Japanese is a difficult language! even putting kanji aside, over there are many words the sound very comparable but have an extremely different interpretations (kawaii vs. Kowai, because that example). This article will introduce 10 usual mix-ups that frequently confuse Japanese-learners and tips for preventing the mistake.

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Introduction

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“Kawaii” (かわいい) (kah-wah-ee-ee) is Japanese for cute or adorable. This is a very common word that you will watch in many different contexts together Japanese society loves everything and also anything cute. However, be really careful as soon as pronouncing the word.

猫が可愛いい (Neko ga kawaii) - cat is cuteIf you shot and to speak it quickly, friend may end up speak “kowai” (こわい) (koh-wah-ee) instead. Kowai method scary, afraid, or fearful, and it is additionally a fairly common word. When you see something cute, make sure to pronounce your “ka” and the extended “ii” sound or possibility being an extremely misunderstood!

猫が怖い (Neko ga kowai) - cat is scaryThere’s even one more common kawaii-related mistake the is described in number 7 below.

2. Suwaru / Sawaru

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Dmytro Voinalovych // Syda Productions / ShutterstockThe differences between this pair are a bit much less disastrous, yet can tho be reason for a fair bit of confusion. Okusan (奥さん, おくさん) (oh-koo-san) is a polite term for one’s wife. Okaasan (お母さん, おかあさん) (oh-kah-ah-san) is a polite term because that one’s mother. The an essential here is in the second syllable: with wife, make certain you pronounce it “ku” while v mother, it’s a “ka,” v an elongated collection sound.

私のお母さんです (Watashi no okaasan desu) - This is my mother私の奥さんです (Watashi no okusan desu) - This is my wife

4. Okashi / Okashii

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As a language, Japanese is an extremely keen come discern between things that space alive versus things that aren’t. When you space describing things that exist approximately you, the is crucial that you do that difference or risk confusing everyone you are talking to. If something isn’t alive, for example a forest, girlfriend would need to connect “aru” (ある) (ah-roo) at the finish of the sentence to define it’s existence:

森がある (Mori ga aru) - "There is a forest"On the other hand, say your friend Mori is appropriate over there and you want to point him out in a fairly casual fashion, you could say:

森がいる (Mori ga iru) - "Mori"s here" In this case, “iru” marks Mori as a life being, and also therefore a person’s name, as opposed to a forest. Aru/iru provides all the difference in between pointing the end your friend or remarking about trees. Back they don’t sound too much alike, it’s vital to store their difference in mind and use lock correctly as soon as speaking.

6. Oni / Ani

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A slightly an ext advanced mistake, this one entails grammar as compared to simply sound. Once learning exactly how to develop up Japanese words and sentences, learner are frequently introduced to the compound “sou” (そう). This is a suffix you deserve to throw top top the finish of adjectives in order to express the monitoring “seems to.” for example, you might hear who say:

おいしそう!(Oishisou!) - "That watch delicious!"In this case, the human hasn’t tried the food yet, nor has actually anyone told lock the flavor, however merely native the presentation alone they have the right to gather that it seems prefer something they would eat. “Sou” is fairly versatile, and you have the right to use it in countless different situations with many different adjectives.

However, upon see something adorable, one could be tempted come say:

かわいそう! (Kawaisou!) - "That appears cute!" ❌What they’re in reality saying is:

かわいそう! (Kawaisou!) - "How sad!" ✅“Kawaisou” (可哀想) is an actual Japanese indigenous that converts to “pitiful” or “sad.” use it when you check out a tiny child autumn down in a pond or as soon as someone drops their sandwich. If you want to describe something together “seeming cute”, it’s far better to use the compound “kawaii rashii” (可愛らしい).

False Friends

For the last three items, we’re going to look at some false friend or words the are known as “wasei eigo” (和製英語) an interpretation “Japanese-made English.” These space words the sound prefer English, talk prefer English, and may also walk choose English, however have totally different definitions than your similar-sounding brethren.A many these words might originally derive from your English counterparts, but through their daily intake in Japanese have gradually drifted in definition until they’re affixed to something fully different.

8. Konsento

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This native is doubly dangerous. “Baikingu” (バイキング) have the right to easily record the English speak off-guard. Some could hear “biking,” favor “my hobbies room collecting Pokemon and also biking.” Others, who recognize the Japanese trouble through the letter “V,” could instead imagine our ancient Norse friend in their giant warships. However, baikingu is neither biking nor Viking, but rather, it method “buffet.” This is due to the fact that the very first buffet-style restaurant to open up in Japan was referred to as the “Imperial Viking,” itself named after the 1958 American movie “The Vikings,” which was renowned at the time.

If you’re ever tempted to shorten it, don’t! Baikingu is all really well and also innocent, yet “baikin” (黴菌) means bacteria or germs!

10. Faito

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This list includes just the most usual cases, however the an ext you study Japanese, the more you’ll come throughout homophones and tricky phrases prefer the above. However, miscommunications due to mispronounced native actually take place less frequently than you might imagine. Once it comes to many similar-sounding words, castle are frequently used in such various contexts that even if you mess up the sounds, most human being will recognize what you talking around and mentally to fill in the correct words.

If you desire to perfect her speech and never do the over mistakes, the best means to carry out so is to study and practice. Examining helps friend make sure you know the differences, while practice will cement the correct sounds to the correct instances in her mind. The an ext you practice and also the an ext you usage the correct/words and also grammar, the easier it will become to hear the differences between words and also pronounce the indigenous correctly when speaking.

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No longer will “kawaii” sound prefer “kowai.” Cute and also scary will end up being the two separate words they worthy to be.