Japanese Language

Good Job in Japanese

How to say Good Job in Japanese

Whether you want to shower someone with praise, or simply tell them that they’ve done a good job in Japanese, there are a few expressions you should know.

Which expression you’ll need will depend on the situation, who you want to praise, and even when you want to praise them. This is primarily because the Japanese language is full of honorifics, which means your style of speech can drastically change subject to the circumstances.

Like many other words and expressions, there is no perfect direct one-to-one translation with all the same nuances.

With that said, the best way to say “good job” in casual and formal Japanese is お疲れ様 (otsukaresama) and お疲れ様です (otsukarasama desu) respectively. You may also see よくやった (yoku yatta) or よくできた (yoku dekita) floating around. While these two expressions do translate to “good job” in Japanese, their nuances are different.

Put simply, よくやった (yoku yatta) and よくできた (yoku dekita) is best used when you’re a superior who is praising a subordinate. These kinds of relationships include those such as teacher to student, or manager to employee.

This ultimate guide explores the most common ways to say “good job” in Japanese before jumping into similar expressions. Each entry is coupled with explanations and examples suitable for beginner or intermediate learners. Let’s begin!

Good Job in Formal Japanese

  • Good job.
    お疲れ様です。
    otsukare sama desu.

In Japanese culture, it’s very common to say “good job” or “good work today” to each other and colleagues at the end of a work shift. After your work is done for the day, it’s common courtesy to say お疲れ様です (otsukare sama desu) to your co-workers as your about to head home.

Your colleagues will then return the expression back to you and thank you for your work today with another お疲れ様です (otsukare sama desu).

  • 今日はお疲れ様です。
    kyou ha otsukare sama desu.
    Good job today, much appreciated.

The expression お疲れ様です (otsukare sama desu) is not really used to praise someone. Instead, it is used to express gratitude for someone’s hard work.

There are, however, phrases such as よくやった (yoku yatta) or よくできた (yoku dekita) which much better directly express your praise towards someone. They come with their limitations though, and will be discussed in-depth later!

Let’s have a glance at the etymology of お疲れ様です (otsukare sama desu).

お (o) – This is an honorific prefix. It is used to essentially beautify the word.  

疲れ (tsukare) – This is the stem of the verb 疲れる (tsukareru) which means “fatigue”, or “tiredness”.

様 (sama) – An honorific suffix used in other words such as 王様 (ousama), meaning “king”. It can also be used to say “the state of something” in Japanese.

です (desu) – A polite way to say  “be” or “is” in Japanese. In the past tense, this can become でした (deshita), meaning “it was”.

The uses of お疲れ様です (otsukare sama desu) are not just limited to that of the workplace though. It can be used between people who have completed an activity together to thank each other for their hard work for instance.

Good Job in Japanese

Good Job in Formal Japanese

  • Good job.
    お疲れ様。
    otsukare sama.

As we just mentioned above, お疲れ様です (otsukare sama desu) can also be used to express appreciation for someone’s effort in an activity outside of the traditional workplace.

For example, two students who have worked together on a school project might say “good job” to each other after finishing up. I’ve even seen the chat in a Japanese live stream fill up with お疲れ様です (otsukare sama desu) from viewers when the stream is ending!

However, when you’re speaking with someone who is on the same social level as you, for instance, a friend or family member, you can simply use お疲れ様 (otsukare sama) without the addition of です (desu). The です (desu) is only really required when it’s necessary to be polite, such as when you’re speaking to a manager or stranger.

Furthermore, you don’t necessarily have to have worked together with said person on an activity. If you know and are aware that the person has exerted their effort towards something, and this is your first time seeing them, it’s common to say お疲れ様 (otsukare sama).

In this situation, you’re expressing “good job” with the implication that you appreciate that the person must be tired.

Perhaps your partner has just come home after finishing work, or an activity. You could say:

  • お帰り!お疲れ様。
    okaeri! otsukare sama.
    Welcome home! Good job/Good effort.

To make this expression even more casual you can drop the 様 (sama) to make it お疲れ (otsukare). If you do, the meaning is slightly altered. お疲れ (otsukare) is a much lighter expression, thus you’re conveying a much more casual “Thanks for helping” rather than a “Thank you for today” kind of thing.

Good Job in Casual Japanese

  • Good job/Cheers.
    おつ。
    otsu.

It’s actually possible to casualise お疲れ様です (otsukare sama desu) a fourth time. The ultimate casual way to say “good job” in Japanese is to simply say おつ (otsu).

As you may expect, おつ (otsu) is essentially slang for “good job” in Japanese, therefore is lacking in emotion compared to the full expression.

You can use it during scenarios where you don’t need to express your full-blown appreciation for someone’s effort. Imagine you’re playing an online video game with friends, it’s getting late and someone decides to go to bed. The conversation may look like this:

  • 眠いからそろそろ寝る。
    nemui kara sorosoro neru.
    I’m tired so I’m going to sleep now.

As a response to this:

  • おつ。おやすみ!
    otsu. oyasumi!
    GGs. Good night!

During this situation, you don’t need to graciously thank them for their hard work today. It’s sufficient enough to just say おつ (otsu). In the example above, you could even drop the おやすみ(oyasumi), as there is enough implication in the おつ (otsu) to convey a “good night” already.

There is a kanji for おつ (otsu), but you’ll probably see it written in hiragana, or even sometimes katakana more frequently.

More Ways to Say Good Job in Japanese

  • Good job.
    よくできた。
    yoku dekita.

As we’ve mentioned, よくできた (yoku dekita) is probably the most direct way of saying “good job” in Japanese. It is important to note that although it’ll be the closest translation, it should be avoided when speaking to anyone with who you are on equal social terms, or when you are the subordinate.

This is because that よくできた (yoku dekita) is used when a senior or supervisor is speaking to a subordinate. This could be a teacher to student, manager to employee, or even parent to child.

When I first met my partner, who is a native Japanese speaker, there were plenty of situations where I wanted to encourage them by praising them for their effort. So many times I told them よくできたね (yoku dekita ne) while being completely oblivious to the fact that this is actually extremely condescending.

Unless you want to come across as very patronising and arrogant, you’re probably best off not doing what I did and tell my partner よくできた (yoku dekita). Of course, I purely intended to praise them and express how amazing I thought they were. There are expressions you can do this, see any entry below this one (and よくやった (yoku yatta) to do so.

Understanding よくできた (yoku dekita)

So, why did I make the mistake of thinking よくできた (yoku dekita) can be used to say “good job” to anyone in Japanese… It is a direct translation after all.

The first part, よく (yoku) is the adverb for よい (yoi), sometimes said as いい (ii), meaning “good” in Japanese.

Secondly, できた (dekita) is the past tense of the verb できる (dekiru), meaning “can do” in Japanese.

So yes, よくできた (yoku dekita) literally means “you did a good job” in Japanese.

This is all information you can get from a dictionary… But what a dictionary won’t tell you though, is how よくできた (yoku dekita) is used and perceived in Japanese culture.

When I asked my partner about what it is that makes this expression feel condescending when used between people who are on two equal social levels, they told me it was because it gave them flashbacks to when they were praised by their parents as a child. So when you’re being told よくできた (yoku dekita) by a friend, for instance, it would feel like they’re looking down on you. Not so nice right? I learned my lesson.

If you are a teacher, and you want to praise your student and tell them “good job”! You can use よくできた (yoku dekita). Likewise, you may also find parents saying the same thing to their child or a boss to their subordinate.

  • 満点だ!よくできた!
    manten da yoku dekita!
    A perfect score! Good job!

During the above example, you can imagine a child receiving praise from their teacher or parent after nailing a 100/100 on the mathematics test.

Well Done in Japanese

  • Well done.
    よくやった。
    yoku yatta.

よくやった (yoku yatta) and よくできた (yoku dekita) can be used pretty much interchangeably. It is important to remember, that both of these expressions should only be used to praise someone who is your subordinate in a social setting.

To reiterate, the kind of relationships where it is okay to use these expressions include teacher to student, manager to employee, or parent to child etc. 

You can use よくやった (yoku yatta) to express praise, or gratitude to someone for their contribution to something. It can be used to convey anything along the lines of “good job” or “good work” in Japanese.

Perhaps your manager is evaluating your work. If they are pleased with your efforts, they may say:

  • とても素晴らしい!よくやった!
    totemo subarashii! yoku yatta!
    This is really wonderful. Well done!

The first part よく (yoku), which we’ve covered above, is the adverb for よい, meaning “good”. This means that よく (yoku) would translate to “well”.

The second part is やった (yatta), the past tense of the verb やる (yaru). This verb やる (yaru) has many meanings, but in this case, it means “to do” in Japanese. With this knowledge, we can understand that やった (yatta) means “done” or “did in Japanese.

We can understand that the literal meaning of よくやった (yoku yatta) is “well done.”

Excellent/Great Job in Japanese

Great Job in Japanese

  • Great!
    えらい!
    erai!

えらい (erai) is also another expression with many meanings, one of which is “excellent”. To really praise someone on a job well done, telling them that what they’ve done is “great” is a superb way to do it.

You can use えらい (erai) on its own to commend someone. Usually, this would again be for people who are your subordinate or who are younger than you. For instance, teachers would typically use えらい (erai) to praise students or commend them.

  • えらい!えらい!
    erai! erai!
    You’re so clever!

You can actually use えらい (erai) to commend someone who is your equal. In these cases, it’s safer to use it sarcastically, or as a fun way to praise someone on something trivial. Say you have a friend who hasn’t been outside for a while, so they’ve been lazing around in pajamas.

  • 聞いて聞いて!今日はちゃんと服を着たよ。
    kiite kiite! kyou ha channto fuku wo kita yo.
    Listen, listen! I wore proper clothes today.

You could reply:

  • えらいね。
    erai ne.
    Wow, good for you.

Using it with people whose status is higher than yours though may come across as quite obnoxious.

You can use えらい (erai) with nouns to describe something that is remarkable. An えらい人 (erai hito) for instance could be understood as a person who is remarkable. Their remarkableness is subjective, therefore an えらい人 (erai hito) can refer to someone of fame, your manager, or an important individual.

That’s Amazing! in Japanese

  • That’s amazing!
    すごい!
    sugoi!

すごい (sugoi) is without a doubt an expression you’ll hear everywhere. You can use it when you want to say “amazing” or “awesome” in Japanese. Of course, you can imagine that telling someone that what they’ve done is amazing will light up their face.

Perhaps the easiest expression to use, you can use すごい (sugoi) during any time when you want to praise and encourage someone. Perhaps a friend shows you their painting that they’ve invested a lot of time and effort into.

  • これはすごいよ。
    kore ha sugoi yo.
    This is amazing.

Simply saying すごい (sugoi) by itself will also convey the meaning of “amazing” just fine too.

In Japanese, instead of telling someone directly that they’ve done a good job, between friends at least, it’s much more common to shower them with compliments.  By expressing your thoughts like this, your friend will perhaps feel even more encouragement compared to if you simply told them well done.

The Ultimate “Good Job” in Japanese

Sasuga - As expected

  • Excellence, just as expected from you!
    さすが!
    sasuga!

さすが (sasuga) is a heavily nuanced expression that is uniquely Japanese. It also falls into the category of untranslatable Japanese words with no direct English equivilent.

What’s more, is that the expression さすが (sasuga) is probably the absolute best and most powerful way to praise someone in Japanese. When you say さすが (sasuga) to someone, you’re conveying much, much more than a regular “good job”.

You can use さすが (sasuga) as a powerful complement for when someone (or something) lives up to their (or its) reputation. To put it another way, さすが (sasuga) nuances that someone has truly matched or exceeded our expectations.

For instance, Mt Fuji, Japan’s iconic mountain is famous for its beauty. When you do go to Japan to see the mountain, because you’ve heard the rumours, you’re already expecting it to be beautiful. Then, when you see it for the first time, you may say something like:

  • 日本の富士山はさすがにきれい!
    nihon no fujisan ha sasugani kirei!
    Japan’s Mt Fuji is impressively beautiful (true to its reputation)!

In terms of complimenting others, you can use さすが (sasuga) when you really want to flatter them.

  • さすがだね。
    sasuga da ne.
    You’re incredible (as always, just as I expected).

With さすが (sasuga), you’re telling the person that you are beyond impressed, to the level that it’s only natural that they would impress you (because of who they are as a person).

Nice Work in Japanese

  • Nice work.
    ナイス。
    naisu.

As you may have guessed, ナイス (naisu) is borrowed directly from the English language. ナイス (naisu) represents the English word “nice”. There are occasions where the Japanese word ナイス (naisu) and the English word “nice” are interchangeable, and also a few where they are not.

In Japanese, ナイス (naisu) is often used as a response to when something has gone well for someone or when they have done a good job at something. Just like how we can say “nice” on its own in English to mean “good job”, we can do the same with ナイス (naisu).

For example, I said to my friend the other day:

  • 最近「夢を見る島」というゼルダゲームをクリアしたよ。
    saikin “yume wo miru shima” toiu ge-mu wo kuria shita yo.
    I completed the Link’s Awakening Zelda game recently.

To which, they replied:

  • ナイス!楽しかった?
    naisu! tanoshikatta?
    Nice! Was it fun?

You can use ナイス (naisu) for all similar situations to the example above. Hey, you finished your homework? ナイス (naisu)! Passed your driving test? ナイス (naisu)! Off work today? ナイス (naisu)! This can become a pretty exhaustive list.

Other Ways to Say Nice in Japanese

When you want to say nice as an adjective though, such as if you were describing a nice or kind person… You can use ナイス (naisu), but it sounds a little strange. Instead, you’ll want to use other words that mean “nice” or “friendly” in Japanese. These are 親切 (shinsetsu) and 優しい (yasashii).

  • 彼は親切な人だ。
    kare ha shinsetsu na hito da.
    He is a nice (kind) person.

Or perhaps…

  • 彼女は優しい
    kanojo ha yasashii.
    She is kind (friendly).

To summarise, ナイス (naisu) is used more so as an interjection for when you want to convey a “good job”, rather than an adjective. For other expressions, such as if you wanted to say “I hope you had a nice time” have a glance at these two articles:

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

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

You Did Well in Japanese

  • You Did Well.
    頑張ったね。
    gannbatta ne.

We can use 頑張ったね (gannbatta ne) when someone has obviously put in a lot of effort into something. Regardless of whether or not that “something” was a success or not, hearing words of praise such as “you did well” can really make them feel good about themselves.

頑張った (gannbatta) is the past tense of the word 頑張る (gannbaru), which means to persevere or to keep at something. Therefore, we can understand 頑張ったね (gannbatta ne) anything along the lines of “you did well” or “you did your best” in Japanese.

There are other ways to send words of encouragement to someone using variations of 頑張る (gannbaru) too, such as saying “good luck” in Japanese. 

The addition of ね (ne) here, translates to “isn’t it?” or “right?” in English. This means that when you say 頑張ったね (gannbatta ne), you’re essentially saying “You did your best, didn’t you?”. It’s worth noting that the ね (ne) is completely optional, and it’s perfectly fine to say 頑張った (gannnbatta).

However, when you say 頑張った (gannbatta) without the ね (ne), it sounds like you’re making a statement that someone tried hard at something, rather than telling them directly they did a good job with implications of empathy.

For instance, say you were talking with a friend about someone:

  • 彼はめっちゃ頑張った。
    kare ha meccha gannbatta.
    He tried really hard.

Whereas, if you were to attach the ね (ne), and direct the expression to the person in question:

  • めちゃ頑張ったね。
    meccha gannbatta ne.
    You tried really hard, didn’t you?

When the context is understood between the speaker and listener, we can omit pronouns in our speech. Moreover, the listener will feel much more emotion in your words when you say 頑張ったね (gannbatta ne).

Keep It Up in Japanese

Keep it up

  • Keep it up.
    頑張れ。
    gannbare.

Sometimes we want to encourage someone to keep doing a good job at whatever it is they’re doing. There are many ways to cheer someone on in Japanese, which I discuss in detail. To cheer on a friend, family member, or someone close to you during the midst of all the action, you can use 頑張れ (gannbare).

You can use 頑張れ (gannbare) to cheer on a friend at the moment that they are trying hard at something. For example, they may be in the middle of running a marathon, at which point they run past you. You could shout out to them 頑張れ! (gannbare!) to encourage them to keep it up.

Perfect! in Japanese

Perfect in Japanese

  • Perfect.
    完璧。
    kannpeki.

What better way to tell someone that they’ve done a good job than to tell them what they’ve done is perfect! You can’t go wrong with 完璧 (kannpeki), you can use it at any time you want to say to someone that something is perfect or flawless in Japanese.

You can use 完璧 (kannpeki) on its own, or as part of a longer phrase. Say you’ve asked a friend to design or make you something. Upon completion, they show you the finished product. Simply responding with 完璧 (kannpeki) here will no doubt make your friend feel accomplished in what they’ve done.

  • これは完璧じゃん!本当にありがとう!
    kore ha kannpeki jan! hontouni arigatou!
    This is perfect! Thanks so much!

You’re also telling your friend that you are more than happy/satisfied with the result. 完璧 (kannpeki) is a great way to tell someone they’ve done a good job in Japanese, without sounding patronising.

Not a Good Job in Japanese

On the other hand, if you wanted to tell someone that they have not done a good job for whatever reason, we can do that with 完璧 (kannpeki) too.

It goes without saying that telling someone they haven’t done well directly can come across quite blunt, so use this next one with caution!

  • これは完璧からほど遠い。
    kore ha kanpeki kara hodo tooi.
    This is far from perfect.

There are also ways to tell someone that they need to do a better job a little more kindly in Japanese. Just like how we need to be indirect when saying “no” to someone in Japanese, a lighter expression here would probably go down better.

  • もうちょっとだけ!
    mou chotto dake!
    Just a little more!

The above phrase is twofold. We are both encouraging the person to carry on, while also indirectly telling them that the job is not finished to our standard.

Spectacular! Well Done! in Japanese

Well Done in Japanese

  • Spectacular.
    お見事。
    omigoto.

Imagine you’ve gone to the theatre to watch a performance and the middle-high class crowd is mesmerised by the performance. They are utterly astonished… It was marvelous, outstanding, spectacular! That’s the kind of image I have when I hear お見事 (omigoto).

お見事 (omigoto) is essentially applause, a way of showing your deep appreciation for someones’ high-quality work.

This means that when you say お見事 (omigoto) to someone, you are telling them that they’ve done a superb job, to the point where you’re taken away by their work.

  • お見事!素晴らしい演技だった!
    omigoto! subarashii engi datta!
    Spectacular! What wonderful acting!

Receiving this kind of praise from someone such as your manager would of course feel amazing. When someone says this to you, you know you’ve done a fantastic job.

The お (o) in お見事 (omigoto) is an honorific prefix. Despite this, お見事 can be used in casual situations. The purpose of the お (o) here is to beautify the word, to make it more appropriate to describe the masterpiece you’ve produced!

I Got a Good Job! in Japanese

  • I got a good job!
    私はいい仕事の申し入れを受けた!
    watashi ha ii shigoto no mou shi ire wo uketa!

Just in case you’re proud of an actual job you’ve acquired, a good one that you’ve been hired for, this is the phrase you can use!

Bonus! Good Work in Formal Japanese

  • Good Work (Formal).
    ご苦労様です。
    go kurou sama desu.

Just like お疲れ様です (otsukare sama desu), you can also use ご苦労様です (go kurou sama desu) to say “good work” to someone after a day at work.

The main difference though is that ご苦労様です (go kurou sama desu) is strictly an expression used in the workplace.

It isn’t explicitly used to praise someone, instead, when you say ご苦労様です (go kurou sama desu) to someone, you’re thanking them for their troubles.

Let’s look at the components of ご苦労様です(go kurou sama desu).

Firstly, ご is very similar to the お (o) we’ve been seeing a lot, in that it’s an honorific prefix.

Secondly, 苦労 as a complete word means “labour”. 苦 actually means “suffering” or “hardship,” and 労 means “labour”.

様 is the same as we’ve seen in お疲れ様です. It is an honorific suffix. Lastly, です (desu) means “is” in polite Japanese.

Quite literally, ご苦労様です (go kurou sama desu) is simply stating that something was suffering or heavy labour.

When we use ご苦労様です (go kurou sama desu) in the workplace though, we’re expressing our gratitude for someone’s effort. You’ll most likely hear managers who supervisors say this to their subordinates.

Good Job on the Lecture

  • Good Job on the lecture.
    いい勉強になりました。
    ii benkyou ni narimashita.

This phrase above is perhaps the only way you can express a good job to anyone who is of higher status than you in Japanese. You could say it to your teachers after they’ve delivered you a lecture, or taught you something useful.

When you say いい勉強になりました (ii benkyou ni narimashita) you’re explicitly saying that you’ve learned something of value, thanks to whoever (or whatever) taught you.

On that note, that brings me to the end of this ultimate guide.

お疲れ様です!

I hope that you found the information you were looking for. If you have any questions at all, leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to help the best I can.

While you’re here, fancy looking at more ultimate guides?

How to say I Don’t Know in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

How to say Let’s Go in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Do you like The Legend of Zelda + Japanese? Come and quest with me!

Good luck with your Japanese learning!

Hope in Japanese

How to say Hope and I Hope in Japanese

Despite seeming a little puzzling at first glance, there are actually a handful of ways to say “hope” in Japanese. There are two words often used to refer to “hope”, and there are even more ways to express it.

These two words for hope in Japanese are 希望 (kibou) and 望み (nozomi) respectively. Both of them are nouns and are used when referring to a hope that exists.

At other times we may want to express our hope towards something. This could be when we’re feeling hopeful or when we’re wishing for something. Whether we’re wishing for something, or praying that something will pan out a certain way, in English, we use the word “hope” in all of these scenarios.

However, in Japanese, there are a number of expressions and phrases that we can use to express our hope. Which expression you will need depends on which kind of situation you’re in.

In this ultimate guide, I explore all the ways to say “hope” in Japanese. Let’s take a look at the meanings and kanji of 希望 (kibou) and 望み (nozomi)!  Additionally, let’s talk about expressions you can use to say things like “I hope that…”, “hopefully”, or “I hope you feel better” in Japanese.

I have tailored this guide for beginners and intermediate learners of Japanese alike, so hopefully, you can find what you’re looking for!

Hope in Japanese

  • Hope.
    希望
    kibou.

If you were to search “hope” in a Japanese dictionary, 希望 (kibou) will always be the first entry. 希望 (kibou) is a noun – it is the best translation of “hope” in Japanese. Depending on the context, it can also overlap with nuances of wishing, or of an ambition/desire of something.

It is composed of two kanji, 希 and 望.

The first kanji, 希, means “hope” in Japanese. It is associated with scarcity, and is used in other words such as 希薄 (kihaku), meaning “thin, lacking, insufficient” and 希少 (kishou), meaning “rare”.

The second kanji, 望, means “hope” or “ambition” in Japanese. This kanji appears in words that express “wish”, or “desire”.

These two similar kanji in succession form 希望 (kibou), a word we can understand as quite literally “hope” in Japanese.

How To Use 希望 (kibou)

Quite often, 希望 (kibou) is used as a negative in neutral language.

  • 私たちは生きているかぎりまだ希望がある
    watashi tachi ha ikiteiru kagiri mada kibou ga aru.
    As long as we’re living, there is still hope.

In the same way, it can also be used to express a wish.

  • 彼らが私の希望に反対している
    karera ga watashi no kibou ni hantai shiteiru.
    They’re going against my wishes.

In the first example, the final part “there is still hope” conveys a little positivity. However, the meaning of the sentence as a whole still has nuances of uncertainty lingering around it. In the second example, although the speaker has not explicitly stated that they are unhappy with the situation, it is still felt and understood by the listener that the speaker is probably not exactly overjoyed.

