that’s been poured. This is why simply saying いい (ii) by itself can have a multitude of meanings!

If the person to whom you’re speaking is not a family member or friend, you’re going to need to speak politely. To do this, you can say いいです (ii desu), which is the formal way to say “good” in Japanese.

Suggested: How to say Stop in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Attaching and emphasising ね (ne) after saying いい (ii) will also render the meaning “that’s good”. However, unlike the example above, this variation can be interpreted as a way to compliment someone or something, with nuances similar to the phrase “that’s good, isn’t it?” in English.

  • いいね!
    ii ne!
    That’s good!

You can also insert a subject into this expression. For instance:

  • その服はいいね!
    sono fuku ii ne!
    Your clothes are good!

When you include the addition of ね (ne) you’re seeking agreement or confirmation from the person you’re communicating with. Hence, after expressing a phrase that ends with ね (ne) you would typically expect some kind of response.

The Kanji for Good

In Japanese hiragana “good” is いい (ii). However, it also has a kanji.

Unlike other Japanese words, when you put いい (ii) into kanji, the reading changes. The kanji for “good” in Japanese is 良い (yoi).

Although colloquially you pronounce it the same as its hiragana form いい (ii), you can also write いい (ii) in casual situations, such as when messaging a friend. In other words, you do not need to use the kanji in casual writing. It’s optional.

With that said, there is a much stronger formal connotation attached to 良い (yoi). Therefore, you’ll mostly see the kanji version written in newspapers, articles, and emails etc.

Very rarely is 良い (yoi) used in speech, however, it can be heard occasionally in very formal situations when Japanese Keigo is necessary.

On the other hand, 良い (yoi) is used as the base when conjugating tenses or forms, such as the past tense. Therefore, when conjugating the word for “good” into “was good” for instance, we first have to take the word for “good” with its kanji.

Was Good in Japanese

  • Was good.
    良かった。
    yokatta.

To express how something or someone “was good” in Japanese, you use 良かった (yokatta).

The word 良かった (yokatta) is essentially いい (ii), the word for “good” in Japanese in the past tense.

As stated above, to conjugate いい (ii), it’s necessary to put it into kanji, which makes it 良い (yoi). The act of rendering it into its kanji also changes its reading from (ii) to (yoi).

Once that process is complete, we can then conjugate 良い (yoi) into any tense as we would any other i-adjective.

To transform an i-adjective into the past tense, simply remove the ending い (i), and attach かった (katta).

Therefore, removing the い (i) from 良い (yoi) makes it よ (yo), then by attaching かった (katta), we get 良かった (yokatta), meaning “was good”.

Note that including the kanji is optional.

Examples

Good Time

You can express that something “was good” with かった (yokatta).

  • 祭りは良かった!
    matsuri ha yokatta!
    The festival was good!

It’s important to know that when you are speaking with a teacher, manager or stranger you will need to speak formally. To do this with the above sentence structure, simply attach です (desu) to 良かった (yokatta). This makes it 良かったです (yokatta desu).

The past form for “good” in Japanese is not いいでした (ii deshita).

  • 天気は良かったのに
    tenki ha yokatta no ni.
    (it’s a shame as) The weather was good.

Those of you who are lower-intermediate or higher will probably be aware of the のに (no ni) grammar.

The のに (no ni) grammar is a way to say “even though” in Japanese. It usually connects two phrases or sentences to form a complete sentence following the structure: Even though X, Y.

However, you do not always need to connect のに (no ni) with another sentence. Finishing the sentence with のに (no ni) connotates that the subject of the sentence was unfortunate or regrettable.

In the above example, we can use のに (no ni) to express how it’s a shame that that something didn’t happen, as the weather happened to be good.

I’m Glad in Japanese

Simply saying 良かった (yokatta) by itself emphasises a feeling of relief, similar to the feeling felt when expressing “I’m glad” in English.

As mentioned, you do not need to always specific pronouns in Japanese when the context is understood. Furthermore, 良かった (yokatta) is frequently used to express “I’m glad” in Japanese, so you needn’t worry about clarity in communication.

Perhaps, you’re worried about someone, so you ask them if they are okay. This could be because they were sick, an accident, or any event that would cause you to be concerned.

They tell you everything is fine, to which point you can respond:

  • 良かった!
    yokatta!
    I’m glad!

You can even express your satisfaction in how something turned out directly by saying:

  • 良かった!安心した。
    yokatta! annshin shita.
    I’m glad! I’m relieved.

To clarify, you do not need to specify that it is you, the speaker who is feeling relieved. This information is already inferred.

Not Good in Japanese

  • Not good.
    良くない。
    yokunai.

To describe something as bad or undesirable in Japanese, you can use 良くない (yokunai).

For instance:

  • そのドレスは良くない
    sono doresu ha yokunai.
    That dress is not good.

As explained above, the word 良い (yoi) is いい (ii), the Japanese word for “good” put into kanji. Regardless of whether or not it’s in kanji, 良い (yoi) and いい (ii) are both i-adjectives.

To make i-adjectives negative you replace the ending い (i) of the affirmative with くない (kunai).  Therefore 良い inflects to 良くない (yokunai) which forms the negative.

  • それは良くない態度だと思う。
    sore ha yokunai taido da to omou.
    I think that’s not a good attitude.

Note that it’s most natural to use 良くない (yokunai) when not referring to the skill or ability of someone or something. This is because there is a separate word for this in Japanese.

Not Good (ability) in Japanese

Not Good in Japanese

To express how your or someone else’s ability at something is poor, you can use the word 下手 (heta).

It’s important to know that this word is considerably strong. When you use 下手 (heta), you’re directly saying that someone’s ability is terrible.

  • 日本語が下手です。
    nihon go ga heta desu.
    My Japanese is terrible.

In the above example, the pronouns have been omitted because it’s more natural to speak without them in Japanese.

下手 (heta) with Nouns

To form a sentence using 下手 (heta) with nouns, follow the structure:

  • Noun+が下手 (です)。
    Noun + ga heta (desu).

The です (desu) is required if you are speaking formally to a manager, teacher or stranger. With friends feel free to omit it! With this sentence structure, you can express how anything has a poor skill level. For example:

  • ゲームが下手
    ge-mu ga heta.
    I’m awful at games.

下手 (heta) with Verbs

To use 下手 (heta) with verbs, use the following sentence structure:

  • Verb (dictionary form)+のが下手 (です)。
    Verb (dictionary form) + no ga heta (desu).

The dictionary form is a grammatical term used to refer to the base form of a verb, which is how you’ll find it in dictionaries. As a quick example, the dictionary form of します (shimasu), meaning “to do”, is する (suru).

You then take のが下手 (です) and attach it to the end of the dictionary form verb. This allows you to form sentences such as:

  • ゲームするのが下手
    ge-mu suru no ga heta.
    I’m awful at playing games.

You may be wondering why there is an inclusion of the の (no) particle. The purpose of this の (no) is to transform the preceding dictionary form verb into a noun. This allows us to apply all kinds of grammar to verbs (which typically appear at the end of the sentence) as they now function as nouns!

Wasn’t Good in Japanese

  • Wasn’t good.
    良くなかった。
    yokunakatta.

To express how something that happened was disappointing or bad, you can use 良くなかった (yokunakatta).

For instance, perhaps you’ve just finished watching a movie with a friend and you feel as if it wasn’t great. You could express this by saying:

  • 映画は良くなかった
    eiga ha yokunakatta.
    The movie wasn’t good.

良くなかった (yokunatta) is also inflected from 良い (yoi), the Japanese word for “good”. Firstly, 良い (yoi) becomes 良くない (yokunai), meaning not good. Then, as we covered, to make an i-adjective past tense, replace the ending い (i) with かった (katta). This transforms 良くない (yoknai) into 良くなかった (yokunakatta).

Gotten Good in Japanese

  • Gotten good.
    良くなった。
    yokunatta.

You can use 良くなった (yokunatta) to express that someone or something has gotten good, or better compared to previously. For instance:

  • 急に良くなった!
    kyuuni yokunatta! 
    I/It suddenly got good/better.

The word 良くなった (yokunatta) is formed from applying the なる (naru) grammar to the word 良い (yoi).

You can even use 良くなった (yokunatta) to talk about getting better after an illness.

  • 良くなったと思う。
    yokunatta to omou.
    I think I’ve gotten better.

I’ve composed an ultimate guide that covers how to express your concern about someone in Japanese, and how to wish them to feel better soon.

Very Good in Japanese

Good Person in Japanese

For all the ways on how to compliment someone on a good job in Japanese, have a glance at this ultimate guide.

  • Very Good.
    とてもいい。
    totemo ii.

To express your thoughts and opinions on something directly, you can use とてもいい (totemo ii).

We’ve covered the latter part of this phrase at the beginning of this guide. いい (ii) is the adjective for “good” in Japanese.

The former word is one of the many ways to say “very” in Japanese. It’s slightly formal, but you can use it to describe your thoughts on a topic. For instance,

  • とてもいい車ですね。
    totemo ii kuruma desu ne.
    Very nice car.

As いい (ii) also has the meanings of “nice” or “fine”, its usage becomes very flexible.

You can also use this expression for people:

  • かれはとてもいい人ですよ。
    kare ha totemo ii hito desu yo.
    He is a very good person.

Great in Japanese

Depending on the subject, the Japanese word for “great” will be different.

Here are examples of the many different ways of expressing “great” in Japanese.

  • Great Grandfather.
    ひいおじいさん。
    hii ojiisan.
  • Great Grandmother.
    ひいおばあさん。
    hii obaasan.

Just like in English, you can repeat ひい (hii) to increase the number of “greats”.

  • Great Achievement.
    大した功績。
    taishita kouseki.
  • Great Power.
    大きいな力。
    ookii na chikra

Note that 大きい (ookii) is also commonly understood as “big”.

  • Great Scientist.
    偉い科学者。
    erai kagaku sha.

偉い (erai) is a word that refers to a person who has reached a significant professional level in their career.

  • Great War/World War.

    taisen

大, the kanji for “large” or “big” can also be used to refer to events of significant importance.

Sometimes we want to compliment someone or something and refer to them/it as great. This is different to the nuances implied with 偉い (erai). I highly recommend watching this wonderful short and sweet video that explains the nuances and implications very clearly.

A  natural way to express your appreciation of something in Japanese is to use 素晴らしい (subarashii).

The adjective 素晴らしい (subarashii) is commonly understood to mean “wonderful” and can be used when you want to express how great something was.

  • 先生の授業は素晴らしい。
    sensei no jyugyou ha subarashii.
    The teachers/your lessons are wonderful.

I’ve used this exact phrase to my Japanese teachers in the past when I wanted to express my appreciation of their lessons. In Japanese, it’s natural to refer to your teacher as 先生 (sensei), regardless if you’re talking with them directly, or talking about them to someone else.

Complimenting Someone (Pairing いい)

Pairing the Japanese word for “good” with other words combines them into single words which you can use to compliment someone or something.

You’re Cool in Japanese

For instance, the word 恰好 (kakko) meaning “appearance”, “figure” or “shape” can be paired with いい (ii), the word for “good” in Japanese.

Combining them together makes the adjective 恰好いい (kakkoii), which means “cool” or “stylish”.

It’s a pretty creative part of the Japanese language that’s super fun to explore!

  • 彼女はマジで格好いい
    kanojo ha majide kakkoii.
    She is seriously so cool.

You can even use this adjective and other similar words to describe someone as “dreamy” in Japanese too.

You’re smart/intelligent in Japanese

Another example of one of these pairings involves the way you can describe someone as being smart or intelligent in Japanese.

To do this, we first have to take the word for “head” in Japanese. This word is 頭 (atama). Usually, 頭 (atama) will then be followed by the が (ga) particle, however, this can be omitted in casual speech.

Lastly, attach いい (ii) to the end of the phrase and you get:

  • Smart/intelligent.
    頭がいい。
    atama ga ii.

The word for smart/intelligent in Japanese quite literally translates to “good head” in English. Can’t argue with that logic! Again, the が (ga) particle is optional in casual speech.

By attaching the ね (ne) particle to the end of this expression and emphasising it in conversation renders the meaning to “you’re smart”.

  • 頭がいいね。
    atama ga ii ne.
    You’re smart.

The reason the meaning changes to “you’re” is because of two things. Firstly, pronouns are omitted frequently in Japanese as it is more natural to speak without them when the context is clear. Secondly, as the ね (ne) particle functions similar to “right?”, the meaning of the entire sentence connotates “You’re smart, right?”

Therefore it’s not necessary to use pronouns.

In circumstances where you do need to be more specific though, you should always use the person’s name to address them, even when speaking with them directly. This is more natural than any other way of saying “you” in Japanese.

  • [name], 頭がいいね。
    [name], atama ga ii ne.
    [name], You’re smart.

If you’re speaking about someone to someone else, make sure to drop the final ね (ne).

Regardless if you include the ね, attach です (desu) after いい (ii) to make it formal. This makes it 頭がいいですね (atama ga ii desu ne), which is a formal way of saying “you’re smart”.

Good Boy/Good Girl For Pets in Japanese

In English, we praise pets by calling them a “good girl” or “good boy”. In Japanese, a more gender-neutral expression is used instead.

  • Good boy/girl.
    いい子。
    ii ko.

The expression いい子 (ii ko), quite literally translates as “good child”. You can use it when praising your pets the same way as you would say “good boy” or “good girl in English.

Likewise, you can also use いい子 (ii ko) to praise a child or someone (in a cute way).

Good/Likes on Social Media

In English, we would typically send a thumbs up or even a heart on social media to express that we like the content.

Whereas in Japanese, interestingly, the text いいね (ii ne) appears instead. You then click いいね (ii ne) which tells people you “liked” it.

This いいね (ii ne) is the same as what we covered earlier under the first entry, meaning “that’s good”.

You are Good (ability) in Japanese

You can use 上手 (jouzu) to compliment someone’s ability or skill at doing something. It is the opposite of 下手 (heta) which is used to express a lack of ability in something. I full explain 下手 (heta) above.

  • 日本語上手ですね。
    nihongo jouzu desu ne.
    Your Japanese is good.

There is a little bit of a running joke in the Japanese language learning community that stems from Japanese people who are quick to compliment any foreigners’ Japanese.

Often you’ll hear the above phrase used by Japanese native speakers to compliment foreigners’ language ability, regardless if they are actually good or not. You can say a simple こんにちは (konnbichi ha), and you may get a 日本語上手 (nihongo jouzu) as a response.

Of course, native speakers who say this are not intending to be sarcastic or rude with their response. They are simply trying to encourage your learning and express their appreciation of you learning their language.

When the context is clear, you can use 上手 (jouzu) by itself to express “you’re good” in Japanese. For instance, perhaps a friend has painted a picture. They show it to you and you say:

  • 上手!
    jouzu!
    This is good! (you did a fantastic job!)

When you use 上手 (jouzu) by itself like this, the meaning becomes very flexible. It expresses how “good,” you think someone’s ability is, as well as how well the painting came out.

It’s important to know that it would be considered rude to express your own skillfulness at something with 上手 (jouzu).

上手 (jouzu) with Nouns

Too Good in Japanese

Grammatically speaking, 上手 (jouzu) follows the same rules as 下手 (heta) during conjugation.

To form a sentence with 上手 (jouzu) using nouns, follow the structure below.

  • Noun+が上手 (です)。
    Noun + ga jouzu (desu).

Note that the inclusion of です (desu) is required if you are speaking formally. As an example of a sentence using the above structure:

  • 料理が上手
    ryouri ga jouzu!
    You are good at cooking!

You may have noticed how in the very first example of “your Japanese is good” the が (ga) is absent. This is because が (ga) is sometimes dropped from the sentence in speech.

上手 (jouzu) with Verbs

上手 (jouzu) follows the same grammatical rules as 下手 (heta) with verbs too!

  • Verb (dictionary form)+のが上手 (です)。
    Verb (dictionary form) + no ga jouzu (desu).

To clarify, the dictionary form refers to verbs that are in a base form. This is how verbs generally appear when searched in the dictionary.

You cannot connect a verb to が上手 (ga jouzu). First, we have to make the entire preceding clause a noun. To do this, we place の (no) after the verb which then allows us to conjugate it the same as we would for nouns!

As an example,

  • 絵を描くのが上手
    e wo egaku no ga jouzu.
    You are good at painting pictures.

Looks Good in Japanese

  • Looks good.
    良さそう。
    yosasou.

It’s common to use 良さそう (yosasou) when referring to an object, event or an appearance to describe it as “looking good”. If something “seems” good to you, you can express it with 良さそう (yosasou).

However, to compliment someone more naturally on their appearance (or personality) in Japanese, refer to this guide:

How to say Beautiful in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

You can use 良さそう (yosasou) to express your overall positive opinion on an object.

  • あの家は良さそう
    ano ie ha yosasou.
    That house looks good.

You can also use it to emphasise that a time looks good to you.

  • 日曜日の天気は良さそう
    nichiyoubi no tenki ha yosasou.
    Sunday’s weather looks good.

If someone’s state of health has seemed a little poor recently, but today they seem better, you can express this:

  • 彼女は今日の調子が良さそう
    kanojo ha kyou no choushi ga yosasou.
    She looks well recently.

Too Good in Japanese

  • Too good.
    良すぎる。
    yosugiru.

You can use 良すぎる (yosugiru) to communicate that you feel something is “too good” in Japanese.

  • これは良すぎる
    kore ha yosugiru.
    This is too good.

The すぎる (sugiru) part of this expression is a grammar point that replaces the final い (i) on an i-adjective to emphasise excessiveness. We know that 良 (yo) is the kanji from いい (ii), the adjective for “good” in Japanese. Therefore, when combined with すぎる (sugiru), the meaning is quite literally “too good”.

  • 運が良すぎる
    un ga yosugiru.
    Your luck is too good.

Related: How to say Good Luck in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

An interesting idiom that uses this expression is 虫が良すぎる (mushi ga yosugiru). As 虫 (mushi) means “insect” in Japanese, this phrase literally means “the insect is too good”. The meaning, however, is used to imply selfishness.

In particular, using this idiom tells someone that they’re taking something for granted or are asking for a little too much.

Tastes Good in Japanese

Although the Japanese language gives plenty of flexibility and freedom with pronoun usage, there are occasions when being direct with some things is more natural.

For instance, to describe good food in Japanese, you don’t use the adjective いい (ii) at all. Instead, you use:

  • 美味しい。
    oishii.
    Tastes good/delicious.

Tastes Too Good

Likewise, when expressing that something tastes too good, you use 美味しい (oishii) and pair it with the grammar すぎる (sugiru).

This makes it:

  • 美味しすぎる。
    oishisugiru.
    Tastes too good.

Remember that with i-adjectives, you have to replace the final い (i) with すぎる (sugiru) to be grammatically correct. It is not 美味しいすぎる (oishii sugiru)

I’m Doing Good

  • I’m doing good.
    元気。
    genki.

元気 (genki) is the best way to express that you’re doing well after someone has asked you how you are. You can use it by itself if speaking casually, or pair it with です (desu), making 元気です (genki desu) to speak formally.

There are many nuances to 元気 (genki) as well as other alternatives that you can use.

I include a full explanation in these ultimate guides:

How to say How Are You in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

How to say What’s up in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

No Good in Japanese

  • No good.
    だめ。
    dame.

You can use だめ (dame) to decline an invitation or to describe a situation that doesn’t work for you.

For instance, if a friend asks you if you’re available on Saturday and you’re not, you can tell them using だめ (dame).

  • 土曜日はだめ
    douyoubi ha dame.
    Saturday is no good.

Interestingly, you can also use だめ (dame) in regards to people. Although as you might expect from calling someone useless, it’s quite rude.

  • だめ人。
    damehito
    Worthless person.

だめ (dame) is not just limited to these scenarios either. You can use だめ (dame) to describe objects that are no good.

This could be because either they’re broken, not the right tool for the task, or because they’ve gone off (because they are food).

  • 卵はだめだ。
    tamago ha dame da.
    The eggs are no good.

Amazing in Japanese

Amazing in Japanese

  • Amazing.
    すごい。
    sugoi.

