Use and Meaning of Toriaezu(とりあえず),Ittan,Tonikaku : Japanese has a lot of really useful words. There are a lot of words that mean the same thing as entire phrases in English. However, it can take a bit of time to get used to all of these words.

In this article, I’ll go over a few words that I have found really useful to know, and exactly how to use them.

Use and Meaning of Toriaezu(とりあえず),Ittan(いったん),Tonikaku(とにかく)

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
とりあえずtoriaezufirst of all
とにかくtonikakuanyway
いったんittanas soon as
ただいまtadaimaI’m home

Toriaezu(とりあえず)

The first word is our title word: “toriaezu” (とりあえず). This one is usually written only in kana, and it has two somewhat distinct meanings. 

One meaning is “first of all” or “right away.” With this meaning, you could say something along the lines of “Toriaezu(とりあえず) watashi ga ikimasu” (とりあえず私が行きます), or “I’m going right away.” With this meaning, it’s fairly common to follow “Toriaezu(とりあえず)” with the word “ima” (今), meaning “now.” You could put that in this sentence as well, saying “Toriaezu(とりあえず) ima watashi ga ikimasu” to make your meaning clear. 

The other meaning is “for now” or “for the time being.” I heard it used more this way, but that could just be the preference of the people I spent time with in Japan. You could actually say the same sentence as above with this meaning. Saying “Toriaezu(とりあえず) watashi ga ikimasu” could mean “I’ll go for now.” The key to knowing what someone is saying is context. Context is always very important in Japanese, and this sentence could be used in either way. 

Ittan(いったん) is Toriaezu(とりあえず) ?

Our next word is “ittan” (一旦). A lot of times, this one is also written only in kana. 

This word is mainly used to mean “once” or “as soon as.” I found a good example for this one in my dictionary. It was “Ittan shita koto wa moto doori ni naranai” (いったんしたことは元どおりにならない), which means “What is done cannot be undone.” The “ittan” in this sentence is attached to “shita koto,” meaning “something that is done.” So it literally means, “Once something is done…” 

This one can be pretty easy to mix up with other words, so make sure you’re careful. I would always mix this up with the word “ittai” (一体), which means “generally,” or can be used to add emphasis to a question. 

Tonikaku(とにかく) is Toriaezu(とりあえず)?

Another word I found fairly useful was “tonikaku” (兎に角). This one is also written almost exclusively in kana.

“Tonikaku” means “anyway,” “at any rate,” or “generally speaking.” This one can be easy to mix up with “Toriaezu(とりあえず),” so be careful that you don’t try to use them interchangeably. I have heard a few foreigners learning Japanese do that, and they aren’t quite the same. 

Let’s look at how this is different by switching it into our first example sentence to see how the meaning changes. If you say “Tonikaku watashi ga ikimasu” (とにかく私が行きます), it means something more along the lines of “At any rate, I’m going.” You can see that this is a subtle but distinct difference in meaning. 

There’s another phrase related to “tonikaku.” I didn’t hear it as much, but I thought it would be worth mentioning. You can use the phrase “nanishiro” (何しろ) in place of “tonikaku” when you are expressing something personal and emotive. An example I found in my grammar book was “Nanishiro sutoresu ga ooi desu” (何しろストレスが多いです). This would mean “In fact, I’m very stressed.” 

You could replace “nanishiro” with “tonikaku” in this, and still retain the meaning. However, “nanishiro” indicates that the situation is personal and emotional. You can always replace “nanishiro” with “tonikaku,” but you can’t always replace “tonikaku” with “nanishiro,” because not all sentences with “tonikaku” will be this personal and emotive. 

Tadaima(ただいま)

The last word we’ll talk about in this article is “tadaima” (ただ今). This is another word that is almost always written in kana.

You may have heard this word before to say “I’m home!” It is definitely used in that way, but it can also be used in sentences in Japanese. 

I’ll be honest, I never actually used this one myself. However, I heard it a lot, generally in prerecorded, formal messages. The one that sticks out to me the most is hearing it at train stations when it would be announced that “Tadaima densha ga mairimasu” (ただいま電車が参ります) or “The train is now approaching.” 

“Tadaima” is fairly easy to remember, as it can be broken down into two different words: “tada” meaning “just” or “only,” and “ima” meaning “now.” Whenever I translate this word, I think of it as “just now.” 

You might never say this one, but I heard it often enough that I think it’s a good one to know. 

These are just a few words that I think are really useful. Using words like this correctly is a great way to express yourself clearly and really elevate your Japanese. Be sure to practice, and listen to native Japanese speakers to help you get the hang of them. 

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