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 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.
So, I went to a cat cafe the other day.
The cats were so happy and played with me a lot.
I was so happy!
I see. That's great!
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.
You look down. What's wrong?
I made a mistake at work earlier...
I see. I'm sure it'll be fine!
Yeah. Thank you!
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.
Atsuya, can you wash the dishes?
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 本当に？ (really?) with えー！？
There are no samurai in Japan now!
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 知らなかった (I didn't know that) after saying へ～.
Did you know that cats sleep more than 16 hours a day!?
Wow! I didn't know that!
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.
This book was so boring!
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.
In the winter, sometimes I end up going back to sleep right after I wake up.
Yeah. I totally know how you feel.
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!
I passed the N1!
Really! That's great!
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.
Taro said he broke up with his girlfriend!
本当に！？ is also a phrase you can say when the speaker tells you something surprising.
本当に！？ and うそ！？ are the same way to say "really?"
I got hit by a car and broke my leg...
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.
If you add a little more sugar, it'll taste great!
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!