To describe something truly good, or amazing in Japanese, useすごい (sugoi).

Appropriate times to use すごい (sugoi) include those when you’re filled with excitement, left awestruck, or are overwhelmed by something.

In Japanese, すごい (sugoi) is mostly a casual word that can be used in situations that are good or bad.

Just like the word “amazing” in English, there are many scenarios where you could use すごい (sugoi).

To express happiness:

  • テストに合格した?すごい
    tesuto ni goukaku shita? sugoi!
    So you passed the test? That’s amazing!

When you’re amazed by someone or something:

  • 日本語能力はすごいね!
    nihongo noyouryoku ha sugoi ne!
    Your Japanese ability is amazing!

As an adverb:

  • 景色はすごくきれい!
    keshiki ha sugoku kirei!
    The view is incredibly beautiful!

To express something very bad:

  • この状況はすごくまずい!
    kono joukyou ha sugoku mazui!
    This situation is extremely bad!

Crazy Good

  • Crazy good.
    やばい。
    yabai.

やばい (yabai) is strictly a slang term that a very large number of uses.

Similar to the English word “crazy” or “sick”, やばい (yabai) can be used to describe things that are really great, or really terrible.

It can mean anything along the lines of:

  1. dangerous
  2. awful
  3. terrible
  4. amazing
  5. terrific
  6. sick
  7. crazy
  8. insane
  9. extreme

Therefore, it’s possible to use やばい (yabai) to describe any number of these 9 situations.

You can really emphasise your opinion on something. For instance, you can say:

  • このピザはやばい。美味しすぎる!
    kono piza ha yabai. oishisugiru!
    This pizza is insane. It’s too tasty!

It’s possible to completely flip the subject of the sentence to one where something is terrible.

  • この計画はやばいよ!
    kono keikaku ha yabai yo!
    This plan is crazy/dangerous!

You can also use やばい (yabai) in regards to people.

Whether the meaning is やばい (yabai) is considered positive or not is up to interpretation and context.

  • 彼はやばいやつだ。
    kare ha yabai yatsu da.
    He is a crazy person.

More Ways to Say Good in Japanese

  • Come again if you’d like.
    良かったらまた来てね。
    yokattara mata kite ne.

There are so many ways to conjugate the word for “good” in Japanese, いい (ii).

In the example above, 良かったら (yokattara) is another conjugation of いい (ii) that can be interpreted as “if you’d like” or “if it’s okay”. You use it when you want to invite someone to something, or request something from someone.

  • 良かったら他の記事も見てみてね
    yokattara hoka ni kiji mo mite mte ne.
    If you’d like, have a look at some other articles also.

I have composed a collection of Ultimate How-to Japanese guides. Take a look if you’d like more content!

Or in Japanese

How to say Or in Japanese

The most common way to say “or” in Japanese is to link the two words or sentences with the particle か (ka).

During the beginner stages of Japanese language learning, you may recognise か (ka) as the question particle. You place it at the end of a formal sentence to transform it into a question. Words such as です (desu) will become ですか (desuka) etc.

However, you can also use か (ka) to link two things together via “or“. You can also repeat it after multiple successive options. For instance,

  • ケーキコーラパン。
    ke-ki ka ko-ra ka pan.
    Cake or cola or bread.

For everyday conversation, using か (ka) when you want to say “or” in Japanese is sufficient and you will sound natural.

With that said, there are several other ways to say “or” in Japanese outside of this grammar.

You may encounter many of these alternative ways in written text or during conversations where formal speech is necessary.

It goes without saying that you will also need to know them for the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), N4 or above!

All entries in this guide are accompanied by audio clips for your pronunciation reference.

Or in Japanese

  • Or.
    か~か。
    ka~ka.

The most common way to say “or” in Japanese is to use か (ka). You can use か (ka) after multiple verbs (dictionary form), nouns or adjectives to link them together with the equivalent to the English “or” in Japanese.

When connecting words with か (ka), you’re listing possible options, while emphasising that one of them will be suitable or appropriate.

Saying Or in Japanese Examples

Essentially, you use か (ka) to state two or more choices.

For instance:

  • バス電車で京都に行きます。
    basu ka densha de kyoto ni ikimasu.
    I’ll go to Kyoto by bus or train.

In the above example, the single か (ka) functions the same as “or” does in English.

You can use か (ka) as many times as you need to list choices with “or”.

  • 青、全部が好き!
    kuro ka aka ka ao, zenbu ga suki!
    Black or red or blue, I like them all!

When the list of alternatives emphasises further consideration or a decision, the final ending grammar particle needs to be replaced with another か (ka).

Let’s take a look at an example sentence.

  • 彼はすごいやばいわからない。
    kare ha sugoi ka yabai ka wakarnai.
    I don’t know if he’s awesome or just crazy.

It’s important to know that when deciding between the alternatives, you have to end the last word (or sentence) in the list with か (ka) to completely connect them naturally.

In the above example, the comparison is being made if the person is awesome or crazy. Despite there being only one “or” present in English, two か (ka)’s are required in Japanese. This would then replace any grammar particle that would otherwise be necessary.

Or in Japanese Examples

Related: How to say I don’t Know in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Here’s another example!

  • ケーキを食べる食べない決められない。
    ke-ki wo taberu ka tabenai ka kimerarenai.
    I can’t decide to eat or not eat the cake.

This person is considering their alternatives – to eat or not eat the cake. Therefore final particle has to be replaced with か (ka).

Asking Questions – Which do You Prefer

To ask someone a question with “or” in Japanese, there is a very simple structure you should follow.

  • XかY, Question.

With the above pattern, replace the X and Y with the two choices, and follow with the question you’d like to ask.

For instance, you could say:

  • お肉お魚、どちらの方が好きですか?
    oniku ka osakana, dochira no hou ga suki desuka?
    Meat or fish, which do you prefer?

Or/Perhaps in Japanese

  • Or.
    あるいは。
    aruiha.

The word あるいは means “or” in Japanese, and has formal connotations and would usually be found written in passages or heard in polite speech.

You can use あるいは (aruiha) to list multiple items or options that are related to each other in some way. Using あるいは (aruiha) emphasises the listed items as possible alternatives to/for something.

あるいは (aruiha) Examples

For instance, let’s say you’re following a cake recipe. You notice this:

  • バターあるいはマーガリンが必要。
    bata- aruiha ma-garin ga hitsuyou.
    Butter or margarine is needed.

In this example, it is conveyed that butter or margarine is required to make the cake. In this topic, these two ingredients fall into the same category as one can be substituted for the other.

Thus, using あるいは (aruiha) emphasises that one of the possible options will be necessary.

Similarly, you can also use あるいは (aruiha) in situations where there are several options to choose from that contribute progression towards a certain goal.

To reiterate, using あるいは (aruiha) is a way to present a list of alternatives to/for the purpose of something.

  • 学校に電車で行くか、あるいは自転車で行くか迷っている。
    gakkou ni densha de iku ka, aruiha jitensha de iku ka mayotteiru.
    I’m not sure if I’ll go to school by train or by bicycle.

In the above sentence, the emphasis is on how it’s possible to use both the train or bicycle to go to school. The options of walking or taking the bus can also be alternative to choose from.

Using あるいは (aruiha) to say Perhaps in Japanese

The word あるいは (aruiha) also has the nuance of “ or perhaps”, or ” or maybe”.

It’s also possible to begin a sentence with あるいは (aruiha).

  • あるいは、彼はその可能性に気づいていたのかもしれない。
    aruiha, kare ha sono kanousei ni kizuiteitanokamoshirenai.
    Or perhaps, he had maybe noticed the possibility.

The above example is still presented as an alternative suggestion to something else.

To clarify, when you use あるいは (aruiha), you’re emphasising the possible available options that are of similar types or related in some way.

Or in Japanese with もしくは (moshikuha)

  • Or.
    もしくは。
    moshikuha.

The word もしくは (moshikuha) is a more literary way to say “or” in Japanese.

Similarly to あるいは (aruiha), the word もしくは (moshikuha) can also be used to list items as a possible option for something.

However, unlike あるいは (aruiha), もしくは (moshikuha) strictly emphasises the difference between the outcomes of the options.

あるいは (aruiha) is used to list items or options as possible alternatives to a solution. Whereas もしくは (moshikuha) can be used to list options that are different or present different outcomes from each other.

もしくは (moshikuha) also has the nuance of “otherwise” or “perhaps” in Japanese.

もしくは (moshikuha) Examples

You use もしくは (moshikuha) in circumstances where it’s not possible to achieve the same result from the same options. Only one of the options can come to be.

  • 学校に行くか、もしくは休むか。
    gakkou ni iku ka, moshiku ha yasumu ka.
    To go, or to not go to school.

In this example, you are presented with two options. You use もしくは (moshikuha) here as the conclusion of if you will go to school or not will be ultimately decided by which option you pick.

You can also use もしくは (moshikuha) to state a fact that something will happen at one of two possible times.

  • 6月もしくは10月に行われるイベント。
    6gatsu moshikua 10 gatsu ni okonawareru ibento.
    An event that will take place in June or October.

It’s best to use もしくは (moshikuha) here as the event will take place in June or October, quite different times. In this case, もしくは (moshikha) highlights the difference in the time, which is something あるいは (aruiha) would only do to a lesser extent.

Asking Questions with Or in Japanese

  • Or.
    それとも。
    soretomo.

The word それとも (soretomo) is fundamentally used in questions, rather than statements. Therefore, when you want to ask someone a question with “or” in Japanese, you use れとも (soretomo). By using それとも (soretomo) to connect alternative options together in the form of a question.

Where you can use あるいは (aruiha) in questions and statements, それとも (soretomo) can only be used in questions.

それとも (soretomo) Examples

For instance, you could ask:

  • 学校まで歩きましょうか。それともバスで行きますか。
    gakkou made arukimashouka? soretomo basu made ikimasuka?
    Shall we walk all the way to school? Or shall we take a bus?

You’re presenting two possible alternatives in the form of a question, therefore you can use それとも (soretomo) to connect them together.

Suggested: How to say I Like You in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Which one in Japanese

As another example, you can use それとも (soretomo) to ask someone if they like X or Y in Japanese.

  • 犬が好きですか。それとも猫のほうが好きですか。
    inu ga suki desuka? soretomo neko no hou ga suki desuka?
    Do you like dogs? Or do you like cats more?

How Not to Use それとも (soretomo)

あるいは (aruiha) and それとも (soretomo) can be used interchangeably, except in the case of questions.

For example, you cannot say:

  • バターそれともマーガリンが必要です
    bata- soretomo ma-garin ga hitsuyou desu.
    We need butter or margarine.

As this sentence is a statement, rather than a question, you cannot use それとも (soretomo) to say “or” here. Instead, you should use あるいは (aruiha).

Or in Japanese with または (mata ha)

Either/ mataha

  • Or/Either.
    または。
    mataha.

または (mataha) is another way to say “or” in Japanese. There is a kanji for または (mataha). However, you’ll rarely see it used. This kanji is 又は.

You use または (mataha) between two options or sentences to link them together as possible choices.

It is different to あるいは (aruiha) as the options aren’t restricted to being of a similar type to be listed.

または (mataha) Examples

However, similarly to あるいは (aruiha), you can use また (mataha) to show that both options for something are acceptable.

With the options listed with また (mataha) you commit to one and discard the others.

For example:

  • フォームは黒ペンまたは青ペンで記入してください。
    fo-mu ha kuropen mataha aopen de kinyuu shi tekudsai.
    Please fill in the form with a blue or black pen.

In this example, the blue or black pen are acceptable options. This gives you the choice to select one method, and discard the other.

Emphasising Either in Japanese

 

Where あるいは (aruiha) and もしくは (moshikuha) have the nuance of “perhaps” to them, または (mataha) does not.

Instead of “perhaps”, “either” is emphasised much more. Let’s look at an example.

  • ランチセットにはドリンクまたはデザートがつきます。
    ranchi setto ni ha dorinku mataha desa-to ga tsukimasu.
    The lunch set comes with either a drink or a dessert.

The above example is something you may hear when attending a restaurant or cafe in Japan. Using または (mataha) here emphasises that the included drink or desserts are separate options available for you to choose from.

It has a sense of being “absolute” – the meal comes with either a drink OR dessert. For comparison, if you were to use あるいは (aruiha) instead, the connotation of perhaps would be applied to the overall meaning.  The fact that they are different options is stressed with または (mataha).

How Not to Use または (mata ha)

As previously mentioned, you cannot use または (mataha) in any sentence where you express uncertainty towards the subject when you want to say “or” in Japanese.

Let’s take a look at an example.

  • ミーティングは7時終了予定だが、あるいは延びるかもしれない
    mi-teingu ha 7 ji shuuryou yotei daga, aruiha nobiru kamoshirenai.
    The meeting is set to finish at 7, (or) perhaps it’ll be extended.

In the above example, as there is doubt that the meeting will actually finish at 7, you’ll need to use あるいは (aruiha). It can even be substituted for もしくは (moshikuha).

However, in this case as well as those similar, you cannot use または (mata ha), unless the subject has 100% certainty.

More Ways to Say Or in Japanese

More Ways to say Or in Japanese

  • Or.
    なり~なり。
    nari~nari.

なり~なり (nari~nari) functions similarly to か~か (ka~ka), which I explain in entry #1. You can pair it with nouns and/or verbs that are in their dictionary form. By doing so, you can link multiple options together, creating the sequence: X or Y.

The grammar なり~なり (nari~nari) falls into the N1 category. Note that it should not be used when directed towards a person who is of a higher social status such as a teacher or manager.

When you use なり~なり (nari~nari), you express different acceptable options without emphasising a preference. Think of it as a way to express a proposal of two options by saying: “X or Y, either is OK”. In this case, it’s similar to (mata ha).

Examples

 

  • 進路について親になり、先生になり相談して決めよう。
    shinro nitsuite oya ni nari, sensei ni nari soudan shi tekimeyou.
    Let’s decide your future path by discussing it with either your parents or teachers.

Generally, you’ll need to use two なり~なり (nari~nari) to link options together with a single “or”. Think of なり~なり (nari~nari) as the grammar that marks the words or phrases that appear at opposite sides of a single “or”.

  • 退屈なら選択なり、掃除なり手伝ってほしい。
    taikutsu nara, sentaku nari, souji nari tetsudatte hoshii.
    If you’re bored I’d like you to help me with either the cleaning or the laundry.

To reiterate, using this grammar emphasises that both options are fine. It is also possible to use a single なり (nari) when you want to specify or emphasise an available option directly.

Related: How to say Okay in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

For instance, let’s take a look at the following sentence.

  • 彼女になり相談したらいいです。
    kanojo ni nari soudan shitara ii desu.
    You may discuss it with her (or someone else).

By only including a single なり (nari), you emphasise the possibility of other options that were not stated. In the case of the example sentence above the use of one なり (nari) creates the connotation of “or another person, whichever is fine”.

なり~なり (nari~nari) is only used during situations like this where advice or a request is being spoken.

Or, Etc in Japanese

  • Or, etc.
    とか。
    toka.

とか (toka) is an expression that you can use to offer up examples of several possibilities that one doesn’t have to choose a specific option from. 

With とか (toka) you can list as many options as you deem necessary, without emphasising that a choice from that list is required.

とか (toka) Examples

For instance:

  • クリスマスにプレゼントとして新しい本とか漫画とか、どう?。
    kurisumasu ni purezento toshi teatarashii hon toka manga toka, dou?
    What do you think about a new book or manga (or something) as a Christmas present?

You don’t even have to list the options as a question with とか (toka). You can also use it in a reply too.

  • ラメんとかすしとか好きだよ。
    ramen toka sushi toka suki dayo.
    I like ramen and sushi etc.

In the case of the example sentence above, the とか (toka) indicates that there are further foods you may like. It leaves your response open-ended, and not restricted to only the specific things you’ve said.

Similar to the first example, you can also use とか (toka) to infer both “or” and “etc” simultaneously.

  • かくれんぼとか鬼ごっことかして遊ぼう。
    kakurenbo toka oni gokko toka shi teasobou.
    Let’s play tag or hide and seek (or something).

Casual Or in Japanese

soreka

  • That, or…
    それか。
    soreka.

A colloquial way to say “or” in Japanese is それか (soreka). It is similar to または (mataha), but more casual.

When you use それか (soreka), you’re answering a question with another proposed alternative. You’ll use it to begin new sentences that can answer a question. A good way to think of それか (soreka) is as “that or”.

For instance,

  • 明日に行くのはどう?それかあっさって行く?
    ashita ni iku no ha dou? soreka asatte iku?
    How about going tomorrow? Or should we go the day after?

In the above example, we can assume that the original question would have been something along the lines of “when should we go?” Using それか(soreka) allows us to suggest a valid alternative. With それか (soreka) we can indicate that “tomorrow” is plausible, but “the day after” is also possible.

Summary of the Best Ways to say Or in Japanese

There are approximately 8 different ways to say “or” in Japanese.

  1. か~か – Allows phrases, words and sentences to be chained together in a sequence.
  2. あるいは –  Presents a list of similar alternatives that fall into the same category to/for the purpose of something. Also has the nuance of “perhaps”.
  3. もしくは – Lists options that are different or present significantly different outcomes from each other. Also has the nuance of “perhaps”.
  4. それとも – Connects two possible alternatives in the form of a question. It cannot be used for statements.
  5. または – Used for occasions when both options for something are acceptable. One option is selected, and the other is discarded.
  6. なり~なり – Expresses different acceptable options without emphasising a preference. A proposal of two choices where either answer is OK.
  7. とか – Lists several options where there is no single “correct” answer.
  8. それか – Casual way to answer a question with a proposed alternative.

Overall, the most common way to say “or” in Japanese will be to used か (ka). In formal writing and speech, you’ll hear あるいは (aruiha), もしくは (moshikuha) etc much more frequently, but they can be heard in everyday conversation every once in a while too.

Are You Done? Or Do You Want to Study More?

  • もう終わりますか? それとも勉強を続けますか?
    mou owarimasu ka? soretomo benkyou wo tsutzukemasu ka?
    Are you done already? Or do you fancy studying some more?

I recommend looking at this amazing online free Japanese dictionary for some further examples should you be curious.

Or if you’d like to learn more Japanese, take a look at:

All Ultimate How-To Japanese Guides!

Recommended:

How to say Hope and I Hope in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

How to say Dream in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Are you a Legend of Zelda fan and like Japanese? Come and quest with me on my YouTube channel!

I Like You in Japanese

How to say I Like You in Japanese

The best way to tell someone “I like you” in Japanese is to use either the casual 好き (suki) or the formal 好きです (suki desu).

It’s important to know that the distinction between “I like you” and “I love you” in Japanese is a little blurred, compared to English.

Although saying “I love you” in Japanese could be better expressed through 大好き (daisuki) or 愛している (aishiteru), sometimes it can be felt through 好き (suki) as well.

That’s why the context and the way you say 好き (suki) will determine whether you tell someone you like them or love them.

However, there are ways to explicitly emphasise that you like someone as a friend in Japanese to avoid misunderstanding.

Furthermore, there are plenty of ways to generally complement a particular feature or part of someone by telling them you like them in Japanese too. This includes ways of describing someone as being a very likeable person.

It’s important to know that the best way to address someone as “you” in Japanese is to call them by their actual name, even when you’re talking to that person directly. Therefore the following entries will have [name] as a placeholder. This also means you can use these entries to talk about [name] to someone else entirely. No need to fuss over pronoun usage here!

Each entry is accompanied by an audio clip with a native Japanese speaker for your reference.

I Like You in Japanese

  • I like you.
    好き。
    suki.

The best way to tell someone that you like them in Japanese is to use 好き (suki). You can use 好き (suki) just like that, as a standalone without any pronouns. This is because you don’t need to use pronouns when speaking in Japanese. This makes everything really easy to understand!

Therefore if you were to say to someone: 好き (suki), you are saying “I like you” to them in Japanese. Although 好き (suki) doesn’t explicitly mean “I love you”, it can be interpreted as a confession if you were to randomly blurt it out.