You could use it to convey complete despair:

  • 希望がない
    kibou ga nai.
    There is no hope.

In terms of neutral nuances, 希望 (kibou) can be used in Japanese Keigo to express a desire, want or preference.

  • ご希望の時間をお知らせください
    go kibou no jikan o wo shirasekudasai.
    Please let us know your desired/preferred time.

In formal Japanese, 希望 (kibou) is used to express a want/desire instead of the grammar たい (tai) or 欲しい (hoshii).

Hope/Wish in Japanese

I wish in Japanese

  • Hope/Wish.
    望み
    nozomi.

Like 希望 (kibou), 望み (nozomi) is a noun that also means “hope” or “wish” in Japanese. When translating 望み (nozomi) into English, it comes out as “hope”, and it may appear that it can be used interchangeably with 希望 (kibou). 

The kanji for 望み is the same one as the second kanji in 希望 (kibou) too. So from that, we can deduce it also has similar nuances. 

There are some differences between 希望 (kibou) and 望み (nozomi) though. They are used differently depending on the context. 

So, we know that they can both be used to express “hope”. Like we discussed above, 希望 (kibou) is most frequently used as a negative in neutral language. It sounds like a firm statement, an educated one, that can sometimes appear harsh.

On the other hand, 望み (nozomi) sounds much more emotional, intimate and positive. When someone says:

  • 私の望みは留学生として日本に行くことだ
    watashi no nozomi ha ryuugakusei toshite nihon ni iku koto da.
    It’s my wish/hope to go to Japan as an exchange student.

We can really feel the emotion in the speaker’s words with 望み (nozomi). Unlike 希望 (kibou), when someone uses 望み (nozomi) we can really establish a deeper connection with their feelings and wishes. It feels considerably more intimate. Another example:

  • 彼女の望みは声優になることだ
    kanojo no nozomi ha seiyuu ni naru koto da.
    It’s her ambition to become a voice actress.

望み (nozomi) is exceptionally powerful at conveying someone’s ambition towards something. 

Hope As a Name in Japanese

Just like how Hope is a person’s name in English, there is also an equivalent in Japanese!

The name for Hope in Japanese is 望み (nozomi). It is a unisex given name and is often spelt with the kanji for hope as seen here, but there are other variations also.

Furthermore 望み (nozomi) is also the name given to Japan’s fastest bullet train, called the Nozomi Shinkansen. It operates at speeds of 185mph (300km/h), with a full trip from Tokyo to Osaka taking a mere 146 minutes. This is crazy compared to the 6 hours + time it would take to make the same journey by car.

I Hope It Goes Well in Japanese

  • I hope it goes well.
    XXますように
    XXmasu you ni.

When you want to express your wish or hope that something will pan out a certain way, you can use XXますように (XXmasuyouni). 

Replace the XX with a ます (masu) form verb to express your hope towards something.

For instance, perhaps you’re really hoping that something will go well. You can say:

  • すべてはうまくいきますように
    subete ha umakuikimasu you ni.
    I hope everything will go smoothly.

The catch with this expression is that it’s not widely said to express your hope about something to other people. You can use it, but it would sound really strong.

Instead, XXますように (XXmasuyouni) is most commonly used when visiting and praying at temples in Japan. Visiting temples to pray in Japan is a popular cultural practice that is often done particularly during times of importance.

It could be that you’re about to take an exam you’ve been dreading for so long, and you really hope you pass. Or it could be that you/or a family member is about to undergo surgery, and you want to pray – hope that it’ll go well. 

  • 試験に合格しますように
    shiken ni goukaku shimasu you ni.
    I hope I can pass the exam.

Tanabata Festival – Expressing a Wish

Tanabata Festival - Symbol of Hope in Japan

Every year on July 7th there is a national event called the Tanabata festival. This Japanese festival is celebrated by writing down your wish or hope onto a coloured paper called Tanzaku.

The Tanzaku is then tied to bamboo with string along with other peoples wish. When writing down your wish on the Tanzaku, you can use XXますように (XXmasuyouni). You’ll find that lots of other people will use this format to express their wishes and hopes regarding something that’s important to them. 

  • 幸せになれますように
    shiawase ni naremasu you ni.
    I hope I can be happy.

Good Luck in Japanese

Sometimes when we want to wish that something will go well for someone, we also want to send them good luck.

To view all the ways you can wish someone “good luck” in Japanese, have a look at this ultimate guide that details how to do so!

I hope That… in Japanese

  • I hope that…
    …といい (な・ね)
    …to ii (na/ ne).

The perhaps best way to express “hope” in Japanese is through the …といい (to ii) expression. といい (to ii) is the most natural way to say “I hope that…” in Japanese. Let’s take a look at an example. Perhaps you’ve been really busy recently, you might think:

  • 今夜やっとリラックスができるといいな
    konnya yatto rirrakusu ga dekiru to ii na.
    I hope that I can finally relax tonight.

When you use といい (to ii), the preceding word has to be a verb that’s in plain form. It can’t be a verb in the ます (masu) form. For instance, say you’re hoping that it won’t’ rain tomorrow:

  • 明日雨が降らないといいな
    ashita ame ga furanai to ii na.
    I hope that it won’t rain tomorrow.

The verb can be negative or affirmative, as in the case here with 降らない (furanai).

Understanding と (to) and いい (ii). 

と (to) is one of the four ways to say “if” in Japanese. It is the conditional way to say “if” meaning that the result of the condition is definite. Put simply, when と (to) is used, it’s saying that if Y happens, X will absolutely, definitely happen as a consequence. As an example:

  • いっぱい食べる太るよ
    ippai taberu to futoru yo.
    You’ll get fat if you eat a lot.

With this in mind, let’s go back to our previous example.

  • 明日雨が降らないといいな
    ashita ame ga furanai to ii na.
    I hope that it won’t rain tomorrow.

We can understand that this と (to) means a definitive “if”. 

And if we know that いい (ii) means “good” in Japanese, we can understand that this expression is another way to say “It would be good if…” in Japanese. As a complete phrase, “It would be good if it didn’t rain tomorrow”.

といい(to ii na) VS といいね (to ii ne)

I Hope That... in Japanese

You can use といい (to ii) to express your hope that something will pan a certain way. To finish up the expression, you need to attach one of two endings, な (na) or ね (ne).

When you say といいな (to ii na) you’re directing the hope to benefit yourself. Whereas when you say といいね (to ii ne) you’re instead sending your hope to another person.

For instance, if you were to say the following phrase with な (na), it’ll read like this.

  • 今夜よく寝られるといい
    konya yoku nerareru to ii na.
    I hope that I can sleep well.

On the other hand, if ね (ne) is used instead…

  • 今夜よく寝られるといい
    konya yoku nerareru to ii ne.
    I hope that you can sleep well.

With ね (ne) you’re expressing your hope for the benefit of someone else. 

I Hope So… in Japanese

  • I hope so.
    そうだといいな。
    sou da to ii na.

When someone expresses their hope that something pans out in your favour, you can respond in agreement with そうだといいな (sou da to ii na). 

Let’s say you’ve been really looking forward to playing that new Zelda game, but you’ve recently been super busy with no time at all! The weekend finally arrives and your friend says to you:

  • 今週末ゼルダをやる時間があるといいね!
    konnshuumatsu zeruda wo yaru jikan ga aru to ii ne!
    I hope you have time to play Zelda this weekend!

Not being too optimistic, you respond;

  • そうだといいな
    sou da to ii na!
    I hope so!

In the そうだといいな (sou da to ii na) expression, the といいな (to ii na) element returns (explained above), only this time it’s attached to the end of そうだ (souda).

そうだ (souda) means “that is so” in Japanese. Now that we understand the functions of といいな (to ii na), we can understand the literal meaning of this phrase as “that would be good if that is so”. 

I Hope You Feel Better

I Hope You Feel Better Japanese

  • I hope you feel better.
    お大事に。
    odaijini.

When someone is sick or unwell, it’s natural to want to wish them a speedy recovery. There are two main ways we can say to someone “I hope you feel better” in Japanese.

The first is by using といい (to ii), explained above, to say it directly. 

  • 早くよくなるといいね
    hayaku yoku naru to ii ne!
    I hope you can get well soon!

The second way to wish someone to get well soon is to use お大事に (odaiji ni). By using お大事に (odaiji ni), you express your hope that someone will feel better.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that someone has caught a cold. You may say:

  • 風邪ひったね。お大事に。
    kaze hitta ne. o daiji ni.
    You’ve caught a cold, haven’t you. I hope you feel better.

You can also use お大事に (odaiji ni) to say something similar to “bless you” in Japanese. It’s not really a thing to say “bless you” to one another in Japan… However,  due to my influence, some of my Japanese friends have recently picked up the habit of saying お大事に (odaiji ni) after someone sneezes.

I Hope You Have a Good Day

You may find that you want to wish someone in having a good day in Japanese. We do it all the time in English, often as a parting phrase. Because saying “I hope” in Japanese is mostly associated with praying, or making a wish really hard, finding a suitable expression for “I hope you have a good day” in Japanese can seem quite the challenge.

I have however tailored an ultimate guide that discusses the best ways to say “I hope you have a good day” in Japanese. Surprisingly, there are many ways you can express it, so much that I had to compose a separate guide on the topic. Take a look!

I Wish/I Request in Japanese

  • Please/I wish.
    お願いします。
    onegai shimasu.

When talking about our hopes, it often overlaps with our wishes towards something. You may already know ください (kudasai), a formal way to say please in Japanese.

The formal お願いします (onegai shimasu), or casually, お願い (onegai), is another way to say “please” in Japanese.  By itself, お願いします (onegai shimasu) is a complete sentence.  Unlike ください (kudasai), you can simply use お願いします (onegai shimasu) on its own when you want to say “yes please” in Japanese. It can also be used as part of a longer sentence. 

For instance, say you walk into a cafe and order a cookie. You’re asked what you would like. Your reply:

  • 一つお願いします。
    hitotsu onegai shimasu.
    One, please.

Although お願いします (onegai shimasu) is best understood as please, there are other nuances conveyed here. 

When we take a look at the kanji, the meaning becomes clear.

願, the kanji in お願いします (onegai shimasu), means: request, wish or hope. This means, that whenever you use お願いします (onegai shimasu), you’re actually saying “I wish”. In the previous example with the cookies, instead of “one, please,” another meaning could be interpreted as “I wish for one”.

お願いします (onegai shimasu) is not used to express any wish though. You use it when you want to express your wish as a request. 

What’s really cool is that the casual variant, simply お願い (onegai), can also convey nuances of begging.

Say for instance you and your partner are getting cheeky, and are tickling each other. You’ve found their weak point and they can’t stop laughing. It’s really ticklish, so you don’t stop. In Japanese, they may tell you:

  • お願いだからやめて!
    onegai dakara yamete!
    I’m begging you, so please stop!

it was too much for them! I explore other ways to say Stop in Japanese in this ultimate guide.

Hope/Chance

  • Hope/Chance/Possibility.
    見込み。
    mikomi.

Sometimes when we talk about hope, we’re referring to the chance or possibility of something happening. This can be referring to either a negative or positive thing. Say for instance you take your pet dog to the vet because they’re not feeling well. You might ask them:

  • すぐよくなる見込みはありませんか
    Sugu yokunaru mikomi ha arimasenka?
    Is there any hope/chance that they’ll get better soon?

Hopefully, they’ll get better soon!

Other scenarios could include one where you have an unreliable (but good) friend. Every time you and they make plans to hang out, they are either late or don’t show up at all. To express your insecurity about if they are really going to show up this time or not, you could say:

  • 彼が本当に来る見込みはありますか
    kare ga hontouni kuru mikomi ha arimasuka?
    Is there any hope/chance of him actually coming?

So, we can use 見込み (mikomi) to express a statement or question about something that may or may not happen.

Ambition/Hope in Japanese

Ambition

  • Ambition/Hope
    抱負。
    houfu.

Another way we often use the word “hope” is when we talk about our hope in regards to what we want to do with our life. This is mainly in the form of aspiration or ambition. Perhaps you have a dream, something you’ve always wanted to do, or become.

We could just use the word 夢 (yume), which means dream in Japanese. However, ambition is a kind of hope that has a certain kind of determination to be felt along with it.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be an idol, it is your hope, your ambition to become one. You can express this with 抱負 (houfu). For instance:

  • 私の抱負はアイドルになることだ。
    watashi no houfu ha aidoru ni naru kotoda.
    It is my ambition to become an idol.

Feels like a stronger hope right? One that can become reality with enough dedication.

Talking about your ambition (depending on what it is of course) could also be a great thing to do in an interview. During interview situations, you’ll want to use です (desu), instead of だ (da).

Surely… (Strong Hope)

Surely!

  • Surely.
    きっと。
    kitto.

If you’re confident about how something will pan out, or perhaps you want to invoke that confidence in another person, you can use きっと (kitto). Although きっと (kitto) does not explicitly mean “hope” in Japanese, you can use it to convey something a little stronger, or a little more certain. 

For instance, imagine a friend is really worried about their examination results that are due soon. Simply saying “I hope it goes well for you” will probably not make them feel much better. In fact, sometimes, it could even do the opposite and make them feel more uncertain.

That’s why, during this kind of situation, we may wish to send some positive energy in our friend’s direction. We can instead say something like:

  • きっと大丈夫だよ!
    kitto daijoubu da yo!
    I’m sure it’ll be okay!

You could even send an even stronger level of hope their way and say:

  • 絶対に大丈夫だよ!
    zettaini daijoubu dayo!
    It’ll definitely be okay!

The word 絶対に (zettai ni) means “definitely” in Japanese, and you can use it exactly the same way as you would in English. 

Hopeful/Optimistic in Japanese

  • Hopeful.
    楽観的。
    rakkanteki.

So after we’ve expressed to our friend that they surely have passed the exam, we may come across as optimistic, or hopeful. We could describe ourselves like this:

  • 私は結構楽観的な人だよ!
    watashi ha kekkou rakkanteki na hito dayo!
    I’m quite an optimistic person!

When describing a noun, we always need to attach な (na) to the end of 楽観的 (rakkanteki), making it 楽観的な (rakkan teki na).

The kanji for 楽観的 (rakkan teki) is quite interesting. The first kanji, 楽 is one you’ve probably seen in 楽しい (tanoshii), meaning “fun”. However, it can also mean “comfort” or “ease.” The second kanji 観 means “outlook” or “view”. 

So quite literally we can understand 楽観 (rakkan) as a “comfortable outlook.” A pretty good word to describe someone who is hopeful in Japanese I think!

When we want to say how we feel about something, we can attach する (suru) to 楽観 (rakkan). する (suru) is the verb for “do” in Japanese. When there are two kanji compounds together like 楽観 (rakkan), nine times out of ten you can attach する (suru) to it to make it a verb.

This enables us to say things like:

  • 未来のことをかなり楽観する!
    mirai no koto wo kanari rakkan suru!
    I feel hopeful about the future!

Very optimistic!

Despair – Opposite of Hope

  • Despair.
    絶望。
    zetsubou.

With all this hope and optimism, we might need some ultimate despair to finish off the guide. The opposite of 希望 (kibou) is 絶望 (zetsubou), which quite literally means “despair” or “hopeless” in Japanese.

You may have noticed that 希望 (kibou) and 絶望 (zetsubou) share the same kanji, at least in the ending. We’ve established that 望 means “hope” or “ambition” in Japanese. 

The other kanji, , which appears first in 絶望 (zetsubou) means: discontinue, disrupt, suppress, or cut off. This means that we can understand the literal translation of 絶望 (zetsubou) as “suppress hope” or “discontinue hope”.

You can use 絶望 (zetsubou) to describe really grim or dire situations, such as war. 

  • 絶望に満ちた戦況だった。
    zetsubou ni michita senkyou datta.
    It was a war full of despair.

I Hope You Find Something Useful

  • I hope you find some useful information here.
    ここで役に立つ情報が見つけられるといいな。
    koko de yaku ni tatsu jouhou ga mitsukerareru to iina.

That concludes today’s guide, I hope you found it useful and enjoyable. There are a plethora of ways you can say and express all different kinds of hope in Japanese, despite it seeming not that way at first.

If you’re interested in more ultimate How-To Japanese guides, check out our page!

Fancy learning Japanese with some free eLearning Reading Practice PDFs? Have a look at my newly developed resource!

If you like The Legend of Zelda, come and say hello and quest with me!

I Don't Know in Japanese

How to say I Don’t Know in Japanese

There could be numerous reasons as to why you might want to say “I don’t know” in Japanese. Especially early on when you’re still a beginner. Being able to tell someone through speech that you don’t understand what they’re saying can save you from a lot of awkward body language.

You’d think that many simple expressions in English would translate fluidly over to Japanese. However, there are many English words and expressions that do not have an exact equivalent in Japanese. Figuring out the most suitable Japanese translation for what you want to say can sometimes be a hassle. Like when you want to say “good luck” to someone in Japanese for example.

Luckily though, when you want to say “I don’t know” in Japanese, it isn’t that complex! There are two main ways you express your lack of knowledge in something in Japanese. These are  知らない (shiranai) and わからない (wakaranai).

In This Ultimate Guide, I break down the meaning of わからない (wakaranai), 知らない (shiranai) and discuss the differences between them. No longer will you lack a verbal response when you have no idea about something in Japanese. Instead, if you’re lucky, you might even get a 日本語上手 (nihongo jouzu) come your way!

This guide is tailored for beginners and advanced learners alike and goes beyond the bounds of just how to say “I don’t know” in Japanese. I also cover related expressions such as “I have no clue” or “I don’t get it” in Japanese. No matter the situation, formal or casual, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge of the most suitable way on how to say “I don’t know” in Japanese!

Let’s begin!

I Don’t Know in Japanese

  • I Don’t Know.
    知らない。
    shiranai.

In most contexts, when you have no clue about something, the best expression (and safest) you can use 知らない (shiranai).

知らない (shiranai) is the negative form of the verb 知る (shiru), which means “to know” in Japanese. Interestingly, the kanji, 知, which is used in both verbs means “wisdom” or “knowledge” in Japanese.

Therefore when you say 知らない (shiranai) in Japanese, you’re saying that you don’t have the wisdom or knowledge about something. 知らない (shiranai) is a very general way to say “I don’t know” in Japanese, and you can even use it in regards to people.

For instance:

  • その人をあまり知らない。
    sono hito wo amari shiranai.
    I don’t really know that person.

That person could be anyone. When you say it like this, you’re saying you have minimal knowledge of the person, their personality etc.

An interesting use of 知らない (shiranai) can occur during arguments. Say someone you’re engaged in conversation with is doing something you’d never thought they would do. To express your extreme shock, you could say:

  • あなたをもう知らない!
    anata wo mou shiranai!
    I’ve no idea who you are anymore!

You can also use it in regards to objects and other things. Say I were to ask you if you know what The Legend of Zelda is for example…

  • それをらない。
    sore wo shiranai.
    I don’t know what that is.

Essentially, when you don’t have any awareness or knowledge of a topic or thing, you can use 知らない (shiranai) to express it.

A quick thing about “I” and “you” in Japanese… pronouns in Japanese are very frequently omitted when the context is clear. Hence you’ll see them absent in the Japanese translations too.

I Don’t Know in Polite Japanese

As Japanese is a polite language that uses honorifics (keigo), you may need to conjugate 知らない (shiranai) to the polite form depending on the situation.

The polite form is a style of speech that is reserved for situations when you need to speak respectfully. These include, but are not limited to, conversations with your manager, teacher or strangers.

In the polite form, 知らない (shiranai) becomes 知りません (shirimasen). You can use it the same way as you would use 知らない (shiranai) when you want to express a lack of knowledge on a topic.

  • 今日は給料日ですか?知りませんでした!
    kyou ha kyuuryouhi desu ka? shirimasen deshita!
    Today is payday? I didn’t know!

In this example, you’re telling the person that you had no information on the fact that it’s payday.

I Don’t Understand in Japanese

  • I Don’t Understand.
    わからない。
    wakaranai.

わからない (wakaranai) is the second of the two most common expressions to say “I don’t know” in Japanese. Rather than just “I don’t know”, when you use わからない (wakaranai), the meaning is closer to “I don’t understand.”

Consequently, わからない (wakaranai) is reserved for mostly intellectual or emotional matters. When you say わからない (wakaranai) you’re saying that you tried to understand something, but were unable to so you don’t know.

  • あなたが言ってることわからない。
    anata ga itteru koto wakaranai.
    I don’t know what you’re saying.

Or, you can say:

  • 日本語がわからない。
    nihongo ga wakaranai.
    I don’t know/understand Japanese.

In both of these examples, the speaker is saying they don’t know something, but in the context of not being able to understand. Because they don’t understand, despite their efforts they just don’t know.

わからない (wakaranai), and the affirmative form わかる (wakaru), meaning to “understand” in Japanese has a nuance of the trying to relate to the speaker and their words/feelings.

During situations when you’ve tried to understand and establish a deeper connection to a person’s feelings, but are unable to, you can use わからない (wakaranai). Alternatively, if you do understand you can use わかる (wakaru), of course.

  • 気持ちいわかる。
    kimochi wakaru.
    I understand/know how you feel.

Difference Between わからない (wakaranai) & 知らない (shiranai)

Let’s summarise the differences between わからない (wakaranai) and 知らない (shiranai).

知らない (shiranai) is purely informational. When you have not heard/seen or read about a certain topic, you can use 知らない (shiranai). It’s indicative of a lack of superficial information about something. Therefore, when you say 知らない (shiranai), you’re saying that you do not possess information or knowledge on a topic.

Whereas わからない (wakaranai) shows that you tried to understand something but were unable to. Using わからない (wakaranai) invokes a deeper meaning and has a nuance that you tried to relate and connect to the other person. 

There is an exception to these rules, and I think it’s worth pointing out so you don’t accidentally say the wrong thing to someone.

If someone were to ask you, “hey is the bus stop around here?” for instance… Based on the explanations I shared above, you might think to say 知らない (shiranai). This is not necessarily wrong, it’s grammatically correct actually. But I think native Japanese speakers would prefer using わからない (wakaranai), or rather, the polite わかりません (wakarimasen) if speaking with a stranger. 

This is because わからない (wakaranai) conveys a much softer “no, I don’t know” rather than 知らない (shiranai). Simply saying 知らない (shiranai) can come across as somewhat cold. In this situation, although the speaker is asking for information from you, saying 知らない (shiranai) comes across as a blunt “No, I don’t know, why would I?” kind of answer.

Instead, using わからない (wakaranai) acts as a much gentler negation that conveys something along the lines of “I’m not too sure, I’m not very acquainted with this area” kind of thing.

This is similar to how the Japanese avoid saying “no” directly to things. It’s in the culture to be polite about your response to save the other persons face.

I Don’t Know At All in Japanese

I Don't Know at All in Japanese

 

  • I have no clue.
    知らん。
    shiran.

During situations when you have absolutely no knowledge of an informational topic, you can say 知らん (shiran).

知らん (shiran) is a shortened version of 知らない (shiranai), meaning that it’s a very casual way of saying “I don’t know” in Japanese. They both can be used in the same contexts – those where you have no awareness or knowledge of.

The expression 知らん (shiran) also falls into the Kansai dialect, meaning that it is most frequently used around Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara regions.

  • 実はその有名人がだれか知らん。
    jitsu ha sono yuumei jin ga dare ka shiran.
    Actually, I’ve no clue who that famous person is.

Probably more so than the full-length version, with 知らん (shiran) you can really emphasise you’re completely void of information about something. To emphasise this even further you could say:

  • 何も知らん。
    nani mo shiran.
    I know nothing.

