If you have read through our other blogs, you probably have a few useful Japanese phrases up your sleeve already! Well, here’s another one for you! 

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As far as Japanese phrases go, we have discussed quite a few! For this blog, we will discuss a more advanced, but still quite useful phrase. You have probably heard of it before as it is quite a common phrase used by native speakers! This blog will be discussing a very commonly used and casual phrase, “ぎゃくに(gyaku ni)”.

What it means and its kanji: 逆に (ぎゃくに:gyaku ni)

As mentioned in our previous blogs, one of the best ways to remember and understand a words meaning is by looking at its kanji. Lucky for us, the phrase that we will be discussing today does have a kanji character. We can use this to study and better understand what this phrase means and how to properly use it in a conversation. The phrase “ぎゃくに” is written as 逆に with its kanji. By itself, the kanji “逆(gyaku)” is directly translated into “reverse” or “opposite” and is used in sentences and phrases as such. The phrase we will discuss today technically has a similar function to this word but with a bit of a twist.

Now that we know what the kanji present in our phrase for this blog means, let’s take a look at what the actual phrase means and how it is used. As a phrase, “逆に” is used as the equivalent of the english phrases “conversely”, “on the other hand”, “on that note”, and “on the contrary”–with the latter closer to its kanjis original meaning. It can be found in the beginning and middle of a statement—never at the end! Please look below for a few sentence examples. 

Kare wa kuruma ga suki da ga, gyaku ni otouto wa kuruma ga dai kirai da.
He loves cars while on the other hand, his brother hates them.
Ana wa densha de kaerimashita. Mari- wa gyaku ni izakaya ni nomi ni itta.
Ana went home by train while Marie went to an izakaya(Japanese style pub) to drink.
Kesa no tenki yohou to gyaku ni, ame ga furitsuzueite iru.
It’s been raining non stop contrary to this mornings weather forecast.

To give you a better idea of how to use it in a conversation, here are a few examples of conversations you can take a look at as it’s always easier to understand with context! 

Conversation 1

Aーさん:  彼の秘密はつまらないそう。興味があまりない。
Kare no himitsu wa tsumaranai sou. Kyoumi ga amari nai.
His secret seems boring. I’m not interested at all. 
Bーさん: 逆に、私は知りたい!
Gyaku ni, watashi wa shiritai!
On the contrary/Actually, I want to know!

Conversation 2

Aーさん:  最近、アルバイト行けない。来週から日本語試験が始まるのに忙し過ぎる。
Saikin, arubaito ikenai, raishuu kara nihongo shiken ga hajimaru noni isogashii sugiru.
I haven't been to my part-time job recently. I’m just too busy because my Japanese tests will start next week.
Bーさん: 逆に、日本語の勉強はどうですか?難しいですか?
Gyaku ni, nihongo no benkyou wa dou desu ka? Muzukashii?
On that note, how are your Japanese studies? Is it hard?

Conversation 3

Aーさん:  私は日本食が大好きです。寿司、刺身、天ぷら、納豆も好きです!
Watashi wa nihon shoku ga daisuki desu. Sushi, sashimi, tenpura, nattou mo suki desu!
I love Japanese food! I like sushi, sashimi, tempura, and even fermented soy beans!
Bーさん: 逆に、きらいなにほんのりょうりはなんですか?
Gyaku ni, kirai na nihon ryouri wa nan desu ka?
On the other hand, what is a Japanese food that you hate?

Hopefully this will give you a better idea on how to use “逆に” as it is quite a useful phrase! It might be a bit intimidating at first but will get easier with more practicepractice almost always makes perfect! 

The best way to practice is to try talking with native speakers and applying what you’ve learned to a conversation. Of course, this isn’t easily accessible by everyone especially if you are trying to study by yourself and do not reside in Japan. Don’t worry though, there are various ways you can practice by yourself! A good piece of advice I can give you is application. Try making up social situations where you can use “逆に” in a conversation. What type of situations do you think using gyaku ni will be useful? Try making sentences, or even conversations like the examples we have above to practice.Also, try writing them down as well–this will be good writing and spelling practice as we all know that Kanji is easier read than written! You can even keep these written sentences and conversations as notes, take out the furigana, and use them as reading exercises in the future. This might be a bit difficult in the beginning so try and look for a few more examples online if you need a little bit of help. Anything is possible as long as you have the determination to do so!

When to use it – gyaku ni(逆に)

As we have learned throughout our Japanese learning journey, the level of politeness of the Japanese we use varies depending on who we are speaking to. As Japan is a society built on respect, expect the politeness level to boil down to ones age, social standing, and even profession. We will not discuss the different levels of politeness in the Japanese language but we will at least help you understand when and to whom you can use “逆に” . 

Based on our sample sentences above, you can already create a hypothesis that “逆に” is used in casual conversation as it can be considered to be used like slang. This can be used with family and close friends. Of course, in a very casual social situation like drinking with new people, using this phrase is acceptable as well. It is, however, not advisable to use this phrase in a professional setting or in a conversation with someone of a higher social standing or higher position at work compared to you. This will be deemed rude and a bit weird. Using this phrase with an inappropriate person will feel like someone is invading your personal space or straight-up disrespect so be careful and be as polite as you can!