The best way to say “Okay” in Japanese to express your acknowledgement of something is to say わかった (wakatta). If you need to speak formally you can use わかりました (wakarimashita).
To ask, or tell someone that something is okay, you’ll need to use a different expression. You can phrase the Japanese expression 大丈夫? (daijoubu?) as a question to express your concern and/or ask someone if they’re okay and everything is alright. To ask someone “are you okay” in polite Japanese, you can use 大丈夫ですか (daijoubu desuka).
You can also use the same expression 大丈夫 (daijoubu), as a response to any time when you wish to say “it’s okay”, or “I’m okay” in Japanese.
The word OK has also been borrowed from English into the Japanese language. When you want to say “OK” in Japanese, for casual situations you can say オーケー (o-ke-), or the formal オーケーです (o-ke- desu) for scenarios where you find yourself needing to show respect.
As you can see, there are many different ways to say “okay” in Japanese.
It’s also important to use the correct level of politeness in your speech! Speaking casually usually involves situations with your friends and family. Whereas you may need to speak in Japanese Keigo, aka honorific speech, when conversing with strangers, teachers and managers etc.
I have tailored this ultimate guide to cover all of the above instances, and you’ll be well equipped to combat any situation after reading it!
Each entry is coupled with audio for pronunciation reference, as well as example sentences and explanations of all of the best ways to say anything along the lines of “Ok, Okay, It’s Okay” in Japanese!
Okeydokey, let’s begin!
Table of Contents
Okay in Japanese
As mentioned earlier, there are three different situations that could prompt you to say “okay”. Each of these situations has a different word that is best used for it. The first is わかった (wakatta).
When want to say “okay” to express that you understand or acknowledge something, you can use the expression わかった (wakatta). You can also use it to affirm something you will do.
わかった (wakatta) is the past tense of the verb わかる (wakaru), meaning “to understand”. Having now understood or acknowledged something in your head is technically something that has already happened in the past (even though it could have literally been moments ago). Therefore, for this reason, we have to say わかった (wakatta) when saying “okay” to things in Japanese.
There are also ways to say that you don’t understand, or don’t know in Japanese using variants of わかる (wakaru) and other expressions too!
Examples & Uses
Say you’re planning on going out with a friend. They ask you to meet at the bus stop at a certain time. You can respond:
wakatta. 9ji ni aou!
Okay. Let’s meet at 9!
Simply saying わかった (wakatta) by itself as a response is also okay here! In this example, you affirm and understand that you will meet your friend at 9.
You can also use わかった (wakatta) to express “okay” in Japanese explicitly when you understand something. Perhaps a friend is explaining some super difficult Japanese grammar to you. You may say:
aa, wakatta. souiu koto da!
Ah, okay, so that’s how it is.
Another fun way to use わかった (wakatta) is when you finally get the meaning of something. Perhaps you’ve been up all night trying to figure out what on earth your friend was on about. Suddenly, a eureka moment!
I get it now (I understand)! That’s it.
Okay in Formal Japanese
- Okay (formal).
During situations when you want to say “okay” formally in Japanese, such as when speaking with a stranger, you can use わかりました (wakarimashita).
The word わかりました (wakarimashita) is the past tense of わかります (wakarimasu), which is わかる (wakaru) conjugated into polite form. わかる (wakaru) means “to understand” in Japanese.
わかりました (wakarimashita) can be used to express your understanding, acknowledgement or your affirmation of something in Japanese. However, compared to わかった (wakatta), わかりました (wakarimashita) should not be used when speaking with friends. Instead, you can use it when speaking with managers, teachers or strangers for instance.
Say you walk into a store, and you ask a member of staff where an item is. They tell you they do not sell it. You can say:
wakarimashita. arigatou gozaimasu.
Okay. Thanks anyway.
In this example, you’re telling the person that you understand the item is not sold here and then thank them.
Like the casual わかった (wakatta), the formal わかりました (wakarimashita) can also be used to say explicitly that you understand something. Instead of your friend teaching you, it could be a teacher who is explaining some grammar.
