YES / NO (not onlyはい / いいえ) in Japanese
When you are asked questions, you will answer yes or no. In Japanese language, we have some phrases equivalent for yes or no.
I got questions from students at N5 level. This is post about many kinds of yes or no.
As you may already know はい is yes and いいえ is no. OK, this is most popular and formal one. But there are some more phrases with same meaning as はい/いいえ. In some situations, if you answer はい or いいえ, it may be weird.
There are two category levels in communication which phrases we should use. One is communication with boss or upper person at workplace, person at first meeting (“general and formal relationship”). The other is communication with family or friend (“close relationship”).
This is conversation between my friend and me. He studies Japanese so I used formal Japanese answer. Then we texted on Whatsapp.
A: Will we meet at Starbucks at 7 O’clock today?
B: Yes. No problem.
This conversation is between my son and me. The situation was that it was time for my kid to sleep but he kept watching TV.
ううん/うん is used in close relationship between family or friend or lover etc.
うん means yes and ううん means no. Confusing a bit…
A: Let’s sleep as it’s already late.
B: No. I won’t.
B: Yes. OK.
These are other examples of phrases equivalent of yes/no.
You may find these phrases in Japanese manga, drama and so on.
Also, if you cannot answer yes/no, best answer is I don’t now (わかりません). This is often used in conversation in Japan.
そう: Yes. (casual style)
そうそう:Yes, yes (very casual)
そのとおり: That’s right. (strong affirm)
いや: No (casual)
違う: No, it’ not. (strong denial)
When you cannot answer yes or no
わかりません/わからない (I don’t know)
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