There are other ways you can use 好き (suki) to tell someone you like them to avoid confusion.

Confessing You Like Someone in Japanese

Confessing in Japanese

The first is to be much more direct with the intention and meaning behind your words. To achieve this, use 好きだ (suki da) with the inclusion of だ (da).

  • I like you.
    好き
    sukida.

When you tell someone 好きだ (suki da), you’re emphasising the finality in your speech. This is because だ (da) functions as a kind of final-sentence marker that expresses the certainty in your words. This means that when you tell someone 好きだ (suki da), they will 100% assume that you are confessing to them that you like them as more than just a friend.

It is a very direct way that ensures the person knows that you like them.

Another way to express that you like them as more than a friend is to say:

  • [name] のことが好き。
     [name] no koto ga suki.
    I like you.

As the most natural way to address the person you’re talking with is to use their name rather than using “you” in Japanese, simply replace the above [name] with the person’s actual name.

When you use the above phrase, you’re telling the person that you like them and who they are. This is because of こと (koto). When paired with の (no) the possessive grammar particle, you express that you like the person for who they are.

Literally speaking, こと (koto) means an “intangible thing” in Japanese. Therefore you’re quite literally telling them that you like things about them.

I Like You As a Friend in Japanese

The second way is to emphasise slightly more that you like a person in general. You can do this with 好きだよ (suki da yo) which mellows down the confession-like feeling depending on the context.

For instance, imagine someone asks you if you like someone in general. You could reply:

  • その人? うん、普通に好きだよ。
     sono hito? un, futsuu ni suki da yo.
    That person? Yeah, I like them.

When spoken like this, the emphasis on liking someone romantically is lessened. You’re not implying that you like them in a romantic way, as opposed to simply saying 好き (suki). You can be even more specific though, and completely friendzone someone by telling them:

  • 友達として好きだよ。
    tomodachi toshite suki da yo.
    I like you as a friend.

Note that the sentence above can be interpreted as “I like you as a friend”, or “I like them as a friend” depending on the context. It is also the most direct way to safely confirm that you like someone strictly as a friend.

The first word that appears is 友達 (tomodachi), which means “friend” in Japanese. Next is として (toshite), a grammar point that can be paired with any Japanese noun to express “as”. Lastly is 好きだよ (suki da yo) which we have confirmed to mean “like you”.

Combined together the complete phrase is literally the exact same as the translation. You can’t go wrong with accidentally confusing someone with this phrase!

The Kanji for Like

The kanji for “like” in Japanese is 好. It can be associated with other meanings such as “fondness” or “pleasing”.

It does appear in other words, however, the most common is 好き (suki).

It’s also worth remembering that although simply saying 好き (suki) is enough to express your fondness of someone despite the lack of pronouns, 好き (suki) can also be used to refer to objects.

For instance, if someone were to ask you if you like sushi, you could reply with 好き (suki), which means “I like it”.

Formal Way to say I Like You in Japanese

  • I like you (formal speech).
    好きです。
    suki desu.

It’s important to adjust your speech depending on whom you are talking with. This is because Japanese is an honorific language with different styles of speech to express different levels of politeness.

When speaking with those who are of a higher social status than yourself, such as a manager, a teacher, or even a stranger you need to speak with increased politeness by using Keigo.

Although you most likely won’t be telling a stranger “I like you” in Japanese, you may however express those words to someone who is older than you. Especially in a school or work setting, addressing your upperclassmen, known as 先輩 (senpai), or superiors with polite speech is important.

To express that you like someone formally in Japanese, simply attach です (desu) to 好き (suki), making 好きです (suki desu).

Similar to how 好き (suki) functions when on its own (explained above), 好きです(suki desu) can also be used to say that you like someone (or something) in general, or as someone more than a friend.

Using the phrase 好きです (suki desu) has the implication of being a confession. Whereas, 好きですよ (suki desu yo) is a much lighter expression that conveys implications of just liking someone in general.

Despite this, it ultimately comes down to the context beforehand. To ensure clarity, you could always say:

  • 友達として好きですよ。
    tomodachi toshite suki desu yo.
    I like you as a friend (formal).

This way, even in polite speech you can ensure no misunderstandings will happen.

I Like You Too in Japanese

I Like You too in Japanese

  • I like you too.
    私も好きだよ。
    watashi mo suki da yo.

If someone tells you that they like you, and you also like them too, you can reply with 私も好きだよ (watashi mo suki da yo).

Similar to English, telling someone directly that you like them too as a response can be interpreted as a confession on your end.

This phrase is made up of three parts. Firstly, 私 (watashi) is the word for “I” in Japanese. Although you should omit pronouns where possible to sound more natural, you need to include “I” this time. This is because the following word is も (mo) a Japanese particle that means “also” and sentences in Japanese do not start with particles.

The last part is 好きだよ (suki da yo) which we’ve already established to mean “like” in Japanese.

Unlike the pronoun for “I”, you can omit the pronoun for “you” in this sentence if you are talking to the person directly.

Specifying Who You Like Too – Pronouns

If you need to specify who it is that you also like, you can do so by referring to the person by their name, even if you are speaking to them directly.

In the case that you are speaking with that very person, calling them by their name functions the exact way as “you” does in English.

This means that the best way to call someone “you” in Japanese is to use their actual name.  You can use the following sentence structure:

  • [name] のことも好きだよ。
     [name] no koto mo suki.
    I like you/[name] too.

The biggest difference with this sentence is the inclusion of も (mo) to emphasise the “also” or “too”.

To make this formal, simply change 好きだよ (suki da yo), to 好きですよ (suki desu yo). This makes it 私も好きですよ (watashi mo suki desu yo).

The complete phrase is understood as a confession, so it can be seen as the most complete way to express your feelings for someone in Japanese.

Asking Someone Out in Japanese

When confessing in Japanese, you may also wish to ask the person out. You can do this in polite or casual speech depending on who you’re talking with.

If you’re looking to take your relationship to the next level with your friend, you can say:

  • 付き合ってくれる?
     tsukiattekureru?
    Will you go out with me?

For anyone with whom you have a relationship with that’s a little different to just friends, such as a co-worker or upperclassman, known as 先輩 (senpai), you’ll want to say:

  • 付き合ってください。
     tsukiatte kudasai.
    Please go out with me.

Both expressions share 付き合って (tsukiatte), the te-form of the verb 付き合う (tsukiau), with means “to go out with” in English.

The te-form has many uses, however, in this case, it enables the sentence to continue, as Japanese sentences typically end in verbs.

The main difference between the two expressions after 付き合って (tsukiatte) is that the casual variant ends with くれる (kureru), whereas, the formal ends with ください (kudasai).

Firstly, the くれる (kureru) in 付き合ってくれる? (tsukiatte kureru) emphasises the expression as a question. くれる (kureru) is typically attached to the end of te-form verbs to add a nuance of “for me” to the expression.

It is necessary here as you’re the one asking if someone could accept your proposal and go out with you, and くれる (kureru) emphasises that.

Secondly, the formal 付き合ってください (tsukiatte kudasai) features ください (kudasai), which is a polite way of saying “please” in Japanese.

Another function of the te-form is that it emphasises a request. ください (kudasai) is also typically attached to the end of te-form verbs, which transforms the phrase into a polite request.

With 付き合ってください (tsukiatte kudasai), you’re making a formal request to go out with someone.

We Are Dating in Japanese

If you end up together, you can say:

  • 私たちは付き合っている。
    watashitachi ha tsukiwatteiru.
    We are dating.

The word 付き合っている (tsukiatteiru) is the present progressive form of the verb 付き合う (tsukiau), meaning to go out with. This form is used to describe an action that is ongoing. Similar to how verbs end in “ing” in English. In this case, 付き合っている (tsukiatteiru) means “dating”.

私 (watashi) is the pronoun “I” in Japanese, and たち (tachi) is the suffix that makes it plural. This means that 私たち (watashitachi) means “we”.

You can use 私たちは付き合っている (watashitachi ha tsukiatteiru) to state that you two are couple and are currently dating.

The Japanese word for Confession

The word for confession in Japanese is:

  • 告白。
    kokuhaku.
    Confession.

You may want to express to your friends how you’ve been confessed to.

To do this, you can say:

  • 彼に告白された!
    kare ni kokuhaku sareta!
    He confessed to me!

Or perhaps you are the one doing the confessing!

  • さき告白した!
    saki kokuhaku shita!
    I just confessed!

Asking Do You Like Me? in Japanese

Do you like me in Japanese

Perhaps you have a suspicion that someone likes you, or maybe you’re just curious and want to know. To ask this question, you can say:

  • Do you like me?
    私のことが好き?
    watashi no koto ga suki?

It’s important to know that when you use this expression, you’re asking specifically if the other person likes you as more than a friend.

私の (watashi no) consists of 私 (watashi), meaning “I”,  and の (no), the Japanese possessive particle. When this particle is combined with 私 (watashi), the meaning changes to “my”.

Literally speaking, こと (koto) is referred to as “intangible things”. However, when talking about the こと (koto) of a person, you refer to the very elements, the features that make them who they are.

が (ga) is another Japanese particle that defines the subject of the sentence. The speaker is asking if they are liked by someone, so the speaker themselves are the subject.

We know that 好き (suki) means “like”, therefore when you ask someone 私のことが好き? (watashi no koto ga suki), you are really asking them if they like you.

Complimenting Someone

You can use 好き (suki) to say what you like specifically like about someone in Japanese. Complimenting someone on their appearance or personality for example is similar to English in that it does not always have romantic connotations.

With that said, it entirely depends on the context, the situation, and your relationship with that person.

In this section, we’ll cover all the ways to express what it is you like about someone in particular.

It’s important to note that in the following entries, pronouns are not required. Simply replace [name] with the person’s actual name.

Even when talking with the person directly, you should use their name. This is the most natural way to address someone in Japanese.

This means that you can take any of the following expressions, replace [name] with the person’s actual name, and it’ll function the same as saying  “you” specifically.

You can also use any of the expressions below to say what you like about someone to someone else. This is because there are no pronouns, making these expressions extremely flexible.

I Like Your Personality in Japanese

I Like Your Personality

  • I like your personality.
    [name]の人柄が好き。
    [name] no hitogara ga suki.

The most natural way to say personality in Japanese is 人柄 (hitogara). This word is a noun that has the meaning of one’s “personality”, “character”, or “personal appearance”.

人柄 (hitogara) has two kanji. The first is 人, which means “person” in Japanese. Secondly, 柄 has a few meanings such as “design” or “pattern”, however, it can also mean “essential qualities”, “character” or “one’s nature”.

This means when you use 人柄 (hitogara) you’re referring to one’s character and their nature as a whole.

You can also describe what it is you like about their personality, by saying how it’s beautiful for instance.

To make this expression formal, attach です (desu) to the end of 好き (suki), making it 好きです (suki desu).

I Like Your Fashion Sense in Japanese

  • I like your fashion sense.
    [name] のファッションセンスが好き。
    [name] no fasshon sensu ga suki.

The word for fashion sense in Japanese is ファッションセンス (fasshon sensu). It is a word that has been borrowed from English, referred to as a “loan word”. For more information on katakana and loan words, refer to this ultimate guide.

The word ファッションセンス (fasshon sensu) has the same meaning as “fashion sense” does in English. The challenging part though is to adopt a correct pronunciation. Refer to the audio clip above, as it is pronounced slightly different to that of English.

It’s also possible to drop the ファッション (fasshon) part and just compliment someone on their sense.

  • [name] のセンスが好き。
    [name] no sensu ga suki.
    I like your taste (in things).

Although we probably wouldn’t express to someone how much we like their “sense” in English, in Japanese it’s possible to do. For instance, if you like someone’s overall taste in things, their style and character, you can refer to it all as センス (sensu).

Attach です (desu) to the end of the sentence to make it formal.

I Like Your Sense of Humour in Japanese

There are a few ways to express that you like someone’s sense of humour in Japanese. The first is to say it directly, by saying:

  • I like your sense of humour.
    [name] のユーモアのセンスが好き。
    [name] no yu-moa no sensu ga suki.

The word ユーモアのセンス (yu-moa no sensu) is, like the entry above, borrowed from English and is known as a “load word”. The の (no) which appears in the centre of the word is the possessive grammar particle. You use it to connect nouns together. In this case, it functions similarly to the English “of”, with the complete meaning being “sense of humour”.

The word ユーモア directly translates to the English word ” humour” and センス translates as “sense”.

Another way to express that you find someone funny is to simply say:

  • [name] は面白い!
    [name] ha omoshiroi!
    You’re hilarious/interesting.

The word 面白い (omoshiroi) is an i-adjective that can mean both “funny” and “interesting” in Japanese. Which meaning you want to use depends on the context of the situation.

But generally, if you’re laughing and showing a degree of happiness, telling someone that they’re 面白い (omoshiroi) would mean that you’re telling them that you think they’re funny.

It is also possible to simply shout out 面白い (omoshiroi) in Japanese. When you say 面白い (omoshiroi) by itself, you infer that you think the other person is funny or interesting.

  • 面白い!
    omoshiroi!
    That’s hilarious/interesting.

To make any of these expressions formal, simply attachです (desu) to the end. For example, the casual 面白い (omoshiroi)! would become the formal 面白いです (omoshiroi desu)

I Like Your Kindness in Japanese

  • I like how kind you are.
    [name] の優しさが好き。
    [name] no yasashisa ga suki.

The word you can use to talk about “kindness” in Japanese is 優しさ (yasashisa).

優しさ originates from the i-adjective やさしい (yasashii), meaning “kind”. It has been conjugated into the sa-form which essentially adds the nuance of “ness” to the word.

This means that by conjugating the adjective from 優しい (yasashii) to the sa-form it becomes 優しさ (yasashisa), and the meaning changes from “kind” to “kindness”.

Another function of the sa-form is that it also transforms adjectives into nouns. Therefore, we can express that we like it.

The kanji that appears here is 優, which means “tenderness” “excel” or “gentleness”.

I Like Spending Time With You in Japanese

I Like Spending Time With You

  • I like to spend time with you.
    [name] と過ごす時間が好き。
    [name] to sugosu jikan ga suki.

To express that you like spending time with someone in Japanese, say their name followed by the sentence と過ごす時間が好き (to sugosu jikan ga suki). Attaching です (desu) after 好き (suki) will make it formal.

When you say と (to) straight after saying the person’s name, you’re saying “with you” in Japanese. This is because you can use と (to) to connect nouns, or in this case, two people together. Essentially と (to) functions as “with”.

The word 過ごす (sugosu) is a verb that means “to spend” in Japanese. You will mostly pair this word with the word for “time”, which is the next word that follows. Time in Japanese is 時間 (jikan).

When 過ごす (sugosu) and 時間 (jikan) and paired together, you create the meaning “spend time”.

As 時間 (jikan) is a noun, we can attach the final part of the phrase が好き (ga suki) without making any modifications.

Which completes the expression as [name]と過ごす時間が好き ([name]to sugosu jikan ga suki).

I Think I Like You in Japanese

  • I think I like you.
    [name] が好きになったみたい。
    [name] ga suki ni natta mitai.

Just like the above entries, to address someone as “you” in Japanese, you have to refer to them by their actual name, even if you’re talking with them directly.

You can use this phrase to express how you think you like someone in Japanese. Just like in English, when telling someone that you think you like them, you’re also arguably confessing to them.

Simply saying the first part of this expression [name] が好き ([name] ga suki), you’re already telling the person you like them. We covered this in the first entry!

The rest of the phrase can be understood as two parts. The first is the section that follows immediately after 好き (suki). These words are になった (ni natta).

The word なった (natta) is the past tense of the verb なる (naru) which means “to become”. Therefore, なった (natta) means “became”.

The preceding に (ni) is the grammar particle that always accompanies なる (naru) to connect it to a preceding non-verb.

If you were to say the sentence up to this point, excluding the last part みたい (mitai), the meaning would be:

  • [name] が好きになった。
    [name] ga suki ni natta.
    I’ve come/started to like you.

Expressing “I think”

The final part of this phrase is みたい (mitai).

When you end a sentence with みたい (mitai), you add the nuance of “seeming” to the entire phrase. Therefore the complete phrase can be understood literally as “it seems I’ve started to like you”.

If you were to express this phrase to someone in Japanese, they would most likely take it as a confession!

I Don’t Like You in Japanese

  • I don’t like you.
    [name] が好きではない。
    [name] ga suki dehanai.

After saying the person’s name plus が (ga), take the word “to like”, 好き (suki) and attach ではない (dehanai) to express that you dislike someone in Japanese.

ではない (dehanai) is the negative form of だ (da), which is the casual, or plain form of です (desu). The ではない (dehanai) is needed here to transform the affirmative phrase into a negative one.

A reminder that you should address the person by their name even if you’re speaking with the person in question directly!

Expressing Hatred

If you truly despise someone, you can express your hatred by using the word 嫌い (kirai), a na-adjective that means “hate” in Japanese.

  • [name] が嫌い。
    [name] ga kirai.
    I hate you.

The kanji for “hate” in Japanese is 嫌 which can mean “disagreeable” or “detestable”. This means that when you say 嫌い (kirai) you’re really telling someone that you detest them! Ouch!

It’s also worth knowing that simply saying 嫌い (kirai) by itself translates to “I hate it” in Japanese. For instance, if someone were to ask you if you like chocolate (and you despite it), you could say:

  • いや、嫌い。
    iya, kirai.
    Nope, I hate it.

The いや (iya) here is optional is a way to say “no” in Japanese.

Related: How to say No in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

If you are asked by anyone such as your teacher, co-worker, manager or a stranger, you should reply in polite speech. To do this, attach です (desu) to the end of the phrase. This makes it 嫌いです (kirai desu).

I am Attracted To You in Japanese

  • I am attracted to you.
    [name]に惹かれている。
    [name] ni hikareteiru.

Perhaps one of the most expressive ways to tell someone you like them is to say that you find them attractive.

To say that you’re attracted to someone in Japanese, you first need to address the person’s name, even if you are speaking with them directly. You do not need to use the pronoun “you” but instead, the person in question’s actual name.

Coming secondly is the grammar particle に (ni), which in this case translates as “into”.

Lastly is the word 惹かれている (hikareteiru), which is the progressive form of the verb 惹かれる (hikareru), which means “to be charmed by”, or “to be attracted to” in Japanese.

As 惹かれている (hikareteiru) is a progressive form verb, it conveys that the verb is in a constant, continuous state. This means that when you use 惹かれている (hikareteiru), you’re saying that you are already attracted to the person, and are continuing to be attracted to them at this very moment.

Therefore, by combing the entire phrase together you get [name]に惹かれている ([name] ni hikareteiru), which is how you express that you’re attracted to someone in Japanese.

Here’s how to say you’re attracted to someone in polite speech:

  • [name]に惹かれています。
    [name] ni hikareteimasu.
    I am attracted to you. (formal).

The only difference is that you conjugate the main verb 惹かれている (hikareteiru) into the polite/masu-form. This makes it 惹かれています (hikareteimasu).

Likeable Person in Japanese

Likeable Person

  • You are a likeable person.
    [name]は気さくな人だ。
    [name] ha kisaku na hito da.

Referring to someone as a 気さくな人 (kisaku na hito) is the best way to call someone a “likeable person” in Japanese.

The word 気さくな (kisaku na) is a na-adjective that means “friendly”, “openhearted”, “willing” and “amicable”. All the stuff that qualifies someone to be generally likeable.

Next, 気さくな (kisaku na) is followed by 人 (hito), which means “person” in Japanese.

Therefore, 気さくな人 (kisaku na hito) connotes someone who’s easy to get along with, makes you feel comfortable, doesn’t make anyone feel nervous – a likeable person.

By using the complete phrase, you can express how you think someone, in particular, is a likeable person in casual Japanese.

Summary

The most commonly used word for “like” in Japanese is 好き (suki).

You can simply say 好き (suki) to anyone and you’ll convey the message of “I like you” in Japanese.

There are multiple ways to emphasise that you like someone specifically as a friend or more than that.

One of the ways to express you like someone in the form of a confession is to say 好きだ (sukida).

