It is recommended to read this article with the attached video to confirm the pronunciation and intonation of the expressions you learn in this article.
With English Subtitles

Today we are going to learn 50 little expressions with which you can speak Japanese as if you were native, if you use them correctly.

How? There are two important things: intonation and speed.

Of course, pronunciation is important, but you have to take care of the intonation and there is indeed a difference between Japanese and English. Japanese does not have an accent like English, everything is flat, it only has intonation or changes in tone, as if it were a melody.

For example,


There is no accent in any word, but it has rhythm and sound like a melody.

Expressions are usually said very quickly, since they are generally said instantly, so people recognize it with intonation rather than pronunciation, I mean, even if you make mistakes in small details in pronunciation, if you use it in the situation correct, and if you say it quickly and with the correct intonation, you can make yourself understood and it could sound authentic.

Japanese Interjections

So, let’s start with the shortest ones, the interjections.

We start with [ほら]

This expression depends on how you say it. As you do so, the word may have one meaning or a different one.

If you say ↑ [ほら] ↘︎, you are saying “Take it”, to give something.

But if you say like [ほら 〜] ⤴︎, lengthened and rising at the end, it would have the meaning of “see?” And in this case, you can add a typical explanation [だから 、 いったでしょ] like “I told you so!”.

Someone says, “Tennis player Naomi Osaka is Japanese, although she doesn’t look like a typical Japanese.” And it impresses you and you say: [へ〜] ⤴︎ like “I didn’t know”.

[ほお〜] ⤴︎ the same meaning, but the elders use it more often.

And then you can add: [そうなんだ] as “understood”. But if you don’t care so much:, [あっそ (ああ 、 そう)] as “understood”.

Then he says “She is now number 10 in the world ranking.” And you say the synonym, less surprise but just as impressed, it would be [おー] ⤴︎ and you add [すごい], “incredible”.

When you look for your car keys in your bag and can’t find them, you say [あれ] ⤴︎ You would use it when you notice something strange. However, if you say [あれ] ↘︎, it means “that”.

↑ [うん] ↘︎ Yes (informal)

[ううん] ↘︎ No (informal)

But [うーんと] would be used when you are thinking about the solution. The synonym would be [えっと〜]

But only [えっ] would be “what?!”, it would be a surprise, for example, if they say: “tomorrow the boss is coming to inspect”, and you would react saying that.

But if he says “you’re fired,” it would be [ええっ], even more surprise.

The expression [え〜] is also a surprise, but in this case at the same time you are complaining because that surprise is not convenient for you, saying like “what did you tell me?”.

The synonym would be [やだ〜] ⤴︎ or [もう〜] → Or you can combine [え〜もう〜] 、 [やだもう〜] 、[え〜やだもう〜].

The following is very similar, but in this case it bothers you a lot, for example, someone says: “you never do anything right”, and you say [は〜] ⤴︎ to protest. Be careful, this expression is aggressive like saying “who do you think you are to tell me this?”

And if what they tell you is something that does not surprise or bother you a lot, but it is something that gives you problems, would you say, [ちょっと〜] → and you can continue [かんべんしてよ] or [いいかげんにして] and means “this is not acceptable”. You would say it when your cat pees out of its place, of course.

There are more examples of these that change the meaning between a short and a long sound:

[ねえ] would be to attract attention as “hey”. Or [ねえ〜] → is “listen to me” but you are already complaining because what you are saying is not heard. But [ねえ 〜] ⤴︎ would be a confirmation with the person you are talking to, such as “right?”

[さあ] would be “come on!”, An encouragement and emotional support but [さあ〜] → we use it a lot, to say “I don’t know” and put it at the beginning of the sentence.

Japanese Expressions

Now expressions.

Somebody says: “I am working three days without sleep” and you say, [じんじょうじゃない], which is said when something is not normal and it turns out to be too much. Therefore, with this person you feel, [ついていけない], I cannot follow him, I cannot share the feeling with him. So the synonym is [ひく], it means that you wish to keep distance from him. 

[まじ] really?

[やばい] very dangerous or cool.

[まじやばい] you think it’s not normal and it’s super dangerous (or super cool)

[めんどくさい] I’m too lazy to do something. The synonym [だるい] also means not great, although the original meaning is that you have no strength in your body.

[けっこういける] Not that bad (normally for food). You did not expect it, but when you have eaten it you realize that it is delicious.

[いけてる] super cool

[けっこうやるね] You do great, better than I expected

[やってやる] I’m definitely going for him!

[やったわね / やったな] how wrong you did me!

[やった] YES, I have it! [よっしゃ] Yes, I did well!

[しまった] Oh No! What a bad thing I have done!

[ついてる] I’m lucky [ついてない] I’m not lucky

[どうしようもない] there are no solutions

[しょうがない] there is no other option

[どうしよう] What do I do?

There are expressions where everything depends on the way you put the intonation. The meaning absolutely depends on it.

[ばかじゃない] means that something seems silly. If you say it with a strong face, it could be an insult, but with a smile it can be an innocent joke made with affection.

These are also change the meaning depending on how you say it. 

[何 や っ て ん の] what are you doing

[な ん な の] what is this / what do you mean

[ど う い う こ と] what do you mean / give me the explanation

[と ん で も な い] means that “these things can never happen”.  When they accuse you, “you stole from him”, and you say this with the meaning of “me?, Never!” But they say “thank you very much and I owe you a lot for this”, and you say it with the meaning of “no, not at all, I have not done anything important” out of courtesy.