With teachers, we also have to use polite speech. When calling your teacher in Japanese, instead of using their name, it’s also polite to refer to them as 先生 (sensei), which means “teacher” in Japanese.
sensei ! wakarimashita.
sensei! I understand now.
Very Formal: Certainly
When you say “okay” to agree to assist someone, in polite English, we may say “certainly”. During these situations in Japanese, we can say かしこまりました (kashikomarimashita). The Japanese equivalent is much, much politer though.
You probably won’t be using this phrase very often, unless you work in customer service like in a hotel or a restaurant. On the other hand, you’ll likely be hearing かしこまりました (kashikomarimashita) a lot when you go to a hotel or restaurant yourself in Japan.
The word かしこまりました (kashikomarimashita) is essentially the most polite way one can say “okay” or “I understand” in Japanese. The most casual way is, of course, わかる (wakaru), which is explained above.
In a restaurant, when you order food you are essentially putting in a request. The waiter, whose job it is to accept and fulfil these requests, will always respond with かしこまりました (kashikomarimashita).
After you tell your waiter the meal you’d like to eat, they’ll respond with an honorific speech, even when asking you, the customer to do something.
kashikomarimashita. shoushou omachi kudasai.
Certainly. Please kindly wait for a moment.
In Japan, customers are spoken to with the highest level of polite speech. This is because to businesses, it is important to show the customer the most respect possible. They’re the ones who pay the salaries after all!
More Ways to say Okay in Japanese
The expression 大丈夫 can mean “okay” in a plethora of contexts. It can also be used to indirectly say “No” in Japanese.
Here are all the ways it can be used in the context of “okay”.
It’s Okay in Japanese
You can use 大丈夫 (daijoubu) to request, propose or enquire about something. This is the same as asking if something is okay, or if it’s “okay” to do something in English.
For example, say you’re hungry and you’re searching for something quick to eat in the cupboards. You come across some bread with no expiry date labelled. You might ask a person you’re living with:
kono pan no shoumikigen wa daijoubu?.
Is this bread’s best-by date ok?
What’s great about 大丈夫 (daijoubu), is that you can also use it as a response to someone’s request, proposition or enquiry too! At any time you want to tell someone that something is “okay” you can use 大丈夫 (daijoubu).
un! daijoubu da yo!.
Yeah! It should be okay!
I Think It’s Okay in Japanese
You can also combine it with other words to form other expressions such as “I think it’s okay” in Japanese too:
daijoubu da to omou.
I think it’s okay.
As the Japanese language frequently omits pronouns, depending on the context, the above phrase can also mean “I think I’m okay” in Japanese!
It’s Not Okay in Japanese
If it’s not okay, however, you might want to tell them!
It’s not okay.
じゃない (janai) is a negative casual variant of the word です (desu), which means “It is” in Japanese.
Are you Okay? in Japanese
There may also be occasions where you want to ask someone if they’re alright or okay. To do this, you can phrase 大丈夫 (daijoubu) as a question.
Perhaps a friend has had a hard time on an exam, or maybe they’ve fallen over learning how to ice skate.
taihen sou. daijoubu?
That looks rough. Are you okay?
You can add even more emotional emphasis by attaching なの (na no) to the end of 大丈夫 (daijoubu). Although this is completely optional, attaching の (na no) conveys your concern a lot stronger than just saying 大丈夫 (daijoubu) by itself.
daijoubu na no?
Are you okay? (added emphasis).
It’s also worth noting that attaching の (no) to express further concern is sometimes viewed as more feminine by native speakers.
I’m Okay in Japanese
If someone has asked you if you are alright because something has happened, you can use 大丈夫 (daijoubu) to ease their worries. Using 大丈夫 (daijoubu) as a response to someone’s question like this is the same as saying “I’m okay” in Japanese.
This conversation can look very simple, especially when the context is understood by both parties involved.
Someone may ask:
Are you okay?
