18 Ways to Say Yes in Japanese

In Japanese, yes is often translated as はい (hai). However, there are more meanings to the word hai than just yes. Sometimes a question shouldn’t be answered with hai. In this article, we’ll discuss the many ways to say yes in Japanese.

Polite Ways to Say Yes in Japanese

Two men and one woman dressed in suits, standing around a small table and are bowing (young male to the left, and older man and woman to the right).

In Japan, it’s considered impolite to use casual language with people who are older than you or have more seniority at work or school. So let’s look at some polite ways to say yes in Japanese.

1. はい(Hai)- Affirmative, Correct

Hai is the textbook translation for yes in Japanese. 

Hai is also used like the English words “mm-hm” or “yeah,” affirming to the other person that you are actively listening to their conversation.

Examples:

1. Jane: Are you well?
お元気ですか?
(O genki desu ka?)

Kim: Yes. How about you?
はい、元気です。あなたは?
(Hai, genki desu. Anata wa?)

2. Mike: So I went to school the other day…
先日、学校に行ったけど…
(Senjitsu, gakkou ni itta kedo…

Johnny: M-hm.
はい。
(Hai.)

Mike:…and I realized I’d forgotten my homework!
宿題を忘れてた!
(Shukudai o wasureteta!)

Johnny: Oh no! – あら! (Ara!)

2. ええ(Ee)- Yes

The word ええ(ee)might be closer in nuance to the English word yes than hai is. Ee (pronounced “ehh”) is acceptable in all social situations. Many people use ee in conversations, but usually with people you are close with (friends, family, co-workers). So you may want to be careful about using it with someone like your boss or other business partners.

Example:

Alice: Will you be able to come to work tomorrow?
明日、仕事に来られますか?
(Ashita, shigoto ni koraremasuka?)

Jen: Yes. I’ll see you tomorrow. –
ええ。また明日会いましょうね。
(Ee. Mata ashita aimashou ne.)

3. そうです(ね)(Sou Desu (Ne))- That’s Right

The phrase そうです (sou desu) means that’s right. Adding ね(ne)at the end gives the nuance of agreement (that’s right) or could even show hesitation (when said slow and drawn out). Sou desu is useful whether you add ne to the end or not.

Here are some of the many different ways you can use そう to say yes to someone in Japanese (In order of casual to formal):

  • そう。(Sou.)
  • そうね。(Sou ne.)
  • そうよ。(Sou yo.) – Mostly used by women.
  • そうだ。(Sou da.)
  • そうだよ。(Sou dayo.)
  • そうだね。(Sou da ne.)
  • そうですよ。(Sou desu yo.)
  • そうですね。(Sou desu ne.)
  • そうです (Sou desu.)

Example:

Ken: Are you the new teacher?
新しい先生ですか?
(Atarashii sensei desu ka?)

Lee Sensei: That’s right. Nice to meet you.
そうです。よろしくお願いします。
(Sou desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.)

4. いい(です)ね(Ii (Desu) Ne)- That Sounds Good

Instead of a Like button, Japanese social media platforms have an いいね (ii ne) button. The phrase いいね (ii ne) means “I like this.” or “That sounds good.” 

In polite conversation, Japanese people often add です (desu) to make the phrase more formal.

Examples:

1. Stan: Would you like to go to a café for lunch?
昼休み、カフェに行かない?
(Hiruyasumi, café ni ikanai?)

Harry: Sounds good!
いいね!
(Ii ne!)

2. Jane: We’ll leave at 9 AM.
朝9時に出発します。
(Asa ku-ji ni shuppatsu shimasu.)

Stacy: That sounds good. Where shall we meet up?
いいですね。どこで会いましょうか?
(Ii desu ne. Doko de aimashou ka?)

5. 大丈夫です(Daijoubu Desu)- Alright

In this context, the phrase 大丈夫です (daijoubu desu) means alright or okay. It’s often used as a question by one party and repeated back in the affirmative by the other.

Example:

Tiffany: Would it be okay to send this by e-mail? –
この書類をEメールで送っても大丈夫ですか?
(Kono shorui o ii mēru de okuttemo daijoubu desu ka?)

Jeff: Alright.
大丈夫です。
(Daijoubu desu.)

6. ぜひ(Zehi)- Definitely

ぜひ (zehi) is used as an emphatic yes in Japanese. It translates to certainly or absolutely

Zehi is often used to express the nuance of yes, please, or ぜひ、お願いします (zehi, onegaishimasu). 