知らん (shiran) is also considered to be Japanese slang, so you really want to avoid using it during situations where you want to show respect.

I Don’t Get it in Japanese

  • I don’t get it
    わからん。
    wakaran.

Similar to the relationship between 知らん (shiran) and 知らない (shiranai), わからん (wakaran) is the shortened version of わからない (wakaranai). Being a shortened version, it is considered to be Japanese slang.

So why would you use わからん (wakaran) over わからない (wakaranai)? They both convey the same meaning of “I don’t understand” in casual Japanese, so what’s the difference?

Well, apart from the former being slang, when you say わからない (wakaranai), you’re essentially saying that you’ve tried to understand (the topic) but were unable to. As a result, you don’t know.

わからん (wakaran) is also indicative of the very same thing, however, it has a bit of the finality of “it’s impossible to understand” to it.

For instance, say you’ve just started taking coding classes. You look at a huge page of Javascript, and your friend does their best to explain it to you. This is your response:

  • 何これ?わからん。
    nani kore? wakaran.
    What is this? I don’t get it.

When you say わからん (wakaran), you’re really placing emphasis on the fact you don’t get it.

I Don’t Understand Well in Japanese

  • I don’t understand well.
    よくわからない。
    yoku wakaranai.

At times when you are unable to understand something very well, you can use わからない.

The first part よく (yoku), meaning “well” in Japanese. Following after is わからない (wakaranai), which we’ve already looked at above, means “don’t understand”. Consequently, the literal meaning of わからない is “I don’t understand well.”

In particular, this could mean that you were unable to relate to a piece of content, whether that be because you don’t have the same experience, or because it just doesn’t resonate with you. Whichever the reason, you just don’t understand what the thing/person is trying to say.

Perhaps you still couldn’t understand something despite the person sharing their opinion and/or trying to explain something to you. When your understanding is not adequate enough on something, you can use よくわからない (yoku wakaranai). For instance, say you’ve bought a new book.

  • この本はかなりずかしくて、何度読んでもよくわからない。
    kono hon ha kanari muzukashikute nando yondemo yoku wakaranai.
    This book is quite complex, I don’t understand it no matter how many times I read it.

By expressing that you don’t understand something well through よくわからない (yoku wakaranai), it implies that you have tried to understand, but alas to no avail.

I Don’t Really Understand in Japanese

I Don't Really Understand in Japanese

  • I don’t really understand.
    あまりわからない。
    amari wakarnai.

When you have a very limited understanding of something, you can say あまりわからない (amari wakaranai).

The main nuance with あまりわからない (amari wakaranai) is that it implies that there is an absence of a considerable understanding.

What this means is that when you say あまりわからない (amari wakaranai) to someone, you’re telling them that you only understand a little or very minimal. 

It does not mean that you are completely clueless, but rather your knowledge of something is not enough for you to be able to say you understand.  For instance when you say:

  • 日本語を1年しか勉強しなかったので、あまりわからない。
    nihongo wo ichi nen shika benkyou shinakattta node, amari wakaranai
    I’ve only studied Japanese for a year, so I’m not really able to understand it.

This sentence could also mean the same as: “I’ve only studied Japanese for a year, so I only understand a little”.

Saying あまりわからない (amari wakaranai) is the same as saying you only possess minimal knowledge on something. 

However, because あまり (amari) is used here, there is an emphasis placed on “not really” being able to understand something. This is because あまり (amari) in Japanese is used to express when something is not much. As an example:

  • あまり甘いものを食べない。
    amari amaimono wo tabenai.
    I don’t really eat many sweets.

A perfect response to this might be to express your shock in the form of a “no way!

I Have Absolutely No Idea in Japanese

  • I Have Absolutely No Idea.
    全然わからない。
    zenzen wakaranai.

As an alternative to the slangy わからん (wakaran), you can also use 全然わからない when you’re completely at a loss.

全然わからない (zenzen wakaranai), is probably the most powerful way to convey an “I have absolutely no idea” or “I absolutely don’t understand” in Japanese. Hence, when you say 全然わからない, you’re saying that you have tried to understand something, but are utterly clueless on it.

For instance, if you completely don’t understand this guide, you could tell me:

  • あなたが言ってることを全然わからない。
    anata ga itteru koto wo zenzen wakaranai.
    I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

I hope that’s not the case, but all feedback is greatly welcomed and appreciated!

The increased emphasis of “absolutely” on this expression comes from 全然 (zenzen).

全然 (zenzen) is used in conjunction with a negative verb to convey the nuance of “not at all,” or “not in the slightest”. So when used together with わからない (wakaranai), it essentially means “I don’t understand at all” in Japanese.

You could even attach 全然 (zenzen) to the beginning of all of the expressions we’ve looked at so far to emphasise them.

Who Knows in Casual Japanese

Who Knows in Japanese

  • Who Knows.
    さあ。
    saa.

We often use filler words in English to fill those pauses in our speech, and Japanese is the same. Actually, さあ (saa) has a number of different meanings, and can also be used as a filler word. However, in this case, we’re going to look at how it can be used to say “who knows” in Japanese.

When you’ve been asked a question on something that you don’t know the answer to, you can reply with さあ (saa). By replying with さあ (saa), you convey the nuance of “who knows” in Japanese.

Just like how when we say “who knows” in English, we’re kind of shrugging off our opinion or knowledge on the matter, the same concept applies here in Japanese. This means that さあ (saa) is a very casual way to say “I don’t know” in Japanese with a nuance of “I’m not really bothered” kind of thing. Let’s look at a quick example conversation. Imagine a detective asking a suspect where the money is.

  • 金はどこだ?
    kane ha doko da?
    Where is the money?

To which they reply:

  • さあ…
    saa…
    Who Knows…

When さあ (saa) in a “who knows” context, it is said somewhat hesitantly with a dragged at “aah” sound. Ever seen the Harry Potter YouTube video meme with everyone shouting out Wingardium Leviosaaa… Yeah, that “sa” is the exact same. Albeit maybe not that exaggerated, but it’s certainly very similar!

I Don’t Get You in Japanese

  • I don’t get you.
    理解できない。
    rikai dekinai.

When you want to express to someone that you strongly can’t understand something in Japanese, you can say 理解できない (rikai dekinai). The word “strongly” here refers to how much you can’t comprehend/relate to that something.

It is a very powerful expression that expresses your incapability to understand or feel the same thing as the other person. Because of this, you can use 理解できない (rikai dekinai) to say things like “I don’t get you” or “I can’t understand you.”

  • 彼を理解できない。
    kare wo rikai dekinai.
    I don’t get him/ I can’t understand him.

理解できない (rikai dekinai) also uses the verb できない (dekinai) which means “can’t” in Japanese. Therefore, rather than simply meaning “I don’t understand you”, 理解できない (rikai dekinai) heavily emphasises an inability to understand the person.

Saying 理解できない (rikai dekinai) to someone can come across much more personal than simply saying わからない (wakaranai).

I Don’t Know What I Should Do in Japanese

I Don't Know What To Do in Japanese

  • I don’t know what I should do.
    どうすればいい。
    dou sureba ii.

Sometimes, when we say “I don’t know”, we want to express our concern about what to do about it a little more. We all reach times in our life when we’re not too sure what the best course of action is.

During these times, it might be best to consult a friend or family member to find an answer. When you say どうすればいい (dousureba ii) to someone, you’re conveying two things.

  1. You’re saying: I don’t know what I should do.
  2. You’re asking: What do you think I should do?

どうすればいい (dousureba ii) can be both a statement about the fact you don’t know what to do, as well as an equiry for advice. This is because of the entities in the expression. The すれば (sureba) part of the expression is one of the four ways of saying “if” in Japanese. In this case, it is the hypothetical “if”.

Secondly the いい (ii) part means “good” in Japanese. Combining this with どう (dou) which can mean “how” or “what” we have a phrase that translates to something like  “What would be good if I did it?”

Let’s take a look at an example. Perhaps you’ve landed yourself a job you’ve wanted. Congrats! But you also have the opportunity to go and study abroad for a year. You’re puzzled about what to do, so you might ask/say:

  • どうすればいいのかわからない。
    dou sureba ii no ka wakaranai.
    I’m at a loss about what to do.

The のかわからない (no ka wakaranai) part is optional, but by saying it, you emphasise that you’re really stuck.

To really tell someone you’re completely clueless about what to do you could also say:

  • 一体どうすればいい?
    ittai dou sureba ii?
    I’m at a loss about what to do.

I Don’t Know What I Should Do in Formal Japanese

To say “I don’t know what to do” in Japanese formally, simply attach ですか (desuka) to the end of the expression.

  • どうすればいいですか。
    dou sureba ii desuka.
    What should I do? (I don’t know).

By attaching ですか (desuka), the question element of the expression is more direct. This is because ですか (desuka) is used to make questions in Japanese.

You can also achieve the same thing when using this phrase casually by phrasing it like a question when you say it.

I’m Not Sure in Japanese

  • I’m not sure.
    どうかな。
    dou kana.

When we’re not confident about something, in English we often say things like “I’m not too sure”, or  “I wonder”. In Japanese, we can say どうかな (dou kana) to express that same uncertainty.

Perhaps your friends are asking if you can make it to the party, or maybe you’re wondering if it’ll rain tomorrow.

When you’re questioning the legitimacy, truth or possibility of something happening, you can say どうかな (dou kana). You can also use どうかな (dou kana) to say no in indirectly in Japanese to turn down an invitation for instance.

There are two ways you can use this expression. The first is when you want to say “I’m not sure” as a general response. The second is when you want to say you’re not sure about something specifically.

An example of using どうかな (dou kana) as a general response could be when someone asks you if you’re coming to the party later. You’re not so keen so you simply reply with どうかな (dou kana), meaning “I’m not sure.”

You may have also heard どうかしら (dou kashira). The main difference between the two is that どうかしら (dou kashira) is considered to be a feminine style of speech, where as どうかな (dou kana) is more general. Other than that, they mean the same thing!

  • どうかしら.
    dou kashira.
    I wonder (feminine).

I Wonder If… in Japanese

When you want to express that you’re not sure about something specific, firstly we want to drop the どう (dou) part and keep かな (kana).

This is because かな (kana) is a sentence ending particle that transforms any sentence it’s attached to into an “I’m not sure if…” expression.

Let’s take a look at an example! Say if someone asks you if you think it’s going to rain tomorrow. You can say:

  • 明日雨が降るかな.
    ashita ame ga furu kana.
    I wonder if it’ll rain tomorrow.

かな (kana) is a very flexible particle that can be attached to the end of most sentences to convey an “I wonder”.

  • 彼女は本当に大丈夫かな.
    kanojo ha hontouni daijobu kana.
    I wonder if she is really okay.

As かな (kana) is actually a particle, it is rarely used on its own. The only time you might use it on its own is after a pause in your speech.

  • 試験に合格した…かな。
    shiken ni goukaku shita… kana
    I wonder if… I passed the exam.

When you say it with a pause like this, your uncertainty in regards to the topic may be emphasised.

I Know in Japanese

I Know in Japanese

  • I know.
    知ってる。
    shitteru.

With all of these different ways to express that you don’t know or don’t understand something, what about when you’re on the other side of the spectrum.

That being said, when you want to say “I know” in Japanese, the most general expression is 知ってる (shitteru). You may recall from the first entry of this guide that the affirmative way to say “I know” in Japanese is the verb 知る (shiru). However, to say it naturally, we first have to conjugate 知る (shiru) into te-form. When we do, it becomes 知ってる (shitteru).

The reason we have to use 知ってる (shitteru) over 知る (shiru) is because 知ってる (shitteru) is the progressive form of 知る (shiru). This is because, when we know something, it’s a continuous thing. We don’t just know something for an instant and then forget. When we say that we know something, we’re saying that we have (and will continue to have) knowledge or information on a topic.

When we say 知ってる (shitteru) we’re saying that we possess information on the topic at hand. We can also phrase it like a question.

  • 彼が来るかどうか知ってる?
    kara ga kuru kadouka shitteru?
    Do you know if he’s coming or not?

To say “I know” formally in Japanese, use 知っています (shitteimasu).

What If I Don’t Know How To Study More Japanese!

  • どうやってもっと日本語の勉強ができるかわからない!
    douyatte motto nihongo no benkyou ga dekiruka wakaranai!
    I don’t know how to study more Japanese!

This brings us to the end of this ultimate guide on how to say “I don’t know” in Japanese. If you have any questions about anything covered/not covered here feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message!

Why not have a glance at my resources on how to say various Japanese expressions in the form of ultimate guides!

I have also launched a new resource – Interactive Japanese eLearning PDFs. They’re reading practices free for you to use.

If you like The Legend of Zelda + Japanese, come and quest with me!

I hope you found this guide to be an enjoyable and helpful read!

Come Here Main Image

How to say Come Here in Japanese

Saying Come Here in Japanese is surprisingly not as complex as some of the other expressions we’ve looked at. The components are mostly the same for the majority of the ways that you say Come Here in Japanese.

When we say Come Here in any language, it’s often a request on our part. However, depending on the context, there may also be situations where you want to almost order someone to come to you. These scenarios could be when a parent tells their child to “get here this instant,” or something similar for instance.

Japanese is a polite language with different levels of honorifics that change the style of speech, sometimes quite drastically. Therefore, there are considerable more ways to say “come here” in Japanese, than in English.

As such, in this ultimate guide, I also list and explain ways you can say Come Here in Japanese in a variety of contexts and situations. Each expression entry is accompanied by a native pronunciation audio recording, detailed explanations and examples. Any questions at all, feel free to leave a comment below!

Now, it’s time to save you the hassle of having to awkwardly physically grab your Japanese friends by the shoulder when you want to show them something awesome. Let’s take a look at how we can ask them to come to you via speech! Incredible stuff.

Come Here in Japanese

  • Come here.
    ここに来て。
    koko ni kite.

During any situation where you want to ask your friend to come to you for whatever reason, you can use ここに来て (koko ni kite). Perhaps you want to call them over to you so that you can show them something, or maybe you need some help.

You can use ここに来て (koko ni kite) for any kind of scenario you find yourself in. Let’s use the scenario where you’re out shopping with a friend, and you see something you want to show them. You can say:

  • みて!ここに来て!
    mite! koko ni kite!
    Look at this! Come here!

You can use ここに来て (koko ni kite) by itself here. The みて (mite) is completely optional. This is a great expression that you can use to get someones attention quickly. Say you saw an incoming car, you could call them away from danger.

  • 危ないよ!ここに来て!
    abunaiyo! koko ni kite!
    Be careful! Come here!

Understanding the Components

The first part of ここに来て (koko ni kite) is ここ (koko). ここ (koko) literally means “here” in Japanese. It is pretty much always written in hiragana, and I’m sure you’ll hear it being used a lot!

The next part is に (ni), which is a Japanese grammar particle that is typically used to indicate a specific point in time, or place. In this case, the に (ni) works a little like how “to” does in English. Think of it like the “to” in the sentence “come to here”.

Lastly, the main verb of the sentence, 来て(kite). 来て(kite) is the te-form of the verb 来る (kuru) which means “to come”. The Japanese te-form has many uses, but in this case, the te-form turns the verb into a request.

With that said, combining all three components we have ここに来て (koko ni kite), an expression you can use to request someone to come to you.

The expression ここに来て (koko ni kite) is a casual one, so it’s best used between friends and those you are close with. You wouldn’t want to say ここに来て (koko ni kite) to ask your manager, or a stranger to come to you for instance.

I Want You to Come Here

I Want You To Come Here

  • I want you to come here.
    ここに来てほしい。
    koko ni kite hoshii.

There might be times when you want to express your want for someone to come to your location. When we express to someone that we want them to come to us in English, there is still an essence of “come here” felt when we do.

The same connotations apply when you say “I want you to come here” in Japanese. To say “I want you to come here” in Japanese you can use ここに来てほしい (koko ni kite hoshii). Use this when want to call someone over to show them something, or when you miss them.

For example, imagine you haven’t seen your partner for a while, you express how much you’re looking forward to seeing them:

  • 早くここに来てほしい!すごく会いたい!
    hayaku koko ni kite ! sugoku aitai!
    I want you to hurry and come here! I can’t wait to see you!

You may have noticed that there are no pronouns in the Japanese version. There is no mention of “you” or “I”. This is because pronouns are often omitted in Japanese conversation where the context is understood by both parties.

As we discussed in the first entry, ここに来て (koko ni kite) means “come here” in Japanese. Simply attaching ほしい (hoshii) to ここに来て (koko ni kite) transforms the meaning to “I want you to come here” in Japanese.

Actually, by changing any Japanese verb into the te-form and attaching ほしい (hoshii), you can say that you want someone to do anything in Japanese.

For instance, the verb for “go” in Japanese is 行く (iku). In te-form it is 行って (itte). Simply saying 行って (itte), is a way of requesting or asking someone to “go” in Japanese.

Attach ほしい (hoshii), and you have 行ってほしい (ittehoshii), meaning “I want you to go” in Japanese.

“I Want” vs “I Want You To” – てほしい (tehoshii) vs たい (tai) in Japanese

Sometimes it’s easy to get confused between two Japanese grammar points たい (tai) and てほしい (te hoshii).

  • たい (tai) is used when you want to say that you want to do something in Japanese.
  • てほしい (te hoshii) is used when you want to say that you want someone to do something.

As an example:

  • パーティーに来てほしい。
    pa-tei- ni kite hoshii.
    I want you to come to the party.

VS

  • パーティーに行きたい。
    pa-tei- ni ikitai.
    I want to go to the party.

てほしい (te hoshii) is a Japanese N4 grammar point, so for those of you who would like to study it more in-depth, I recommend this site.

Please Come Here in Japanese

  • Please come here.
    ここに来てください。
    koko ni kite kudasai.

There may be situations where you want to kindly or politely ask someone to come to you in Japanese.  During these scenarios, such as when you’re speaking with a manager or a stranger, for instance, you can use ここに来てください (koko ni kite kudasai).

We’ve already established that ここに来て (koko ni kite) means “come here” in Japanese. Simply by attaching ください (kudasai), we can say “come here please” in Japanese! As ください (kudasai) is also the formal way to say “please” in Japanese, we don’t have to worry about formalities here.

It’s important to note though, that attaching ください (kudasai) to the expression turns it into more of a demand, rather than a request. It’s not necessarily considered to be a rude demand however, it depends on how you say it. You also still are asking someone to come to you, it’s just the demand element is stronger in ここに来てください (koko ni kite kudasai).

You could imagine a manager calling you over to see them.

  • すみません [name]、ここに来てください。
    sumimasen [name], koko ni kitekudasai.
    Excuse me [name], come here, please.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m called over like that, I start panicking and start thinking about what I could have done wrong.

It’s not always a bad sign though, ここに来てください (koko ni kite kudasai) is often used when the speaker is serious about something.

Come!

Come Here in Japanese

  • Come (here).
    来て。
    kite.

As we mentioned before, the Japanese language loves to omit all kinds of things – pronouns, topic markers, and even grammar particles!

During conversations where it is already understood between both parties what is being referred to, and to whom, you can omit parts of the sentence.

ここに来て (koko ni kite) means “come here” in Japanese. When the context is understood by both the speaker and listener, 来て (kite) also means “come here” in Japanese.

So if you were to say 来て (kite) to someone, they will know exactly that you’re asking them to come to you, without you even being specific! It’s completely natural to say this too.

Heck, you could even chain them together! Say a friend who you haven’t seen for a while is coming to visit. You could express your overwhelming excitement:

  • 来て来て来て!
    kite kite kite!
    Come (here), come (here), come (here)!

We know that 来て (kite) is the te-form of the verb 来る (kuru), to come in Japanese. And, one of the functions of the te-form is to turn verbs into a request. That’s why when you say 来て (kite), you are requesting the person to come to you.

It’s also worth noting that this is a very casual way to say come here in Japanese. Therefore, outside of friends and family, you’re best off using ここに来てください (koko ni kite kudasai).

Could You Come Here For Me? in Japanese

  • Could you come here for me?
    ここに来てくれる?
    koko ni kite kureru?

One of the ultimate ways to ask someone to do something for you (casually) in Japanese, is to use くれる (kureru). We can understand くれる (kureru) as “for me” in English, but there’s a little more to it than that. くれる (kureru) also has a hint of “especially for me” kind of connotation attached to it.

This means that when we say ここに来てくれる?(koko ni kite kureru) in Japanese, we’re requesting if someone could do something, (almost) especially for us.

With ここに来てくれる?(koko ni kite kureru) you can ask someone if they could kindly do you a favour by coming to you in Japanese.

Perhaps your partner is struggling with a task at home, they might ask you:

  • ちょっとここに来てくれる?
    chotto koko ni kite kureru?
    Could you come here (for me) for a moment?

Or perhaps a nervous friend has asked you if you could accompany them to a job interview on the weekend. You said that you’re not sure if you can make it, but on the day you surprise them by turning up at their house so you can go together. They might say this to you:

  • 来てくれてありがとう!
    kite kurete arigatou!
    Thanks so much for coming!

Don’t Come Here! in Japanese

Don't Come Here in Japanese

  • Don’t Come Here.
    ここに来ないで.
    koko ni konai de.

There may also be occasions where you want to ask, or tell someone to not come to you in Japanese. It could be for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps you’re getting changed and don’t want them to come into the room for a second, maybe they smell really bad, or perhaps you just don’t want them to come to you.

Say you’re in the middle of getting changed, and silly you, you’ve forgotten to lock the door! Someone is about to open the door and expose you so you quickly shout:

  • 待って!ここに来ないで!
    matte! koko ni konaide!
    Wait! Don’t come in here!

A very desperate situation indeed.

Following the trend of omitting words and particles in Japanese, you can also just say 来ないで (konaide). When you say 来ないで (konaide) straight up, it is the same as saying ここに来ないで (koko ni konaide), or “don’t come here” to someone. You could also tell them to go away if you really don’t want to see them.

You can also tell someone to stop following you with this expression.

  • 付いて来ないで!
    tsuite konaide!
    Stop following me!

Simply attach 付いて (tsuite), which ironically means “to attach” in Japanese, before 来ないで (konaide). Quite literally, 付いて来ないで (tsuite konaide) means “don’t attach yourself to me and don’t come with me” in Japanese. So you can see how this translates to “stop following me”.

Found yourself in a non-casual situation, and need to be polite? Attach ください (kudasai) to the expression to formally say “Please don’t come here” in Japanese.

  • 来ないでください!
    konaide kudasai!
    Please don’t come!

Demand Someone to Come Here

When we’re wanting to be more demanding with our words in English, we typically change the tone of our voice. In Japanese though, instead of changing the tone of voice, they change the form of the verb to express a command.

Come Here This Instant 

  • Come here this instant.
    ここに来なさい.
    koko ni kinasai.

Firstly, ここに来なさい (koko ni kinasai) is typically used when speaking with children. It’s very similar to how we use a parental tone in English.

You may hear ここに来なさい (koko ni kinasai) used by those who possess a higher natural authority in a situation, such as teachers or parents who are speaking to their students or children respectively.

With your friends, you would say 来て (kite) at any time to express that you want them to come to you. However, when speaking with children or students, using ここに来なさい (koko ni kinasai) tells them that they have to listen to you, and get over to where you are.

Say you spot a misbehaving child. You might tell them:

  • リサ、ここに来なさい!
    risa, koko ni kinasai!
    Lisa, come here this instant!

Come Here Now

  • Come Here Now.
    来い.
    koi.

When you’re frustrated, asking someone to kindly come to you can sometimes be difficult. To order someone to get their butt over to you can use 来い (koi).