The perfect response:
Perhaps you’re not okay though… If you’re upset, in pain, unhappy, unsure, or anything along those lines, you’ll want to tell them you’re not okay in Japanese.
I’m not okay.
That’s Okay in Japanese
Another occasion where you may wish to tell someone “okay” could be in the form of an apology or empathy. If someone has told you that they’re not okay, you might want to reassure them that everything will be alright.
There are a few ways you can do this. The first is to use 大丈夫だよ (daijoubu dayo). だよ (da yo) conveys a very forward kind of feeling. In this context, the だよ (dayo) would be best understood as “I’m sure” in English. This is a great way to uplift someone from the despair their feeling.
daijoubu da yo.
It’ll be okay.
We can also attach the word きっと (kitto) to emphasise our certainty that it’ll be even more okay. きっと (kitto) is the word for “surely” in Japanese.
kitto daijoubu da yo.
I’m sure that it’s okay.
In other contexts, 大丈夫だよ (daijoubu dayo) can be understood as “it’s okay”, with much more emphasis on “it’s”. This means that when you say 大丈夫だよ (daijoubu da yo), you’re telling the person that the subject in question is certainly okay.
For instance, someone may apologise to you for waking you up early in the morning for some reason. To which you can say:
daijoubu da yo. kinishinaide.
That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.
Definitely Okay in Japanese
You can even go one step further to sound even more encouraging in Japanese. Attach 絶対に (zettaini) to the beginning of 大丈夫だよ (daijoubu da yo).
The word 絶対に (zettaini) means definitely in Japanese. As a complete phrase, 絶対に大丈夫だよ (zettaini daijoubu da yo), means “it’ll definitely be okay” in Japanese.
zettaini daijoubu da yo.
It’ll definitely be okay.
Formal It’s Okay
All of the above entries of 大丈夫 (daijoubu) introduce ways to say “okay” in Japanese casually. However, if your teacher, manager or even a stranger asks you if you’re okay, or if something is wrong, you’ll want to respond with 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu).
大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) can be used the same way 大丈夫 can, except in situations when you’re expected to show respect.
daijoubu desu ka?
Are you okay? Is it okay?
As pronouns and subjects are often omitted in Japanese, simply saying the above phrase can convey one of two meanings depending on the context. Firstly, you can ask someone 大丈夫ですか (daijoubu desu ka) to question someone if they themselves are okay. Perhaps they’ve hurt themselves, or seem a little down.
Secondly, you can use 大丈夫ですか (daijoubu desu ka) to ask someone if something is okay the way it is. For instance, perhaps you’ve been working on a task your manager has assigned you. You complete it, show it to them and ask if it is satisfactory.
You can also reply to 大丈夫ですか (daijoubu desu ka) the same way you can when speaking casually. Simply respond with 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) to let the person know that you’re/it’s okay.
I’m okay/ It’s okay.
No problem in Japanese
When someone asks us if we or something is okay, we’ll often reply with”it’s okay” to them. (assuming it is okay).
As a response to a request or proposition, a better way might be to say “no problem”. For all the ways how to say “no problem” in Japanese, have a glance at this ultimate guide.
OK in Japanese
Borrowed straight from the English language, オーケー (o-ke-) is another expression you can use to say “okay” in Japanese. Sometimes, you may even see the word “OK” appear in Japanese text. If you’re changing the settings for a video game in Japanese for instance, to confirm your changes, you may see a button labelled “OK”.
オーケー (o-ke-) is very similar to わかった (wakatta) as you can use either as a response to when you understand or accept something. Perhaps a friend has asked you to send a text message to someone on their behalf.
o-ke-. ima okuru ne.
OK. I’ll send it now.
Additionally, you can use オーケー (o-ke-) to ask someone if something is satisfactory. Say you’ve been asked by your colleague if you can finish up their work. Once you’ve finished, you ask them:
kore de o-ke- desuka?
Is this OK?