A few of the ways to say that you like someone in general in Japanese are:

  • to call them a likeable person 気さくな人 (kisaku na hito)
  • to state explicitly that you only like them as a friend: 友達として好きだよ (tomodachi toshite suki da yo).

It is also possible to use 好き (suki) in conjunction with other words to specify what it is that you like about someone. Perhaps you like their personality, for instance, you can say: [name]の人柄が好きだよ ([name] no hitogara ga suki da yo).

This guide is part of a collection of Ultimate How-To Japanese guides.

Recommended:

How to say Happy in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

How to say Good Job in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Are you a Legend of Zelda Adventurer and a Japanese Adventurer? Come and quest with me on my YouTube channel!

How to say Happy in Japanese

To say “happy” in Japanese, there are two common words you should know. These are, 嬉しい (ureshii) and 幸せ (shiawase).

The former, 嬉しい (ureshii), is the best and most common way to say “happy” in Japanese.

嬉しい (ureshii) is purely an adjective that is very easy to use as pronouns in Japanese are frequently omitted. By simply saying 嬉しい (ureshii) by itself, you can say “I’m happy” in Japanese.

You can also phrase it like a question 嬉しい? (ureshii?) – which changes the meaning to “are you happy?” Frequent omission of pronouns makes using adjectives like 嬉しい (ureshii) very easy to use and understand!

幸せ (shiawase) is the second most common word for “happy”. The main difference is that 幸せ (shiawase) is both an adjective and a noun, whereas 嬉しい (ureshii) is strictly an adjective.

This means that 幸せ (shiawase) can mean “happy” or “happiness”. What’s more, is that it can also mean “good fortune” or “blessing” depending on the context.

There are plenty of other ways you can express happiness in Japanese too, let’s jump straight in!

All entries are accompanied by an audio track for your pronunciation reference. I have tailored these ultimate guides for both beginners and intermediate learners alike!

Happy in Japanese

  • Happy.
    嬉しい。
    ureshii.

The best way to say “happy” in Japanese is to use the i-adjective, 嬉しい (ureshii).

The kanji that appears in 嬉しい (ureshii) is 嬉. By itself, this kanji means “glad”, “pleased”, or “joy”. It most commonly appears in 嬉しい (ureshii).

When the context is understood, pronouns are often dropped in Japanese. This means that by simply saying 嬉しい (ureshii), you say “I am happy” in Japanese.

You can include the pronoun “I” if you’d like to, however, it is optional. This would make it:

  • 私は嬉しい。
    watashi ha ureshii.
    I am happy.

The 私は (watashi ha) part essentially means “I am”, and you can use it to specify that it is you who is happy. Again, you can simply say 嬉しい (ureshii) by itself, and that would also convey the meaning of “I am happy” perfectly.

With that said, you can apply the same principles and create longer sentences.

  • チョコレートを食べてる時に嬉しい。
    chokore-to wo tabeteru toki ni ureshii.
    I am happy when eating chocolate.

All in all, you can use 嬉しい (ureshii) to express a feeling of pleasure.

Are You Happy?

Are you Happy?

To distinguish between a statement or question, all you have to do is phrase it like one. For instance, you could say:

  • Are you happy?
    嬉しい?
    ureshii?

Unlike in English, you don’t need to include the pronoun “you” in Japanese to specify. By emphasising the end of the expression like you would when asking a question, you convey the meaning of: “Are you happy?” in Japanese.

Asking “Are You Happy?” Formally in Japanese

As Japanese is an honorific language, you should use different styles of speech depending on who you are speaking to.

Therefore at times when you are speaking to people such as a manager, teacher or stranger, it’s important to show respect in your speech. To emphasise this politeness, we need to speak formally.

To ask someone if they are happy formally in Japanese, you can attach ですか (desu ka) to 嬉しい (ureshii). Unless the preceding word is a verb, ですか (desu ka) is required to transform them into formal questions at the end of sentences.

For instance:

  • 嬉しいですか。
    ureshii desuka?
    Are you happy? (formal)

You can then reply:

  • 嬉しいです。
    ureshii desu?
    I am happy. (formal)

Just like the examples above, you do not need to specify any pronouns here.

The complete expression 嬉しいです (ureshii desu) is the word for happy or “I am happy” in polite Japanese. The only difference between the casual and formal variant is that the formal version includes です (desu) at the end.

5 Ways to say Very Happy in Japanese

As there are many words for “very” in Japanese, the best way to say it is subjective. What’s more, is that they all have slightly different nuances. Listed below are 5 powerful and natural ways to express yourself when you’re really happy in Japanese.

Note: The below-listed phrases are presented in casual form. Therefore they should be used between friends, family, and those with who you are close. To make them formal, attach です (desu) to the end of each 嬉しい (ureshii).

1. とても (Very Happy)

  • とても嬉しい。
    totemo ureshii.
    I’m very happy.

とても (totemo) is one of the more polite words to use when you want to express your happiness formally.

You can use it in both formal and casual speech, however, it’s very general.

2. すごく (Immensely Happy)

  • すごく嬉しい。
    sugoku ureshii.
    I’m immensely happy.

The word すごく (sugoku) is an adverb that originates from すごい (sugoi), an i-adjective that means “amazing”, “awesome” or “immense”.

Making すごい (sugoi) into an adverb changes the meaning to “immensely” or “amazingly”. Therefore you can use すごく (sugoku) to express an overwhelming amount of happiness (or something else).

It’s worth knowing that すごく (sugoku) can be considered to be quite casual, so it might be best to use an alternative when politeness is required.

3. 本当に (Truly Happy)

  • 本当に嬉しい。
    hontouni ureshii.
    I’m truly happy.

本当に (hontouni) is an adverb that expresses “truly” in Japanese. When you want to express your happiness earnestly, using 本当に would do the trick. It’s a dedicated word that implies a higher level of seriousness than the more playful すごく (sugoku).

I have composed an ultimate guide that lists similar ways to express touching emotions in Japanese.

4. 超 (Super Happy)

  • 超嬉しい。
    chou ureshii.
    I’m super happy.

超 (chou) is most frequently used as a prefix which amplifies the following word into the meaning of “super”. It can also be used as a noun to express “more than”. In this case, you could also understand the phrase as: “I’m more than happy”. 超 (chou) is quite a casual prefix, so is best used only in such situations.

5. 泣くほど嬉しい (I’m So Happy I Could Cry)

I'm So Happy I Could Cry in Japanese

  • 泣くほど嬉しい。
    naku hodo ureshii.
    I’m so happy I could cry.

To truly express your happiness towards something, you can say 泣くほど嬉しい (naku hodo ureshii), which means “I’m so happy I could cry” in Japanese.

The first part of this expression is the verb 泣く (naku) which means “to cry”. Appearing second is ほど (hodo), a Japanese grammar point which means “to the extent of”.

Finally, we know that 嬉しい means “happy”.

Putting all this together, this expression quite literally translates to “I’m happy to the extent of crying”.

Unhappy in Japanese

  • Unhappy.
    嬉しくない。
    ureshikunai.

On the other hand, if you’re not happy, you can express this with 嬉しくない (ureshikunai).

The word 嬉しくない (ureshikunai) is essentially the i-adjective 嬉しい (ureshii) conjugated into its negative or nai-form.

Just like how you can simply say 嬉しい (ureshii) without any pronouns to emphasise how you’re happy, you can do the same with 嬉しくない (ureshikunai).

For instance, you could say:

  • 今日はあまり嬉しくない。
    kyou ha amari ureshikunai.
    I’m not very happy today.

Of course, if someone close to you expresses their unhappiness, you might want to ask them what’s wrong, or what’s up in Japanese.

To make it formal, attach です (desu) to the end of the expression. This makes it 嬉しくないです (ureshikunai desu).

I understand how conjugating the nai-form can be considerably challenging, especially when you see it for the first time.

That’s why I recommend this excellent video which explains how the nai-form is conjugated if you’d like to learn more.

Happiness in Japanese

  • Happiness.
    幸せ.
    shiawase.

There are two main ways to express “happiness” in Japanese. The purest way to express it is to through 幸せ (shiawase).

幸せ (shiawase) is both a noun and a na-adjective, unlike 嬉しい (ureshii) which is an i-adjective. Furthermore, 幸せ (shiawase) expresses the feeling of life-long/pure happiness. Essentially, it is a stronger word than 嬉しい (ureshii).

Also, the kanji that appears in 幸せ (shiawase) is the kanji for “happiness” in Japanese.

Because 幸せ (shiawase) also functions as a noun, you can express that something is happiness, rather than just describing something as being happy.

For instance:

  • 悩みのことを忘れて海の近くにリラックスするのは幸せ。
    kyou ha amari ureshikunai.
    I’m not very happy today.

幸せ (shiawase) can also be used as an adjective.  You can use it to describe something, just how you would with 嬉しい (ureshii). However the main diff between 嬉しい (ureshii) and 幸せ (shiawase) is that the latter conveys a much deeper image.

  • 今日は人生で一番幸せ一日だったんだ。
    kyou ha jinsei de ichiban shiawase na ichi nichi dattanda.
    Today was the happiest day of my life.

It’s also important to note that when using 幸せ (shiawase) as an adjective, な (na) is required to come after it. This is the same with all na-adjectives when they appear before a noun. The structure follows Adjective+な+noun. Have a look at the video above for more information!

I Want to Make You Happy in Japanese

  • [name]を幸せにしたいんだ。
    [name] wo shiawase ni shitainda.
    I want to make you happy.

When you’re feeling romantic and find yourself wanting to say to someone that you’ll make them happy, you’ll want to use the above phrase.

Simply replace [name] with the name of the person whom you’re talking to/or about. Even if you’re talking to the person directly, you should use their name. This is because the best way to say “you” in Japanese is to use their name.

There are other ways to say “you” in Japanese, such as あなた (anata), however, they have unique nuances. Therefore, the most natural way is to use the person’s name.

You begin this phrase with the person’s name. Afterwards, you follow it with を (wo), a Japanese grammar particle that marks the preceding noun as the object of the following verb.

You then follow the を (wo) with the verb phrase 幸せにしたい (shiawase ni shitai), which can be best understood as “want to make happy” in Japanese.

The final part んだ (nda) is actually optional. The two ending characters んだ (nda) are used solely to add emphasis and emotion to the whole expression. When んだ (nda) is included, it emphasises a sense of deepness and seriousness, compared to not using it.

That’s not to say that if you exclude んだ (nda) the expression would not sound sincere. It’s just that adding the んだ (nda) adds that extra level of emotion.

More Ways to Say Happiness in Japanese

  • Happiness.
    嬉しさ.
    ureshisa.

Another natural way of expressing “happiness” in Japanese is to use 嬉しさ (ureshisa). The word 嬉しさ (ureshisa) is a conjugation of the word 嬉しい (ureshii) into the さ (sa) form.

The さ (sa) form can be conjugated by replacing the final い (i) or な (na) of i/na-adjectives with さ (sa) respectively.

For instance, 嬉しい (ureshii) is an i-adjective, which if we replace the final い (i) with さ (sa), the meaning changes from “happy” to “happiness”.

  • 嬉し (ureshii) becomes 嬉し (ureshisa)

Essentially, by conjugating adjectives into the さ (sa) form, they become nouns with the added nuance of being measurable.

For example, the adjective “beautiful” in English would become “beauty” when transformed from an adjective to an object of measurability.

The word for beautiful in Japanese is 美しい (utsukushii). By removing the final い (i) and attaching さ (sa), the word’s meaning transforms to “beauty”.

  • 美し (utsukushii) becomes 美し (utsukushisa)

Going back to the word 嬉しさ (ureshisa), it is similar to the word 幸せ (shiawase), however, it is more general. To refer to the happiness you feel when you are delighted in the general sense, should use 嬉しさ (ureshisa). Whereas to refer to deeper happiness where you feel complete satisfaction towards something, you can use 幸せ (shiawase). 

  • 彼女の顔は嬉しさで輝いていた。
    kanojo no kao ha ureshisa de kagayaiteita.
    Her face was shining with happiness.

I’d Be Happy to in Japanese

Delighted

  • Delight.
    喜ぶ.
    yorokobu.

The word to describe “delight” in Japanese is the verb 喜び (yorokobu). It essentially means “to be delighted”. You can use 喜び (yorokobu) in its te-form to express how you’d be happy to do something.

The te-form is one of many forms that involve verb conjugation. It also has many uses.

One of the functions of the te-form is to allow the sentence to be continued, as Japanese sentences typically end with the verb. In this case, by changing 喜ぶ (yorokobu) into the te-form, we create the expression “I’d be delighted to”. In the te-form, 喜ぶ (yorokobu) is 喜んで (yorokonde).

As in both English and Japanese, the thing that you’d be delighted to do is already being implied, you do not need to mention it.

You also do not need to specify that it is you who is delighted to do the thing, as pronouns are often omitted in Japanese too!

For instance, say that a friend asks you to accompany them on a walk:

  • 一緒に散歩しに行かない?
    isshounni sanpo shi ni ikanai?
    Why don’t we go on a walk together?

To which you can reply:

  • うん!喜んで!
    un! yorokonde!
    Yeah! I’d be delighted to!

In every scenario where you would like to express how you’re more than happy to do something, you can use the expression 喜んで (yorokonde) by itself!

Related: How to say Let’s Go in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

How to Say I’m Happy For You in Japanese

The way to express that you’re happy for someone in Japanese is not the as in English. This is because, in Japanese, there is not an exact phrase that contains the same nuances as “I’m happy for you” in English. They do certainly come close, but they’re not quite the same.

With that said, there is also a way to express your feeling of happiness for someone in a way that’s absent in English. So both languages have unique expressions here.

Saying “I’m Happy For You” in Japanese

Whenever I ask Japanese natives how to actually say “I’m happy for you” in Japanese, they emphasise how a translation doesn’t exist, and that the phrase is unique to English.

Instead, they always tell me that the best way to express your happiness for someone is to say that you’re happy when they are obviously already happy. This way it feels like you are both relishing joy together. I understand this, but I somehow feel it’s not quite the same.

We’ve established that the word for “happy” in Japanese is 嬉しい (ureshii), and pronouns are not needed. Therefore, simply saying 嬉しい (ureshii) when the person who you are happy for is happy, conveys a jolly and cheerful feeling.

  • 嬉しい!
    ureshii!
    I’m happy (for you)!

Something you can do is when the person is happy, often they will express this with their mood and by saying 嬉しい (ureshii) themselves. You could then emphasise to them how you too are feeling the same emotion as them.

  • 私も嬉しい!
    watashi mo ureshii!
    I’m also happy!

In this way, you express how you are sharing their happiness with them.

I’m Glad/That’s Good (Relief)

Although not as strong as directly expressing how you’re happy with うれしい (ureshii), in situations where you’re feeling relief from something you may wish to use 良かった (yokatta).

The expression 良かった (yokatta) has two main uses.

  1. When you want to say that you’re pleased for someone.
  2. Used when you’re feeling happy that something is over.

Let’s take a look at the first usage. For instance, say you ask your friend what they got for Christmas. They tell you how they got that watch they’ve been wanting for so long. In this scenario you may say:

  • 良かったね!
    yokatta ne!
    I’m pleased (for you)!

You can use 良かった (yokatta) in situations when you wish to express “I’m pleased for you”, or “I’m glad” in Japanese.

Secondly, 良かった (yokatta) can also be used as an expression to emphasise relief. For example, say you’re in a rush and are unsure if you are going to make the last train home.

  • 間に合った!良かった!
    maniatta! yokatta!
    I made it! I’m glad!

The word 良かった (yokatta) is past tense of the word いい (ii), meaning “good” in Japanese. Therefore, the literal translation is “that was good”.  When used in one of the two scenarios above, however, it conveys nuances of “I’m pleased” and/or relief.

I’m Happy That You Are Delighted

The following expression is one that contains nuances that are unique to Japanese.

Here is essentially how you can interpret its meaning in the most simple way.

It can be used to express gratitude for being able to experience happiness as a result of your action that has made someone else happy.  

  • 喜んでくれて、嬉しい!
    yorokonde kurete, ureshii!
    I’m happy that you’re delighted!

The reason the meaning of this expression is a little more exaggerated is because of the addition of くれて (kurete). Let’s break down the meaning of the entire expression.

The first word that appears is 喜んで (yorokonde), which is the te-form of the verb 喜ぶ (yorokobu). This word can be understood as “delight”. We explored a full explanation of how this word functions in the entry titled “I’d be happy to/ Delighted in Japanese”, above.

Combining 喜んで (yorokonde) with くれて (kurete) is what gives the expression a deeper meaning.  The wordくれて (kurete) is the te-form of the verb くれる (kureru) which can be best understood as “for me” in Japanese.

However, there is a little more to くれる (kureru) than just “for me”. The nuances that can be felt from this word can be described as emotions that convey an “especially for me” kind of thing.

We know that 嬉しい (ureshii) means “happy”. Therefore, when combined with 喜んで (yorokonde) to make the expression 喜んでくれて, 嬉しい (yorokonde kurete ureshii) the meaning is more like “I’m happy that you are delighted/happy”.

Technically, you can omit the くれて (kurete), which would make more grammatical sense. However, including くれて (kurete) really adds weight to your words when you speak them.

Happier/Cheer Up in Japanese

  • Cheer Up.
    元気出して.
    genki dashite.

If someone seems a little down in the dumps, you may want to tell them 元気出して (genki dashite) which literally means “cheer up” in Japanese. You can use this expression during any occasion when you want to encourage someone to be a little happier.

For instance, you first might want to tell them how everything is okay first, then support them in becoming happy again.

  • 絶対に大丈夫だよ!元気出して!
    zettaini daijoubu da yo! genki dashite!
    It will definitely be okay! Cheer up!

The expression 元気出して (genki dashite) can be broken down into two parts. Firstly, 元気 (genki) which means “lively”, “energetic” or “healthy” in Japanese. You can also use 元気 (genki) to ask someone how they are too!

Secondly, the word 出して is the te-form of the verb 出す (dasu), which means “to take out”, “to show”, or “to submit”.

The role of the te-form here is to emphasise a request. Technically, saying to someone “cheer up” is a kind of request. However, in both the English and Japanese versions of this phrase, it’s more of a gentle push.

With that said, the literal meaning of 元気出して (genki dashite) can be understood as “take out some energy”.

The Word For Laugh in Japanese

Laugh in Japanese

  • Laugh.
    笑う.
    warau.

Happiness and laughter function well together, so there may be times when you want to express how funny something was and how happy it made you in Japanese.

The verb for laugh in Japanese is 笑う (warau).

Interestingly, when texting in slang, 笑う (warau) is often used to say “lol” in Japanese.

You don’t simply write the verb though. Instead, it’s often shorted to just the kanji 笑. Posting a number of these consecutively conveys the meaning of “hahaha” in Japanese. It would look something like this 笑笑笑.

As the first romaji character for 笑う (warau) is “w”, sometimes the letter “w” is typed instead. Like so: wwwwwww. Sometimes a single “w” can appear at the end of the sentence, just like how we type “lol” at the end of sentences in English.

You can use the verb 笑う (warau) during other occasions too, not just those when you want to type “lol” in Japanese to your friend. For instance, you could say to a friend:

  • いつも笑わせてくれるね!
    itsumo warawasetekureru ne!
    You always make me laugh!

In the above example, 笑う (warau) has been conjugated into the causative form, which is a form used to indicate an action that another person makes happen. In this case, they are making you laugh!

We covered くれる (kureru) earlier too. But as a recap, you can understand it as “for me”. The addition of くれる (kureru) in this phrase emphasises an element of gratitude that can be felt within it.

Smile in Japanese

  • Smile.
    笑顔.
    egao.

You can say “smile” in Japanese by using the word 笑顔 (egao). The first kanji that appears in 笑顔 (egao) is 笑, which is the same kanji that appears in the verb 笑う (warau), meaning  “to laugh”.

The second kanji is 顔, which is the kanji for “face” in Japanese. Combined together they make a word that quite literally means “laughing face”. You can use 笑顔 (egao) in a sentence where you’d like to compliment someone too.

