Japanese

How to respond in Japanese naturally!

You probably feel Japanese people nod and say things in response a lot when you are having a conversation in Japanese. Japanese has many words and phrases to respond to what the speaker is saying, like うん (un) or あー(ah).

These are called aizuchi (あいづち) in Japanese. Aizuchi (あいづち) show that you're following along with the conversation when you talk with Japanese people!

In this article, we will share 10 common words and phrases so you can respond naturally in Japanese!

How to respond in Japanese naturally

うん (un)

うん is the most common reaction to show you're listening to a conversation. It means "yes" or "yeah" in English. Japanese people say うん many times in conversation, even in response to every sentence someone says. Sometimes you might feel they say うん too much, but it is quite normal for Japanese to respond to the speaker like that.

Justina
You can say うんうん in the same way as うん.

Conversation

Justina
あのね、このまえねこカフェにったんだけどね、
So, I went to a cat cafe the other day.

うん。
Sure.
Atsuya

Justina
ねこたちがすごい元気げんきで、いっぱいあそんでくれてね、
The cats were so happy and played with me a lot.

うんうん。
Yeah.
Atsuya

Justina
すごいしあわせな気分きぶんになったよ!
I was so happy!

うんうん。よかったね!
I see. That's great!
Atsuya

そうなんだ (sounanda)

そうなんだ (sounanda) means the same as "I see." You can also say そっか (sokka), but this is a casual way to say "I see." You should not say そっか or そうなんだ to your superiors and elders.

Atsuya
You can say ”そうなんですね (sou nandesune)” to your superiors and elders when you want to say "I see"!

conversation

Justina
元気げんきないね。どうしたの?
You look down. What's wrong?
このまえ仕事しごと失敗しっぱいしちゃってさ~。
I made a mistake at work earlier...
Atsuya
Justina
そうなんだ。きっと大丈夫だいじょうぶだよ!
I see. I'm sure it'll be fine!
うん。ありがとうね!
Yeah. Thank you!
Atsuya

えー.../えー!? (ehh)

えー is also one of the most common responses. There are two different ways to say えー as a response.

One is when you are not glad or when someone says something you don't like. Another is when you hear something surprising.

えー (ehh) with low tone

When you say えー as a response, you should care about your tone. When you say えー with a low tone, it expresses that you don't like something or you are not glad.

Conversation

Justina
あつや、お皿洗さらあらいやってくれる?
Atsuya, can you wash the dishes?
えー...。
Me...?
Atsuya

えー!?(ehh!?) with high tone

When you say えー!? with a high tone, it means what!? It expresses that you are surprised at something the speaker said. You can also say 本当ほんとうに? (really?) with えー!?

Conversation

Atsuya
日本にほんさむらいはもういないよ!
There are no samurai in Japan now!
えー!?本当ほんとうにに?
What!? Really?
Justina

へ~ (Heee)

Sometimes your friend tells you something new and interesting. This is the best timing to say へ~ (Heee) to show that you've never heard about it before.

It is natural to say なるほど (I see) or らなかった (I didn't know that) after saying へ~.

Conversation
Justina
ってる?ねこは1にち16時間以上じかんいじょうるんだよ!
Did you know that cats sleep more than 16 hours a day!?
へ~!らなかった!
Wow! I didn't know that!
Atsuya

ふ~ん (huun)

Sometimes you might hear something new, but you're just mildly interested in it. You can say ふ~ん (huun) as a response.

You should care about your tone when you say ふ~ん (huun) because it'll sound a little rude to the speaker when you say ふ~ん with a quiet tone.

Conversation

Justina
このほんはすごいつまらなかったよ!
This book was so boring!
ふ~ん。
I see.
Atsuya

あー (ahh)

When you hear something you also experienced or already knew from the speaker, you can say あー (ah) .

It shows your empathy towards the speaker.

conversation

Atsuya
ふゆになると、よく二度寝にどねしちゃうんだよね。
In the winter, sometimes I end up going back to sleep right after I wake up.
あー。わかるわかる。
Yeah. I totally know how you feel.
Justina

おー!(ohh!)

You can say おー! (ohh!) when you're impressed by something. You can also say おー! when you get an idea. It's the same as English!

Conversation

Justina
N1にかったよ!
I passed the N1!
おー!やったね!
Really! That's great!
Atsuya

うそ!?(uso!?)

When your friend tells you something surprising, you can say うそ (uso)!? It means "really?" or "are you kidding?"

You can say うそ!? for both good and bad things. For example, you can use it when your friend breaks up with their girlfriend or boyfriend, or your friend gets married with their girlfriend or boyfriend.

conversation

Atsuya
太郎たろう彼女かのじょわかれたんだって!
Taro said he broke up with his girlfriend!
うそ!?
Really!?
Justina

本当ほんとうに!?(Hontouni!?)

本当ほんとうに!? is also a phrase you can say when the speaker tells you something surprising.

本当ほんとうに!? and うそ!? are the same way to say "really?"

conversation

Atsuya
このまえくるまにひかれてあし骨折こっせつしちゃってさ…。
I got hit by a car and broke my leg...
え!本当ほんとうに!?
What!? Really!?
Justina

なるほど!

なるほどね (naruhodone)!is a phrase that you can use when someone teaches you something and you understand. It means "I see!" or "I get it!" in English.

conversation

Justina
もうちょっと砂糖さとうせば美味おいしくなるよ!
If you add a little more sugar, it'll taste great!
なるほどね!
I see!
Atsuya

Why is aizuchi important for Japanese conversation?

Compared with an English conversation, you need to respond more while you are having conversation in Japanese. Actually, some Japanese feel nervous when foreigners don't respond when they talk with them in Japanese. Japanese people think that if you don't respond, you aren't listening.

Let's be sure to use aizuchi in Japanese!

-Japanese
-, , , ,

© 2022 Nyapanese Powered by AFFINGER5