Example:

Mark: Could we see each other again soon?
また会えますか?
(Mata aemasu ka?)

Emi: Definitely!
ぜひ!
(Zehi!)

7. 構いません(Kamaimasen)- I Don’t Mind

The phrase 構いません (kamaimasen) expresses yes even though it’s a verb in the negative form. This is a polite way of saying that’s okay or no problem in Japanese. 

Kamaimasen can be used in casual conversation as well. In casual Japanese, kamaimasen is 構わない (kamawanai). The English translation might be “I don’t mind.” or “No worries.”

Examples:

1. Ralph: Could I take a picture of your cat?
猫の写真撮っていいかな?
(Neko no shashin totte ii kana?)

Bobby: Sure.
構わないよ。
(Kamawanai yo.)

2. I don’t mind. You can leave your shoes on.
靴を脱がなくても構いません。
(Kutsu o nuganakutemo kamaimasen.)

8. 了解です(Ryoukai Desu)- I Understand

This phrase is often used in the workplace. 了解です (ryoukai desu) means “I understand.” or “Roger that.”  

It has a frank tone to it, so we recommend only using it with your coworkers or a boss you’re comfortable with. The casual form of ryoukai desu is 了解 (ryoukai). 承知しました (Shouchi shimashita – number 17 on this list) is a better and more polite expression to use with your superiors at work.

Example:

Suzuki: Tanaka, please print out the fliers.
田中さん、チラシの印刷をお願いします。
(Tanaka-san, chirashi no insatsu o onegaishimasu.)

Tanaka: Understood!
了解です!
(Ryōkai desu!)

Casual Ways to Say Yes in Japanese

Two young women giving the "thumbs up" sign with their hands and smiling.

Here are some casual ways to say yes in Japanese. Remember that these words and phrases should only be used with your friends and family; it might be considered rude to use them with a stranger or your boss.

9. うん(Un)- Uh-huh

 More of a sound than a word, うん (un) means “uh-huh.” or “Yeah.” Like hai or ee, the word un can also be used in conversations to show that you’re listening.

Example:

Carlton: Were you at the shopping mall yesterday?
昨日、モールにいた?
(Kinou, mooru ni ita?)

Will: “Uh-huh.”
“うん。”
Un.)

10. ああ(Aa)- Yeah

ああ (aa) is sometimes described as the casual form of ee. Again, it’s more of a sound than an official word. Aa means “Yeah.” or “Alright.” Since it is more of a sound than an actual word, you need to be sure to use it in the appropriate situations. The way that you say it (your tone) also will affect the meaning of this word.

It’s typically viewed as a masculine word. A similar masculine sound for yes is おう (ou).

Example:

Phil: Suzu? Yeah, I’ll make it to the party tonight.
寿々ちゃん?*ああ、今夜のパーティーに行くよ。
(Suzu-chan? Aa, konya no pātī ni iku yo.)

*Note: Remember that your tone is very important. Saying this in a lower, drawn-out pitch would imply that you don’t want to be bothered. On the other hand, saying ああ with a strong, rising tone could mean excitement or surprise.

11. オッケー(Okkee)- Okay

オッケー (okkee) is a borrowed word from English. Many Japanese people will write it the same way that English speakers do: with two letters, OK. Most English borrowed words are restricted to casual speech; you don’t want to say OK! to your boss.

Example:

James: Hey, could you get me a soda?
ね、ジュースを買ってくれない?
(Ne, jūsu o katte kurenai?

Shaun: Okay!
オッケー!
(Okkee!)

12. イエス(Iesu)- Yes

Another English borrowed word, イエス(iesu)means yes. It can also mean Jesus, given the context. イエス has a friendly connotation when used as an affirmative. It sounds enthusiastic and fun, but it is not commonly used by most Japanese people.

Example:

Dave: Hey, could I ask you a favor?
ね、頼みがあるけど、いい?
(Ne, tanomi ga aru kedo, ii?)

Ben: Yes! –
イエス!
(Iesu!)

13. もちろん(Mochiron)- Of Course

もちろん (mochiron) means “of course” or “certainly” in Japanese. Mochiron conveys confidence and affirmation. It can be used in certain formal situations if です (desu) is added at the end. 

However, もちろん (mochiron) or もちろんです (mochiron desu) may still not be a phrase you’d want to say to a boss or even a stranger. Saying it the wrong way could sound rude, just like in English. Imagine asking someone if they knew how to fix a computer problem, and they reply with a loud “Of course!” This could either be taken as “Sure, I can fix that no problem.” Or it could mean “What? Of course I can fix it. Do you think I can’t do my job?”

