Zenzen daijoubu /zenzen heiki : As we know, simply knowing the basics of Japanese is not enough to feel fluency! As part of your journey into becoming a Japanese master, knowing common slang and casual conversation phrases are quite vital! For this blog, we will be talking about two VERY common, but quite confusing slang phrases that can be used in casual conversations,

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Everything is going to be okay: Zenzen daijoubu /zenzen heiki

Japanese Common Phrases – I am Ok [Daijoubu desu] 

Word per word examination

Since there are three main words in these phrases, it would be better to discuss them one by one to have a better, more in depth understanding of their usage. These words can be used separately as well so it’s a win win situation!

What does 大丈夫  or “daijoubu” mean?

This word is probably one of the most common words you could hear not just in real life conversations, but Japanese media as well. This is also considered to be quite an easy word that students usually learn in the beginning of their journey into mastering Japanese. To be honest, this can be considered to be one of the most versatile words in the Japanese language! It mainly means “it’s fine/it’s okay” but again, there are so many uses! Since there are SO many uses for it, here are just some of them so you can have a general idea!

Asking if someone is okay (condition, feelings, health)

Tanakasan wa daijoubu desu ka?
Is Tanaka san okay?

Asking opinions of other people and expressing opinion

A san: Kono iro wa daijoubu deshou ka?
B san: Sono iro wa daijoubu desu!
Person A: Is the color okay?
Person B: That color is fine!

Asking permission to do something and giving approval

A san: Korera no ocha wo nonde mo daijyoubu desu ka?
B san: Daijoubu desu yo.
Person A: Is it okay to drink this tea?
Person B: It’s okay.

Asking and expressing the condition, health, feelings of something or someone

A san: Kibun wa daijoubu desu ka?
B san: Watashi wa daijoubu desu!
Person A: Are you okay?
Person B: I am fine!/ I am okay!/ I am not hurt!

Expressing reassurance to someone if they apologize to you

A san: A-! Sumimasen!
B san: Daijoubu desu yo!
Person A: Ah! I’m sorry!
Person B: It’s fine!

Reassuring someone about their feelings

Tabun daijoubu desu yo. Shinpai shinai de.
It’s probably going to be fine. Don’t worry!

What does 平気 or “heiki” mean?

Also considered to be one of the most common things that you can hear in conversations, this word is commonly used in casual conversations rather than formal ones. Technically speaking, it means “unconcern, calmness, coolness” but similarly enough to the word daijoubu, it has quite a lot of uses and is mainly used to express being “fine, okay, not bothered, no problem”. Here are a few examples of heiki being used in sentences.

Asking and expressing condition of something/someone

A san: Daijoubu desu ka? Itai?
B san: Ie, heiki desu!
Person A: Are you okay? Is it painful?
Person B: No, I’m fine!

Asking and expressing approval

A san: Kono sarada wa heiki? Kare wa vegetarian desu yo ne.
B san: Sarada wa heiki desu!
Person A: Is the food okay? He is vegetarian.
Person B: Salad is fine!

Expressing carelessness/ feeling of being unbothered by something

Kare wa heiki de uso wo tsukimasu.
He has no hesitation lying/ He shamelessly lies.

What does 全然 or “zenzen” mean?

For this word, it is actually a very informal expression that changes its meaning depending on whether its used in a positive or negative sense. Although technically, it should be negative, it can be both if used in an informal setting. It is negative when used with negative verbs and positive, in a slang-y, sarcastic way. Positively used, it means “totally/completely” and when negatively used means “not at all”. Of course, since it is slang, it can come off as something closer to “omg yes” in a positive sentence and “h*ll no” in a negative sentence. Here are a few examples of zen zen being used in sentences.

Negative (grammatically correct)

Saikin asagohan wo zenzen tabemasen deshita.
Recently (I) haven’t been eating anything at all for breakfast.

Positive (used informal speech and writing for emphasis)

Ashita no raibu ni ikeru! Zenzen ikeru!
I can go to tomorrow's live concert! I can definitely go!

Zenzen daijoubu/ Zenzen heiki

Now that we have discussed the meaning of all the words in the phrases above, we can now talk about the general idea of these phrases.

What does it mean?

Although both are considered grammatically wrong, they are slang phrases used to express how something or someone is “totally/ perfectly/ definitely okay!”  or maybe even “totally/ perfectly/ definitely fine!”. It has some humour in it since it technically doesn’t make sense together but again, it is slang and is used mainly by young people in casual/social situations.

When should I use it?

Since it is a slang word, it can and should only be used in an informal setting so don’t expect to hear or see it in a business or formal setting!

Here are a few instances where you can use these phrases.

Expressing that your health/condition/feelings are fine

A san: Itasou! Daijoubu desu ka?
B san: Un. Zenzen daijoubu.
Person A: It looks painful! Are you okay?
Person B: Yeah. I’m perfectly fine.

Expressing your absolute approval of something

A san: Sono hana taba wa dou?
B san: Wa! Zenzen heiki!
Person A: What do you think of that flower bouquet?
Person B: Wow! It's perfect!

Expressing reassurance

A san: Sono keki wa okii sugiru jya nai?
B san: Iie. Zenzen daijoubu!
Person A: Isn’t that cake too big?
Person B: No. It’ll be totally fine.

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A ridiculously essential Japanese phrase : Daijoubu(Daijobu)