  • 彼の笑顔はとても素敵だ!
    kare no egao ha totemo suteki da!
    His smile is so wonderful!

You can also attach a verb to the end of 笑顔 (egao) to make it into a verb phrase too. For instance, perhaps a friend is feeling unhappy. You may wish to cheer them up and say:

  • 笑顔を見せて!
    egao wo misete!
    Show me a smile!

Summary of How to Say Happy in Japanese

Here is a list of all the ways to conjugate the word “happy” in Japanese.

  • 嬉しい – Happy
  • 嬉しくない – Not Happy
  • 嬉しかった – Was Happy
  • 嬉しくなかった – Was Not Happy
  • 嬉しくなる – Will Be Happy
  • 嬉しくならない – Will Not Be Happy
  • 嬉しくなった – Became Happy
  • 嬉しくならなかった – Did Not Become Happy

To make any of these formal, simply attach です (desu) to the end. As you can omit pronouns in Japanese, you can use these expressions as they are in the right context to say things like “I was not happy”.

For instance, simply saying 嬉しくなかった (ureshikunakatta) by itself, you’re saying “I was not happy in Japanese.

You Seem Happy! in Japanese

  • You seem happy.
    嬉しそうね.
    ureshisou ne.

You can use 嬉しそうね (ureshisou ne) to tell someone that they seem happy in Japanese. To say it formally, you will need to include です (desu) in there. This would make it 嬉しそうですね (ureshisou desune).

What’s great about this expression, is that all of the nuances inferred are the same in both Japanese and English. This means that you can use 嬉しそうね (ureshisou ne) to imply a question.

This could be something like “you look, happy what happened?”.

Furthermore, if someone just seems happy and you’d like to compliment that mood, you can also say 嬉しそうね (ureshisou ne).

The expression 嬉しそうね (ureshisou ne) contains the grammar point そう (sou). Including そう (sou) adds the nuance of “seemingly” to a word. In the case of i-adjectives, you first remove the final い (i) and replace it with そう (sou).

For example, the word for happy is 嬉しい (ureshii). By removing the い (i), it becomes 嬉し (ureshi). Finally, attach そう (sou), making it 嬉しそう (ureshisou), meaning (seems happy). If you include ね (ne) in the expression, you emphasise a “don’t you” kind of feeling.

Also, as you don’t need to speak with pronouns in Japanese, you can use 嬉しそうね (ureshisou ne) in any context to mean “you look happy” or “they look happy”.

Happy Studies!

  • Happy studies.
    ハッピーの勉強.
    happi- no benkyou.

This brings us to the end of this ultimate guide. To summarise, 嬉しい (ureshii) and 幸せ (shiawase) are the best and most common words you’ll need to say “happy” in Japanese. 嬉しい (ureshii) is the more general way to say it, whereas 幸せ (shiawase) invokes a deeper emotion.

To sound natural, you don’t want to go around saying how you’re feeling 幸せ (shiawase) in regards to everything. Unless of course, you are just that happy! 😀

You can find full conjugations of 嬉しい (ureshii) under the summary section above.

Happy to study more? Have a look at the collection of Ultimate How-To Japanese Guides.

Recommended:

How to say Hope in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

How to say Beautiful in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Do you love the Legend of Zelda and Japanese? Me too! Why not come and quest with me on Youtube!

Beautiful in Japanese

How to say Beautiful in Japanese

There are plenty of ways to say “beautiful” in Japanese. The most common way is to say 美しい (utsukushii) which quite literally translates to “beautiful”.

美しい (utsukushii) is what’s called an i-adjective. Its meaning is considerably more intense than the English word “beautiful”.

In short, when you describe something as 美しい (utsukushii), you’re conveying a little more than simply “beautiful”.

In Japanese, saying 美しい (utsukushii) conveys an image of “true beauty”. Therefore it should be reserved for when you feel something is truly breathtaking.

There are many other ways to say “beautiful” in Japanese, such as 綺麗 (kirei).

綺麗 (kirei) is a less intensive version of 美しい (utsukushii) that also means “beautiful”.

However, unlike 美しい (utsukushii), you can use 綺麗 (kirei) to describe the cleanliness of something too. If something is 綺麗 (kirei), it means it’s tidy and/or clean.

To call someone beautiful in Japanese, you can use either the more intense 美しい (utsukushii), or the pleasant 綺麗 (kirei).

You will become increasingly aware of the myriad intricacies associated with many Japanese words and phrases as your studies progress.

There are also many ways to conjugate 美しい (utsukushii) and 綺麗 (kirei) to express things such as “beauty”, “was beautiful” and so on.

To master these conjugations and intricacies, I recommend taking a look at LingoDeer, a unique language app that is not only fun and educational but entertaining too.

LingoDeer features a host of themes extending from personal to professional life, all of which are taught in a variety of lesson styles and feature excellent audio quality voiced by native Japanese speakers.

All entries in this ultimate guide have been coupled with an audio clip for your correct pronunciation reference!

Beautiful in Japanese

  • Beautiful.
    美しい。
    utsukushii.

美しい (utsukushii) is one of the two main ways to say “beautiful” in Japanese. It is an i-adjective that can be used to describe something or someone that is truly beautiful.

The kanji is 美 which directly translates to “beauty” or “beautiful”.

美しい (utsukushii) is a very powerful word that means “beautiful” in Japanese. It is much stronger than the English word.

This means that calling someone or something 美しい (utsukushii) should be done sparingly, and only when you honestly feel the sheer beauty radiating from the person or thing.

You’re Beautiful in Japanese – 美しい (utsukushii)

To compliment someone and say “you’re beautiful” in casual Japanese you can simply say the person’s name +は美しい (ha utsukushii).

  • [name]は美しい。
    [name] ha utsukushii.
    You’re beautiful.

In Japanese, instead of referring to others as “you” like we do in English, you should instead use the person’s actual name. You can use あなた (anata) which does mean “you”, however calling someone who is not your significant other あなた (anata) can sound unnatural. Therefore using the person’s name is the best way to address them!

美しい (utsukushii) is a considerably intense word. Hence, you’re best of using it to describe someone only when you feel that they are truly beautiful. There is a lot of emphasis on “truly”! Overuse of this word to compliment someone can radiate abnormal vibes.

Beautiful on The Inside

Unique to 美しい (utsukushii), you can use this word to describe someone or something as being beautiful both on the outside and inside. This means that 美しい (utsukushii) can describe the fundamental core of something as being beautiful.

For example, you could describe a particular place as 美しい (utsukushii).

  • この村はとても美しい。
    kono mura ha totemo utsukushii.
    This village is really beautiful.

By calling the village 美しい (utsukushii), you refer not only to its outside appearance but also the spirit and history of the village as a whole. For that reason, 美しい (utsukushii) is a very pure and sophisticated adjective. It has different nuances compared to the other ways to say “beautiful” in Japanese.

Something is Beautiful in Japanese

Pretty in Japanese

There are two ways to say “something is beautiful” in Japanese using 美しい (utsukushii). Firstly, you can use the sentence structure [noun]は美しい, replacing [noun] with the subject. For example:

  • 景色は美しい。
    keshiki ha utsukushii.
    The scenery is beautiful.

The second way is to use 美しい (utsukushii) as a noun modifier. As 美しい (utsukushii) is an adjective, it can be placed before a noun to modify it.

  • 美しい物語だった。
    utsukushii monogatari data.
    That was a beautiful story.

You do not need to do any conjugations with 美しい (utsukushii) when you use it to modify nouns. Simply say it before a noun to describe it as beautiful.

The Word For Beauty in Japanese

  • Beauty.
    美しさ。
    utsukushisa.

The word for “beauty” in Japanese is 美しさ (utsukushisa). You can use 美しさ (utsukushisa) to refer to the beauty of someone or something.

  • 日本は自然の美しさで有名だ。
    nihon ha shizen no utsukushisa de yuumei da.
    Japan is famous for its natural beauty.

In Japanese, when you replace the final い (i) of an i-adjective with さ (sa) you nominalise it. What this means is that you’re essentially transforming the adjective into a noun. 美しい (utsukushishii), an adjective which means “beautiful”, becomes 美しさ (utsukushisa) a noun that means “beauty”.

You can do this with any i-adjective in Japanese. For na-adjectives, simply replace the な (na) with さ (sa).

Beautiful Person in Japanese

  • Beautiful Person/Woman.
    美人。
    bijin.

A great way to compliment someone is to call them a beautiful person. In Japanese, you can do this by calling them 美人 (bijin). The word 美人 (bijin) is a noun that you can use to describe someone as being naturally beautiful.

You’ll often hear 美人 (bijin) used to compliment someone’s appearance rather than their personality. I have composed an ultimate guide titled “How to say Soul in Japanese” that covers this in more detail.

Furthermore, 美人 (bijin) is a compliment that is mostly used for women in Japanese.

  • 相変わらず美人だね。
    aikawarazu bijin da ne.
    You’re as beautiful as ever.

As mentioned earlier, it’s very common to omit pronouns in Japanese when the context is clear. For that reason, in the above example, the pronoun “you” has been omitted from the Japanese text.

The word 美人 (bijin) is composed of two kanji. Firstly, 美 which means “beautiful” and appears in 美しい (utsukushii) (explained above). The second kanji is 人 (hito), which when used as part of a compound, reads as じん (jin). 人 (hito) means “person” in Japanese.

Combined they make 美人 (bijin), which quite literally means “beautiful person”. Despite this 美人 (bijin) is still mostly used to describe a beautiful woman. That is not to say that complimenting anyone else with 美人 (bijin) is wrong though. It’s entirely down to the individual.

The Japanese Word For Beautiful Girl

  • Beautiful Girl.
    美女。
    bijo.

To specify that the person you’re complimenting is a female, you can use 美女 (bijo). When you call someone 美女 (bijo), you’re calling them a “beautiful girl”, or “beautiful woman” in Japanese.

  • 彼女は世界で一番美女だ。
    kanojo ha sekai de ichiban bijo da.
    She is the most beautiful girl in the world.

The only difference between 美女 (bijo) and 美人 (bijin) is the final kanji. In 美女 (bijo), the final kanji is 女, which means “woman” or “female” in Japanese. So quite literally, the word 美女 (bijo) means “beautiful female”.

Pretty in Japanese

Meaning of Kirei in Japanese

  • Pretty.
    綺麗。
    kirei.

The second out of the two main ways to call something or someone pretty in Japanese is 綺麗 (kirei). When you want to describe an object or person having a pleasant appearance, you can use 綺麗 (kirei).

Unlike 美しい (utsukushii), 綺麗 (kirei) strictly refers to the appearance of something or someone. 綺麗 (kirei) is the best way to describe something or someone as beautiful in a general sense.

For example, you could compliment someone on being pretty or beautiful:

  • 髪は超綺麗だね。
    kami ha chou kirei da ne.
    Your hair is so pretty.

Note how in the above example, the pronoun “you” has been omitted. This is because the omission of pronouns is common in Japanese when the context is clear.

You can also describe an object as being pretty:

  • たくさん綺麗写真を持ってるね。
    takusan kirei na shashin wo motteru ne.
    You have so many beautiful photos, don’t you?

Where 美しい (utsukushii) is an i-adjective, 綺麗 (kirei) is a na-adjective, despite ending with “i”. This means that when you modify a noun with 綺麗 (kirei) you have to include the な (na) between the adjective and noun.

For example, “beautiful scenery” in Japanese, would be 綺麗景色。

  • 綺麗な景色を見るのが好き。
    kirei na keshiki wo miru no ga suki.
    I like looking at the beautiful scenery.

By itself, 綺麗な (kireina) simply means “beautiful” or “pretty”.  When な (na) is included, it becomes 綺麗な (kireina) which works as a noun modifier. It is important to remember to include the な (na) when 綺麗 (kirei) comes before a noun. This is a question that often appears in the JLPT exams!

Describing Something as Clean/Tidy

The na-adjective 綺麗 (kirei), can also be used to describe something as being clean or tidy. For instance, if you notice that your friends room was surprisingly free of clutter today, you could say:

  • 今日部屋が綺麗だね。
    kyou heya ga kirei da ne.
    Your room is clean today, isn’t it?

You’re also not limited to using 綺麗 (kirei) to describe clean objects or places either. You can also use 綺麗 (kirei) to refer to a “clean” person. For example, you could say after a shower:

  • シャワー気持ちよかった!綺麗になった。
    shawa- kimochiyokatta! kirei ni natta.
    The shower was refreshing! I feel clean now.

You can only describe clean or tidy things with 綺麗 (kirei). Using 美しい (utsukushii) would sound unnatural.

The Kanji For “Beautiful” 綺麗 (kirei)

The kanji for 綺麗 (kirei) is, as you may have noticed, quite complex. For this reason, it’s actually common to simply write it in hiragana instead.

In hiragana, 綺麗 (kirei) is きれい.

The first kanji is 綺, which means “beautiful”. However, this kanji is rarely seen outside of 綺麗 (kirei). The second kanji is 麗 which means “lovely”, “beautiful” or “graceful”.

You may see 綺麗 (kirei) written in kanji in newspapers and articles, but not so much elsewhere.

Different to 美しい (utsukushii), you can use 綺麗 (kirei) often in general conversation to describe the beauty of something or someone.

For instance, say you’re out hiking and you reach the top of the mountain. You turn around and are greeted with a beautiful view. In English, we may say something along the lines of “wow, amazing!”

In Japanese, it’s common to say 綺麗 (kirei)! Essentially “it’s beautiful!”.

Cute in Japanese

  • Cute.
    可愛い。
    kawaii.

To describe something as “cute” in Japanese, you can use the i-adjective 可愛い (kawaii). Sometimes, 可愛い (kawaii) is written in hiragana, かわいい.

The Japanese word for cute, 可愛い (kawaii) has a much broader meaning and usage compared to the English word. This is predominantly because of the development of Japan’s cute culture.

The cute culture has become increasingly dominant in Japanese popular culture, aesthetics, entertainment and even mannerisms.

The word 可愛い has a much wider range of definitions when put into the dictionary. However, you can use it to describe anything (including objects & people) that you recognise as being anything along the lines of cute, adorable, charming or pretty.

To describe an object:

  • この服は超可愛い!
    kono fuku ha chou kawaii!
    These clothes are so cute!

Because 可愛い (kawaii) can mean more than “cute”, using it to compliment somebody can definitely make them happy.

  • あなたは本当に可愛いよ。
    anata ha hontouni kawaii yo.
    You are really cute.

When you know the person’s name, it’s almost always better to substitute あなた (anata) or any other Japanese variant of “you” for it. This is because あなた (anata) is typically used between couples.

可愛い (kawaii) Kanji

Honestly, I’ve heard native Japanese speakers call all kind of things 可愛い (kawaii). Even things I wouldn’t even consider to associate with the word “cute” in English, such as a laptop. This is mainly because of the many meanings 可愛い (kawaii) has. It can stretch out to mean “pretty” or “lovely”.

What’s more is that when we look at the kanji of 可愛い (kawaii), the literal meaning becomes clearer. The first kanji, 可 means “can” or “passable”. This is followed by 愛, the kanji for “love” and “affection”. This means we can understand the meaning of 可愛い (kawaii) to be “can love”.

Therefore, when there’s an object that you conclude it’s possible to love, you can technically refer to it as 可愛い (kawaii).

The Word For Handsome

Handsome in Japanese

  • Handsome.
    イケメン。
    ikemen.

The word イケメン (ikemen) is a noun that can be used to refer to a good-looking male. It is a very casual word that’s most commonly used by young people.

It is said that イケメン (ikemen) is derived from two different elements. The former half of イケメン (ikemen) is derived from the verb イケてる (iketeru) which means “cool” or “stylish”. The latter half comes from メンズ (menzu), which is “men” rendered in Japanese phonetics, and 面 (men) meaning “surface”.

イケメン (ikemen) refers to strictly the appearance of a male. When one perceives another to be handsome, イケメン (ikemen) can be used to express it.

  • さっきの店員は超イケメンだったね。
    sakki no tenin ha chou ikemen datta ne.
    The store clerk a minute ago was super handsome.

As イケメン (ikemen) is a noun, it can’t be conjugated like 綺麗 (kirei) or 美しい (utsukushii) can. Referring to yourself as an イケメン (ikemen) is also uncommon.

Instead, you could use a more general word like かっこいい (kakkoii).

More ways to Compliment

  • Cool/Stylish.
    かっこいい。
    kakkoii.

The easiest way to understand かっこいい (kakkoii) is to interpret it as “cool” in Japanese.

かっこいい (kakkoii) is an i-adjective that is rarely written in its kanji form 格好いい (かっこいい). You can use かっこいい (kakkoii) to describe a person as being “cool” in Japanese. However, it can also mean “handsome”, “attractive” or “smooth” or even “dreamy” depending on the context.

For instance, you could describe someone as being handsome:

  • 髪型はいいね!かっこいいよ!
    kami gata ha ii ne! kakkoii yo!
    Your hair is great! It’s cool/handsome!

You can also use かっこいい (kakkoii) to compliment someone on a skill they have:

  • アイススケート上手だね!超かっこいい。
    aisu suke-to jouzu da ne! chou kakkoii.
    You’re so good at ice skating! You’re so cool/smooth.

What’s more, is that you can also describe an object as being かっこいい (kakkoii):

  • その靴はかっこいいね。
    sono kutsu ha kakkoii ne.
    Those shoes are so cool.

You can also use かっこいい (kakkoii) to describe someone as “dreamy” which I explain in this ultimate guide.

Conjugating かっこいい (kakkoii)

Conjugating かっこいい (kakkoii) can be tricky at first glance. This is because it’s very easy to assume that because it’s an i-adjective you can modify the ending い (i).

For example, when you want to conjugate かっこいい (kakkoii) into the te-form, you might think it’d be かっこいって (kakkoitte) or かっこいくて (kakkoikute). However, both of these are wrong. 

To understand how to properly conjugate かっこいい (kakkoii), it’s important to know its components.

As mentioned, the kanji for かっこいい (kakkoii) is 格好いい (かっこいい). By removing the いい (ii) we are left with 格好 (kakkou), which is an actual word meaning “shape”, “form” of “figure”.

This means that the いい (ii) part of かっこいい (kakkoii) is actually the Japanese for “good”. If you’ve studied Japanese before, you may recall that to conjugate, いい (ii) we have to turn it into 良い (yoi).

Therefore, to conjugate かっこいい (kakkoii), we first have to change it into かっこよい (kakkoyoi). From here we can conjugate it like normal:

  • かっこいい – cool.
  • かっこよくない – not cool.
  • かっこよかった – was cool.
  • かっこよくなかった – was not cool.
  • かっこよくて – (te-form) cool.

Lovely in Japanese

Lovely in Japanese

  • Lovely.
    素敵。
    suteki.

When you realise something as being beautiful, wonderful or lovely, you can use 素敵 (suteki) to express it.

素敵 (suteki) can be used to describe pretty much anything as being “lovely”. For example, it can be used to describe the appearance of an object or person. It can also be used to describe a thought, idea, action or experience.

To describe the appearance of someone:

  • 彼は素敵な笑顔を見せてくれた。
    kare ha suteki na egao wo misete kureta.
    He showed me a lovely smile.

To describe an object:

  • ネクタイは素敵だね!
    neku tai ha suteki da ne!
    That is a lovely necktie!

Or even describe an experience:

  • 素敵な旅だったね。
    suteki na tabi datta ne.
    That was a lovely trip.

Similar to 綺麗 (kirei), 素敵 (suteki) is a na-adjective that requires a な (na) to follow it when modifying a noun. For instance, 素敵笑顔 (suteki na egao) would mean “lovely smile”. They test you on this in the JLPT exams, so it’s handy to remember!

Elegant in Japanese

  • Elegant.
    上品。
    jouhin.

When something (or someone) is extraordinarily beautiful, you may wish to refer to it (or them) as elegant. The word for elegant in Japanese is 上品 (jouhin).

You can use the word 上品 (jouhin) to describe anything that you perceive as refined or graceful. 上品 (jouhin) can be used to compliment someone or to describe something.

For instance, you could simply say to someone:

  • 上品だね。
    jouhin da ne.
    You’re elegant.