It’s important to note that オーケー (o-ke-) is considered to be quite casual. You can actually say オーケーです (o-ke- desu) to increase the politeness, but you may be best off using わかりました (wakarimashita) or another variant instead.
Ok, Ok/ Yeah, Yeah
- Ok, ok.
The expression はい、はい (hai, hai) has two main uses.
In English, we sometimes respond to someone’s explanation of something with “yeah, yeah” when we suddenly understand what they mean. These occasions are usually eureka moments, or times when we suddenly remember the answer to something.
Say for instance a friend asks you about someone you both had gone to school with together 10 years ago. You have no idea who that person was, but your friend is telling you how you all used to play Pokemon together after school. Suddenly, you remember. That person was the one who stole your newly evolved Gengar after trading and never gave it back all those years ago! How awful.
During this situation, you suddenly recall who exactly the person was. In English, we may say something like “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I remember them now”. In Japanese, this may look like this:
hai, hai. omoidashita.
Ok, ok (yeah, yeah). I remember them.
The second use of はい、はい (hai, hai) is a response to someone’s request or statement. Say your partner has been bugging you all day to let them have a slice of cake you were saving. You give in to their request and say:
hai, hai. tabete ii yo.
Ok, ok. Feel free to eat it.
Sure/Sounds Good in Japanese
- Sure/sounds good.
いいよ (iiyo) is a casual way of saying “sure, no problem” or “sounds good” in Japanese. You can use いいよ (ii yo) as a response to a friend or family member’s request or proposition.
This expression is made of two parts. The first part いい (ii), sometimes written as 良い (yoi) means “good” in Japanese. The final part よ (yo) is a Japanese Ending Particle that is used to emphasise the meaning of the word that precedes it.
Therefore よ (yo) emphasises the いい (ii). This means using いいよ (iiyo) is the same as telling someone that it’s really okay, or that something is “good”.
With that said, the complete expression can be understood as “sounds good” or “sure” in Japanese.
Say a family member asks if you could cook later… You can reply with: いいよ (ii yo) – meaning sure, no problem.
A friend asks if it’s okay to meet at 2 pm instead of 1 pm… Your reply: いいよ (ii yo). – meaning sure, sounds good.
atode kimetsu no yaiba wo miniikanai?
Fancy going to see Demon Slayer later?
Your response can be:
ii yo! tanoshimi!
Sounds great! I can’t wait!
If you’re not that up for it, you may be best off declining and saying no in Japanese instead.
Saying Sure/Sounds Good Formally
- Sure/sounds good (Formally).
ii desu yo.
To say “sure” or “sounds good” as a response to a person’s request or proposition formally in Japanese, you can use いいですよ (ii desu yo).
いいですよ (ii desu yo) includes です (desu) which formalises the expression. You can use いいですよ the same way you can its casual variant, but in formal situations instead.
A colleague might ask you if you’d like to join them for coffee during the break. You can simply reply with いいですよ (ii desu yo), meaning “sure, sounds good”.
When speaking with managers, however, it may be best to respond with a simple はい (hai) instead. はい (hai) in Japanese means “yes”, but you can also use it when you want to say “sure” formally in Japanese.
Alright in Japanese
When we’re preparing ourselves mentally for something, sometimes we say something along the lines of “okay, let’s do this”, or “alright, let’s go”. The type of “okay” or “alright” that we use in these situations can be translated as よし (yoshi) in Japanese.
If you’re looking for a way to ask someone if they are alright in Japanese, take a look at the 大丈夫 (daijoubu) entry above. We can’t use よし (yoshi) in that context here.
Let’s say you’ve been preparing for a very important examination. You’ve studied (or procrastinated) a lot, and you’re ready. You’re waiting outside the examination room with your friends. When the time comes to begin you may say:
- よし！ やろう！
Okay! Let’s smash this!
Okay, Let’s Study More Japanese!
- Okay! Let’s study more Japanese.
yoshi. motto nihongo wo benkyou shiyou.
Sounds like you’re hyped up for more Japanese study!
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