5 Useful Japanese Expressions

In my post about ‘aizuchi‘, I mentioned about five useful interjections that are used as filler responses during any conversation. Today, I would like to introduce five more useful words that will help you during  conversations. These words complement one’s response and  convey their feelings.



Literally chotto means little. Like in, ちょっと待ってください (chotto matte kudasai), which means please wait a little.

However, this little word chotto is very powerful. It helps you indirectly but also firmly say ‘NO’. It is used when you want to show concern (you cannot or do not agree to do something).

Aさん:明日映画を見に行かない。(ashita eiga wo mi ni ikanai – Let’s go to watch a movie tomorrow)

Bさん:明日はちょっと (ashita ha chotto – Tomorrow is a bit….) OR 明日はちょっとダメです。 (ashita ha chotto dame desu – Tomorrow is not fine by me.) 

Note: In casual conversations, you don’t need to add anything after chotto. The word itself denotes that you are saying ‘no’. But if you wish you can add a reason or clause at end the sentence, you are free to do so.

Chotto is sometimes used at the beginning of a sentence to make someone stop. This makes the sentence sound like your are reprimanding someone.

Like, ちょっと、何考えているの。Chotto, nani kangaeteiruno, means ‘hey one moment/wait!’ What are you thinking!’



Ano with a pause can be used before butting into a conversation or starting one.

あの……どういうことですか。(ano…..dou iu koto desuka – Well….what do you mean?)

Used as excuse me, when calling someone whose name you don’t know.

あの、すみません。(ano, sumimasen – Hey, excuse me.)

When giving information or explaining something to someone.


Ano is also is used as an aizuchi, when you can’t find the right word.



えーと, ええと or えっと can be translated as ‘well…..’ or ‘let me see’ in English. It is used when you suddenly pause while talking and search for some information or words.

ええと、なんだったっけ。(Eeto nandattake. Well, (can’t remember) what was that?)



じゃあ or じゃ is  a topic changer. It is used before abruptly changing the subject of a conversation or introducing a fresh topic. It can be translated as ‘so’ in English.

じゃあ、昼飯はどうするの。(Ja, gohan wa dousuruno. So, what about lunch?)

じゃあ is also used before giving or asking for a conclusion.

じゃあ、今どうするの。(So, what are you going to do now?)

じゃあ or じゃ is an informal way of saying でわ. じゃあまたね is an informal way of saying good bye, which can otherwise be said like ではまた。



まあね can be translated as ‘Well, sort of’. When someone is not sure about their answer or opinion, they usually say まあね. However, it does not sound too positive or could reflect the speaker’s lack of interest in the topic/subject.

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