Or, you may wish to describe something:

  • その指輪は上品です。
    sono yubiwa ha jouhin desu.
    That ring is elegant (formal speech).

Both the English word elegant, and the Japanese word 上品 (jouhin) refer to something that is of high-class or sophisticated. Therefore you can also use 上品 (jouhin) the same way we use the “ly” suffix in English. For example, you may want to say “elegantly”. To say “elegantly” in Japanese, simply attach に (ni) to the end of 上品 (jouhin).

This makes it 上品に (jouhin ni). This enables us to say things such as:

  • とても上品に食べるね。
    totemo jouhin ni taberu ne.
    You eat very elegantly, don’t you?

It’s also important to know that 上品 (jouhin) is a na-adjective. This means that上品 (jouhin) has to be followed by な (na) in order to modify the following verb. For instance:

  • 上品お皿を買いたい。
    jouhinn na osara wo kaitai.
    I want to buy an elegant plate.

Gorgeous in Japanese

  • Gorgeous.
    豪華。
    gouka.

The best word for gorgeous in Japanese is 豪華 (gouka). The word 豪華 (gouka) can be used as an adjective to describe a noun, or it can be used as a noun itself.

As an adjective, you can use 豪華 (gouka) to describe something as extravagant. For instance:

  • そのホテルは豪華だね。
    sono hoteru ha gouka da ne.
    That hotel is gorgeous.

The word “gorgeous” typically has an element of high quality or expensiveness to it. The word 豪華 (gouka) is the same and can imply something as being high class.

  • そんな豪華な食事のためにお金足りない。
    sonna gouka na shokuji no tame ni okane tarinai.
    I don’t have enough money for such a luxurious meal.

The kanji for 豪華 (gouka) explains the meaning very well. The first kanji is 豪 which means “great” or “overpowering”. The second kanji, 華 means “splendour”. This means that 豪華 (gouka) literally means “great splendour”. What better way to express gorgeous in Japanese!

Japanese Names That Mean Beautiful

Japanese names consist of a surname, or the family name, followed by the first name. They are written with kanji, however can also be romanised. Each kanji of a Japanese name will have its own individual meaning that contributes to the overall meaning of the name.

Some names may also sound similar, however, the kanji may be different. This is why you may see Japanese people ask each other “how is your name written” in order to clarify the kanji.

As we’ve covered in this guide, 美しい (utsukushii) is a common, yet strong way to say “beautiful” in Japanese. The kanji for 美しい (utsukushii), 美, can also be used in Japanese names. However, its reading changes to み (mi).  The kanji 美 can then be put together with other kanji for a deeper meaning and complete name.

For example, the Japanese name 愛美 (aimi) consists of two kanji characters. Firstly, 愛, which means “affection” or “love”, followed by 美 (mi) which means beautiful.

List of Japanese Names Meaning “Beautiful”

Here is a list of 10 Japanese names that mean “beautiful” in Japanese:

  1. 愛美 (aimi) – 愛 (ai) “love, affection” and 美 (mi) “beautiful”.
  2. 明美 (akemi) –  (ake) “bright” and  (mi) “beautiful”.
  3. 絵美 (emi) –   (e) “picture, painting” and  (mi)  “beautiful”.
  4. 貴美子 (kimiko) – 貴 (ki) “valuable” with  (mi) “beautiful”, and  (ko) “child”.
  5. 真美 (mami) – 真 (ma) “real, true” and  (mi) “beautiful”.
  6. 美智子 (michiko) – (mi) “beautiful”, with (chi) “wisdom, intellect” and (ko) “child”.
  7. 美保 (miho) – 美 (mi) “beautiful” and  (ho) “protect”.
  8. 美咲 (misaki) – 美 (mi) “beautiful” and  (saki) “blossom”.
  9. 美優 (miyu) – 美 (mi)  “beautiful” with  (yu) “excellence, gentleness”.
  10. 夏美 (natsumi) – (natsu) “summer” and (mi) “beautiful”.

Beautifying Words in Keigo

Japanese Honorifics

There is a concept in Japanese that refers to the beautification of words. This is typically only applied to honorific speech, known as Japanese Keigo.

Japanese Keigo is used during situations when one must show the utmost respect to the other. For instance, a waiter talking with a customer.

When speaking in this honorific speech, it’s common to attach the prefixes ご (go) or お (o) to words to beautify them. By doing this you can increase the amount of politeness felt in your speech.

  • お (o) is attached to words with the Japanese kunyomi reading.
  • ご (go) is attached to words with the Chinese onyomi reading.

For more information on distinguishing the different readings, I have composed a complete ultimate guide here.

For example, the word for alcohol in Japanese is 酒 (sake). However, you can beautify the word by attaching お (o), making it お酒 (osake). As another example, you can also do the same with the word 花 (hana), meaning flower. Therefore, it becomes お花 (ohana).

By doing this, you add more politeness to your speech.

You can’t do this with every single word though. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Meaning Change During Beautification

There are a few words that have the prefix ご (go) or お (o) already attached to them. The word お腹 (onaka) for example, means stomach. The お (o) prefix here is baked into the word. You cannot beautify it any further.

On the other hand, if you were to take away the お (o) in an attempt to sound more casual, the meaning would change. This means that お腹 (onaka), meaning “stomach” would become 中 (naka), meaning “inside”. Therefore you shouldn’t remove prefixes that are already a part of the word.

In fact, there are some words that have the honorific ご (go) or お (o) prefixes attached to them, even though they’re not polite or respectful.

For example, the word お尻 (oshiri), meaning “butt” in Japanese already has the お (o) prefix attached. This is similar to the word お腹 (onaka), however, there will be some words you’d probably not expect to be already beautified like the word for butt.

Commonly Heard Phrases

There are a few phrases that you may hear in Japan that utilise the beautifying concept.

For instance, you could be at a drive-through for McDonald’s, you will be asked:

  • ご注文お願いいたします。
    go chuumon onegai itashimasu.
    I’d like to request your order, please.

The keyword here is ご注文 (go chuumon), meaning “order” in Japanese.

Another phrase you may hear, or perhaps may even want to use yourself when speaking with a stranger.

  • お手伝いしましょうか?
    otetsudaishimashouka?
    Shall I help you?

This phrase stems from the verb 手伝う (tetsudau), meaning “to help” in Japanese. It is the politest way possible to ask someone in Japanese if they need some help.

That Was Beautifully Done!

Sometimes you may wish to encourage someone by expressing how well you think they’ve done at something. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to compliment someone on a job well done in Japanese.

Not done yet? Take a look at the collection of How-To Japanese Ultimate Guides.

Recommended How-To Guides:

Okay in Japanese [Ultumate Guide]

Hope in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Good Luck in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Soul in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]


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Dream in Japanese

How to say Dream in Japanese

The best way to say “dream” in Japanese is 夢 (yume). The Japanese word 夢 (yume) corresponds to the English word “dream” very well.

Therefore, 夢 (yume) can be used in similar situations where you would use the English word “dream.” You can use 夢 (yume) to refer to the images and sensations that occupy your mind while you sleep. Moreover, you can also use 夢 (yume) to talk about your cherished ambition or a wish that you desire to make a reality.

What’s more, is that you can use 夢 (yume) to express your indulgence or fantasy of something. For instance, you might want to say to someone “I’ve always dreamed of kissing you”, or something romantic along those lines.

In this ultimate guide, we look at deeper explanations and examples of 夢 (yume), as well as translations of other words that contain the word “dream.” I also include a section on how to dream in Japanese!

Other examples may include:

  • the word for daydream in Japanese,
  • how to say sweet dreams in Japanese before bed,
  • or even how to describe someone as being dreamy.

All entries are coupled with audio for pronunciation reference!

Dream in Japanese

  • Dream.
    夢。
    yume.

As discussed in the introduction, the best word for “dream” in Japanese is 夢 (yume). In hiragana, it’s written as ゆめ (yume).

夢 (yume) is a noun that, just like the English word, can be used to refer to the series of images or sensations that fill your mind as you sleep. You can also use it to express a wish that you would like to come true in the future.

Conveniently, you can also use 夢 (yume) as a plural noun! For instance,

  • 夢を見る島。
    yume wo miru shima.
    The Island of Dreams.

Notice how you can simply write 夢 (yume), yet the translation is “dreams” not “dream”.

This is because, in the Japanese language, there is no distinction between plural and singular. Therefore 夢 (yume) can be used to say either. For any of you The Legend of Zelda fans out there, the above example is actually the original Japanese title for the Gameboy Classic game Link’s Awakening!

Saying “I Had a Dream” in Japanese

Dreaming in Japanese

  • I had a dream.
    夢を見た。
    yume wo mita.

When you want to refer to the dreams that fill your mind when sleep, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

In English, we say “last night I had a dream”. However, in Japanese, we say “last night I saw a dream”, rather than saying “I had” one. 

This is because, when you say “I had a dream” in Japanese, you’re specifically referring to the type of dream that is your future goal, your ambition.

Therefore, to talk about a dream you had in your sleep in Japanese, you have to use the verb 見る (miru).

  • 昨夜、夢を見た。
    yuube, yume wo mita.
    I had a dream last night.

As a quick side note- it’s common to omit pronouns in Japanese when it is understood who/what is the subject. That’s why in the above example, 私は (watashi ha), meaning “I” is absent.

見る (miru) is a verb that means “to see” or “to look” in Japanese. を (wo) in a Japanese particle that marks the object of the verb. In this example, the noun 夢 (yume) becomes the object of the verb 見る (miru).

On the other hand, to say that you have an ambition, a dream you wish to fulfil, you can say:

  • 私は夢がある。
    watashi ha yume ga aru.
    I have a dream (an ambition).

ある (aru) is an intransitive verb that refers to an inanimate object that exists. The が (ga) marks the subject of the verb. In this case, 夢 (yume) is the subject of ある (aru). You can use the sentence sequence: Nounがある (Noun ga aru) to say “I have noun” in Japanese.

This means that 夢がある (yume ga aru) can be directly translated to “I have a dream”.

My Dream Is… in Japanese

  • My Dream is…
    私の夢は...
    watashi no yume ha…

When talking about a dream, an ambition or a wish you have, naturally, you’ll want to specify what it is. To do that, you can use 私の夢は...(watashi no yume ha…).

This sentence structure can be understood as “My dream is…” in Japanese.

私 (watashi) means “I” in Japanese, and 私の (watashi no) means “my”. This is because の (no) is a Japanese particle that indicates possession. Therefore, when 私 (watashi) is paired with の (no), the meaning changes to “my”.

To end this sentence, simply state what your dream is.

  • 私の夢は日本に行くことだ。
    watashi no yume ha nihon ni iku koto da.
    My dream is to go to Japan.

You may have noticed the こと (koto) in this phrase. Although こと (koto) means “thing” in Japanese, here it is required to make the preceding verb a noun.

We have to make the verb 行く (iku) into a noun because we need to end the sentence with the だ (da) if speaking casually, or です (desu) if speaking politely. By ending the phrase with だ (da) or です (desu) which by themselves mean “is” or “be” in Japanese, the sentence becomes grammatically complete.

More Examples!

With 私の夢は...(watashi no yume ha…) you can freely express exactly what your or dream is in Japanese. You may even want to express your hope or wish in Japanese.

For instance, if you’re asked at an interview what your dream is, you could say:

  • 私の夢は日本語を流暢に話せるようになることです。
    watashi no yume ha nihongo wo ryuuchou ni hanaseru youni naru koto desu.
    My dream is to be able to speak Japanese fluently.

This is a longer sentence with plenty of grammar. However, the same principle applies to the ending of the sentence. You need to attach こと (koto) as the preceding word なる (naru) is a verb.

What is Your Dream? in Japanese

What is Your Dream

  • What is your dream?
    [name]の夢は何?
    [name] no yume ha nani?

To ask a friend, family member or someone who you’re close with what their dream is, you can say [name]の夢は何? ([name] no yume ha nani?). Simply replace the text for “name” with the person’s actual name! In Japanese, instead of referring to someone as “you” it’s much more common to call them by their name.

Japanese is a language with different levels of honorifics you must adhere to depending on who you’re speaking with. Therefore, if you’re speaking with someone you must show respect to, like a stranger, teacher or manager, you will want to ask this question formally.

  • [name] の夢は何ですか?
    [name] no yume ha nan desu ka?
    What is your dream? (formally)

The only difference between these two phrases is that the formal one ends with 何ですか (nan desu ka) rather than simply 何 (nani).

何 (nani) means “what” in Japanese, making the phrase a literal translation of “what is [name’s] dream?”.

Make a Dream Come True

In Japan, to enter a university, all applicants must take and pass the dreaded entrance exam. Perhaps it’s been your dream to get accepted into a particular university… you’ve taken the exam and are awaiting the results. On the results day, you receive your grades and see you’ve made it in! Congratulations! At this moment, you might say:

  • 私の夢が叶った!
    watashi no yume ga kanatta!
    My dream came true!

叶った (kanatta) is the past tense for 叶う (kanau), the verb for “to come true” in casual Japanese. This verb is made of the kanji 叶, which means “grant” or “answer”. To say “my dream was granted” in polite Japanese, use the formal form: 叶いました (kanaimashita). This would make the full phrase: 私の夢が叶いました (watashi no yume ga kanaimashita).

More Examples of 夢を叶う!

You can also use かなう (kanau) to express your romantic side too. You could say to someone:

  • あなたの夢を叶えってあげたい!
    anata no yume wo kanaette agetai!
    I want to make your dream come true!

The above phrase is made up of multiple parts. Firstly, あなた (anata) means “you” in Japanese. Although it is much more common to instead refer to the person by their actual name, you can use あなた (anata) to refer to your partner.

Secondly, の (no) is a Japanese particle that indicates possession. In this case, あなた (anata) + の (no) together is the same as saying “your” in Japanese. Thirdly, 夢 (yume) means “dream” in Japanese (as discussed in entry #1). 夢 (yume) is followed by を (wo) which is a Japanese particle that marks the object of a verb. In this case, 夢 (yume) is the object and the following verb 叶う (kanau) is the verb.

Difference between 叶う and 叶える 

Next, 叶えって (kanette) is the potential form of the verb 叶う (kanau) that’s been conjugated to the te-form. I appreciate this is a lot, but bear with me!

The potential form of a verb expresses the capability of being able to do the verb’s action. For example, the potential form of “do” in English, is “can do”. The potential form of “make” is “can make” etc.

This means that the potential form of “come true” is “can come true” in English.  Therefore, in Japanese, 叶う (kanau), becomes 叶える (kanaeru).

Finally, the te-form refers to verbs that have been conjugated to end with て (te) or で (de) depending on the verb. Japanese sentences typically end with a verb. However, by conjugating the ending verb into the te-form, you can chain multiple verbs together in the same sentence.

あげたい (agetai) is the final section of the phrase. あげたい (agetai) is the tai-form of the verb あげる (ageru), which means “to give to someone” in Japanese. The tai-form expresses a desire, therefore, あげたい (agetai) means “want to give” in Japanese.

When あげたい (agetai) follows a te-form verb, the overall meaning changes slightly to mean “want to do for” in Japanese. Therefore, this phrase implies that the speaker wants to make the other person’s dream be able to come true (for them).

Related: How to say Good Luck in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Scary Dream in Japanese

Scary Dream

  • Scary dream.
    怖い夢。
    kowai yume.

To refer to a scary dream you had in your sleep, you can use the word 怖い (kowai). By itself, 怖い (kowai) is an adjective that means “scary” or “frightening” in Japanese.

What’s great in Japanese is that you can say 怖い (kowai) just like that to refer to something you feel is scary.

  • 怖い!
    kowai!
    That’s scary!

By attaching a noun to follow after 怖い (kowai) you can state something as being scary or frightful. To say “scary dream” in Japanese, you can simply take the word for dream 夢 (yume) and place it after 怖い (kowai) as part of the same word.

  • 昨日すごく怖い夢を見た!
    kinou sugoku kowai yume wo mita!
    I had a really scary dream yesterday!

As explained above, to refer to a dream you had when you were sleeping you have to use the verb 見た (mita) (to see), rather than ある (aru) (to have). When you use ある (aru), you’re saying you literally have a dream, an ambition, a goal of some kind.

Nightmare in Japanese

  • Nightmare.
    悪夢。
    akumu.

Some dreams go beyond what we might refer to as being scary. When you have a really unpleasant terrifying dream, you would describe it as a nightmare. To say “nightmare” in Japanese, you can use the word 悪夢 (akumu).

  • よく悪夢を見る。
    yoku akumu wo miru.
    I often have nightmares.

The word 悪夢 (akumu) is made up of two kanji. The latter is 夢 (yume) which means “dream”. The first kanji, 悪 means “bad” in Japanese. You’ll see this kanji most commonly in the adjective for “bad”, 悪い (warui).

This means that the word 悪夢 (akumu) quite literally means “bad dream”.

Sweet Dreams in Japanese

Sweet Dreams in Japanese

In English, when we want to wish someone good night, we may wish them to have sweet dreams. In Japanese however, saying sweet dreams to someone before bed isn’t something that translates well at all.

If you do a google search on “how to say sweet dreams” in Japanese, you’ll get 良い夢を (yoi yume wo), or 良い夢をみて (yoi yume wo mite). It’s very important to know that although these translations are grammatically correct, they sound extremely unnatural and somewhat out of place.

Therefore, you should not use these to wish someone sweet dreams in Japanese. Instead, you can simply say a softer “good night”. This is the most natural way, and closest way to express “sweet dreams” in Japanese.

  • おやすみ。
    oyasumi.
    Good night.

Although it’s common to translate this expression as “good night”, there is no mention of “good” or “night” in the expression at all.  The お (o) is an honorific suffix that is used to beautify the following word – and that word is やすみ which comes from 休み (yasumi) which means to “rest” in Japanese.

Note that although the expression contains an honorific suffix, it’s still perfectly natural to use this expression even between friends and family without sounding weird.

Instead, a more direct translation of おやすみ (oyasumi) could be “rest up”. However, おやすみ (oyasumi) is still commonly said between people before sleeping in Japan, in place of “good night”.

Is there really no way to say Sweet Dreams in Japanese?

Although there is no way to directly wish someone to have sweet dreams in Japanese, there are a few alternatives that could be considered.

The first is:

  • 楽しい夢を見てね。
    tanoshii yume wo mite ne.
    Have some fun dreams.

This phrase should probably be used sparingly and would be best reserved for when speaking with children. It’s not something you’d really use that often, if at all to friends or a partner.

As my partner and I are currently in a long-distance relationship, sometimes I tell them before sleep:

  • 夢で会おう!
    yume de aou!
    Let’s meet in our dreams.

This is perhaps the closest natural translation of “sweet dreams” in Japanese. Of course, as you’re telling the person to meet in their dreams, it can come across as romantic. Therefore, even this translation will have situational uses.

Daydream in Japanese

Daydream

  • Daydream.
    ぼーっとする。
    bo-tto suru.

When you’re spacing out a little and find yourself in the midst of a daydream, someone may ask you 大丈夫? (daijoubu) which means “are you okay?” in Japanese.

To answer this, you may want to tell them that you were just daydreaming.

  • ぼーっとしてた!
    bo-ttoshiteita!
    I was spacing out/I was daydreaming.

The root of this word is ぼーっと (bo-tto), which means “absent-minded”, “blankly” or “in a daze”. する (suru) is the Japanese casual verb for “to do”. Therefore this complete expression is actually a verb that means “to daydream”.

The expression ぼーっとする (bo-tto suru) can also be used to describe situations when you feel completely out of it. This could be because you feel ill or are unwell.

  • 熱があるせいで、頭がぼーっとしてる。
    netsu ga aru seide, atama ga bo-ttoshiteru.
    I feel completely out of it as I’ve got a fever.

Dreamy in Japanese!

  • Dreamy.
    かっこいい。
    kakkoi.

To describe someone as really attractive, or as dreamy in Japanese, you can use かっこいい (kakkoii).

You may have heard かっこいい (kakkoii) used to describe someone or something as “cool” in Japanese before. However, you can actually use it to describe someone as being “dreamy” too.