来い (koi) is the imperative form of the verb 来る (kuru), which means “to come”. Because the word 来い (koi) is an imperative verb, it’s considered to be quite an aggressive word. When a verb is in the imperative form, it transforms into an outright order, command or demand, rather than a request.

The verb 来い (koi) is the strongest word you can use in Japanese to tell someone forcefully to come to you. Therefore, you probably don’t want to go overboard with this one.

It’s worth noting that 来い (koi) sounds the same as 恋 (koi) which means “to love.” The hiragana is also the same, so it’s just something to keep in mind. You don’t want to accidentally be shouting “love!” when you’re angry and want someone to get over to you now.

I Hope You Can Come in Japanese

I want You To Come Here in Japanese

  • I hope you can come.
    来ると嬉しい.
    kuru to ureshii.

Expressing the word “hope” is quite challenging in Japanese. It’s a shame because we use it all the time in English. Wishing for someone to have a nice day, or wishing good luck to someone in Japanese, can also be a challenge.

Luckily though, there are ways we can convey something that’s almost the same as “hope”. The best and most natural way to say “I hope you can come” in Japanese is 来ると嬉しい (kuru to ureshii). Let’s say you’ve invited someone to your wedding, and you’re really hoping that they can come. You might say:

  • 来るとすごく嬉しい!
    kuru to sugoku ureshii!
    I really hope you can come!

The addition of すごく (sugoku), meaning “very” in casual Japanese, is completely optional here.

I Will Be Happy If You Can Come in Japanese

Although saying when you want to express “I hope you can come” is completely natural… There is a second way we can interpret 来ると嬉しい (kuru to ureshii).

The first part of the expression 来る (kuru) is the Japanese verb for “to come”. The third part is 嬉しい (ureshii), which means “happy” in Japanese.

The second part is と (to). This と (to) is one of the four ways you can say “if” in Japanese. と (to) is the conditional way of saying “if”. This means that と (to) describes the definite result of a condition. In this case, the condition is 来る (kuru), meaning “to come”. Then the result of the condition being completed is “happy”.

Put simply, 来ると嬉しい can be expressed as: “If you can come, I will definitely be happy”.

Pronouns are also frequently omitted in Japanese, as such they are also absent here. It is much more natural to omit them, but here is the full expression with pronouns for your reference.

  • あなたが来ると私は嬉しい!
    anata ga kuru to watashi ha ureshii!
    If you can come, I will definitely be happy.

Welcome, Come On In! in Japanese

  • Welcome, come on in.
    いらしゃいませ.
    irashaimase.

As soon as you enter Japan, there is no doubt いらしゃいませ (irashaimase) will be one of the first things you hear. At the very least, it will definitely be the one you remember especially if you’re coming as a tourist.

This is because, whenever you enter a store in Japan you will always be greeted by the staff with いらしゃいませ. (irashaimase). It used as a greeting from staff to customers, and can be understood as “welcome, come on in”.

いらしゃいませ (irashaimse) originates from いらっしゃる(irassharu), the honorific word for “go,” or “come” in Japanese. It was originally used by marketplace merchants who were trying to lure customers into their store by greeting them with a polite, yet formal いらしゃいませ (irashaimase), “come in, come in.”

Nowadays it’s used as a standard greeting for stores all over Japan. You can also expect to be a greeted with a いらしゃいませ (irashaimase) even after you’ve been in a store for a few minutes from other members of staff who have just seen you.

You hear this phrase everywhere, and it has a unique quirk to it, depending on who’s saying it. Have a look at Dogen’s short but very well composed imitation of the phrase.

 

You’ll notice that it’s often shorted to simply ませ (mase), or even just せ (se) by staff members who have to say it frequently.

Come On In (Casual Japanese)

  • Come on in.
    入っていいよ.
    haitteiiyo.

You will find it to be much more frequent in japan to wait outside someone’s door to be invited in before entering. You might want to invite a friend to your house one day:

  • 私の家に来ない?
    watashi no ie ni konai?
    Fancy coming over?

To which, your friend may wait outside the door before being invited in. During any situation when you want to tell someone (casually) that it’s okay for them to enter you can use 入っていいよ (haitte ii yo). A typical conversation at the door may go like this:

You notice them waiting and say:

  • あ、入っていいよ.
    a, haiite ii yo.
    Ah, feel free to come on in.

It’s polite to pardon yourself for the intrusion before entering someone else’s home. So they’ll reply with:

  • お邪魔します.
    o jama shimasu.
    Excuse me for disturbing you.

When you say 入っていい (haitte ii), you’re telling someone that it’s okay to enter in Japanese.

For those of you interested in why 入っていい (haitte ii) translates “come on in” in Japanese, I have explained it below.

  1. 入って (haitte) is the te-form of the verb 入る (hairu), meaning, “to enter”.
  2. Verbs typically come at the end of the sentence. A function of the te-form is to connect a verb to the second half of a sentence. (Essentially it’s a way to say “and” in Japanese).
  3. いい (ii) in Japanese means “good”.
  4. Pronouns (You/I) are omitted.

So the literal translation of 入っていい (haitte ii) can be interpreted as “enter and it’s good,” or “it’s good (for you) to enter”.

Please Come On In (Formal Japanese)

  • Please come on in.
    どうぞお入りください.
    douzo ohairikudasai.

For relationships outside of friends and family, you’re going to need to speak formal Japanese. We have just covered the casual way to say “please come on in” above. But of course, you don’t want to be saying that in the workplace for instance.

どうぞお入りください (douzo ohairikudasai) is keigo (very formal) for “please come on in” in Japanese. As previously discussed, in Japan particularly, people will wait to be invited into a room despite being already invited to a room.

Say you’re going to a job interview for example. You head to reception and let them know you have arrived. You are directed to go to a room on the second floor, so you make your way there. In Japan, after you see the room where the interview is due to take place, (even if the door is open) you are expected to knock, specifically three times and wait to be invited in.

Then you might hear the phrase:

  • はい。どうぞお入りください.
    hai. douzo ohairikudasai.
    Ah yes, please come on in.

You would then enter the room and immediately say:

  • お邪魔します.
    o jama shimasu.
    Excuse me for disturbing you.

Then close the door without showing your back to the interviewers, followed by a bow. You also have to wait to be invited to sit down in your seat! So make sure you wait for that prompt too!

All in all, you can use どうぞお入りください (douzo ohairikudasai) yourself to invite someone into your room in a respectful manner.

This Way Please

Come This Way in Japanese

  • This way, please.
    こちらへどうそ。
    kochira e douzo.

During times when you want to direct someone towards a specific location, you can tell them こちらへどうそ (kochira e douzo), meaning “this way, please” in Japanese.

You might hear this expression being used in a hotel for instance. Say you’ve checked in, and now you’re about to be shown to your room. To prompt you to follow them they may say:

  • 部屋までご案内いたします。こちらへどうぞ
    heya made go annai itashimasu. kochira e douzo.
    I will now guide you to your room. This way Please.

The phrase こちらへどうそ (kochira he douzo) is a formal phrase, that is best suited to this kind of situation.

A quick breakdown:

こちら (kochira) means “this way” in Japanese.

へ (e) is a Japanese particle used to indicate a direction.

どうぞ (douzo) means “please” in Japanese and is often used in conjunction with Japanese Keigo, the highest level of honorifics.

Come Over Here

Come Over Here in Japanese

  • Come over here
    こっちきて。
    kocchi kite.

When you want to signal for someone to come to you casually in Japanese, you can use こっちきて (kocchi kite).

  • ね!こっちきて!
    ne! kocchikite
    Hey! Come over here!

The main difference between this expression and ここに来て (koko ni kite) in entry #1, is the effect of the ここ (koko) and こっち (kocchi). Both mean “here” in Japanese, however, こっち (kocchi) is much more casual than ここ (koko).

This is because こっち (kocchi) comes from こちら (kochira), meaning “this way”, found in the こちらへどうぞ (kochira e douzo) expression above. It is an abbreviated version of こちら (kochira).

Being directly from こちら (kochira), we can also interpret こっち (kocchi) as a casual way of saying “this way” in Japanese. This means that こっちきて (kocchi kite) is quite literally “this way, come” in English.

Come Here and Study more!

  • Come here and study more!
    ここに来て、もっと勉強をしよう!
    koko ni kite, motto benkyou shiyou!

We’ve reached the end of this ultimate guide! I hope you found it useful.

If you’re after some more How-To Japanese articles, check out our collection of Japanese language guides here.

Until next time! また来てね!

Stop in Japanese

How to say Stop in Japanese

There are many reasons you might want to tell, ask, or even beg someone to stop in Japanese. You might want to ask them to stop politely, or even scream at them at the top of your lungs to cease their actions immediately.

Regardless of which route you take, when you want to say stop to someone in Japanese, the context is important. Which expression you’ll need to say stop in Japanese will depend entirely on your situation, and of course, how you wish to say it.

In English, we use the word “stop” in many situations. There is a specific word for the word  “stop” in Japanese. However, we don’t literally say “stop” in Japanese in the same situations as we would in English.

For instance, say you’ve decided that you’re going on a diet,  you announce that you’re going to stop eating high sugar foods. In Japanese, the word literal word for “stop” wouldn’t even appear in the sentence here. Instead, there are other ways to express that you’re going to stop.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, I should stop for now before I confuse you too much. In this ultimate guide, I list all the ways you can say stop in Japanese. All expressions are fully elaborated on, with examples and explanations.

No matter if you’re simply looking for an easy way to say “stop” in Japanese, or if you’re an advanced learner, I’ve tailored this guide to support you. 

Quit it/Stop it in Japanese

  • Stop it/Quit it.
    やめて。
    yamete.

At times when you want to ask someone to discontinue doing something, you can use やめて (yamete). If they are winding you up, being a nuisance or distracting you, you’ll want to ask them to stop it. For instance, perhaps you’re trying to focus on your work, but someone keeps playing loud videos on their phone.

You can say:

  • それをやめて!
    sore wo yamete!
    Stop that!

You can attach それを (sore wo) to the beginning of the expression to make it “stop that” in Japanese. Of course, this is optional, and by using やめて (yamete) by itself in this context you can say “stop it” in Japanese.

You can also use やめて (yamete) to suggest that someone should quit, or stop doing something.

  • 仕事をやめて。
    shigoto wo yamete.
    Just quit your job.

Albeit, this is a very direct way of suggesting to someone that they should just quit their job. Perhaps they have been complaining to you for what seems like forever about how awful their job is. At this point, you tell them to just quit their job.

Maybe you’d like to suggest it to them a little more nicely:

  • 仕事をやめたほうがいいと思う
    shigoto wo yameta hou ga ii to omou.
    I think you should just quit your job.

By using やめたほうがいいと思う (yameta hou ga ii to omouyou say “I think you should quit X” in Japanese.

Simply place any noun before をやめたほうがいいと思う (wo yameta hou ga ii to omou) and you can tell someone “I think you should quit [Insert noun here].”

Please keep in mind that the expressions in this entry are all casual. Therefore are best off used with people you are close with!

Please Stop it 

  • Please Stop it.
    やめてください・やめてお願い。
    yamete kudasai/ yamete onegai.

When you want to ask someone to discontinue/cease doing something with a good old “please,” you can say やめてください (yamete kudasai) or やめてお願い (yamete onegai)

The main difference between these two is that やめてください (yamete kudasai) is a polite expression. Whereas やめてお願い (yamete onegai) is more casual.

やめてください (yamete kudasai) has two uses:

  1. Used to show respect when speaking to those of higher status than you.
  2. Used when you want to tell someone to “stop it” firmly.

In regards to the first use, the Japanese language has Keigo, a style of speech that must be used when showing respect (in the workplace/to strangers/higher-ups etc.).

Secondly, you can use やめてください (yamete kudasai) to tell someone kindly, yet firmly to stop what they’re doing. Perhaps you’ve already thrown all the やめて’s (yamete) at them, but they’re just not listening. In this case, you could hit them with a firm やめてください (yamete kudasai). Essentially, “Please, stop it” in Japanese.

やめてください (yamete kudasai) can be used as a firm expression because using Keigo is also a way to create distance between you and someone else. It’s an indirect way of telling them you’re getting annoyed with them, and it’s probably best for them to stop.

On the other hand, やめてお願い (yamete onegai) more-so emphasises your request for them to stop what they’re doing. It’s a slightly more casual expression, meaning that you can use it when speaking with friends. It still means “please” but without the connotations of firmness.

You use やめてお願い (yamete onegai) when you’re asking someone to stop (please), whereas using やめてください (yamete kudasai) would mean that you’re telling them to stop (please).

Stop it Now! in Japanese

  • Stop it Now!
    やめろ!
    yamero!

Alright, now you’re angry. You’ve asked them to stop it, maybe you’ve also told them to “go away” or “shut up” in Japanese too. But they’re just not listening to you. When you want to yell at someone to stop in Japanese, you’ll want to use やめろ (yamero).

You may have heard protagonists in Japanese movies or anime shout やめろ (yamero). Imagine a scene where the antagonist takes the protagonist’s friend hostage, so they yell out in frustration やめろ! (yamero!), “Stop it now!”

やめろ (yamero) is a very forceful expression to use in real-life conversation though, so you should be careful in how you use it. This is because やめろ (yamero) is the imperative form of the verb やめる (yameru), to quit. When a verb is in the imperative form, the strength of the verb is elevated to that of a command or order. This is the absolute difference between やめて (yamete) and やめろ (yamero). A playful request vs an outright demand. 

This means that when you say やめろ (yamero) to someone, you’re ordering them to cease their actions and stop what they’re doing now. Of course, being an order, you can imagine that being ordered by someone to stop wouldn’t be very nice… So use やめろ (yamero) sparingly!

Stop it Please in Japanese (Begging)

  • Stop it Please (begging).
    やめてくれ。
    yametekure.

You’ve exhausted all of your energy, so now it’s time to resort to begging them to stop. To plead for someone to stop, you can say やめてくれ!(yamete kure!). We previously established that やめて (yamete) as a way to say “stop/quit it” in Japanese.

The addition of くれ (kure) here is a casual version of くれる (kureru). When くれる (kureru) is used in Japanese, it works the same as saying “for me” in English.

So quite literally, やめてくれ!(yamete kure!) means “Stop it, for me.” in Japanese. Because the る (ru) in the くれる (kureru) is absent here, you usually phrase the expression as a direct sentence, rather than as an expression. Saying the expression like this really emphasises how desperate you are for them to stop.

When you want to ask someone nicely if they could quit something for you, you can use やめてくれ? (yamete kureru?). If you phrase it like a question, it’s more polite, rather than telling someone to stop.

  • タバコをやめてくれる?
    tabako wo yamete kureru?
    Could you quit/stop smoking for me?

When you use this expression, you really emphasise that you want someone to stop doing something for your benefit/purpose.

No in Japanese

With all these ways of saying stop in Japanese, how do you reply to them? What if someone asks you to stop doing something, but you want to refuse their request? There are plenty of ways you can do this! You can learn how to forge the perfect response with this ultimate guide on all the ways you can say No in Japanese!

I’m Stopping (quitting) Something

Stop Doing/Quit in Japanese

 

  • I’m stopping/quitting X.
    Xをやめる。
    X wo yameru.

Perhaps you don’t want to refuse someones request to stop, but you want to agree. You could reply with a simple no problem, or you could try a direct approach. Xをやめる (X wo yameru) is a sentence structure template you can use to say you’re going to quit/stop something specific in Japanese.

Simply replace the X with the thing it is you’re quitting. For instance, picking up on the previous example where someone asks you if you’ll quit smoking, you can reply:

  •  わかった。タバコをやめる。
    wakatta. tabako wo yameru.
    Got it, I’ll stop smoking.

I added the わかった (wakatta) here for extra fluidity, but it’s completely optional.

In situations where it is understood by both the speaker and listener what the subject of conversation is, you can use やめる (yameru) by itself. Perhaps you’ve been asked by your partner if you could stop eating chocolate late at night because it’s making you fat. You could say:

  •  わかった。やめる。
    wakatta. yameru.
    Got it, I’ll stop.

Again, the わかった (wakatta) is optional here and やめる (yameru) by itself would suffice as a complete sentence.

If you don’t want to stop because eating four bars of white chocolate Toblerone a night feels so good:

  •  やめないよ。
    yamenai yo.
    I’m not going to stop.

Stop! in Japanese

  • Stop.
    止めて。
    tomete.

When you want to ask someone to physically stop something in Japanese, you can say 止めて (tomete). This is different from the やめる (yameru) expressions above, as 止めて (tomete) has no implications of quitting something. It’s strictly about stopping.

止めて (tomete) is the te-form of the main verb of “to stop” in Japanese, 止める (tomeru). The te-form has many uses, and in this case, it’s used to turn the verb into a request.

For instance, perhaps you’re asking someone who’s driving to stop the car.

  • 車を止めて
    kuruma wo tomete
    Stop the car.

Like most situations in Japanese, when the context is already understood by both the speaker and listener, you can omit the subject. In this case, you could just say 止めて (tomete) “stop” by itself.

Saying 止めて (tomete) is something that you should do only with people you are close with. It is a very casual way to say “stop” in Japanese. For a polite way to say “stop,” we can use 止めてください (tomete kudasai), which essentially means “stop please” in Japanese.

To Come To a Stop in Japanese

It stopped in japanese

 

  • To come to a Stop.
    止まる。
    tomaru.

The main difference between 止める (tomeru) and 止まる (tomaru) is that they are transitive and intransitive verbs respectively.

  1. A transitive verb is where the object of the verb is explicitly mentioned. An action is done to an object.
  2. Whereas an intransitive verb describes the behaviour of the object itself.

For instance, we could say:

  • 私は時計を止める。
    watashi ha t0kei wo tomeru.
    I’ll stop the clock.

Here, there is an action being done to an object. The clock is being stopped by me. This makes it a transitive verb.

On the other hand, if we say:

  • 時計がいつも止まる。
    tokei ga itsumo tomaru.
    The clock always stops.

There is no object that is stopping the clock. It stopped by itself without an object directly interfering. This is an intransitive verb.

Let’s take a look at another example. Imagine you’re on a train and it suddenly comes to a stop. You might say:

  • 電車が急に止まった。
    densha ga tomatta.
    The train suddenly stopped.

In this sentence, the emphasis is on that the train has stopped. Not who/or what has stopped it specifically. Therefore, it’s intransitive.

It Won’t Stop in Japanese

It Won't Stop in Japanese

 

  • It Won’t Stop.
    Xが止まらない。
    X ga tomaranai.

When you want to say that something won’t stop in Japanese, you can use the  X止まらない (X ga tomaranai) sentence structure as a template. Simply replace the X with the thing that won’t stop.

For instance, say you’ve just woken up in the morning, and your alarm is making the craziest sound. You try to turn it off, but for some reason, it won’t. It definitely does the job and gets you out of bed, but no matter what you do, it won’t stop. Now let’s apply this scenario to the sentence structure.

  • 目覚まし時計が止まらない!
    mezamashi tokei ga tomaranai!
    The alarm clock won’t stop!

The X止まらない (X ga tomaranai) is super flexible, you can use it for a wide array of scenarios and occasions. Maybe you’re feeling super happy:

  • すごく嬉しくて笑顔が止まらない.
    sugoku ureshikute egao ga tomaranai!
    I’m so happy I can’t stop smiling!

Maybe you’re enjoying a new book, movie series, or Zelda video game:

  • このゲームが楽しすぎて止まらない.
    kono ge-mu ga tanoshisugite tomaranai
    This game is too fun I can’t stop.

Stop What You’re Doing! Halt! in Japanese

Stop Sign in Japan

  • Halt!
    とまれ!
    tomare!

To tell, or order someone to stop/halt in Japanese, you can say とまれ (tomare). Like やめろ (yamero), (explained above,) とまれ (tomare) is also an imperative form verb. とまれ (tomare) is the imperative of the verb 止まる (tomaru), to stop in Japanese.

Being an imperative form verb means that the verb has been transformed into a command or order. This means that when you say とまれ (tomare) in Japanese, you’re commanding them to stop. It’s the same as telling someone to “halt” in English.

I’d imagine you wouldn’t find yourself in a situation to use this expression much, as it’s quite an aggressive word to use in real-life situations.

Instead, it’s an expression you might hear the police shout out at a burglar:

  • どろぼう!止まれ!.
    dorobou! tomare!
    thief! Stop!

Stop Signs in Japanese

Japan Stop Sign

In Japan, you’ll find you frequently see とまれ (tomare) written in text, rather than using it yourself. But where would you see it written? You may be asking.

In the UK and US, we often have red octagonal Stop signs placed at junctions where it may be difficult to see on-coming traffic.

Japan also has red stop signs, however, they are inverted triangle shapes. Along with these stop signs, there will also be text painted on the road. This text will read とまれ (tomare), meaning “stop” or “halt.”

You might be thinking, why don’t stop signs just say 止まって (tomatte) or 止まる (tomaru), maybve even a polite 止まってください (tomatte kudasai)? There are two important reasons as to why Japanese stop signs are written in the imperative form.

  1. とまれ (tomare) is a short word that is easily understood quickly.
  2. It tells you that it’s critical to stop immediately.

Imagine if, in the West, all of our signs were written as  “please, kindly stop here” instead of simply “stop.” When とまれ (tomare) is used, the importance of stopping is greatly emphasised. It’s also short, and therefore easy for the brain to process, giving you ample time to react.

It’s definitely something to be on the lookout for if you were to drive in Japan!

Stop in Japanese Katakana

  • Stop!
    ストップ!
    sutoppu!

ストップ (sutoppu) is a word that has been borrowed from the English language. You read it and the pronunciation is almost the same as English. ストップ (sutoppu) is a casual expression that also has a number of uses. Because the uses mirror that of English, it makes it quite easy to understand.

For instance, you can use it to say “that’s enough” in Japanese. Say someone is being very generous and is pouring you a glass of fine wine (or any other beverage). You realise they’re pouring you a little too much. So you say:

  • ああ、ストップ!ストップ!
    aa, sutoppu! sutoppu!
    OK stop! Stop!

And hope that they do stop.

The situations in when you use ストップ (sutoppu) will mostly be those that are considered emergencies. Of course, receiving too much wine is not an emergency per-say, but the fact that you’re in shock at how much you’re getting illustrates the same situation to when you may want to say ストップ (suttoppu) in Japanese.

You can also use it in other situations where you would say “stop” to mean “cancel” in English. As another example, imagine that your friend keeps spending all their money, or throws half-eaten perfectly preservable food away. You might say:

  • もったいないからストップしよう!
    mottainai kara sutoppu shiyou!
    It’s a bit of a waste, so let’s stop!

Stop, That’s Enough

 

I'm Going to Stop in Japanese

  • Stop, that’s enough.
    もういい.
    mou ii.

Maybe you’re tired of something, have had enough of something, or if you’ve had your fill, and that’s more than enough. You can express all of these feelings with もういい (mou ii) in Japanese. The literal translation of もういい is “already good.” Thus, you can use it when you’re satisfied, had enough and you’re all good.

Imagine you’re playing a game with a friend, and they ask you to go another round. They’re super hyped for it, but you’re a little too tired now. You can say:

  • 疲れたからもういい。
    tsukareta kara mou ii.
    I’m tired, so I’m going to stop.

Of course, もういい (mou ii) by itself is completely fine as a stand-alone phrase here.

Perhaps you’re having an argument, but it’s not going anywhere. You decide to give up on the argument (for today) so you say:

  • 今日はもういい。
    kyou ha mou ii.
    That’s enough for today.

