Knowing the appropriate way and time to use these phrases will definitely make you sound more fluent. 

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Useful add-ons to your everyday vocabulary

When studying Japanese, the dream is usually to sound as fluent as possible and to be good enough to speak with native speakers. Of course, this will take quite a lot of effort and years of studying but is there a way to sound more fluent than you are? Of course, this won’t help you pass an exam but it will definitely help you earn a few brownie points when speaking with native speakers! We have probably discussed a few other phrases in our other blogs but there are so many useful phrases out there that we’re not even sure we can cover all of them!

Why are they even useful? They can not only help you sound more fluent, but they can also help you express yourself in a more natural way. Learning the basics helps you communicate but doesn’t necessarily help you be more natural with your speaking. In a way, your focus when learning Japanese should be adjusted depending on your goal. If your goal is to pass the Japanese exams, it would probably be better to focus on reading, writing, and listening. If your focus is to speak fluently, one should focus on speaking, listening, and learning “real Japanese” that’s commonly used by native speakers. Unfortunately, “real Japanese” can only be learned by speaking to native speakers and maybe even using popular forms of media as a source for learning. This blog will definitely be for students who want to sound more fluent–we have a line up of useful phrases on here that you can add to your grammar/vocabulary and it will definitely help you be one step closer to sounding more fluent! 

そうそう (Sou sou) – “Oh, yes!”, “That’s right”, “Hmm”

You have probably heard this in popular media like dramas, anime and even talk shows. This can be used to agree/confirm something and is mainly used in casual conversation.

A: "Kanojou no tanjyoubi wo oboeteimasuka?" B: "Sou sou. Raishuu kana?”
A: “Do you remember her birthday?” B: “Mhmm. Is it next week?”
Sou sou sono choushi.
That a boy! (*More of an expression)

まあまあ(Maa Maa) – to calm someone down, “It was alright/ okay”, “Neither good or bad”

Don’t get this one confused with Mama (ママ: “Mother”) or Mama (まま: remain unchanged). As you can see, this is pronounced with a longer あー and has very different uses to the 2 mentioned earlier. Let’s take a look at the points below to have  a better understanding on how to use “Maa Maa”.

To calm someone down

Quite straight-forward, まあまあ can be used to calm someone down. It’s similar to how we use “Now’ now” in a conversation, something you say to deescalate a situation.

Maa maa, sou okaranaide kudasai.
Now, now, don't get so angry.
Maa maa sou iu na
Now, now, don't say that.

“It was alright/okay”, “Neither good or bad”

This is probably one of the most useful and commonly used phrases in this list. It is mainly used to express that something was “passable” or “so-so”.

Kare no eigo wa maa maa da.
His English wasn’t bad.
A: “Eiga wa dou desu ka?” B: “Maa maa desu.”
A: “How was the movie?”   B: “It was alright.”

ふつう (Futsuu) – “It’s normal”, It’s the usual”

This is easy as it’s used similar to its definition. It can either be used as a response to a question or in a sentence and is mainly used in casual conversation.

Anata wa futsuu choushoku ni koucha wo nomimasu ka?
Do you usually have tea for breakfast?

A: “Kinou no goukon wa dou datta?” B: “Futsuu. Dare ni mo kyōmi ga arimasen deshita.”
A: “How was the group date yesterday?” B: “The usual. I wasn't interested in anyone.”
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だいじょうぶ (Daijyoubu) – “All right”, “Safe”, “Okay”.

This is probably one of the most overused words in the Japanese language as it can be used in so many different situations. This word is often used to tell people that you are doing alright or are fine–it can also be used to say yes or no. Yes, it can be confusing but it’s all in the context and pronunciation!

A: “Isshuukan hidoi kaze o hiite ita to kikimashita. Ima wa daijoubu desu ka?” B: “Hai. Daijoubu desu.”
A: “I heard that you’ve had a bad cold for a week. Are you better now?” B: “Yes. I’m okay.”
A: “Mizu ga hoshii desu ka?” B: “Daijoubu desu.”
A: “Do you want some water?” B: “No thanks.”

ちょうどいい (Choudo ii) – “Just right (time, size, length, etc.)”

This is probably one of the easiest phrases to understand in this list as it’s very straight-forward! It is mainly used to express the English equivalent of “It’s just right” or “it’s enough”. This can be used in a sentence and an answer to questions asking about time, size, length, amount, temperature, and so on. It’s very useful and is commonly used in casual conversations!

Choudo ii toki ni kite kureta ne.
You've turned up at just the right time.
Kono kutsu wa watashi wa chou do ii.
These shoes are just right for me.


What do you think of these phrases so far? It might seem complicated at first but using them in sentences gets easier and more natural in the long run. If the examples we have given above aren’t enough to give you a good understanding of when to use them, please do not hesitate to look at more examples online or better yet, ask a native speaker! Trust us when we say that these phrases can and will help you sound more fluent and most importantly sound more natural. Try practicing by thinking of other situations you can use the phrases above–good luck and happy studying!