In contexts where someone appears to be “dreamy” to you, you can use かっこいい (kakkoii) to express it.

  • 彼はまじでかっこいい!
    kare ha majide kakkoii!
    He is seriously so dreamy/cool.

Alternatively, you can also use 素敵 (suteki) to express “dreamy”. Like かっこいい (kakkoii), 素敵 (suteki) is also dependent on the context. This is because you can use 素敵 (suteki) to describe other things such as flowers, or a story of a book as being lovely or wonderful.

  • 素敵な映画だった!
    suteki na eiga datta!
    That was a lovely movie.

On the other hand, if you are dazzled by the dreaminess of someone, you can say:

  • 私の心が盗まれた!彼は本当に素敵!
    watashi no kokoro ga nusumareta! kare ha hontouni suteki!
    My heart’s been stolen. He is truly dreamy!

Dream Person/Partner

Dream Person

  • Dream Person/Dream Partner
    理想の人
    risou no hito

You can refer to someone as your dream or ideal partner by saying 理想の人 (risou no hito).

  • 彼女は私の理想の人。
    kanojo ha watashi no risou no hito.
    She is my dream partner.

The 理想 (risou) in 理想の人 (risou no hito) is made up of two kanji. The first kanji 理 means “logic” and the second kanji, 想 means “concept”, “idea” or “thought”. Put together they make 理想 (risou)  which means “ideal”.

Secondly, the の (no) is a Japanese particle that indicates possession and links two nouns together. 人 (hito) literally means person, so we can understand the complete phrase 理想の人 (risou no hito) to mean literally: “Person of ideal” or, “ideal person”.

In Japanese, 理想の人 (risou no hito) is used to refer to a dream person. You can also use this phrase to ask someone who their type is for instance.

  • 理想の人はだれ?
    risou no hito ha dare?
    Who is your dream/ideal person?

Sometimes you may wish to refer to your partner as your soulmate, which can display a little more affection. I explain how to say everything to do with “soulmate” and “soul” in Japanese in this ultimate guide

Imagination in Japanese

Imagination

  • Imagination.
    想像。
    souzou.

To dream big, sometimes we have to use our imagination. In Japanese, the word for imagination is 想像 (souzou). You can use 想像 (souzou) the way you would use the word “imagination” in English. For instance, you could say:

  • 想像力を働かせて。
    souzouryoku wo hatarakasete.
    Use your imagination.

You can also use 想像 (souzou) to share your feelings with someone by saying something like:

  • あなたがいない人生想像できない。
    anata ga inai jinsei souzou dekinai.
    I can’t imagine a life without you.

The first kanji of 想像 (souzou), 想 is the same kanji that appears in 理想 (risou) (explaied above) and means “concept” or “idea”. The second kanji is 像 which means “image” or “shape”. Put together they make 想像 (souzou) meaning literally” concept image” or “imagination”.

Just My Imagination in Japanese

When you thought you had observed something to be as something, but conclude that you made a mistake, in English, we say “It was just my imagination”. For instance, say you’re trying to sleep at night, and you suddenly hear an unsettling noise. Your brain immediately jumps to the conclusion that something is out to get you, but you realise it’s just the thunder. You might think:

  • 気のせいだ。
    ki no sei da.
    It was just my imagination.

The breakdown for 気のせい (ki no sei) is actually quite interesting. The first kanji 気 (ki) refers to the mind. The の (no) is a possession particle that can be understood as “of” in this case. Finally, せい (sei) refers to the fault of something. So quite literally 気のせい (ki no sei) refers to “the fault of the mind”.

Quite an interesting way to blame your imagination for perceiving something the way it’s not right?

How to Actually Dream in Japanese

In my experience to be able to begin dreaming in Japanese, you first have to immerse yourself into the language and develop a positive outlook on it. One of the most fun and effective learning techniques I’ve incorporated into my studies is to create mnemonics or references to refer to in order to remember and recall words.

The Dream Trigger

For instance, talking about new words you’re learning with friends can really help you to remember them as you develop a kind of relationship with the words.

As a result, these associations you’ve developed for the words tend to linger in the back of your mind. They inevitably resurface again as something triggers your memory to recall it. The trigger can be a simple conversation with friends or even a meme of some kind.

This can also come in the form of luck too. For example, say you have a word you’ve been trying to remember for so long, you keep looking at it, then coming back to it later, only to find you still lack the ability to recall it. You take a break and watch anime or a Japanese movie. Suddenly the word you’ve been trying to remember pops up and you instantly recognise it.

That experience on its own would have sharpened your memory of that word, making it significantly easier to recall.

Creating The Dream Trigger

Of course, this doesn’t always have to come down to chance. You can also create a trigger on your own too. For so long I couldn’t remember the word 複雑 (fukusatsu) which ironically means “complicated” in Japanese.

During a road trip with some friends, we played Avril Lavigne’s Complicated in the car which we all sang to. The chorus of this song includes lines that include the word “complicated”. I thought it would be a good idea to replace this word with the Japanese equivalent 複雑 (fukusatsu) every time the word came up.

Before I knew it I was able to recall this word easily. This was because I created a trigger.

When you start making these kinds of triggers with longer sentences, you’ll find that you’ll be able to recall much more. Speaking will come naturally to you at this point. When I reached a level where I was confident enough to have mostly effortless basic conversations in Japanese, the magic happened.

Dreaming in Japanese

The first time I was able to properly dream in Japanese was during my year abroad in Japan, which to my advantage, had me immersed in a complete Japanese-only environment. The only time I would speak English was when I would contact family members once a month.

At this point, I realised that my brain had adjusted to Japanese, and I found that I was able to recall some Japanese words faster than the English variants.

Then, I dreamt in Japanese for the first time. It’s important to know though, that I was still unable to have complete dreams in Japanese. Instead of a full-blown dream story in Japanese, the occasional Japanese word would pop up during the English story.

Later though, this began to transition to “Japanese-only” dreams. From my experience, to dream in Japanese, you have to reach a point where elements of your output ability (aka speaking) become second nature to you.

Dreams are at their strongest during REM, the deepest element of sleep. There is no scientific research on this yet, however, I personally believe that when you have enough triggers combined with an active/immersed Japanese learning environment, dreaming in Japanese becomes possible.

That’s just my thoughts though, what do you think? Can you dream in Japanese?

More Japanese Study

I have a collection of Ultimate How-To Japanese Guides tailored for all language levels.

More Ultimate Guides:

How to Say Hope in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

How to Say What’s up in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

OK in Japanese

How to say OK, Okay and It’s Okay in Japanese

The best way to say “Okay” in Japanese to express your acknowledgement of something is to say わかった (wakatta). If you need to speak formally you can use わかりました (wakarimashita).

To ask, or tell someone that something is okay, you’ll need to use a different expression. You can phrase the Japanese expression 大丈夫? (daijoubu?) as a question to express your concern and/or ask someone if they’re okay and everything is alright. To ask someone “are you okay” in polite Japanese, you can use 大丈夫ですか (daijoubu desuka).

You can also use the same expression 大丈夫 (daijoubu), as a response to any time when you wish to say “it’s okay”, or “I’m okay” in Japanese.

The word OK has also been borrowed from English into the Japanese language. When you want to say “OK” in Japanese, for casual situations you can say オーケー (o-ke-), or the formal オーケーです (o-ke- desu) for scenarios where you find yourself needing to show respect.

As you can see, there are many different ways to say “okay” in Japanese.

It’s also important to use the correct level of politeness in your speech! Speaking casually usually involves situations with your friends and family. Whereas you may need to speak in Japanese Keigo, aka honorific speech, when conversing with strangers, teachers and managers etc.

I have tailored this ultimate guide to cover all of the above instances, and you’ll be well equipped to combat any situation after reading!

Each entry is coupled with audio for pronunciation reference, as well as example sentences and explanations of all of the best ways to say anything along the lines of “Ok, Okay, It’s Okay” in Japanese!

Okeydokey, let’s begin!

Okay in Japanese

  • Okay.
    わかった。
    wakatta.

As mentioned earlier, there are three different situations that could prompt you to say “okay”. Each of these situations has a different word that is best used for it. The first is わかった (wakatta).

When want to say “okay” to express that you understand or acknowledge something, you can use the expression わかった (wakatta). You can also use it to affirm something you will do.

わかった (wakatta) is the past tense of the verb わかる (wakaru), meaning “to understand”. Having now understood or acknowledged something in your head is technically something that has already happened in the past (even though it could have literally been moments ago). Therefore, for this reason, we have to say わかった (wakatta) when saying “okay” to things in Japanese.

There are also ways to say that you don’t understand, or don’t know in Japanese using variants of わかる (wakaru) and other expressions too!

Examples & Uses

Say you’re planning on going out with a friend. They ask you to meet at the bus stop for a certain time. You can respond:

  • わかった。9時に会おう!
    wakatta. 9ji ni aou!
    Okay. Let’s meet at 9!

Simply saying わかった (wakatta) by itself as a response is also okay here! In this example, you affirm and understand that you will meet your friend at 9.

You can also use わかった (wakatta) to express “okay” in Japanese explicitly when you understand something. Perhaps a friend is explaining some super difficult Japanese grammar to you. You may say:

  • ああ、わかった。そういうことだ!
    aa, wakatta. souiu koto da!
    Ah, okay, so that’s how it is.

Another fun way to use わかった (wakatta) is when you finally get the meaning of something. Perhaps you’ve been up all night trying to figure out what on earth your friend was on about. Suddenly, a eureka moment!

  • わかった!!なるほど。
    wakatta!! naruhodo.
    I get it now (I understand)! That’s it.

Okay in Formal Japanese

Okay in Japanese

  • Okay (formal).
    わかりました。
    wakarimashita.

During situations when you want to say “okay” formally in Japanese, such as when speaking with a stranger, you can use わかりました (wakarimashita).

The word わかりました (wakarimashita) is the past tense of わかります (wakarimasu), which is わかる (wakaru) conjugated into polite form. わかる (wakaru)  means “to understand” in Japanese.

わかりました (wakarimashita) can be used to express your understanding, acknowledgement or your affirmation of something in Japanese. However, compared to わかった (wakatta), わかりました (wakarimashita) should not be used when speaking with friends. Instead, you can use it when speaking with managers, teachers or strangers for instance.

Examples

Say you walk into a store, and you ask a member of staff where an item is. They tell you they do not sell it. You can say:

  • わかりました。ありがとうございます。
    wakarimashita. arigatou gozaimasu.
    Okay. Thanks anyway.

In this example, you’re telling the person that you understand the item is not sold here and then thank them.

Like the casual わかった (wakatta), the formal わかりました (wakarimashita) can also be used to say explicitly that you understand something. Instead of your friend teaching you, it could be a teacher who is explaining some grammar.

With teachers, we also have to use polite speech. When calling your teacher in Japanese, instead of using their name, it’s also polite to refer to them as 先生 (sensei), which means “teacher” in Japanese.

  • 先生!わかりました。
    sensei ! wakarimashita.
    sensei! I understand now.

Very Formal: Certainly

  • Certainly.
    かしこまりました。
    kashikomarimashita.

When you say “okay” to agree to assist someone, in polite English, we may say “certainly”. During these situations in Japanese, we can say かしこまりました (kashikomarimashita). The Japanese equivalent is much, much politer though.

You probably won’t be using this phrase very often, unless you work in customer services like in a hotel or a restaurant. On the other hand, you’ll likely be hearing かしこまりました (kashikomarimashita) a lot when you go to a hotel or restaurant yourself in Japan.

The word かしこまりました (kashikomarimashita) is essentially the most polite way one can say “okay” or “I understand” in Japanese. The most casual way is, of course, わかる (wakaru), which is explained above.

In a restaurant, when you order food you are essentially putting in a request. The waiter, whose job it is to accept and fulfil these requests, will always respond with かしこまりました (kashikomarimashita).

After you tell your waiter the meal you’d like to eat, they’ll respond with honorific speech, even when asking you, the customer to do something.

  • かしこまりました。少々お待ちください。
    kashikomarimashita. shoushou omachi kudasai.
    Certainly. Please kindly wait for a moment.

In Japan, customers are spoken to with the highest level of polite speech. This is because to businesses, it is important to show the customer the most respect possible. They’re the ones who pay the salaries after all!

More Ways to say Okay in Japanese

  • Okay.
    大丈夫。
    daijoubu.

The expression 大丈夫 can mean “okay” in a plethora of contexts. It can also be used to indirectly say “No” in Japanese.

Here are all the ways it can be used in the context of “okay”.

It’s Okay in Japanese

It's Okay in Japanese

You can use 大丈夫 (daijoubu) to request, propose or enquire about something. This is the same as asking if something is okay, or if it’s “okay” to do something in English.

For example, say you’re hungry and your searching for something quick to eat in the cupboards. You come across some bread with no expiry date labelled. You might ask a person you’re living with:

  • このパンの賞味期限は大丈夫?
    kono pan no shoumikigen ha daijoubu?.
    Is this bread’s best-by date ok?

What’s great about 大丈夫 (daijoubu), is that you can also use it as a response to someone’s request, proposition or enquiry too! At any time you want to tell someone that something is “okay” you can use 大丈夫 (daijoubu).

  • うん!大丈夫だよ!
    un! daijoubu da yo!.
    Yeah! It should be okay!

I Think It’s Okay in Japanese

You can also combine it with other words to form other expressions such as “I think it’s okay” in Japanese too:

  • 大丈夫だと思う。
    daijoubu da to omou. 
    I think it’s okay.

As the Japanese language frequently omits pronouns, depending on the context, the above phrase can also mean “I think I’m okay” in Japanese!

It’s Not Okay in Japanese

If it’s not okay, however, you might want to tell them!

  • 大丈夫じゃない。
    daijoubu janai. 
    It’s not okay.

じゃない (janai) is a negative casual variant of the word です (desu),which means “It is” in Japanese.

Are you Okay? in Japanese

There may also be occasions where you want to ask someone if they’re alright or okay. To do this, you can phrase 大丈夫 (daijoubu) as a question.

Perhaps a friend has had a hard time on an exam, or maybe they’ve fallen over learning how to ice skate.

  • 大変そう。大丈夫?
    taihen sou. daijoubu? 
    That looks rough. Are you okay?

You can add even more emotional emphasis by attaching なの (na no) to the end of 大丈夫 (daijoubu). Although this is completely optional, attaching の (na no) conveys your concern a lot stronger than just saying 大丈夫 (daijoubu) by itself.

  • 大丈夫なの?
    daijoubu na no? 
    Are you okay? (added emphasis).

It’s also worth noting that attaching の (no) to express further concern is sometimes viewed as more feminine by native speakers.

I’m Okay in Japanese

I'm Okay in Japanese

If someone has asked you if you are alright because something has happened, you can use 大丈夫 (daijoubu) to ease their worries. Using 大丈夫 (daijoubu) as a response to someone’s question like this is the same as saying “I’m okay” in Japanese.

This conversation can look very simple, especially when the context is understood by both parties involved.

Someone may ask:

  • 大丈夫?
    daijoubu? 
    Are you okay?

The perfect response:

  • 大丈夫!
    daijoubu!
    I’m okay!

Perhaps you’re not okay though… If you’re upset, in pain, unhappy, unsure, or anything along those lines, you’ll want to tell them you’re not okay in Japanese.

  • 大丈夫じゃない。
    daijoubu janai.
    I’m not okay.

That’s Okay in Japanese

Another occasion where you may wish to tell someone “okay” could be in the form of an apology or empathy. If someone has told you that they’re not okay, you might want to reassure them that everything will be alright.

There are a few ways you can do this. The first is to use 大丈夫だよ (daijoubu dayo). だよ (da yo) conveys a very forward kind of feeling. In this context, the だよ (dayo) would be best understood as “I’m sure” in English. This is a great way to uplift someone from the despair their feeling.

  • 大丈夫だよ。
    daijoubu da yo.
    It’ll be okay.

We can also attach the word きっと (kitto) to emphasise our certainty that it’ll surely be okay even more. きっと (kitto) is the word for “surely” in Japanese.

  • きっと大丈夫だよ。
    kitto daijoubu da yo.
    I’m sure that it’s okay.

In other contexts, 大丈夫だよ (daijoubu dayo) can be understood as “it’s okay”, with much more emphasis on “it’s”. This means that when you say 大丈夫だよ (daijoubu da yo), you’re telling the person that the subject in question is certainly okay.

For instance, someone may apologise to you for waking you up early in the morning for some reason. To which you can say:

  • 大丈夫だよ。気にしないで。
    daijoubu da yo. kinishinaide. 
    That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.

Definitely Okay in Japanese

You can even go one step further to sound even more encouraging in Japanese. Attach 絶対に (zettaini) to the beginning of 大丈夫だよ (daijoubu da yo).

The word 絶対に (zettaini) means definitely in Japanese. As a complete phrase, 絶対に大丈夫だよ (zettaini daijoubu da yo), means “it’ll definitely be okay” in Japanese.

  • 絶対に大丈夫だよ。
    zettaini daijoubu da yo.
    It’ll definitely be okay.

Formal It’s Okay 

All of the above entries of 大丈夫 (daijoubu) introduce ways to say “okay” in Japanese casually. However, if your teacher, manager or even a stranger asks you if you’re okay, or if something is wrong, you’ll want to respond with 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu).

大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) can be used the same way 大丈夫 can, except in situations when you’re expected to show respect.

  • 大丈夫ですか。
    daijoubu desu ka?
    Are you okay? Is it okay?

As pronouns and subjects are often omitted in Japanese, simply saying the above phrase can convey one of two meanings depending on the context. Firstly, you can ask someone 大丈夫ですか (daijoubu desu ka) to question someone if they themselves are okay. Perhaps they’ve hurt themselves, or seem a little down.

Secondly, you can use 大丈夫ですか (daijoubu desu ka) to ask someone if something is okay the way it is. For instance, perhaps you’ve been working on a task your manager has assigned you. You complete it, show it to them and ask if it is satisfactory.

You can also reply to 大丈夫ですか (daijoubu desu ka) the same way you can when speaking casually. Simply respond with 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) to let the person know that you’re/it’s okay.

  • 大丈夫です。
    daijoubu desu.
    I’m okay/ It’s okay.

No problem in Japanese

When someone asks us if we or something is okay, we’ll often reply with”it’s okay” to them. (assuming it is okay).

As a response to a request or proposition, a better way might be to say “no problem”. For all the ways on how to say “no problem” in Japanese, have a glance at this ultimate guide.

OK in Japanese

  • OK.
    オーケー。
    o-ke-.

Borrowed straight from the English language, オーケー (o-ke-) is another expression you can use to say “okay” in Japanese. Sometimes, you may even see the word “OK” appear in Japanese text. If you’re changing the settings for a video game in Japanese for instance, to confirm your changes, you may see a button labelled “OK”.

オーケー (o-ke-) is very similar to わかった (wakatta) as you can use either as a response to when you understand or accept something. Perhaps a friend has asked you to send a text message to someone on their behalf.

  • オーケー。今送るね。
    o-ke-. ima okuru ne.
    OK. I’ll send it now.

Additionally, you can use オーケー (o-ke-) to ask someone if something is satisfactory. Say you’ve been asked by your colleague if you can finish up their work. Once you’ve finished, you ask them:

  • これでオーケーですか。
    kore de o-ke- desuka?
    Is this OK?

It’s important to note that オーケー (o-ke-) is considered to be quite casual. You can actually say オーケーです (o-ke- desu) to increase the politeness, but you may be best off using わかりました (wakarimashita) or another variant instead.

Ok, Ok/ Yeah, Yeah

  • Ok, ok.
    はい、はい。
    hai, hai.

The expression はい、はい (hai, hai) has two main uses.

In English, we sometimes respond to someone’s explanation of something with “yeah, yeah” when we suddenly understand what they mean. These occasions are usually eureka moments, or times when we suddenly remember the answer to something.

Say for instance a friend asks you about someone you both had gone to school with together 10 years ago. You have no idea who that person was, but your friend is telling you how you all used to play Pokemon together after school. Suddenly, you remember. That person was the one who stole your newly evolved Gengar after trading and never gave it back all those years ago! How awful.