Or maybe you’ve just visited Japan for the first time, and someone close to you is excited to show you around. They buy you so much chocolate and want you to taste them and eat them all now. If your stomach is a bottomless pit that’s ready for kilos of chocolate you’d be good… But if that person keeps buying you more, and more, and you feel like it might be a bit much for you, you can say:

  • もういいよ!そんなに食べられないから!手伝ってね。
    mou ii yo! sonna ni taberarenai kara! tetsudatte ne.
    That’s enough! I’m not sure if I can eat all of that! Make sure you help me.

Referring back to the entry with ストップ (sutoppu) above and the wine, you can also use もういい (mou ii) to signal someone to stop pouring as its enough for you.

I’m Going to Stop/ I Won’t do it Again

I'm going to stop, I won't do it again

  • I won’t do it again
    もうしない.
    mou shinai.

When you’ve made up your mind to stop something, and won’t do it again, you can say もうしない (mou shinai). The literal translation of もうしない (mou shinai) is “already won’t do it.” This makes it a strong phrase to use as you’re quite literally saying, “it already won’t happen again.”

There are many situations where you could say you won’t do it again. It could be as an apology:

  • ごめん、もうしない。
    gomen, mou shinai.
    I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.

Maybe you’re finally going to break that bad habit of eating a whole bag of mini eggs before bed.

  • ちょっとやばい。よし!もうしない。
    chotto yabai. yoshi ! mou shinai.
    That was crazy. Okay! I won’t do that again.

Or, perhaps you just want to tell someone (or yourself) that you won’t be doing whatever you did again.

  • この髪型もうしない。
    kono kamigata mou shinai.
    I won’t be doing that hairstyle again.

There may be plenty of scenarios you may find yourself in when you need to say you’re going to stop something. The great thing about もうしない (mou shinai) is that its uses are very similar to how we would say “I’m not doing that anymore” in English.

When the topic is understood by the speaker and listener, you can use もうしない (mou shinai) by itself. Both parties know that you’re saying もうしない (mou shinai) to the topic of conversation. Convenient!

It Stopped/settled down

  • It stopped/settled down
    やむ.
    yamu.

やむ (yamu) is the word for “stop” that you use when referring to the weather. Rather than using とまる (tomaru) for weather in Japanese, やむ (yamu) is used instead. The sentence structure template looks like this: Xがやんだ (X ga yanda). Replace the X with the weather and you’re good to go.

For example:

  • 雪がやんだ。
    yuki ga yanda.
    The snow stopped.

Or

  • 嵐がやんだ。
    arashi ga yanda.
    The storm has stopped.

When written in kanji, 止む (yamu) is the same as 止まる (tomaru), so be careful not to get caught out here on tests and the like!

Just like how the weather settles down when it stops, emotions like crying, or actions like cheering can also be written with やむ (yamu), when it stops.

  • 彼女はすっかり泣き止んだ。
    kanojo ha sukkari nakiyanda.
    The girl completely stopped crying.

When something ceases and calms down, you use やむ (yamu) in Japanese.

Stop Doing X

  • Stop doing X
    Xないで
    X nai de

During times when you want to be specific in regards to what you want someone to stop, you can follow the sentence structure Xないで. This entry is actually a Japanese N4 grammar point, so I’ve provided a link for your reference.

As a simple explanation, to make this grammar point you first take a verb and change it into dictionary form. For example 食べる (taberu), which means to eat. Change it into negative-form and attach で (de), making it 食べないで (tabenaide).

食べないで (tabenaide) can mean

  1.  Stop Eating
  2. Without eating

For the first meaning, we can tell someone specifically what to stop eating.

  • もうよるだよ!ミニエッグを食べないで!
    mou yoru dayo! mini eggu wo tabenaide!
    It’s night-time already! Stop eating mini eggs!

For the second meaning, we can attach a second verb to the expression to say “without eating X do this.” For instance:

  • 疲れないようにチョコレートを食べないで野菜の量を増やして!
    tsukarenai you ni chokore-to wo tabenaide yasai no ryou wo fuyashite!
    Don’t eat chocolate and increase your vegetable intake for more energy!

I appreciate that this entry is quite confusing especially if you’re a beginner to Japanese. Refer to the reference I’ve linked above, and if you’ve any questions, feel free to send me a message. You can also refer to entry #1 やめて(yamete) in this guide in the meantime as an easier way to ask someone to stop doing something.

Stop, Wait! in Japanese

 

Wait in Japanese

  • Stop, wait!
    待って
    matte

Sometimes you may need to catch a person as they are leaving. By “catching” I mean stop of course. Say they’ve forgotten something and you want to catch up to them, or if you just want them to wait for you, you can say 待って (matte).

When you shout out 待って (matte) at someone in Japanese, you’re shouting out “stop, wait” in Japanese.

  • ちょっと待って!財布を忘れている!
    chotto matte! saifu wo wasureteiru!
    Wait a moment! You’re forgetting your wallet!

The ちょっと (chotto) is completely optional. ちょっと (chotto) means “small” or “moment” in Japanese, so quite literally – “small wait.”

There may also be times where you find that you’ll have to shout out to a colleague, or boss to wait. During these situations you’ll have to be polite, as saying 待って (matte) by itself would be considered rude, and will most likely get you fired.

To ask someone to please wait in Japanese, you can use (matte kudasai).

  • 待ってください!
    matte kudasai!
    Please wait!

Don’t Stop in Japanese

  • Don’t Stop
    やめないで
    yamenaide

What if you don’t want someone to stop. Perhaps you want to tell them not to stop as a form of encouragement in Japanese, or maybe you love what they’re doing so much, you want them to continue. When you say やめないで (yamenaide) to someone, you tell them exactly “don’t stop” in Japanese.

  • 楽しいからやめないで!
    tanoshii kara yamenai de!
    This is fun so don’t stop!

You can also use やめないで (yamenaide) to give advice to someone in regards to not quitting something. If your friend is thinking about quitting their job, and you think they shouldn’t, you can say

  • 仕事をやめないで!
    shigoto wo yamenai de!
    Don’t quit your job!

Other Kinds of Stop

There are other kinds of stops of course in Japanese. Here are a few you might find useful:

Bus Stop

Bus Stop in Japan

  • Bus Stop.
    バス停。
    basu tei.

This is the word for “bus stop” in Japanese. バス (basu) means “bus,” and 停 (tei) means “stop.” 停 (tei) is kanji used for more complex versions of “stop”.

You could also ask things like:

  • バス停はどこですか?
    basu tei ha doko desu ka?
    Where is the Bus Stop?

This is Our Stop

When we are on a bus with friends, we often say “this is our stop” to signal them to get off the bus. To say “this is our stop” in Japanese in this context:

  • This is our stop.
    ここで降りる.
    koko de oriru.

The literal meaning of ここで降りる (koko de oriru) is “we’re getting off here,” but it can be used in situations when you want to say “this is our stop” in Japanese.

Stopping Already?

  • Stopping Already?
    もうしないの?
    mou shinai no?

That brings us to the end of this ultimate guide on how to say “stop” in Japanese! I hope you found it a useful and enjoyable read!

Don’t Want To Stop? まだやめたくない?

If you’re not ready to stop just yet, why not check out more Ultimate How-To Japanese guides.

Recommended:

How to say Let’s Go in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

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

You may have noticed that I’m a The Legend of Zelda fan. You are too? Let’s quest together!

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Go Away in Japanese

How to say Go Away in Japanese

Asking or telling someone to go away in Japanese, or in any language for that matter can be quite challenging to do. This is especially true if you want to do it without sounding too abrupt. Sometimes though, you may find yourself needing some alone time.  During these times you’ll want to ask (or tell) anyone who is around you to kindly go away.

Or perhaps, there might be someone who is just outright a nuisance. You’ve reached your limit and now it’s time to tell them firmly to “Go Away.”

Whether you want to focus on a task,  some relaxation time,  some peace and quiet or if someone has overstayed their welcome… Whatever the reason, there are plenty of reasons as to why you might want to say “go away” to someone.

In Japanese, there are plenty of ways you can say “go away.” Which one you’ll need or want will be dependent on you and your situation.

In this ultimate guide, we will look at the most common ways to say “Go away” in Japanese. We will also cover expressions and phrases with similar nuances. Each entry in this guide is supplemented with detailed explanations and examples for your reference.

Any questions at all, drop a comment and I’ll be right there with you!

With that said, let’s jump into the most direct way to say “go away” in Japanese.

Go Away in Japanese

  • Go Away
    あっちへ行け
    acchi e ike

When you want to tell someone directly to just “go away” in Japanese, you can use あっちへ行け (acchi e ike). By using this phrase you get straight to the point, there’s no extra fluff or cushioning with this one.

You’ll want to use あっちへ行け (acchi e ike) when you would say things like “buzz off” or any other firm phrase you would yell at someone to go away in English. For instance, as a strong example, let’s imagine you’re in the midst of a heated argument and the other person tells you:

  • 君は間違えてると思う。
    kimi ha machigaeteru to omou.
    I think you’re in the wrong.

To which, (assuming you’re at your limit) you could reply:

  • お前なんか嫌いだ。あっちへ行け!
    omae nanka kirai da. acchi e ike!
    I hate your guts. Go away!

By itself, あっちへ行け (acchi e ike) is a complete sentence, so you could use it as it is. As you can probably tell from the above example, it is also a very strong phrase. Hence, you should only use it when you’re super serious, or if you’re in a bad mood.

All of this makes this phrase a very informal one, one you can imagine would be quite rude to yell.

Understanding the Components

 

The first part, あっち (acchi) is a way of saying “over there” in Japanese. When you say あっち (acchi) in Japanese, you’re specifically referring to a place that’s away from both you, and the person to whom you’re speaking to. This is why when we tell someone to go away, we use あっち (acchi) as we’re not telling them exactly where to go. Just away from you.

へ (e) is a Japanese particle which when used, indicates a direction or destination.

行け (ike) is the imperative form of the word  “go” in Japanese. I cover the word “go” in detail in this ultimate guide, which explains how to say “let’s go” in Japanese.

The imperative form is a way to add additional firmness to requests in Japanese. It adds so much firmness, it changes the request into a command.

So, when you use あっちへ行け (acchi e ike) you’re essentially commanding someone to go to a place that’s far away from you.

Get Lost 

  • Get Lost
    消えろ
    kiero

Speaking of commanding someone to go away, what better way to do it than to tell them to “get lost” in Japanese. Of course, I don’t mean to tell them to literally get lost and lose their way, which would be 迷子になって (maigo ni natte), in case you did want to know. But rather, when you’re unable to take any more from someone and you’ve reached your breaking point you might want to tell them to simply “get lost.” At times like that, we can use 消える (kiero).

消える (kiero) is even more direct than the above あっちへ行け (acchi e ike). Instead of telling someone to just “go away,” when you use 消える (kiero) you’re telling them to disappear or vanish.

Like あっちへ行け (acchi e ike), this phrase is also imperative. This means that with 消える (kiero), you’re ordering or commanding the person to disappear or to completely vanish from existence (or your sight).

Let’s take a look at an example. You could tell someone:

  • お前の顔もう見たくない。消えろ。
    omae no kao mou mitakunai. kiero.
    I don’t want to see your face anymore. Get lost.

消える (kiero) is probably the strongest way to tell someone to “go away” in Japanese.

You may have also heard characters in movies or anime shout 消える (kiero). It’s mostly used by antagonists.

Get Out! in Japanese

  • Get out!
    出ていけ
    dete ike

Sometimes you might need to be firm with someone and tell them straight up to get out. To do that, you can tell them 出ていけ (dete ike) which is another aggressive expression in Japanese. This means that 出ていけ (dete ike) is also very direct, to the extent of being a command/order rather than a request to go away.

You might recognise that the いけ (ike) part returns to this expression. It is the same いけ (ike) from あっちへ行け (acchi e ike), above. The いけ (ike) means “go” imperatively. This is the part that changes this expression to come across as a command/order.

The first part of the expression 出て (dete) is te-form of the verb 出る, which means “to exit.” One of the uses of the te-form in Japanese is to express “and” in Japanese. So the meaning of 出ていけ (dete ike) is literally “exit and go!”

Kindly Get Out! in Japanese

If you want to ask someone nicely to get out in Japanese, you can use 出て行って (deteitte). The difference between 出て行って (deteitte) and 出ていけ (dete ike) is that the former ends without the same imperativeness of the latter. This makes it a somewhat nicer way to ask someone to get out. For instance, let’s say your friend is in your room and you want to ask them to get out, you can say:

  • 今忙しいから出て行って
    ima isogashii kara deteitte
    I’m busy right now so leave

出て行って (deteitte) by itself is a complete sentence though, so you’d be fine using it as is.

There are many verb conjugations in Japanese, the te-form and imperative form are two of them.

Don’t Get In My Way

 

Don't get in my Way in Japanese

  • Don’t get in my way
    邪魔しないで
    jama shinaide

When someone is being a little bit of a nuisance and is a bother, you may want to tell them 邪魔しないで (jama shinaide), meaning “don’t get in my way” in Japanese. Although not as strong as 消えろ (kiero), or 出ていけ (deteike) above, you’re still directly telling someone that they are in your way.  For instance, imagine you’re focusing on your work, but you have someone who is (purposely) annoying you. You could say:

  • 邪魔しないで。今集中している。
    jama shinaide. ima shuuchuu shiteiru.
    Don’t disturb me (Don’t be a bother). I’m concentrating right now.

If this phrase is a little too strong for you, you could attach a “please” to the end.

For formal situations:

  • 邪魔しないでください
    jama shinaide kudasai.
    Please don’t be a bother.

For casual situations:

  • 邪魔しないでお願い
    jama shinaide onegai.
    Please don’t be a bother.

The main difference between the two examples above is that they are both tailored for different situations. When speaking with someone you know, you’ll want to use 邪魔しないでお願い (jama shinaide onegai). For others, you’ll want to use ください (kudasai).

You are a Nuisance/Bother in Japanese

To call someone a nuisance or bother simply follow this sentence structure.

  • You are a Nuisance/bother
    [Person’s name] は邪魔
    [Person’s name] ha jama

It might end up with the other person telling you to 消える (kiero), but who knows, maybe this will come in useful one day.

Leave Me Alone in Japanese

 

Another Way to say Go Away in Japanese

  • Leave Me Alone
    放っておいて
    houttooite

You can use 放っておいて (hotteoite) to say “leave me alone” in Japanese. At times when you really need to have some time to yourself for whatever reason, you can use this phrase. Compared to the entries above, this phrase is less rude.

The first part, 放って (hotte) is the te-form of the verb 放る (houru), which means “to leave alone”. This is followed by おいて which is the te-form of (て)おく a Japanese grammar point which means “to do in advance.”  Combing them makes 放っておいて (houtteoite) which can be a good phrase you can use to ask someone to go away without sounding too rude.

Let’s take a look at an example. Perhaps you’re fed up and just want to tell someone to leave you alone straight up- without it being as heavy as the expressions 消えろ (kiero) or あっちへ行け (acchi he ike) above.

Someone says to you:

  • 泣いてしまったの?今は泣いてる場合じゃないよ
    naitteshimatta no? ima ha naitteru baai janai yo.
    Are you crying? This isn’t the time for that now.

To which you can reply:

  • うるさい。放っておいて!
    urusai. houtte oite !
    I don’t care. Leave me alone!

Colloquially speaking, this phrase often gets spoken very fast, especially when the speaker is angry. When it does, the て (te) and お (o) in 放っておいて it’s sometimes merged together. This makes it 放っいて (hottoite). When spoken like this, the meaning changes to “go away.”

  • 放っといて!
    hottoite!
    Go Away!

Let Me Be Alone in Japanese

  • Can you let me be alone?
    一人にしてくれる?
    hitori ni shite kureru?

When you want to ask someone to go away nicely, (at least more nicely compared to the expressions we’ve looked at so far) you’ll want to use 一人にしてくれる (hitori ni shitekureru). This expression is also my personal favourite, all because of くれる (kureru).

Anytime you use くれる (kureru), you’re turning your sentence into a question that expresses  “Can you do this…. for me” with emphasis on the “for me” part.

The first part of this expression is 一人, the kanji for “one” and “person” respectively. This is the part that conveys the “alone” in the full expression, as being alone = one person, you.

Imagine you’ve had a terrible day and you’re friends are trying to cheer you up. You appreciate the thought but you just want to be alone. During these kinds of situations when you’re not intending to be rude with your words, you can say 一人にしてくれる (hitori ni shitekureru). Let’s take a look at an example. A friend is trying to cheer you up:

  • 今日のことごめんね。後でカラオケに行かない?それとも何か食べに行く?
    kyou no koto gomen ne. atode karaoke ni ikanai? soretomo nanika tabeniiku?
    I’m sorry about today. Shall we go to karaoke today? Or would you like to get something to eat?

You see your friend is trying to be supportive, but you want some alone time.

  • ごめん、今日は一人にしてくれる?
    gomen, hitori ni shite kureru?
    I’m sorry, could you let me be alone for today?

If you were to say the complete expression without くれる (kureru), which you can, by the way, you would be saying “let me be alone” without the emphasis on the “can you” part.

  • 一人にして
    hitori ni shite
    Let me be alone

Of course, just like in English, this isn’t as friendly as the full expression: 一人にしてくれる (hitori ni shitekureru).

Please Leave Me Alone

  • Please leave me alone
    一人にしてください
    hitori ni shite kudasai

When you want to ask someone nicely, but formally to “go away” in Japanese, you’ll want to use 一人にしてください (hitori ni shite kudasai). You can use this phrase to tell a person that you want to be alone right now, and that they should leave you be.

Like the above entry, this phrase still has 一人にして (hitori ni shite) as the core. ください (kudasai) is a formal way of saying please in Japanese. By itself 一人にして (hitori ni shite) means “let me be alone” in Japanese, so by attaching ください (kudasai), we can make 一人にしてください (hitori ni shite kudasai), literally meaning Leave me alone, please.

As this is a formal phrase, you can use it when speaking with people who you don’t know too well, (maybe saying this to your manager wouldn’t be the best idea).

In Japanese, we sometimes use 一人にしてください (hitori ni shite kudasai) to make 一人にしてくれる (hitori ni shitekureru) stronger. Imagine you’ve already asked the person to leave you alone nicely a few times and their not listening to you. You could say 一人にしてください ! (hitori ni shite kudasai!) to emphasise that you’re getting irritated with them. In this case, we can translate 一人にしてください (hitori ni shite kudasai) as “just leave me alone please” or “just go away, please” in Japanese.  Imagine if someones asked you time and time again to do something, and it’s starting to frustrate you. they ask you:

  • ね、何でしない?もう何回も聞いたけど。
    ne, nande shinai? mou nankai mo kiita kedo.
    hey, why won’t you do it? I’ve asked you so many times already.

Your reply could be:

  • 一人にしてください!
    hitori ni shite kudasai!
    Just let me be alone, please!

No More/That’s Enough 

 

No More, That's Enough in Japanese

 

As this expression has many meanings, this section has three parts.

  • No More/That’s Enough/Forget it
    もういい
    mou ii

もういい Meaning 1 – That’s Enough/I’m done

The meaning of もういい (mou ii) can change depending on the context.  Firstly, you can use もういい (mou ii)  to say “I’m done,” or “That’s enough” in Japanese.  Imagine you go out to play mini-golf with friends. You complete the course twice and your friends are hyped to go again. So, they ask you:

  • もう一回する?
    mou ikkai suru?
    Let’s go again?

You’re tired now and have had enough for one day. So you reply with:

  • もういい。
    mou ii
    That’s enough/ I’m done

もういい Meaning 2 – Forget it

Secondly,  you can use it to say No more/that’s enough, in the context of “go away.” When you say もういい (mou ii) in this context, you’re showing an abandoned attitude towards something. It’s similar to the English expression “forget it,” or “that’s enough.” Let’s take a look at an example. Suppose you’ve asked your roommate if they could clean the mess they made in the kitchen. A couple of hours later you ask:

  • キッチンをきれいにしたの??
    kicchin wo kirei ni shita no?
    Have you tidied up the kitchen?

They reply:

  • まだ。暇の時する。
    mada. hima no toki suru.
    Not yet, I’ll do it when I have time.

At this point, you could respond with:

  • もういい。
    mou ii
    Forget it.

もういい Meaning 3 – Okay

Lastly, you can use it to describe a state that reaches a satisfactory or suitable level. For example, say you’re waiting to enter a room to speak with someone, you ask:

  • もう入ってもいいですか?
    mou haiitemoii desu ka?
    Is it okay to come in now?

Their reply could be:

  • もういいよ!入って !
    mou ii yo! haitte!
    It’s okay now! Come in!

Depending on the context, the meaning of もういい (mou ii) can change drastically. Just because this expression can be used to mean “forget it” doesn’t mean that it has negative connotations attached to it when used in other contexts.

Stop it! in Japanese

 

Stop it in Japanese

  • Stop it
    やめて
    Yamete

Sometimes when we tell someone “go away” we’re actually asking them to “stop it” rather than to physically step away. When you want to say to someone “stop it” in Japanese you can use やめて (yamete). I’ve composed a full guide on how to say stop it in Japanese here.

Shut Up! in Japanese

 

Shut up in Japanese

  • Shut up!
    うるさい
    urusai

When you say うるさい (urusai) to someone in Japanese, you’re telling them to “shut up.” Although it has many meanings: annoying, noisy, fussy, in Japanese you can use it to tell someone to keep quiet. It’s commonly used in Japanese media for comedic effect, so you might hear movie/anime characters using it.

  • 結構お菓子を食べるね!もっと太るよ。
    kekkou okashi wo taberu ne! motto futoru yo
    You eat quite a lot of sweets. You’ll get even more fat, you know.

The reply:

  • うるさい。
    urusai.
    Shut it.

うるさい (urusai) is a flexible word that’s not just used to tell someone to stop being noisy though. When you use it, you express your irritation towards what’s happening.  You can also call someone うるさい (urusai)  for instance. When you do this, you’re telling them that they are annoying/loud and that it is irritating you. This is because うるさい (urusai) is actually an adjective.

  • あなたはうるさいね
    anata ha urusai ne
    You’re really loud (annoying)

You can also use うるさい (urusai) to express your irritation towards something that is not a sound, an overly insistent person for example.

Despite being often used to say “shut up” in Japanese, in terms of offensiveness, うるさい (urusai) is on the weaker end. That is because of the Imperative form that exists in Japanese. If you really want to tell someone to be quiet, in the same way as you would shout “SILENCE” in English, refer to the next entry.

Be Quiet!

  • Be Quiet!
    黙れ
    damare

Sometimes you might want to tell someone to “go away” because they are really loud. Or, you could just yell at them to be quiet, which is what 黙れ (damare) is in Japanese. 黙れ is the imperative form of the verb 黙る (damaru) which means “to be silent” in Japanese. As we’ve discussed, the imperative form in Japanese is used to really put emphasis on a request and pretty much turn it into a command or an order.

With this in mind, 黙れ is a very aggressive expression that you can use when you want to tell someone straight-up:  “SILENCE.” A good example of when you might hear this expression being used would be in a movie or anime. Imagine the antagonist is trying to taunt the protagonist:

  • お前はまさか、もう限界なのか?
    omae ha masaka, mou genkai na no ka?
    There’s no way that’s all you can do, is it?

To which, the triggered protagonist would angrily shout:

  • 黙れ!
    damare!
    Silence!

Related: How to say No way in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

Please Be Quiet in Japanese

  • Please Be Quiet!
    静かにしてください
    shizuka ni shite kudasai

When you want to ask someone to be quiet nicely, you’ll want to use 静かにしてください (shizuka ni shite kudasai). 静か (shizuka) the first part of the phrase means “quiet” in Japanese. The remainder of the phrase にして (ni shite) means “to do” and ください (kudasai) is a polite way of saying “please” in Japanese. This means that we can translate the phrase as literally: “Please do it quietly.”