Saying it in Japanese can have the same nuance, so be careful when using it.

Examples:

1. Matt: Are you sure you’re okay?
本当に大丈夫なの?
(Hontō ni daijōbu na no?)

Brandon: Of course!
もちろん!
(Mochiron!)

2. Adam: Will I see you at the boss’s retirement dinner tonight?
今夜、部長の飲み会に来られる?
(Konya buchō no nomikai ni korareru?)

Karen: Certainly.
もちろんです。
(Mochiron desu.)

14. ラジャー(Rajā)- Roger

ラジャー (rajā) is another borrowed word from the English language. The Japanese version of roger has the same nuance and meaning. 

Of course, because it’s a borrowed word, rajā is reserved for casual conversation. Friends might add desu at the end as a joke, but it shouldn’t be used in the workplace or other formal situations. Or some people say ラジャーっす。(rajāssu.)” or “ラジャっす。(rajassu.) This is the short/slang way to say ラジャーです。(rajā desu.)

Example:

Jim: Do my homework for me!
代わりに宿題をやって!
(Kawari ni shukudai o yatte!)

Howard: Roger! …not.
ラジャーです!…嘘だけど。
(Rajaa desu! …uso dakedo.)

Situational Ways to Say Yes in Japanese

A young woman doing the "OK" gesture with both of her hands while smiling.

There are a few situation-specific phrases that mean yes in Japanese. Many are reserved for when you’re at work or customer service situations. Here are some situational words for yes that you might hear in Japanese.

15. かしこまりました(Kashikomarimashita)- Certainly

You would most likely hear the phrase かしこまりました(kashikomarimashita) after giving your order at a restaurant. 

The word 畏まる (kashikomaru) means to respectfully obey. Restaurant staff or other service industry workers will say this to their guests to affirm that they’ve understood the order or the situation. This phrase isn’t one you would typically use unless you’re in such an industry yourself.

Example:

Waiter: Certainly. Let me confirm your order. So that’s two sushi rolls and a bottle of sake?
かしこまりました。ご注文を確認いたします。巻き寿司二つと日本酒一本ですね。
(Kashikomarimashita. Gochūmon o kakunin itashimasu. Makizushi futatsu to nihonshu ippon desu ne.)

16. 承りました(Uketamawarimashita)- Understood

The phrase 承りました (uketamawarimashita) is extremely polite Japanese. It means I have (humbly) received. Often, the thing being received is an order or some other sort of information. 

Uketamawarimashita is often used in the service industry or in workplaces that deal with human affairs. Unless your living situation in Japan requires a lot of kenjougo (humble Japanese), you won’t need to use this phrase. It is commonly used in business situations, especially when a business is communication with a client or customer to show their respect.

Example:

Customer service employee: Understood. We will send your package shortly.
承りました。すぐに荷物を発送いたします。
(Uketamawarimashita. Sugu ni nimotsu o hassou itashimasu.)

17. 承知しました(Shōchi Shimashita)- Absolutely

承知しました (shōchi shimashita) is a polite phrase of acknowledgment. It has a stiff, formal nuance that makes shōchi shimashita an ideal phrase to use with the high brass at your workplace. 承知しました could be used for your boss, superiors, or clients.

承りました (mentioned above) is usually used with someone higher up, like the company president or board members for an even politer response.

Example:

Company employee: Absolutely. I’ll begin work immediately.
承知いたしました。今からすぐに仕事を始めます。
(Shōchi itashimashita. Ima kara sugu ni shigoto o hajimemasu.)

18. よろしくお願いします(Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu)- Yes, Please.

In Japan, よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegaishimasu) is an essential phrase. It has a wide variety of nuances and meanings, depending on the situation. 

However, if you are using it to make a request, yoroshiku onegaishimasu can mean a polite “yes, please.”

Using yoroshiku onegaishimasu to convey a request like this will make a great impression on the Japanese person to whom you’re speaking. It is a staple of Japanese culture.

Example:

Company salesman: To confirm, would you like to hire our services?
確認しますが、弊社のサービスをご利用していただけますか?
(Kakunin shimasu ga, heisha no sābisu o goriyou shite itadakemasu ka?)

Customer: Yes, please.
はい。よろしくお願いします。
(Hai. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.)

Conclusion

The word hai is just one of many ways to say yes in Japanese. Using the words in this guide will help you choose the right way to say yes in Japanese, no matter what situation or company you’re in.

How do you say yes in your language? Let us know in the comments below!

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