Photo: GaijinPot

10 nuanced Japanese expressions for advanced learners

By Mina Otsuka

When I see Japanese to English translations, I sometimes feel they are not as good as they should be. In Japanese, I’d use the adjective もどかしい (frustrated or impatient), to describe this feeling. This expression—and others like it—are a perfect example of nuanced Japanese, and I think that the only way to learn these expressions is by learning them in context.

That being said, here are 10 Japanese expressions that can be best learned and understood in context.

1. Expressing ‘try something’

Photo: iStock: Chinnachart Martmoh

The expression ~てみる is a stem that adds the meaning of “I will try to” or “I will do something to see if” to the preceding verb. It’s often translated as “try to do something,” as it implies one’s intention or willingness to do something. At the same time, though, the verb “try” doesn’t fully explain its nuance.


The expression ~でいい means “be fine or okay with,” which is best understood in comparison with the similar phrase, ~がいい.

This expression can mean “I like…,” “I’m fine with…” or “I’ll take…” depending on the situation. But the particle が has the nuance of “nothing but…,” so it’s a way of stating one’s preference. How does the meaning change if you use the particle で instead of が?

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The author should use romanji as not all JT readers are fluent in katakana , hiragana, and Chinese characters.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

@Danielsan The article also clearly states that its contents are directed towards the advanced learner, not beginners who are not yet comfortable with reading Japanese characters

3 ( +4 / -1 )

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