静かにしてください (shizuka ni shite kudasai) is something you might see at libraries in Japan to remind everyone to keep quiet in the facility.

You can use this phrase to kindly ask someone to be quiet though. This is a formal phrase, so you wouldn’t really use it with friends or anyone you’re close with. Instead, you can use:

  • 静かにしてくれる?
    shizuka ni shite kureru?
    Could you be quiet for me?

As you may remember, the addition of くれる (kureru) conveys the meaning of “for me” in Japanese. There’s nothing quite like it in English, but くれる (kureru) has a kinder connotation with it. You can use 静かにしてくれる (shizuka ni shite kureru) only with friends or people you are close with to ask them to kindly be quiet in Japanese.

Don’t Go! in Japanese

Don't Go Away in Japanese

  • Don’t go!
    行かないで
    ikanai de

To finish up today’s article I thought it would be a good idea to mention how to say the opposite of “go away,” in case you should need it. To do that you can say 行かないで (ikanaide), an expression to say “don’t go” in Japanese. Perhaps you’ve accidentally told someone to “go away” but actually you’ve changed your mind. Or maybe someone is about to leave, and you wish to express your true feelings that you want them to stay.  For all of these situations, you can use 行かないで (ikanaide).

Let’s take a look at an example. Someone special says to you:

  • ごめん、今行かないと、また後でね!
    gomen, ima ikanaito, mata atodene!
    I’m sorry, I have to go now. I’ll catch you later!

You can reply:

  • 待って!行かないで!
    matte! ikanaide!
    Wait! Don’t go!

By itself, 行かないで (ikanaide) is already a complete phrase, so the addition of 待って (matte), a casual way of saying “wait” in Japanese, is optional here.


With that said, that concludes today’s article. I hope you found it useful and enjoyable.

But wait! 行かないで!

We have more content to help you with learning Japanese expressions and phrases.

Check out more Ultimate Guides such as how to ask How Are You, or how to say Have a Good Day in Japanese.

Free Japanese Language Reading Practices for all levels.

Interested in The Legend of Zelda? Quest with me!

Or, if you’re interested in joining a community of language learners and learning from native Japanese tutors, have a look at Preply or Italki. I have composed a full in-depth review of Preply, where I discuss the platform in detail, including the pros, cons of my experience, and honest opinion.

If you have any questions about anything, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help!

Let's Go in Japanese

How to say Let’s Go in Japanese

Unlike in English, saying “let’s go” in Japanese is not just about learning two simple words. In fact, when you want to say “let’s go, let’s eat” or anything of the sort in Japanese you’ll instead be using a single word. This is because “let’s” in Japanese is actually a grammar point.

In this ultimate guide, I will be explaining both the grammar point for people who would like more info, and I will also be providing simple ready-to-use sentences coupled with examples for those who are just looking for ways on how to say “let’s go” in Japanese.

However, the grammar point is not so bad because once you know how to conjugate it, you can transform every verb “let’s.”

With that said, now we’re going to explore and learn about all the ways you can say “let’s go and do something,” or “let’s go” in Japanese.

Let’s begin! 始めよう!

How to say “Go” in Japanese

First, let’s look at how to say “go.”

  • To Go
    行く
    iku

 To say “go” in Japanese, we can use the word 行く (iku). By itself, this word simply means “to go.” You can use it when you want to tell someone that you will go somewhere. For instance, if a friend asks if you’re going to the party that’s happening later the conversation might look like this:

  • 今日のパーティーに行く?
    kyou no pa-tei- ni iku?
    Are you going to todays party?

If you’re going, you can simply say:

  • 行く?
    iku?
    I’m going.

Although 行く (iku) literally translates to “go,” you can use it by itself to say things like: “I’m going”,  or “I will go.” You can even use it as a way to say “yes” in Japanese. It’s worth noting that the Japanese language often omits pronouns where context is clear. You don’t even need to say “I” here! Another example:

  • 今日、ジムに行く?
    kyou, jimu ni iku?
    Are you going to the gym today?

Your reply:

  • 行く!
    iku
    Yeah!

Simply saying 行く (iku) is sufficient enough again here! Of course, if you’re not going you can say you aren’t by using 行かない (ikanai) instead.

Go in Formal Japanese

Currently, we’ve looked at the plain form of 行く (iku). The plain form (or dictionary form) refers to a casual style of speech. This means that you should only use 行く (iku) when you’re speaking with friends or family. This is because the Japanese language has many different styles of speech that show different levels of respect/politeness.

When you’re speaking with people such as a manager, teacher, or even a stranger you should use a more formal style of speech. These honorifics are called keigo.

In the case with 行く (iku), it becomes 行きます (ikimasu) when speaking formal Japanese.

Let’s say you’re having a conversation with your manager:

  • 会議に行きますか?
    kaigi ni ikimasu ka?
    Are you going to the meeting later?

Your (formal) response:

  • 行きます。
    ikimasu.
    Yes. (I am going)

How to say “Let’s” in Japanese

Now that we’ve covered how to say “go” in Japanese, let’s take a look at how to say “let’s.” Being able to say “let’s” in Japanese isn’t as simple as just learning a single word like in English. Instead, it’s a grammar point.

This grammar point is called the volitional form. You use it when you want to make a proposition to do something, invite someone to do something, or propose an action.

Put simply, you use the volitional form when you want to say “Let’s” in Japanese.

If you’re interested in learning all about the form in detail, as well as practice with it, you should definitely check out our Free Japanese Reading Practice on the volitional form.  The page covers the form in detail.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how “let’s go” is said in Japanese.

Let’s Go in Japanese

 

Let's Go in Japanese

  • Let’s Go
    行こう
    ikou

When you want to say to someone “let’s go” in Japanese, you’ll want to use 行こう (ikou). Grammatically speaking, 行こう (ikou) is the volitional form of 行く (iku). All volitional words will end in う (u) so it makes it a little easier to recognise.

Just like 行く (iku), you can use 行こう (ikou) by itself as a sentence. For instance, imagine you’re preparing for a camping trip with your friend. Your friend says:

  • 準備できた!
    junbi dekita!
    I’ve packed!

And you reply:

  • 行こう!
    ikou!
    Let’s go!

Also like 行く (iku), you can use 行こう (ikou) to say yes to things. Let’s take a look at another example. Your partner asks you:

  • 今夜、レストランに行かない?
    konya, resutoran ni ikanai?
    Shall we go to a restaurant tonight?

Assuming you’re all up for wanting to watch a movie, you can simply reply:

  • 行こう!
    ikou!
    Yeah! (Let’s go)

Sometimes situations where you want to say “let’s go” is interchangeable with “yes.” That’s why you can also use 行こう (ikou) when you want to give an affirmative response to something.

It’s worth noting that all words in the volitional form can convey “yes” too.

As previously mentioned Japanese has many different styles of casual and formal speech that change depending on whom you’re speaking with. Saying 行こう (ikou) is something that you should only do with your friends, family, or in a casual setting. The formal variant is what we’ll discuss next!

Formal ways to say Let’s Go

 

Let's Go in Japanese Formally

  • Let’s Go (formal)
    行きましょう
    ikimashou

Understanding how the volitional form works in polite Japanese is much easier than in casual Japanese.

As a quick and simple explanation, take any Japanese verb in the ます (masu) form. Remove the す (su) and attach しょう (shou). That’s all there is to it.

A few examples:

べます ー べま ー べましょう (Let’s eat)

す -  ー しょう (Let’s see/ Let’s watch)

Back to the Star of today’s post! The casual 行く(iku), meaning “to go” becomes the formal 行きます (ikimasu). And then:

きます ー きま ー 行きましょう

Exactly like how you would use 行こう (ikou) to say “let’s go” in a casual setting, you can use 行きましょう (ikimashou) to say the same thing in a formal one.

Let’s take a look at examples. Let’s say you’ve joined a hiking group. You’re with people with whom you’re not too familiar.  You’re trying to work out where to go, and someone suggests a place:

  • このところはどうですか?
    kono tokoro ha dou desuka?
    How about this place?

If you’re all up for it, you can say:

  • 行きましょう!
    ikimashou!
    Let’s go!

In this example, you can think of 行きましょう (ikimashou) as a polite way to say “sounds good” in Japanese. You’re essentially telling the person that you’re happy to do the thing that they’re proposing.

If you’re wondering what to say when you’re not too keen on the idea, we have an ultimate guide on how to say No in Japanese. Declining things in Japanese can be a little tricky, but the guide should definitely be able to explain all the nuances and everything clearly to you.

Let’s Go in Japanese Keigo

  • Let’s Go (Very formal, Keigo)
    参りましょう
    mairimashou

There is actually another way to go even further beyond and say “let’s go” when you want to be super formal. This super formal Japanese is called Keigo. You will hear it a lot when you’re being spoken to as a customer. For instance, when you are checking in at a hotel, or when you’re paying for an item at a cashier, the staff may use it with you. They use this super polite style of speech to really emphasize how valued you are (as a customer).

In the case of 参りましょう (mairimashou), you’ll probably not hear it as much in Japanese speech.

Let’s Go in Japanese Keigo Examples

Being a massive The Legend of Zelda fan I was playing Hyrule Warriors the other night. I play with Japanese voices out of preference and I noticed a great example of this phrase being used in the game.

I noticed how the character Impa, who is a loyal protector of Princess Zelda, speaks to the King of Hyrule. In Hyrule Warriors you can select characters you’d like to join you on quests and missions. When I selected Impa and the King of Hyrule together, she says:

  • 参りましょう陛下!
    mairimashou heika!
    Let us be off, your majesty!

I thought this was a fantastic example of how much formality 参りましょう (mairimashou) carries.

When you use this phrase, you’re really putting the person you’re speaking with on a pedestal.

Another situation where I’ve used this kind of phrase before was when I went to Mcdonalds (in Japan) for my job interview. After preparing to the best of my ability and trying to calm my nerves as much as possible I entered the building. I asked the staff:

  • すみません、店長がいらしゃいますか?
    sumimasen, tenchou ga irashaimasu ka?
    Excuse me, is the manager about?

To which they replied:

  • 少々お待ちください。すぐ参ります。
    shoushou omachikudasai. sugu mairimasu.
    Please wait for a moment. They’ll be with you momentarily.

参ります (mairimasu) can also mean “to come” as well as “to go” in Japanese, making it a little easier to use!

Let’s Go Together

 

Let's Go Together in Japanese

  • Let’s Go Together
    一緒に行こう
    isshoni ikou

Jumping back to 行こう, if you attach the word 一緒に (isshoni) to the phrase, you can say “let’s go together” in Japanese.

一緒に (isshoni) means “together” in Japanese, and you can use it exactly how you would use “together” in English.

As we discussed earlier, 行こう (ikou) is the casual way to say “let’s go” in Japanese. When you want to specify that you particularly want to go somewhere with someone you might want to use the phrase 一緒に行こう (isshoni ikou). For instance, let’s say your partner is looking at some photographs of a new theme park that’s opened up near you. They might say:

  • 新しい遊園地はすごく楽しそう。
    atarashii yuuenchi ha sugoku tanoshisou.
    The new theme park looks so fun.

You might respond:

  • 一緒に行こう!
    isshoni ikou!
    Let’s go together!

一緒に行こう (isshoni ikou) is a phrase that you should only use with friends and family. You can say 一緒に行きましょう (isshoni ikimashou) to say “let’s go together” in polite Japanese.

Right, Let’s Go

  • Right, Let’s Go
    さあ・よし・じゃあ・では +行こう
    saa / deha / jaa / yoshi + ikou

In situations where we are looking to depart or go somewhere, we might say “right, let’s go,” or “okay/alright, let’s go.” These situations would mostly be those where you’re about to depart at any second. For instance, imagine you’ve just packed the car for a road trip. You quickly scan through your head to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. You think everything is good to go, and you’re ready to depart. In English, you might say “okay, let’s go.” The “okay” in this sentence is where the さあ (saa)・よし (yoshi)・じゃあ (jaa)・では (deha)  come in.

さあ (saa)・よし (yoshi)・じゃあ (jaa) ・では (deha) can be used pretty much interchangeably. The order in which you see them displayed on this page shows how formal each expression is, from casual to formal.

The difference between さあ・よし・じゃあ・では

さあ (saa) is the most casual of the group and is best used with those with whom you are familiar.  You might also hear さあ (saa) being used as a filler word in sentences by young people. When you want to use it as a filler word, you suggest you have something a little delicate to say and are working out how to word it correctly. In the case of todays topic, you can use さあ、行こう (saa ikou) when you want to say “right, let’s go” casually in Japanese.

After you’ve finished packing the car for the trip, you might say よし行こう (yoshi ikou). Here the よし (yoshi) can be interpreted as “okay” as in “okay (that’s finished), let’s go.”

When you use じゃあ (jaa) and say じゃあ行こう (jaa ikou) you’re essentially saying “well then, let’s go.” For instance, let’s say you ask your partner, who is joining you on this camping trip if they’re ready. They say:

  • うん、準備が終った!
    un, junbi ga owatta
    Yeah, preparations are finished!

To which, you reply:

  • じゃあ行こう!
    jaa ikou!
    Well then, Let’s go!

When you say じゃあ (jaa), you’re essentially saying “if that’s the case, then…”

では (deha) is the most formal of the group.  Therefore, It is best used in conjunction with the polite 行きましょう (ikimashou), rather than the causal 行こう (ikou). Similar to じゃあ (jaa), you can use では行きましょう (deha ikimashou) when you want to say to someone “okay/well then, let’s go” in polite Japanese speech.

Let’s Go in Japanese slang

  • Let’s Go
    レッツゴー
    rettsu go-

If you’ve ever played a Super Mario video game, then I’m sure you’ve heard him shout out his catchphrase “Let’s go!” at some point. In the Japanese language, Mario’s catchphrase is actually what’s called a transcription of a foreign word, a loanword, or katakana. Basically, it’s a word borrowed directly from the English language that is a part of the Japanese dictionary.

This is what the phrase レッツゴー (rettsu go-) is. It is essentially English that is spoken with only Japanese phonetics. I’d expect you’re thinking if you can even use this phrase to say “let’s go” in Japanese. The answer is… Kind of. What I mean by this, is that while a native Japanese speaker will understand you, it depends on what kind of impressions you want to leave.

You can say レッツゴー (rettsu go-), but it has a somewhat playful vibe to it. This means, of course, you’ll probably not want to use it during formal situations.

More Ways to say Let’s Go in Japanese slang

If you’ve watched any anime like Dragonball Z or anything similar that has a targetted audience of young males in Japanese dub, you’ve probably heard some of the characters shout things like 行くぞ!(ikuzo) at some point. When looking at the English subtitles, it may be translated as “Let’s go.” But there are some more nuances to these kinds of words. So you’ll have to be careful when using them. Let’s take a look!

Meaning of ikuzo (行くぞ) in Japanese

Building from what we mentioned previously, 行くぞ (ikuzo) is essentially the verb 行く (iku) which means “to go” in Japanese (see entry #1). The main difference here is that 行くぞ (ikuzo) is followed by a special sentence-ending particle. In this case ぞ (zo).

When attached to the end of a word or sentence, ぞ (zo) emphasises the thing that the speaker is talking about. In Anime and Manga, it is primarily used only by men. Thus, using ぞ (zo) gives a rash, aggressive impression. The, often male protagonist, might say 行くぞ (ikuzo) right before a big fight. In this sense, we get the impression that the protagonist is super pumped up, and is ready to give it his all. It is similar to the Japanese sentence-ending particle よ (yo), which works a bit like an English exclamation mark. The ぞ (zo), however, really shows the speakers determination to something.

You could also use 行くぞ (ikuzo) to describe other things somewhat aggressively like:

  • 電車が行くぞ
    densha ga ikuzo
    The train is (about to) go.

However, again, this is only really heard by characters in anime. Saying 行くぞ (ikuzo) in a real-world environment would get you some weird looks for sure as it’s unnatural.

Meaning of ikuwayo (行くわよ) in Japanese

Similar to 行くぞ (ikuzo), 行くわよ (ikuwayo) can also be used to say “let’s go” in Japanese. It works as the feminine version of 行くぞ (ikuzo). Thus you will mostly hear it being used by females protagonists in anime that have a target audience of young females.  These distinctions are here because Japanese is a gendered language with many differences in speech between men and women.

Also, like 行くぞ (ikuzo), you’re probably best off avoiding using 行くわよ (ikuwayo) in real-world conversations. This is because it would essentially sound like you’re mimicking your favourite anime character. Instead, it’s better to simply say 行こう (ikou).

Want To Go

 

Want to go in Japanese

  • Want to go
    行きたい
    ikitai

When you want to say that you want to go somewhere in Japanese, you can use 行きたい (ikitai). Saying “I want to” in Japanese is actually a grammar point. If you’re interested in learning the details, you can check out our reading practice on this grammar point for beginners.

The great thing about 行きたい (ikitai) is that it’s already a complete sentence in itself. For instance, if your friend asks you if you’d like to go for a walk, the conversation might look like this.

  • 今夜一緒に散歩に行かない?
    konya isshoni sanpo ikanai?
    Would you like to go for a walk together this evening?

If you want to go, you can reply:

  • 行きたい!
    ikitai!
    I would like to (go)!

Just as a quick tip… When you want to ask someone if they would like to go somewhere or do something in Japanese, you don’t use this grammar point. Instead, you should simply say 行く?(iku?) or 行かない?(ikanai?) like in the example above.

  • 散歩に行きたい?
    sanpo ni ikitai?
    Want to go for a walk?

In summary, you should only say 行きたい (ikitai) as a response to something. I used to make this mistake all the time, so I think it’s a good thing to know as early as possible!

I Don’t Want To Go

If you’re not so keen on the idea, you might want to decline. But saying no in Japanese is another story, as it’s considered polite to decline indirectly.

To say “I don’t want to go” in Japanese though, you can use:

  • 行きたくない。
    ikitakunai.
    I don’t want to go.

If you were to say directly that you don’t want to go like the above expression, you’re feeling of not wanting to go may come across quite strongly. I’d recommend using this expression with those you’re really close with, or if you really really dislike the idea of going somewhere.

Telling someone to Go

  • Go (telling someone)
    行って
    itte

When you want to tell someone gently to go somewhere you can use 行って (itte). This isn’t an aggressive expression, but if you’re looking for one, you can use 行け (ike).  When you say 行け (ike) you are really telling someone to go. Imagine you’re watching your friend play a game, and they’re on the last boss. They’re so close to beating it, and you might shout 行け!(ike), meaning “go!”

Be right Back in Japanese

With 行って (itte), the connotations attached are much calmer.  For instance, you can use this phrase to say brb (be right back) in Japanese. Imagine you’re chatting with a friend on the phone and you want to go and grab something from the fridge. You can say:

  • 行ってくる
    ittekuru
    I’ll be right back.

This phrase directly translates to “go and come back,” and you can use it the same way you would use “be right back” in English.

Should Go in Japanese

  • Should Go
    行ったほうがいい
    itta hou ga ii

When you want to give someone a suggestion or advice in regards to if they should go to a place you can use 行ったほうがいい (itta hou ga ii). In English it translates to “should go”.

The amazing thing about this expression is that it’s already a complete sentence. Plus! As pronouns are often omitted in Japanese, you can use 行ったほうがいい (itta hou ga ii) as it is to say one of two things:

  1. I should go
  2. You should go

It just depends on the context of your conversation. For instance, say a friend isn’t too sure if they can be bothered to go to class today:

  • 授業に行きたくない。
    jugyou ni ikitakunai
    I don’t want to go to class.

Being the amazing friend that you are, you encourage them and say:

  • 行ったほうがいい。
    itta hou ga ii.
    You should go (to class).

The subject (which is also often omitted in Japanese) of this sentence is already understood by both people. Therefore you don’t need to specify and say  “class” here.

Giving advice comes from our thoughts and feelings about something. Naturally, we will sometimes want to say “I think” when giving it.

To say “I think you should go” in Japanese we can attach と思う (to omou) to the expression. It becomes:

  • 行ったほうがいいと思う。
    itta hou ga ii to omou.
    I think you should go.

Those of you who have studied Japanese before might have noticed that both of these are two grammar points.

  1. たほうがいい
  2. と思う

As a quick explanation, the たほうがいい grammar point functions like this. Take the plain form verb, in this case, its 行く. Turn it into the past tense, or, the た form. 行く becomes 行った. Then simply attach ほうがいい.

Let’s Go back in Japanese

Go Back in Japanese

 

  • Let’s go back
    戻ろう
    modorou

When you want to return to somewhere, you can say 戻ろう (modorou) in Japanese. 戻ろう (modorou) comes from the verb 戻る (modoru) which means “to return.” Like 行こう (ikou), 戻ろう (modorou) is also a volitional form word. This means that the meaning is essentially “let’s go back.”

You can use 戻ろう (modorou) to say “let’s go back” for any situation except for returning home. For example, let’s say you’re off on a hiking trip, and you decide to take a different path. The path becomes smaller and smaller until it’s looking like you should just go back. In this case, you can simply say 戻ろう (modorou).

Let’s Go Home

When returning home, there is a different word you should use. This word is 帰る (kaeru) which literally means “go home.” Let’s say you’re satisfied with your hiking today and you want to go home. To say this in Japanese, take the word 帰る (kaeru), change it into the volitional form: 帰ろう (kaerou).  You could say something like:

  • お腹すいた!帰ろう!
    onaka suita! kaerou!
    I’m hungry! Let’s go home!

In any other situation where you want to go back to any place that’s not your home, you would use 戻ろう (modorou).

Volitional Form Learning Resources

Check out Japanese Ammo with Misa’s video on the volitional form. I think she does a great job of explaining it while keeping everything interesting!

Let’s Go and Do Something

  • Let’s go and do X
    Xに行こう
    X ni ikou

To say “let’s go and do something” in Japanese you need to use a grammar point. First, take the verb in ます form which you are doing. For instance, します, which means “to do”. Remove the ます, which makes it simply し. Lastly, attach に行こう.

Some examples:

ます ー ますに行こう – Let’s go and do it

ます ー ますに行こう – Let’s go and see

ます ー ますに行こう – Let’s go and eat

Let’s go and study some more Japanese!

  • もっと日本語を勉強しに行こう!
    motto nihongo wo benkyou shi ni ikou!
    Let’s go and study more Japanese!

How did you find today’s post? I hope you found all the information you were looking for. If you have any questions at all leave me a comment below!

If you’re interested in learning Japanese from the beginning, check out our ultimate guide.

Or, if you’re already studying you might be interested in visiting more of our ultimate How to Japanese guides.

We also have a personalised dedicated Japanese reading practice page for all language levels.

Are you into The Legend of Zelda? Quest with me!


More Ultimate Guides:

How to say No Way in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

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

No Way in Japanese

How to say No Way in Japanese

With many different ways to say “no way” in Japanese, it can seem a little overwhelming. In English, we often have one singular phrase that we can use to express all kinds of situations.

In Japanese, however, this is a little different. There are many different phrases and words in Japanese that you should use (and avoid) depending on the situation. This comes down to a couple of main things.

For instance, how the Japanese language changes dramatically when you’re speaking with different levels of respect. Or how some words and expressions are more frequently used depending on your age, and even gender.

In the case of this article, we’ll be exploring all of the nuances of, and ways you can say “No Way” in Japanese. There are quite a few of them, so you’ll be ready to tackle any situation.  You’ll know the best and most natural ways of saying “No Way” in Japanese. But first, there are two things I’d like you to keep in mind as you read through this post.  In English, saying “No Way” is primarily used in one of two situations.

