Are you planning to visit Japan soon? If you are, then it is impossible not to find a situation where you won't say はい and いいえ or yes and no in Japanese. While you can indeed use non-verbal gestures like shaking your head or giving a thumbs down or up, using words can help you make yourself more understandable for the locals. These two words may seem simple, but they are actually vital as there are cultural meanings that you surely do not want to step on. After all, the Japanese language is not simple. Let's learn a little bit more about this in today's post.
Just like in many languages, there are several ways by which you can say yes and no. Depending on the kind of tone and the gesture you will use while saying it, the meaning that will be transferred to your listener can greatly change, which is why using the correct Japanese words at the right moment will be a good start for you. Before we proceed, do remember that the locals have formal and more casual words to use depending on the context, so be sure to choose your words wisely.
The most straightforward translation for the word "yes" in Japanese is はい pronounced as hai. It is the most recommended word to use since it is polite and is perfect, may it be when you speak with your close friends or in the workplace.
Another translation that you can use for a more casual way of saying yes is ええ pronounced as eh. This is the best word to use when speaking with a close friend or someone who is younger than you. Don't use this one with your workmates, boss, or strangers, as this will sound rude.
If you are interested in answering even more casually, you can use うん un to express your agreement with something. More often than not, this is the translation for "yeah" in the English language. Do not use this when speaking with a teacher, a boss, or a stranger, as this can rub off the wrong way.
The most direct translation for saying no in a polite way is いいえ iie. It is perfect to use in casual situations and is a straightforward answer. In the Japanese culture, saying no in certain instances is deemed to be inappropriate as the locals always want to extend their respect to other people. So, instead of directly saying no, they sometimes just end up apologizing instead.
Another way to say no when talking with your close Japanese friends is to say いや iya. This word is informal and should only be used with people you really are close with, as this sounds very informal.
Lastly, you can also use ううん uun to say no when speaking with family and friends. Do not ever use this when speaking with people of high authority.
As we reach this part of the post, we hope that you were able to learn about the positive and negative responses in Japanese that you can use today. As we have shared above, please be careful with the words you will use, which is why you have to take note of whether it is the polite way or the more casual version in order to prevent sounding rude. If you are an advanced learner o the Japanese language, then you might know that there are also many ways by which you can say yes and no, depending on the context. The ones we have presented here are straightforward versions.
Suppose you are interested to learn more about Japanese culture, language, and tradition. In that case, we highly recommend that you check out our previous posts, which are guaranteed to help you express yourself better with confidence. Some of our most-read topics on the site include answers to questions like what are the most useful Japanese languages to learn, whether the language itself is a bit difficult or not, and what are the common slang vocabulary used by the locals.
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The Japanese language is one of the hardest languages out there as it not only uses one writing system but three different ones (hiragana, kanji, and katakana)! On top of that, the language is tricky in the sense that a single mistake in the pronunciation and choice of word can definitely make or break your chances of connecting with the locals in the right way. As a rule of thumb, do remember that you can easily be friends with Japanese people if you will consider showing politeness and respect through your way of speaking.
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