During this situation, you suddenly recall who exactly the person was. In English, we may say something like “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I remember them now”. In Japanese, this may look like:

  • はい、はい。思い出した。
    hai, hai. omoidashita.
    Ok, ok (yeah, yeah). I remember them.

The second use of はい、はい (hai, hai) is a response to someone’s request or statement. Say your partner has been bugging you all day to let them have a slice of cake you were saving. You give in to their request and say:

  • はい、はい。食べていいよ。
    hai, hai. tabete ii yo.
    Ok, ok. Feel free to eat it.

Sure/Sounds Good in Japanese

Sounds Good in Japanese

  • Sure/sounds good.
    いいよ。
    ii yo.

いいよ (iiyo) is a casual way of saying “sure, no problem” or “sounds good” in Japanese. You can use いいよ (ii yo) as a response to a friend or family members request or proposition.

This expression is made of two parts. The first part いい (ii), sometimes written as 良い (yoi) means “good” in Japanese. The final part よ (yo) is a Japanese Ending Particle that is used to emphasise the meaning of the word that precedes it. Therefore よ (yo) emphasises the いい (ii). This means using いいよ (iiyo) is the same as telling someone that it’s really okay, or that something is “good”.

With that said, the complete expression can be understood as “sounds good” or “sure” in Japanese.

Say a family member asks if you could cook later… You can reply with: いいよ (ii yo) – meaning sure, no problem.

A friend asks if it’s okay to meet at 2 pm instead of 1 pm… Your reply: いいよ (ii yo). – meaning sure, sounds good.

  • 後で鬼滅の刃をみに行かない?
    atode kimetsu no yaiba wo miniikanai?
    Fancy going to see Demon Slayer later?

Your response can be:

  • いいよ!楽しみ!
    ii yo! tanoshimi!
    Sounds great! I can’t wait!

If you’re not that up for it, you may be best off declining and saying no in Japanese instead.

Saying Sure/Sounds Good Formally

  • Sure/sounds good (Formally).
    いいですよ。
    ii desu yo.

To say “sure” or “sounds good” as a response to a person’s request or proposition formally in Japanese, you can use いいですよ (ii desu yo).

いいですよ (ii desu yo) includes です (desu) which formalises the expression. You can use いいですよ the same way you can its casual variant, but in formal situations instead.

A colleague might ask you if you’d like to join them for coffee during the break. You can simply reply with いいですよ (ii desu yo), meaning “sure, sounds good”.

When speaking with managers, however, it may be best to respond with a simple はい (hai) instead. はい (hai) in Japanese means “yes”, but you can also use it when you want to say “sure” formally in Japanese.

Alright in Japanese

Alright in Japanese

  • Alright.
    よし。
    yoshi.

When we’re preparing ourselves mentally for something, sometimes we say something along the lines of “okay, let’s do this”, or “alright, let’s go”. The type of “okay” or “alright” that we use in these situations can be translated as よし (yoshi) in Japanese.

If you’re looking for a way to ask someone if they are alright in Japanese, take a look at the 大丈夫 (daijoubu) entry above. We can’t use よし (yoshi) in that context here.

Let’s say you’ve been preparing for a very important examination. You’ve studied (or procrastinated) a lot, and you’re ready. You’re waiting outside the examination room with your friends. When the time comes to begin you may say:

  • よし!やろう!
    yoshi! yarou!
    Okay! Let’s smash this!

Okay, Let’s Study More Japanese!

  • Okay! Let’s study more Japanese.
    よし!もっと日本語を勉強しよう。
    yoshi. motto nihongo wo benkyou shiyou.

Sounds like you’re hyped up for more Japanese study!

I’ve composed a collection of ultimate How-To Japanese guides similar to the one you’re reading now.

You can also check out some of these recommended guides:

How to say Hope in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

How to say How Are You in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

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Soul in Japanese

How to say Soul in Japanese

The best and most direct translation for the word “soul” in Japanese is 魂 (tamashii). In Japanese, there are also a bunch of other words you can use to refer to a “soul” or the “spirit” of something.

There are many situations where we may refer to the soul of something. For instance, we may be talking about a soulmate, the spirit of someone, or the heart and soul of something. In English, when we’re talking about these things, the words and expressions we use all contain the word “soul”.

Say you wish to talk about “the heart and soul” of something for instance. In Japanese, you’d be best off using the word 心 (kokoro) which if you look up in a dictionary, the meaning would be “heart”.

However, there are many more nuances to 心 (kokoro) that dictionaries just won’t cover. That’s where this guide comes in!

Let’s learn about the significance of the “soul” in Japanese culture!

In this guide, I explain the definition and explore the nuances of the word 魂 (tamashii), and all the other related words and expressions.

All of my guides are tailored for beginners and advanced learners alike, with each entry coupled with detailed explanations and examples.

With that said, let’s begin!

Soul in Japanese

  • Soul.
    魂。
    tamashii.

Without a doubt, the word 魂 (tamashii) is the best way to refer to “soul” in Japanese. The word 魂 (tamashii) refers directly to the soul that resides within a person, put simply, the very essence of a person.

When we talk about our soul, we’re speaking of our life force, the spirit that exists within us. You can use the word 魂 (tamashii) to refer to all of these things. A persons 魂 (tamashii) is their fundamental energy source as a human being.

I’m sure you’ve heard of people who joke that they’re so emo, they have no soul.

  • 私には魂がない
    watashi ni ha tamashii ga nai
    I have no soul.

As your 魂 (tamashii), your soul, is an energy that is unique to you as an individual, you can also use this word to express deeper things.

That Was Soul-stirring/Moving in Japanese

  • That is soul-stirring/moving.
    魂を揺さぶる。
    tamashii wo yusaburu.

When something was so moving that you felt it touched your soul, you can use the idiomatic expression 魂を揺さぶる (tamashii wo yusaburu). For instance, you could be absolutely blown away by your favourite singers’ performance and may say something like:

  • 歌手の歌声は魂を揺さぶった。
    kashu no utagoe ha tamashii wo yusabutta
    The singers’ voice was soul-stirring (very moving).

As you may have expected, this is an extremely powerful expression you can use. There is a lot more weight to your words than simply saying “I was moved”. As such, you’re best off using such expressions in Japanese when you’re really impressed.

Let’s take a look at the components of this expression.

Firstly, 魂 (tamashii) is soul, as we’ve covered.

Secondly, を (wo) is a Japanese particle that marks the object of a verb. Ie, the person or thing the verb is done to.

Lastly, 揺さぶる is a verb that means “to shake”, or “to jolt” in Japanese. In the past tense, it becomes 揺さぶった (yusabutta), meaning “shaken” or “jolted.”

With that said, we can understand the expression 魂を揺さぶる (tamashii wo yusaburu) to literally mean “shake my soul” in Japanese.

Just like how pronouns have been omitted in the example sentence, (as they usually are in Japanese) when the context is clear, you can simply say 魂を揺さぶった (tamashii wo yusabutta) to express that you felt something was very moving.

That Was Moving/Touching in Japanese

That was Touching/Moving

  • That was very moving/touching.
    感動した。
    kandou shita.

To express that something was really touching, you can use 感動した (kandou shita).

Perhaps you’ve just watched a movie that made you feel warm inside, or maybe someone has complimented you and you feel touched. During these situations, you can say 感動した (kandou shita).

  • 本当にありがとう。とても感動した。
    hontouni arigatou. totemo kandou shita.
    Thank you so much (casual). I’m really touched.

How’s that for a way to thank someone for their kind compliment.

Let’s take a look at the kanji! 感動 (kandou) is made up of two kanji.

The first 感 (kan) means “emotion”, or “feeling” in Japanese.

The second, 動 (dou) means “move” in Japanese.

Lastly, した (shita) is the past tense of the verb する (suru), which means “to do” in casual Japanese.

Putting it all together, we have an expression that quite literally means “feelings were moved”.

The above 魂を揺さぶった (tamashii wo yusabutta) is very strong, so of course, you should only use it during situations where you truly feel something as moved your soul.

Put Soul Into Something in Japanese

  • I put my soul into [something].
    [Something]に魂を込めた。
    [something] ni tamashii wo kometa.

This is another idiomatic Japanese expression you can use to emphasise how much effort you’ve put into something. Perhaps you’re super invested in your work, you may say:

  • 仕事に魂を込めた。
    shigoto ni tamashii wo kometa
    I put my soul into my work.

The verb 込めた (kometa) is the past tense for the verb that means “to put into” in Japanese. It’s important to note that the 込めた (kometa) specifically refers to putting emotion or effort into something.

In English and Japanese, saying that you’ve put your soul into something is of course a very strong thing to say. In some cases, when you say [something]に魂を込めた ([something] ni tamashii wo kometa), you’re also saying that you’ve put your heart and soul into that something. However, this can be subjective and depends on what that something is.

When you use 魂 (tamashii) here, perhaps a better translation might be “I put everything into [something]” instead. After all, your 魂 (tamashii), or your soul is the very core that makes you, you right?

When you want to emphasise that you’ve poured your heart and soul into something, you may be better off using 心 (kokoro), which I explain in the next entry of this guide.

It’s worth knowing that the word 魂 (tamashii) is very strong. When you want to say things that have emotions attached like “You have a kind soul”, or if you’re wanting to be romantic and tell someone that your souls are one of the same, you should use 心 (kokoro) instead. Let’s take a look!

Heart/Soul in Japanese

  • Heart/soul.
    心。
    kokoro.

Put simply, 心 (kokoro) is a single word that unites the notion of  “heart”, “soul, “spirit” and “mind”  in its meaning in Japanese. You can use it to refer to the inner heart of someone. For this reason, when you put this word into google translate or any dictionary, it’ll tell you that it means “heart”.

Translating 心 (kokoro) as “heart” does not do the word enough justice. There is a lot more to this word than simply meaning “heart”.

It’s very important to remember that 心 (kokoro) does not refer to the heart that keeps us alive in the physical sense, but rather the emotional sense. What this means is that if you’re talking about the organ that’s pumping blood around your body, you’re going to want to use the word 心臓 (shinzou), rather than 心 (kokoro).

The word 心臓 (shinzou) refers to your heart, as in the organ. Whereas 心 (kokoro) is a word that interconnects notions of “heart”, “soul”, spirit” and “mind”.

When you say the word 心 (kokoro), you aren’t simply linking those four words as one… but rather, those four words; “heart”, “soul”, spirit” and “mind” are one. 

心 (kokoro) Example Sentences

With the notion of “heart”, “soul”, spirit” and “mind” in mind, when we talk about the word 心 (kokoro), let’s take a look at some examples.

You can use 心 (kokoro) to express some very deep things. For instance, perhaps you’d like to compliment someone on their kindness:

  • あなたは心の優しい人。
    anata ha kokoro yasashii hito
    You are a kind-hearted person.

As the word 心 (kokoro) does not simply just mean “heart”, we can also translate the above expression as “You are a kind soul”.

Speaking of compliments, we can also use 心 (kokoro) to tell someone how considerate they are:

  • 心が温かい人だね。
    kokoro ga atatakai hito da ne
    You really are a warm-hearted person.

When we talk about someones 心 (kokoro), we’re concentrating our words towards their spirit, their soul, and their heart. It really is difficult to explain the meaning of 心 (kokoro) without implying divisions in regards to the meaning.

心 (kokoro) refers to the “heart”, “soul”, spirit” and “mind” as one word.

Put Heart and Soul Into Something in Japanese

Heart and Soul in Japanese

  • Put heart and soul into something.
    心を込める。
    kokoro wo komeru.

Earlier, we discussed the expression 魂を込めた (tamashii wo kometa) which can be used to say that you’ve put your soul into something.

However, as we’ve also discussed, 心 (kokoro) brings the four words: heart, soul, spirit, mind, and their meanings together as a single entity.

This means that when we say 心を込める (kokoro wo komeru), we’re really stressing how much effort, love, dedication we’ve put into something.

There are two ways to say that someone put their heart and soul into something in Japanese. The first is to express how someone has poured their heart and soul into something.

  • [person] は [noun] に心を込めた。

Begin by replacing [person] with a pronoun or the persons’ name. Secondly, replace the [noun] with the subject. For instance,

  • 彼女は料理に心を込めた。
    kanojo ha ryouri ni kokoro wo kometa.
    She poured her heart and soul into her cooking.

As you can imagine, if someone has poured their heart and soul into something, they’ve really put in everything they’ve had into it.

The verb of this sentence 込めた (kometa), combined with 心 (kokoro) is what gives this phrase so much weight. 込めた (kometa) is the past tense of the verb 込める (komeru) which means “to put an emotion into something” in Japanese.

Wholeheartedly in Japanese

The second is to say that someone did something wholeheartedly using the template:

  • [person] は心を込めて [verb].

First, replace [person] with the persons’ name to who you’re referring (or use a pronoun!). Then, simply replace [verb] with the action it is that the person did wholeheartedly. For instance,

  • 彼女は心を込めて料理を作った。
    kanojo ha kokoro wo komete ryouri wo tsukutta.
    She cooked a meal wholeheartedly.

Another way we can translate this exact same phrase would be “she cooked a meal with love”, essentially saying that the person has done their absolute best in making the meal.

You can use this phrase to express that you or someone else has sincerely exerted effort in something.

There is an expression we can use to convey a much stronger “with love”, however, with more emphasis on the “love” part.

Put Love Into Something

  • Put love into something.
    愛を込める。
    ai wo komeru.

The above phrase 心を込めた (kokoro wo kometa) largely refers to times where a huge amount of effort has been devoted to something. Whereas 愛を込める (ai wo komeru) explicitly refers to the love that has been put into the subject.

This is because the kanji 愛 (ai) means “love” or “affection”. And… as you may or may not already know, when 愛 (ai) is used in the word 愛してる (aishiteru) which is one of many ways of saying “I love you” in Japanese, it’s very strong.

The word 愛してる (aishiteru) is only used between people who are very, very much in love and have a deep bond. It should not be used as a confession to say “I like you”, or “I love you” to someone, or towards your family members.

Therefore, just like how 愛してる (aishiteru) is very strong, 愛を込める (ai wo komeru) can be a very strong expression too. Say you’re making a dish, and you want to make it with love. This might mean that you carefully measure out the ingredients properly, staying focused so that you can make it delicious for the people who are close to you.

This gentleness can be translated as:

  • 愛を込めてスープを作った。
    ai wo komete su-pu wo tsukutta.
    I made the soup with love.

With Love/Love From – In Letters

As we’re on the topic of 愛を込める (ai wo komeru), I wanted to point out that you can also use 愛を込めて (ai wo komete) to say “with love” to conclude a letter or message.

Perhaps you’re writing a Christmas card to a loved one, and want to end the message with a warm greeting. You can also say:

With Lots of Love in Japanese
  • たくさん愛を込めて。
    takusan ai wo komete.
    With lots of love.
With All My Love in Japanese
  • 精一杯愛を込めて。
    seiipai ai wo komete.
    With all my love.

Spirit/Soul in Japanese

Spirit in Japanese

  • Spirit/soul.
    精神。
    seishin.

When searching up “soul” in a Japanese dictionary, you’ll undoubtedly come across the word 精神 (seishin). Like 魂 (tamashii) and 心 (kokoro), this word too has elements of “soul” to it.

Let’s jump straight into the kanji for 精神 (seishin) to uncover this words true meaning.

The first kanji, 精 (sei) has many meanings, but you’ll most often see it meaning “refined” in Japanese.

The second kanji 神 (shin) means “gods” or “mind” in Japanese. You may also see this kanji appear in words such as 神経 (shinkei), meaning “nerve”, 神話 (shinwa) meaning “myth”, or 神社 (jinja) meaning “shrine”. It’s worth noting that the word 神社 (jinja) is often used to refer to the Shinto shrine, a place for gods in Japan.

With this in mind, we can understand 精神 (seishin) to mean “a refined state of mind”.

Put simply, when we use the word 精神 (seishin) we are referring to the spirit, or the mental energy levels of someone or something.

We can use 精神 (seishin) to talk about the mentality or spirit of someone. For instance:

  • 精神的な援助をあたえよう。
    seishinteki na enjou wo ataeyou.
    Let’s give them moral support.

You can also use 精神 (seishin) to talk about nouns. For example, a 精神的な人(seishinteki na hito) may refer to a spiritual person. One who is thoughtful, knowledgeable and can look at things objectively.

On top of that, you can use it to refer to someone state of mind too.

  • 精神的な健康は大切だ。
    seishinteki na kenkou ha taisetsu da.
    Mental health is important.

Soul/Life in Japanese

  • Soul/Life.
    生命。
    seimei.

There are times where we use the word “soul” to refer to someone’s life force. When talking about the very essence of the soul, or of life itself we can use 生命 (seimei).

Let’s take a look at the kanji meanings. The first kanji, 生 (sei) means “birth” in Japanese. You may also see it in verbs such as 生む (umu), meaning “to give birth”.

Secondly, 命 (mei) is actually another word by itself. As a standalone, 命 (inochi) means “life”, “fate”, or “destiny” in Japanese. Although it is most often used as 命 (inochi), which literally refers to the life that exists within your soul.

With that said, 生命 (seimei) can be understood quite literally to mean “birth of life” in Japanese.

We can use 生命 (seimei) to ask questions such as:

  • 生命はいつ誕生しましたか。
    seimei ha itsu tanjou shimashita ka.
    When did life come into being?

Or we can use it to say things like:

  • 私は生命保険に入ってる。
    watashi ha seimei hoken ni haitteru.
    I have Life Insurance.

Soulmate in Japanese

Soulmate in Japanese

  • Soulmate.
    運命の人。
    unmei no hito.

There are two ways to say “soulmate” in Japanese. The first is 運命の人 (unmei no hito).

The first part of the phrase 運命 (unmei) consists of two kanji. We’ve already covered 命 (sei) which is also in 生命 (seimei) above. It means “life” or “destiny” in Japanese.

The second kanji is 運 (un). It can mean “to carry” or “destiny” in Japanese. 運 (un) can also be used to mean luck in Japanese. You can use it to say things like 運がいい (un ga ii), meaning, “I have good luck”.

Thus, the word 運命 (unmei) means “destiny” in Japanese.

The second part of the phrase is の (no), a Japanese particle, used to indicate possession. Lastly, 人 (hito) simply means “person”.

Putting all of this together, the literal translation for 運命の人 (unmei no hito) is “person of [email protected]

  • あなたは私の運命の人だよ。
    anata ha watashi no unmei no hito da yo.
    You are my soulmate.

How romantic is that? Calling the love of your life your “person of destiny”.

More Ways to Say Soulmate in Japanese

  • Soulmate.
    ソウルメイト。
    sourumeito.

The second way to say “soulmate” in Japanese is ソウルメイト (sourumeito). It means the same as 運命の人 (unmei no hito), explained above. Both are common ways to say “soulmate” in Japanese, and which one you use is dependent on only your preferences.

As you may have noticed, ソウルメイト (sourumeito) is very similar to the English word “soulmate”. That is because this expression is one that has been borrowed from the English language.

  • 私たちはお互いのソウルメイトだよ。
    watashitachi ha otagai no sourumeito da yo.
    We are each other’s soulmates.

You may also be wondering if you can say 魂の人 (tamashii no hito) to say soulmate in Japanese. The answer to that is you can’t. This is because 魂 (tamashii) does not convey the same nuances. (see more on this in entry #1.).

What Colour is Your Soul?

  • What colour is your soul?
    魂の色は何色ですか。
    tamashii no iro ha nani iro desuka.

I had to include this because it’s part of the lyrics from a Japanese song I like called Anima by Reona. It’s a good question though, what colour would you say yours is?

Anyways, that concludes this article on all the ways to say “soul” in Japanese!

In summary, use 魂 (tamashii) to talk about the soul in general, 心 (kokoro) to talk about the heart and soul, and 精神 (seishin) to talk about the spirit and mind!

I hope you found this guide useful. Any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my absolute best to help you.

Before you go, fancy looking at more ultimate How-To Japanese guides?

Recommended:

How to say Hope in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

How to say I Don’t Know in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

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