The first is when we’re surprised or shocked. When something sounds astonishing, or unbelievable to you, such as if there was a Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask sequel announcement, you’d think “no way!”

The second is when you’re outright denying or refusing a statement or suggestion. For instance, if someone were to tell you that getting hyped over a new Zelda game was a waste of time and that you shouldn’t buy it, you’d say “no way!”

With these two uses in mind, let’s jump in and explore all of the ways to say “No Way” in Japanese!

How not to say No Way in Japanese

 

Just before we learn how to say “no way” in Japanese, let’s look at how we should perhaps not say it. When looking around on the internet and in dictionaries, you’ll likely come across this one.

  • No way!
    とんでもない
    tondemonai

Although its grammatically correct, とんでもない (tondemonai) is best not used when you want to say “no way” in Japanese. It has many meanings. For instance, you can use it when you want to refer to something as absurd or unthinkable.  Or, you can also use it as an expression to say “Absolutely not,” amongst other expressions such as “No problem” in Japanese. Culturally though, you’d probably want to avoid using expression phrase in Japan. The main reason being is that it sounds outdated and somewhat formal.

In Japanese conversation, there are much better and common words and expressions you can use to express your shock or refusal of something.

Let’s take a look!

No way in Japanese

  • No way!
    うそ
    uso

With that out of the way, let’s move onto the actual phrases and expressions worth using. A much more common way to say “no way” is the colloquial expression うそ (so). This one is fantastic, you’ll hear and use it all the time when speaking Japanese. While this expression actually means “lie” you’ll hear it being used when people are surprised or taken aback.

For instance:

  • ムジュラの仮面の続編が発表されたよ!
    majora no kamen no zokuhen ga happyou sareta yo!
    A sequel to Majora’s Mask was just announced!

Of course, you can reply:

  • うそ!
    uso!
    no way!

One of my most memorable experiences with encountering this expression is when I first heard it while watching the Japanese dubbed version of Pokemon. The Pokemon Sudowoodo and its pre-evolution in Japanese has literally one line it is capable of saying. With that one line being うそ (uso), it makes for some great laughs when the Pokemon is shouting out うそ うそ うそ! (no way, no way, no way!) over and over again.

Check it out for yourself!

You can also use うそ (uso) as うそでしょう (uso desshou) adding more flavour to the expression. By attaching でしょう (desshou) to うそ (uso) you’re essentially saying “No way, you’re joking, right?” in Japanese.

There is also a kanji for (uso) you’ll probably encounter in manga and books to avoid confusion. In these cases that it is written in its kanji, 嘘, it will more often than not be referring to the actual lie in question rather than being used to say “no way.”

うそ (uso) is very easy to use and I’m sure you’ll have no problem remembering it. You’ll hear it all the time in Japan!

Seriously? 

 

Seriously in Japanese

  • Seriously?
    マジで
    maji de

When something happens that comes as a surprise to you, you can use マジで (maji de) to say “Seriously?!” in Japanese. You’ll see マジで (maji de) written in either katakana or hiragana.

マジで・まじで

So you can use either when you want to say “seriously” in Japanese yourself. マジで is actually an abbreviation of 真面目 (majime), meaning “sincere; honest” in Japanese.

There are plenty of occasions as to when you might want to use this expression. You can also combine it with うそ (uso) (explained above) to say “No way! Seriously?!” to really give a boost to your expressionism.

A few examples as to when you can use マジで (maji de) Your friend tells you:

  • 実はムジュラの仮面の続編がキャンセルされたらしい。
    jitsu ha majora no kamen no zokuhen ga kyanseru sareta rashi.
    Actually, it seems like the sequel to Majora’s Mask got cancelled.

Imagine the horror! Then you, (or I at least) would reply:

  • うそ!マジで?!
    uso! maji de?!
    No way! Seriously?!

マジで (maji de) is of course a casual expression. So you’re probably best off avoiding using this one during formal situations.

Sometimes you might see it written as マジでっ with the addition of a small hiragana つ (tsu).  You don’t actually pronounce the small つ (tsu) at all. In this case, it is instead used to exaggerate one’s expression of something. So if you see it written a マジでっ you can assume that the character is very surprised, like a huge “NO WAY!”

Really?! in Japanese

Really?! in Japanese

  • Really?!
    えええ
    eee

You might have heard this one before when speaking with Japanese people or watching Japanese anime or shows. For those of you who haven’t, えええ (eee) is actually pronounced like a very long, exaggerated English “Ehhhhh?!” In Japanese, you can say actual words by making what we might just consider as noises in English. Take the way to deny something and say “no” in Japanese for instance, you can simply make a noise from the back of your mouth to say it.

Going back on topic… When you’re surprised, shocked, or just even if you’re somewhat disappointed you can say えええ (eee) to say “Really?!” in Japanese. Moreover, what’s great about this expression is that you can keep it as short or as long as you want, depending on how long you’re shocked for. For instance,

  • 新しポケモンは今年でないらしいよ
    atarashii pokemon ha kotoshi denai rashii yo
    Apparently, the new pokemon won’t be coming out this year.

With the perfect response:

  • えええええええええええ。
    eeeeeeeeeee
    Whaaaaaaaaat, really?

Of course, if you really wanted to spice up your response to express your complete disappointment/level of shock:

  • えええええええええええ、うそ!マジで?!
    eeeeeeeeeee, uso! maji de?!
    Whaaaaaaaaat, really? No way! Seriously?!

I know which sounds like the more appropriate reply for this scenario to me.

It’s very easy to mix and match all three entries covered so far, うそ (uso), マジで (maji de), and えええ (eee) to find a fitting response for any situation.

Huh?! in Japanese

 

Building on what we covered under the えええ (eee) section, we can use the same expression to say “huh” in Japanese.

All we have to do is take a singular え (e), and use it as is. Simply by saying え (e), which is pronounced like an English “eh” by the way, we can say “huh” in Japanese. For example:

  • 明日私は来ない。
    ashita watashi ha konai
    I’m not coming tomorrow.

Your response:

  • え、マジで?!
    e, maji de?!
    Huh, Seriously?!

You’ll probably hear this used frequently in Japanese conversation. Have fun with your え’s!

No way, really?! 

  • Really?!
    本当に?!
    hontou ni?!

On occasions where you hear something that you doubt the legitimacy of you can say 本当に?!(hontouni). It is the same as saying “No way! Really?!” in English when you can’t believe something. For instance, imagine you have a cake you’ve been saving, but your sister says:

  • お兄ちゃん、ごめん、ケーキ全部食べちゃった。
    onichan, gomen, ke-ki zenbu tabechatta
    I’m sorry, I kind of ate all of your cake.

To which, you reply:

  • うそ!本当に?!
    uso! hontou ni?!
    No way! Really?!

In situations like these that appear in stories such as that in Japanese manga, you might see it written as ほんとに (honto ni). This is just a shortened version of the expression. Of course, like in the example, you could say うそ (uso), (meaning explained above) followed by 本当に?!(hontouni). But it is perfectly natural to just simply say 本当に?!(hontouni) on its own. It just comes down to your preference on what you want to say.

当に?!(hontouni) is great because you can use it in many ways. I use it in Japanese conversation all the time actually. You can also use it when you want to say that something is “very” something.

  • でも兄ちゃんのケーキは本当に美味しかったよ
    demo onichan no ke-ki ha hontouni oishikatta yo
    But your cake was really delicious!

You can use this expression during both casual and polite situations. If you want to use it when speaking polite Japanese, you should say 本当ですか? (hontou desuka).

There are also some cool dialects associated with this phrase. In the Kansai region of Japan, instead of saying 本当に (hontou ni) they would say ほんまに (honmani) instead. Of course, this would only be when speaking with friends, as it sounds very casual.

I can’t believe it 

 

Surprised no way

  • I can’t believe it
    信じられない
    shinjirarenai

What better way to express your shock towards something than saying the words “I can’t believe it.” Just as you’d expect from this expression, it can be used on any occasion where you want to say “I can’t believe it” in Japanese.

信じられない (shinjirarenai) is the negative potential form of the verb 信じる (shinjiru) which means “to believe.”

There is only one small real difference between the Japanese and English version of this expression. As there are many ways that you can express “no way” in Japanese, saying the words “I can’t believe it” in Japanese may have a stronger connotation associated with it. So you’re best off saying 信じられない (shinjirarenai) when something appears implausible and you really, really can’t believe that something.

  •  うそ!宝くじに当たった!信じられない!
    uso! takarakuji ni atta! shinjirarenai
    No way! I just won the lottery! I can’t believe it!

You can also express how something is so good/bad beyond your imagination. For instance, let’s say you finally get to go to that theme park and ride that rollercoaster you’ve been waiting all your life for. You’re enjoying yourself so much that you feel as if you’ve been taken to another world, free of stress and worries.

  • 信じられないほど楽しい!
    shinjirarenai hodo tanoshii!
    I can’t believe how fun this is!

Or maybe you’re absorbed in a book with a thrilling story…

  • 信じられないほど面白い!
    shinjirarenai hodo omoshiroi!
    I can’t believe how interesting this is!

With this structure, you can swap out the adjective at the end of the phrase with anything to express that something is completely unbelievable to you.

Absolutely no way

  • Absolutely no way
    ありえない
    arienai

During situations where you feel that something is completely impossible and that there is no way that it’s happening you’ll want to say ありえない (arienai).

It is the negative form of the Japanese verb ありえる (arieru), which essentially means “possible” or “probable”  in Japanese.  For example:

  • 宇宙人の存在はありえることだ。
    uchuu jin no sonzai ha arieru koto da.
    There’s a possibility of aliens existing.

If you strongly disagree you could reply with:

  • ありえない!
    arienai!
    Impossible, no way.

You can quite easily simply interpret ありえない (arienai) as “impossible” in Japanese. However, there is a little more to this expression than just that. When you use this phrase, you’re expressing that you really feel that something is impossible. That you truly believe that something won’t happen and you don’t believe in it.

It is a very strong phrase that you can use when you want to say “Absolutely no way” in Japanese.

The expression ありえない (arienai) is made of two parts. The first part, あり (ari), comes from ある (aru) which means “to exist” in Japanese. The second part えない (enai) is  the negative form of the Japanese grammar point える, meaning “is possible.” By putting the two part’s together we can see that the literal translation of this expression is “no possibility exists.”

I’m not so sure in Japanese

Huh? I'm not sure in Japanese

  • I’m not so sure…
    どうかな
    dou kana

If you feel that ありえない (arienai) is too strong for when you want to say “no way,” you can take it down a notch with どうかな (doukana). Although the purpose of this article is to cover all the ways you can say “no way” in Japanese, it is sometimes considered to be polite when using indirect expressions to express your doubt over something in Japanese culture.

This means that even though deep down you might be thinking ありえない (arienai) to the possible existence of aliens, sometimes you might want to tone down the power of your response. You can do this by saying どうかな (doukana).

Also, when you’re really not believing in something, you can use どうかな (doukana). You doubt it so much that you’re on the brink of just saying “no way.”

  • 宇宙人が存在をしていると思う。
    uchuu jin ga sonzai wo shiteiru to omou.
    I think aliens exist.

You can reply with:

  • どうかな
    dou kana
    I’m not so sure…

In Japanese culture, it is kind to always think about the other person’s feelings. Therefore, in situations when the said person really believes in something, but you’re not convinced, you can say どうかな (dou kana) to lessen the impact of your words a little.

There’s No Way 

there is no way in Japanese

  • There’s no way
    まさか
    masaka

At times when a situation that you thought was impossible turns out to be on the other side of the coin and be true, you can use まさか (masaka). Or, imagine you truly believe that something is true, and then you suddenly notice a crack in that truth. That truth you had believed in for so long shows a sign of being false. On this occasion, you would say まさか (masaka), meaning “there’s no way… I was wrong?!”

Let’s take a look at an example.

Your sister starts hanging out one on one with a guy quite regularly and says:

  • お兄ちゃん、今日も彼に会おうと思っている。
    oniichan, kyou mo kare ni aou to omotteiru.
    Hey brother, I’m going to meet up with him today too.

And you can say:

  • 二人はまさか付き合っている?
    futari ha masaka tsukiatteiru?
    There’s no way you two are actually dating, right?

The best situations in which you can use まさか (masaka) is when you want to express that a revelation has taken you from surprise.

  • まさか新しいゼルダが発表される?
    masaka atarashii zeruda ga happyou sareru?
    There’s no way a new Zelda will be announced right?

If you’re a watcher of Japanese anime or movies, you may have noticed a villain say まさか (masaka). Perhaps they have just won the battle versus the hero and believe they had won until they see a bright light in the sky…

  • まさか… いったいどうやって生きてる!?
    masaka… ittai douyatte ikiteru!?
    There’s no way that… How are on earth are you alive!?

Sometimes, translating this expression from Japanese to English can be difficult. I hope the additional examples here helped you understand how it works.

No Way, No Chance

 

  • No way, no chance
    絶対にやだ
    zettaini yada

During the introduction to this article, I highlighted how when we say “no way” we are predominantly in one of two situations. The first of which being the entries we’ve covered so far – when we are surprised.

The second is what we will cover from here onwards – situations when you want to express dismissal or refusal or something. Let’s take a look!

When someone asks you for something, be that a favour, a request or anything of the sort there are times when you want to outright refuse. Alternatively, it could also be a suggestion or simple statement that you want to deny.

For instance, let’s say you don’t like sushi, that you despite it. Personally, I love it, and I would highly recommend going to a kaitenzushi place in Japan if you haven’t been before! Anyway, if you’re  not a big lover of fish, our conversation could go something like:

  • 日本に行ったらぜひ回転ずしに行ってみて!
    nihon ni ittara zehi kaitenzushi ni ittemite!
    You should definitely try out kaitenzushi when you go to Japan!
  • 魚が嫌いだから絶対にやだ。
    sakana ga kirai dakara zettaini yada.
    I hate fish so there’s absolutely no chance.

Sounds like a strong expression right? That’s because this phrase consists of two parts.

やだ -  (yada) means “no way” or “no chance” in Japanese and you can use it as-is for a less powerful expression.

絶対に - (zettaini) means “definitely” in Japanese, so you can see how by attaching this word the strength of your expression is amplified.

Another example:

  • 家の掃除をしてくれない?
    ie no souji wo shitekurenai?
    Could you clean the house for me?

Your response can simply be:

  • やだ
    yada
    No chance

This expression is very casual, so you should avoid saying やだ (yada) to anyone such as your manager, your teacher or a stranger.

Definitely Impossible 

  • Definitely Impossible
    絶対にむり
    zettaini muri

Another casual way to refuse a statement or suggestion is to use 絶対にむり (zettaini muri). Similar to 絶対にやだ (zettaini yada), above, you can use this expression when you want to completely outright say “no way” or “no chance” to something. For example, if you’re no good with spicy foods and your friend suggest you to try some wasabi, it might go like this:

  • わさびを食べてみる?
    wasabi wo tabetemiru?
    Fancy trying some wasabi?

Your reply:

  • 絶対にむり!
    zettaini muri!
    Absolutely no way!

When you use this expression to refuse a suggestion like this, you’re telling the other person that their request is impossible. You can also use this expression as you would in English to directly say that something is impossible.

  • 8時まで間に合える?
    hachi ji made maniaeru?
    Do you think you can make it by 8?

If it seems you can’t, you reply:

  • 絶対にむり、ごめん。
    zettaini muri, gomen.
    I’m sorry, I don’t think that’ll be possible.

Bonus! Another way you can use this expression is when you want to tell someone not to overdo something, to be careful and take it easy.

  • むりしないで。
    muri shinaide.
    Take it easy. (Don’t push yourself too hard).

Practice using “no way” in Japanese

How did you find this article? Are you interested in practising using all the ways you can say “no way” in Japanese yourself? Check out our free Japanese Reading Practice page for all language levels. We have produced original tailor-made reading comprehension, grammar explanations, examples, vocabulary lists & exams for you. Our next edition to the page will help you become even more familiar with all the ways you can say “no way” in Japanese.


We’re done already? うそ!I hope you found this article interesting and enjoyable. Until next time! むりしないで!

More Ultimate Guides:

Good Luck in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

What’s up in Japanese [Ultimate Guide]

How to say What's up in Japanese

How to say What’s Up in Japanese

みんな!元気?is how I would greet you all with a “hey everyone, what’s up?” in Japanese!

In English, we say “What’s up” to everyone all the time. I even say it to my dog when I come home after work. We might use it as a greeting, or when we are asking someone how they are.

Over the years we have shortened the phrase to “wassup,” or simply, “sup”. The phrase “What’s up” and its super casual variants aren’t just limited to the English language alone though! There are many ways you can say “What’s up” in Japanese and in this article we’re going to explore them.

Just as a heads up before we begin… In English, we often open with questions (sometimes rhetorical ones) to initiate conversations. In Japanese though, it’s much more common to open with a simple greeting such as “Hello,” or “Hey.” That’s not to say you’ll sound weird asking someone “What’s up” in Japanese though. The occasions when you might ask someone how they are could be when you see a friend whom you haven’t seen for a while for instance.

With that said, let’s jump straight into detailed explanations on all the ways to say what’s up in Japanese!

Author’s Note: The audio files presented are the natural way to pronounce each entry of “What’s up” in Japanese, so I recommend using them when referring to pronunciation if you can!

What’s up in Japanese

What's up in Japanese demonstration

  • What’s up?/How are you?
    元気?
    genki

One of the most common situations where we say “What’s up” in English is when we want to greet someone. One of the best ways to do this in Japanese would be to use 元気 (genki). You can use 元気 (genki) for when you want to say “What’s up” or “How are you” in Japanese. If you’re looking for detailed information on asking someone how they are, check out our comprehensive ultimate guide on how to say “How are you?” in Japanese.

If you’re looking to ask someone simply “What’s up” as a casual greeting in Japanese, you can use 元気 (genki) by itself.

元気 (genki) is a very common phrase that we use all the time in Japanese. One slight nuance with it though is that you might tend to use this phrase only if it’s been a while since you’ve seen the person with whom you’re speaking to. How much time needs to have passed is really up to you to decide.

As a pointer, the use is similar to when you might ask someone how they’ve been in English.

Let’s take a look at an example. Imagine you’re a student and you’ve gone home for the Easter break. The break is for two weeks. Classes begin again and you see your friends. At this point you might say something like:

  • 久しぶり!元気?
    hisashiburi! genki
    Long time no see! What’s up?

The best thing about 元気 (genki) is that you can use it when you’re replying to someone too!

  • 元気!
    genki!
    Not much, I’m good!

When you use 元気 (genki) as a standalone reply, you’re telling the person you’re well. This is because the meaning of 元気 (genki) is “energetic; full of energy”

What are You up to?

What are you up to in Japanese

  • What are you up to?
    何をしてる?
    nani wo shiteru?

When you’re wondering what someone is doing, you can ask them 何をしてる? (nani wo shiteru?). This essentially translates to “What are you up to” in Japanese. Before we go over some examples, let’s break this phrase down.

The first part of the phrase(nani) means “what” in  Japanese.

The second part を (wo) is a Japanese grammar particle that marks the object of the verb in a sentence. If you’re interested in more on the readings of Japanese characters, have a peek at our ultimate guide on How to Read Japanese.

Lastly, we have してる (shiteru). してる (shiteru) is the present progressive state of する (suru) in Japanese. する (suru) is the Japanese for the verb “do. Knowing this, we can deduce that してる (shiteru) means “doing” in Japanese.

A literal translation of 何をしてる would be “What are you doing?” We can also attach an optional の (no) to the expression to make it sound even more friendly!

  • 今何をしてるの?
    ima nani wo shiteru no?
    What are you to right now?

You might be wondering where the “you” is coming from. In Japanese, we rarely actually say “you”. Instead, we’ll use the person’s actual name! A good way to remember everyone right? It can be a struggle if you’re not too great at remembering the names of people though…

As an example, you could message a friend (preferably one who understands Japanese) 何をしてる (nani wo shiteru) when you’re wondering what they’re doing.

If you were to say this phrase somewhat aggressively… It would sound like you’re shouting at someone “What the hell are you doing?”

The phrase 何をしてる (nani wo shiteru) is very casual. To make it more formal, we can use 何をしていますか (nani wo shiteimasu ka).

What’s up/What’s Wrong in Japanese

What's wrong in Japanese

  • What’s up/ What’s wrong?
    どうしたの?
    dou shita no

When you want to ask someone “what’s up” in the sense of “what’s wrong,” the expression you’ll need is どうしたの (dou shita no).

This expression is made up of three parts. Let’s break them down and then look at an example of how to use the expression as a whole.

Firstly we have どう (dou) which essentially means “how” or can sometimes (as in the case here) mean “what.”

Secondly, した (shita) is the past tense of the verb する (suru) which means “do.”

Thirdly, by attaching の (no) to the end of the expression you give your words more feeling and emotion. It tells the person whom you’re speaking with that you care that little bit extra. You can omit this part, but sometimes you might appear somewhat cold if you’re not careful.

As a full expression, you’re best off usingどうしたの (dou shita no) when you’re concerned about someone. When you use this expression, you’re essentially asking that person “what’s up? What’s wrong? Tell me about it” in Japanese. Perhaps a friend is sad and you want to show you’re concern, you could ask どうしたの? (dou shita no).

  • 元気じゃないの?どうしたの?
    genki janai no? doushita no?
    Are you not very happy? What’s wrong?

Do note that this expression is best suited for casual situations, such as conversations between friends and family. The Japanese language has many different levels of politeness depending on whom you’re talking with. So it’s best to avoid using this when asking your boss “What’s up?” when they look stressed due to work.

Is Something the Matter? in Formal Japanese

  • Is something the matter?
    どうかなさいましたか
    dou kanasaimashita ka

The Japanese language has many honorifics, called Keigo, that are used in a plethora of social situations. When you find yourself in a formal setting and wanting to ask someone “what’s up, what’s the matter” in Japanese, you can use どうかなさいましたか (dou kanasaimashita ka).

どうしたの (dou shita no), above, is a casual expression that you can use to ask someone what’s wrong in Japanese. どうかなさいましたか (dou kanasaimashita ka), however, is one of the most formal ways you can say “what’s up” as in “what’s the matter” in Japanese. It is a part of Japanese Keigo, the highest form of politeness.

So when can you use it?

When you’re speaking with someone who is your manager, a stranger to you, or even a teacher, you should speak with a higher level of respect in your language. In situations where you want to ask someone “what’s the matter,” and that someone you’re asking fits into one of the three categories listed above, you’ll want to use どうかなさいましたか (dou kanasaimashita ka).

You might be wondering why this phrase is so long, and the reason for it is mostly down to its high level of politeness. Let’s break down the parts of this phrase.

どうかなさいました

どうか is a very formal way of saying “please” in Japanese. It is often used in Keigo to make requests or to add emphasis.

なさいました (nasaimashita) is the past tense of なさいます (nasaimasu). なさいます (nasaimasu) is なさる (naseru) in its polite form. Finally, なさる(naseru) is する (suru) in its honorific (keigo) form. As discussed above, する (suru) means “do” in Japanese.

Attaching(ka) to the end of a sentence identifies that sentence as a question.

What’s up, are you Okay? in Japanese

  • Are you okay?
    大丈夫?
    daijoubu

In English, we use “What’s up?” and “Are you okay?” interchangeably. When we notice that something might be wrong with someone, we ask them if they are alright. This is how you can use 大丈夫 (daijoubu) to ask someone “What’s up?” or “Are you okay”  in Japanese.

One of the best things about this expression is that similarly to 元気 (genki), (explained above), you can use it as a reply to tell someone you’re okay.

For instance, imagine you’ve gone to class and just gotten your exam results back after a super hard study session. You’re disappointed with the results and you feel a little down. Your friend might notice you’re feeling not your usual self and ask 大丈夫?(daijoubu), as in, “What’s up, are you okay?”

To which, you could reply with 大丈夫 (daijoubu), meaning “I’m okay.” Of course, if you’re completely and utterly devastated you could reply with 大丈夫じゃない (daijoubu janai). The addition of じゃない (janai) is a way of saying “no” or “not” in Japanese.

Poltiteness: You should use 大丈夫 (daijoubu) in casual settings, like those when you’re talking with friends or family. In other situations though, you need to attach something more to the phrase to raise politeness. Japanese is a polite language, so you need to adjust your speech accordingly.

When speaking with someone such as a manager, teacher, or stranger, you should use 大丈夫ですか (daijoubu desuka). Of course, you can then answer with 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) meaning “I’m okay,” or 大丈夫じゃないです (daijoubu janai desu) for “I’m not okay” in polite Japanese.

What Happened? What’s up?

  • What happened?
    何があったの?
    nani ga atta no?

At times when a friend or family member looks troubled or concerned about something, you might ask them 何があったの?(nani ga atta no).

Imagine your partner arrives back home after going shopping and looks at you with the most shocked face ever. You immediately rush over and you ask 何があったの? (nani ga atta no), meaning, “What’s up, what happened?” in Japanese. Turns out they got a steal on those ridiculously expensive cookies you enjoy. Lucky!

You can also use this phrase interchangeably with どうしたの (explained above) to ask someone what’s wrong. At times when you are wondering what happened with someone, you can use this phrase.

This phrase has four parts.

  1. – (nani) as discussed earlier, 何 (nani) means “what” in Japanese.
  2. – (ga) is a Japanese grammar particle that marks the subject of a verb. In this case, the subject is 何 (nani) and the verb is あった (atta.)
  3. あった – (atta) is  the past tense of ある (aru) a verb that means “have,” or “to exist.” In 何があったの, あった can be interpreted as “happened.”
  4. – (no), also discussed previously, is used to envoke more emotion in the phrase. It amplifies your words, giving them a sympathetic feel.

Combining them we have 何があったの (nani ga atta no), which quite literally translates to “what has happened.”

How is it going?

  • How is it going?
    元気にしてる?
    genki ni shiteru?

Going back to asking someone “What’s up” in the sense of “How are you” we’ll be taking another look at 元気 (genki). As mentioned in entry #1 of this post, 元気 (genki), on its own can be used to ask how someone is in Japanese. So what is the にしてる (ni shiteru) attached to it on this phrase?

First, let’s take a look at してる (shiteru). It is the present progressive form of the Japanese verb する (suru) which means to do. Progressive form refers to something ongoing. In English, this is essentially the same as “ing” words, such as

  • love – loving
  • go – going

Thus, “do” is “doing.”

So in summary, する = “do” and してる = “doing.”

The (ni) in the middle of 元気してる (genki ni shiteru) is another Japanese grammar particle. Put as simply as possible, the role of に (ni) is to express the object of the verb that has motion. If you’re interested in learning more about the rules of, and how to identify Japanese grammar particles, I recommend this extremely well-done guide here.

By attaching にしてる (ni shiteru) to 元気 (genki), you specifically transform this phrase into a gerund, or a phrase ending with an “ing” word. It’s the same as changing the question “How are you?” to “How are you doing” in English.

Similar to 元気 (genki) 元気にしてる (genki ni shiteru) is a way of saying a kind of “What’s up” to someone whom you specifically haven’t seen for a while. You wouldn’t say this phrase to someone who you saw yesterday for instance.

Formality: This is a casual phrase you should use with friends and family. To make this phrase polite, use 元気にしていますか (genki ni shiteimasu ka).

What’s up In Japanese Slang

What's up in Japanese slang

  • Hey, sup
    おーす
    o-su

In English, we often use slang variants of “What’s up” when speaking with friends. Although not used anywhere near as much as we do in English, there are some ways you can say “sup” in Japanese.

First up we have おーす (o-su). In modern Japanese casual speech, some Japanese males use this when greeting each other. Like in English when we say “sup,” おーす (o-su) isn’t so much an abbreviation for “How are you” than it is a general greeting.

Actually, according to Gogen おーす (o-su) is the shortened version of おはようございます (ohayou gozaimasu), a polite way to say “good morning” in Japanese. It was originally used in pre-war times by students of a martial arts class in Kyoto, Japan.

Being Japanese slang, おーす (o-su) is a very casual way to say “sup” in Japanese. Different from that of the West, Japanese people haven’t adopted super casual greetings like “sup” into their culture.

Therefore the frequency in which you will hear this expression being used won’t be that high. Instead, it is more common to greet people by saying their name + Good morning, or by skipping greetings completely by jumping straight into a conversation. These are expressions you’ll probably hear more on Japanese anime.

That’s not to say you’ll never hear this expression at all though. Some Japanese males use おーす (o-su) in the same way as we say “wassup” or “sup” in English. Of course, avoid using this phrase in settings outside of that with your friends and family at all costs!

More ways to say What’s up In Japanese Slang

sup in Japanese

  • Hey, sup
    ヤーホ
    ya-ho

With おーす (o-su), explained above, being the masculine way to say “sup” in Japanese, ヤーホ (ya-ho) in this entry is the feminine version. Depending on the words you decide to use in your Japanese speech, you can sound more masculine or feminine.

ヤーホ (ya-ho) is Japanese slang for “sup” and is predominately used by younger girls. Just like how in English, when we say “sup” we don’t always intend to convey a “how are you,” but rather a “hello,” ヤーホ (ya-ho) is the same.

You can use this expression to initiate a conversation with someone casually. As previously mentioned, despite being a polite language, Japanese is limited in the ways in which you can ask someone how they are, or “what’s up” at the beginning of a conversation. Instead, greetings will most likely be limited to a simple こんにちは (konnichi ha), meaning “hello” in Japanese.

If you’re looking specifically for ways to say “What’s up” in Japanese slang though, these two phrases will do you well, without sounding weird. Just remember the feminity differences that are attached to both おーす (o-su) and ヤーホ (ya-ho) in Japanese.

Of course, don’t forget that both of these phrases are extremely casual, and using them with managers, teachers or strangers might not go too well.

What Is Up? Literally. in Japanese

That concludes this guide on “What’s up” in Japanese. Unless you did want a literal translation of course! 上には何がある?(ue niha nani ga aru) is “what is up” quite literally in Japanese.

I struggled with knowing how to initiate a conversation in Japanese during my year abroad. I hope this guide proved useful for you all and gave you some ideas.

More Ultimate Guides:

How to say Have a Good Day in Japanese

How to say Good Luck in Japanese

Free Exercises:

Japanese Reading Practice

How Are You in Japanese

How to say How Are You in Japanese

Asking someone “How are you?” is a simple greeting that we commonly use in English. We use it frequently as a conversation opener when we want to be polite. In Japanese however, despite being a polite language, we don’t use this phrase not nearly to the same extent as we do in English. It’s more common to greet the person with a simple “hello,” or “good morning” and jump straight into a conversation.

You’d think that being a language with various forms of language honorifics, not asking someone how they are would be considered rude. Instead, it’s more the level of politeness you use in your greetings that matters the most in Japanese.

In Japanese, it could be considered a little too direct if you were to ask everyone how they are all of the time. For instance, in English, we might ask the store cashier “how are you” while we’re being served. This kind of small talk is mostly absent in Japanese culture, at least, the asking of how someone is doing is.

So what if you genuinely want to ask someone how they are, or how they’ve been in Japanese?

There are plenty of phrases and expressions that you can use to convey a “How are you” in Japanese. There are a few of them actually. Although you won’t be using this phrase anywhere near as much as you do in English, there are situations when you’ll definitely want to ask someone how they are.

In this post, we’re going to explore all of the most appropriate ways on how to say “How are you” in Japanese, and the situations when you can use them.

Author’s Note:  The audio files presented are the natural way to pronounce each entry of “How Are You” in Japanese, so I recommend using them when referring to pronunciation if you can!

How Are You in Japanese

  • How are you?
    元気?
    genki

The best Japanese expression you can use to convey a meaning similar to the English “How are you” is 元気 (genki).

Although a simple greeting would be sufficient enough in Japanese culture, sometimes you’ll want to ask someone how they are, before jumping into a conversation.

When you do, 元気 (genki) is the phrase you’re going to want to use. In Japanese, we use 元気 (genki) frequently, especially when we haven’t seen someone in a while. For instance, We would say to a friend whom we haven’t seen for a while 元気?(genki?) to ask them how they are, or how they’ve been. On the other hand, we probably wouldn’t use it if we had just seen the friend yesterday.

元気 (genki) actually means: lively; full of spirit; energetic; well.

So technically, when you use this phrase you are asking someone “Are you well?” You can use 元気 (genki) as a reply too. If someone asks you “元気?” You can simply reply with “元気だよ” (genki dayo), which means “I am well” in Japanese.

How Are You Formality

Despite a high frequency of asking “how are you” being absent in Japanese culture, Japanese is still a polite language. Depending on who you’re speaking to, you might need to speak politely.

If you were speaking to a manager, an acquaintance, or to someone who is not a close friend or family member, you should avoid simply saying 元気 (genki). Instead, you can select from two polite versions.

  1. 元気ですか (genki desuka)
  2. お元気ですか (ogenki desuka)

Attachingですか (desuka), turns this phase into a polite question. Attaching お (o) makes the phrase even politer. By including the お (o) you essentially beautify the following word, increasing your politeness even more. Which one you use is up to you, and how polite you want to be.

More Ways to say How Are You

  • How are you?
    調子はどう?
    choushi ha dou?

There are three components of this next expression. Let’s break them down a little.

調子 (choushi) – This is a noun, meaning “condition” or “state of health” in Japanese.

は (ha) – This is a subject marker particle that places emphasis on the preceding word as the main topic of the sentence.

どう (dou) is an adverb that we use to ask questions such as “how” or “how about” in Japanese.

If we combine the three components we can see that the literal meaning of this expression would mean “how is the condition?” or “How is the state of health?”

In Japanese, we often omit pronouns, and in this case too. Here, “You” is already understood by the listener that you’re already talking to them. Efficient right?

Similar to 元気 (genki), (explained above), you might use this expression after you see a friend for the first time in a while. When you see them, at the beginning of the encounter you might say, 調子はどう? (choushi ha dou). In this case, you can interpret it similarly to “What’s up,” or “How are you.”

We don’t really walk up to each other and ask 調子はどう?(choushi ha dou) as it’s not in the Japanese culture to start a conversation with “How are you?”.

You can, however, use this expression when you want to ask someone how they are when you’re with them at the office, before a presentation, or at a theme park having fun with friends. This interpretation would be more like “How are you feeling/doing” in Japanese.

Formality: In business situations, don’t forget to attach ですか to the expression! This makes it 調子はどうですか? (choushi ha dou desuka). 

How Are Things (Recently)

How is everything recently? in Japanese

  • How are things? (recently)
    最近はどう
    saikin ha dou?

This next expression also uses three components.

最近 (saikin) – This word means “recently” in Japanese.

The next two components are the same as the ones found in 調子はどう (choushi ha dou), above.

Next up, は (ha) marks the word preceding it as the subject of the sentence.

どう (dou) – An adverb that means “how” in Japanese.

In Japanese, we often omit many parts of the sentence. The omission of pronouns is particularly common. We omit it here too as it is already understood by the listener that they are being spoken to.

With that said, if we combine the three components we construct a sentence that would literally translate to “Recently, how is?” or “How is recently?” in English.

The great thing about 最近はどう (saikin ha dou) is that it’s more obvious in regards to when you should use it. You can use this expression in the exact same way as when you ask someone “how are things recently?” in English.

The biggest difference with this expression is that unlike 元気 (genki) and 調子はどう (choushi ha dou) you are not asking someone specifically how they are in regards to their “condition”. This gives us more flexibility with situations when we can use this expression. Therefore, you could use it when you want to ask someone how their workdays have been recently, or ask just in general how they are.

Formality: Of course, just like the previous entries, you’re going to need to attach ですか (desu ka) to expression during business/formal conversations. This would make it 最近はどうですか? (saikin ha dou desuka) when you want to speak politely.

What’s Up? in Japanese

In English, sometimes we use “What’s up” as a more casual variant of “How are you”. You can use “What’s up” as a greeting, or as an expression of concern for someone similar to “What happened?”. We also have an ultimate guide on how to say “What’s up” in Japanese.

  • What’s up in Japanese
    どうしたの?
    dou shita no?

どうしたの (dou shita no), is an expression that is not used as a greeting. Instead we mostly use it when it is implied that something has happened to the person who is calling you.

For instance, say you’re upstairs in your room, and suddenly you hear your flatmate calling your name from the kitchen. You head downstairs to see what’s up, and at this moment, you could say どうしたの?(dou shita no), meaning “What’s up” in Japanese.

  • 私を呼んでいた?どうしたの?
    watashi wo yondeita? dou shita no?
    Were you calling me? What’s up?

You could interpret this expression as something with similar nuances to “What’s the matter” in English. 

Formality: Firstly, let’s look at the ending of どうしたの?(dou shita no). The の (no) adds more emotion to the expression. It tells the listener that you care that little bit extra.

You could say どうした?(dou shi ta) without the の (no), however, depending on the situation, it could come across as somewhat cold. Note, that this expression is a casual one.

If you’re speaking to a colleague, manager, or stranger, for instance, you’ll need to be polite. You can do this by changing the expression to どうしましたか (dou shi mashita ka).

How Are You Doing/How Is It Going?

How are you doing

  • How is it going?
    元気にしてる?
    genki ni shiteiru?

In a situation when you haven’t seen a friend in a while you might want to ask them how they’ve been. Say for instance you’ve just bumped into a friend you haven’t seen for a few weeks. As an initial greeting, you might call their name, and then immediately ask, 元気にしている (genki ni shiteiru).

In this situation, we can translate it as something similar to “hey, how’s it going?” in English. If you want to sound even more natural, you could throw in a 久しぶり (hisashiburi) after you say their name. 久しぶり (hisashiburi) means “Long time no see” in Japanese. The whole phrase would sound something like this:

  • {name}! 久しぶり! 元気にしている?
    {name}! hisashiburi! genki ni shite iru?
    {name}! Long time no see! How is it going?

You can use this phrase as a very friendly informal greeting in Japanese.

If you’re interested, take a quick glance at this video for a deeper explanation!

 

Jumping back to 元気にしている (genki ni shite iru), let’s break it down a little so we can better understand it. The phrase has three components.

  1. 元気 (genki) – a noun that means “lively, full of spirit, well” You can check a full explanation on this page at the top. 元気 is the first entry.
  2. に (ni) – is a Japanese grammar particle that has many variations. I recommend this ultimate guide for full explanations on the uses of に should you need it. In this case, に connects the noun to the verb.
  3. している (shite iru) – is the present progressive form of the verb する (suru), which means “to do.”

Combing these components together we have a phrase that can literally be translated as “doing well?”  in Japanese. As pronouns are often omitted, 元気にしている (genki ni shite iru) translates as “Are you doing well?” in Japanese.

Polite How Are You Doing in Japanese

  • How are you doing?
    いかがですか
    ika ga desu ka?

いかがですか (ika ga desuka) is a very formal expression that we use in Japanese when we need to be polite. It is perfect to use when speaking with managers, teachers, someone who is of a higher status, or with people who you don’t know too well.

With other expressions such as 元気 (genki), people will instantly understand that you are asking them about their condition/how they are feeling. Whereas いかがですか (ika ga desu ka) points towards something different. A literal translation of this expression would be “How is (X) going?” or “How is (something)?”

When you ask someone いかがですか (ika ga desu ka), you can state the topic in which you are asking them about. When you do,  people will understand what it is exactly you’re asking them about.

For instance, you could ask someone “How is work going?” in Japanese. Firstly the word for “work” in Japanese is 仕事 (shigoto). After you have introduced the topic, (in this case, work), before you say いかがですか (ika ga desu ka), you always have to insert the topic marker particle.

The topic marker particle tells the listener that the preceding word is the topic of the sentence. The topic marker particle in Japanese is は (ha). So the complete phrase is:

  • 仕事はいかがですか
    shigoto ha ika ga desuka?
    How is work going? (Formal)

You can simply swap the noun of the sentence for any other of your choice. To ask how one’s baby was doing in Japanese for instance, you  swap the word for “work,” for “baby.” The Japanese word for baby is 赤ちゃん (aka chan).

  • 赤ちゃんはいかがですか
    aka chan ha ika ga desu ka
    How is the baby doing? (Formal)

How Are You Feeling

 

How Are You Feeling?

  • How are you feeling?
    体調はどう?
    taichou ha dou?

If someone looks like they aren’t feeling too well, you might want to ask them how they are feeling. In Japanese, we say 体調はどう?(taichou ha dou).

The first component of this expression is 体調 (taichou) which means “physical condition” (of one’s body) or “state of health.”

The second component is は (ha). In Japanese grammar, は (ha) functions as a topic marker that marks 体調 (taichou) the subject of the sentence.

Lastly, どう (dou) means “how” in Japanese. Combining these components together we have a sentence that literally means “How is the state of health” in Japanese. So, how and when can you use it?

If someone looks unwell, you can ask them 体調はどう? (taichou ha dou). Subsequently, the next day you see them you could also repeat the question and ask them again.

  • おはよう。今日体調はどう?
    ohayou. kyou taichou ha dou?
    Good morning. How are you feeling today?

For the most part, you can use this expression the exact same way as you would use “How are you feeling?” in English. One exception to this might be if you’re asking someone how they are feeling before an important test or job interview for instance. In these cases, you will sound much more natural if you were to ask “Are you Okay?” instead.

Formality: This is an informal expression, so you will need to use its formal counterpart in business situations or when speaking with people who are of a higher status than yourself. To say “How are you feeling” in Japanese politely, you can use 体調はどうですか (taichou ha dou desuka).

Are You Okay? in Japanese

Are You Okay? in Japanese

  • Are you okay?
    大丈夫?
    daijoubu

If someone looks unwell, nervous, unsure, or just not content with a situation, you’ll probably want to ask them if they are okay.

大丈夫 (daijoubu) is the most common way to say “Are you okay?” in Japanese.  This expression is super easy to use as it has the same nuances as in English.

For example, say a friend is shaking nervously before their super important test, you could ask them 大丈夫?(daijoubu). Likewise, if you go skiing with your friend and you fall face-first into the snow, they might shout to you 大丈夫?(daijoubu).

  • 痛そう!大丈夫?
    itasou! daijobu?
    That looks painful! Are you okay?

Formality: When speaking with people you aren’t friends with, such as strangers, you’re going to need to use 大丈夫ですか (daijoubu desuka). The ですか (desuka) transforms the expression into a polite one.

For instance, if you’re on an aeroplane to Japan and a passenger sitting next to you looks a little unsteady, you might ask them 大丈夫ですか?(daijoubu desuka). This means “Are you okay?” or “Are you alright?” in Japanese.

Responding to Are You Okay? in Japanese

What is great about 大丈夫 (daijoubu) is that you can use it as a response too. As previously mentioned, when we speak Japanese, we frequently omit pronouns as it is generally understood who is being referred to.

For example, after someone asks you 大丈夫?(daijoubu), you could respond with those very words: 大丈夫! (daijoubu). Responding to “Are you okay?” in Japanese with 大丈夫 (daijoubu) is the same as saying “I am okay” in English.

  • 大丈夫!
    daijoubu!
    I’m okay!

However, if you are not okay though, you can say 大丈夫じゃない (daijobu janai). This means “I am not okay” in Japanese.

I Hope You Feel Better Soon

 

Get well soon in Japanese

  • I hope you feel better soon
    お大事に
    odaiji ni

After you’ve asked someone how they feel, you might want to tell them “I hope you feel better soon” in Japanese. When someone is feeling unwell, in Japanese we say お大事に (odaiji ni). For more information on how to say Hope in Japanese, have a glance at this ultimate guide!

It is the closest Japanese expression that means the same as “get well soon” in English.

After someone sneezes, for instance, you might say お大事に (odaiji ni) which means “bless you” in Japanese. Of course, in English, we don’t say “I hope you feel better soon” after someone sneezes, but saying お大事に (odaiji ni) is a kind way of telling someone to take care of themselves.

If someone is ill, or if they tell you they feel unwell, you can also say お大事に (odaiji ni). This tells the person that you are hoping for them to get well soon. The beautiful thing about this expression is that you can use it in both formal and informal circumstances. 

How Was Your Day?

  • How was your day?
    今日はどうだった?
    kyou ha dou datta?

Sometimes, when we ask someone “How are you?” we’re asking how their day was as a whole.

You can say “How was your day” in Japanese by saying 今日はどうだった?(kyou ha dou datta). It has the exact same functions as the way you ask someone how their day was in English.

You might ask someone how their day was after a day at work for instance, or after a day of classes. Alternatively, you might want to say “Have a good day” to someone before their day begins. There are plenty of ways of wishing someone a good day in Japanese.

  • お帰り!今日はどうだった?
    okaeri! kyou ha doudatta?
    Welcome home! How was your day?

For all of the possible ways on how to wish someone having a good day in Japanese, have a look at this ultimate guide on “How to say Have a Good Day in Japanese”.

The first component of this phrase is 今日 (kyou) which means “day” in Japanese. どうだった (doudatta) is a past tense component which translates as “how was” in English. As discussed earlier, we know that Japanese pronouns are often omitted. Hence why there is no “you” in this phrase.

Combining them together, we have a phrase that literally means “How was your day?” in Japanese.

How Was Your Day Politely in Japanese

Remember the いかがですか (ika ga desu ka) we covered earlier? By itself, いかがですか (ika ga desu ka) is a very formal way of saying “How was (something)” Japanese.

Following the same format we discussed earlier (topic+いかがですか), we can take the word for “day” in Japanese: 今日 (kyou) and attach it to the beginning of いかがですか (ika ga desu ka). This makes the phrase:

  • 今日はいかがですか?
    kyou ha ika ga desu ka?
    How was your day? (Formal)

You can use the above phrase to ask someone “How was your day” politely in Japanese.

How Did It Go

  • How did it go?
    どうだった?
    dou datta?

Imagine you’re accompanying a family member to the doctor for their appointment. You patiently wait outside as they see the doctor. Waiting in anticipation you wonder if they are okay. When they do finally finish, you see them, and you’ll probably ask something along the lines of “How did it go?”.

For situations similar to these, you can use どうだった (dou datta) to ask someone “How did it go?” in Japanese. Another example might be after a friend finishes taking an examination, and you could ask them どうだった (dou datta).

To be more specific in what it is you’re specifically referring to, you can say the: noun+は+どうだった. For instance, the word for examination in Japanese is 試験 (shiken). You would say:

  • 試験はどうだった??
    shiken ha dou datta?
    How was the exam?

This means “How was the examination?” or “How did the examination go” in Japanese.

Formality: To ask “How did it go” politely in Japanese, you change だった (datta) to でしたか (deshita ka).

This makes the phrase どうでしたか?(dou deshita ka) which is a formal way of saying “How did it go” in Japanese.


There you have it! There is a bunch of ways that you can say “How are you” in Japanese. I hope I was able to help you find a suitable expression for any situation when you want to ask someone how they are. Should you have any specific questions regarding the Japanese language or culture, please contact me here or leave a comment below!

See you next time!

Further Ultimate Guides:

How to say No Problem in Japanese

How to say Good Luck in Japanese

Resources:
Free Japanese Reading Exercises