“I miss you” is such a versatile expression in English. You can use it with friends, family, or a significant other. I wish we had this expression in Japanese! Unfortunately, there is no exact translation in Japanese. However, there are ways to say it with a similar nuance in Japanese. This guide will teach you the top 3 ways to say I miss you in Japanese.
How Do You Say “I Miss You” in Japanese?
In Japanese, saying “I miss you” is a little more difficult because you need to be more precise about your feelings.
When you miss someone, how do you feel? Do strong feelings of wanting to see them arise, or do you feel more lonely because of their absence? Or you might wish for that person to be somewhere close to you. The expression “I miss you” in Japanese will change depending on your feeling. Each of these words can be translated to “I miss you” in English, but the nuance and feeling of each are different.
1. 会いたい (Aitai): I Want to See You (Because I Miss You)
会いたい(aitai) means “I want to see you.” While “I want to see you” is not exactly the same as “I miss you,” it invokes the same feeling when said in Japanese. You are expressing your desire to see someone that you miss. So this expression is often translated into “I miss you” in English.
会いたい (aitai) is the tai-form of the verb 会う (au), which means “to see” or “to meet.”
This expression can be used with your friends, family, or significant other. When this is used with your friends or family, you are usually far away from the person you want to see for a period of time, so you miss seeing them.
However, when used among boyfriends/girlfriends, it doesn’t matter how long you haven’t seen each other or how far apart you are. Lovey-dovey couples may use this expression even if they saw each other a few minutes ago and will see each other again tomorrow.
Saying 会いたい (aitai) to someone lets them know that they have a special place in your heart. So you may need to be careful when using this phrase with the opposite sex. Saying this to someone can imply you have romantic or “special” feelings for them.
The past form of 会いたい (aitai) is 会いたかった (aitakatta). When you use the present form, 会いたい (aitai), you express your desire to see someone, but you haven’t met them yet. In comparison, the past form 会いたかった (aitakatta) is used at the moment when you meet that special someone. Imagine meeting that special someone at the airport, running to embrace them, and saying “I missed you” while hugging them.
Here is a telephone conversation between friends:
Yōko: (Saikin dōshiteru?)
Yoko: What’s new?
Shiori: (Nani mo kawari nai seikatsu dayo. Shigoto, shigoto no mainichi. Socchi wa?)
Shiori: Nothing new at all. Every day is work, work. What about you?
Yōko: (Ūn, kocchi mo kawaranai kana. Hikkoshite dono kurai tatsu? Nanka aitai nā.)
Yoko: Well…there’s nothing new going on with me either. How long has it been since you moved out? I want to see you (because I miss you).
Shiori: (Chōdo ichinen. Honto, aitai. Atte iroiro hanashitai.)
Shiori: It’s been exactly one year. I really miss you. I want to see you and talk about a lot of things with you.
A telephone conversation between a lovey-dovey couple who just started dating.
Ryota: (Dōshita no? Konna yonaka ni.)
Ryota: What’s wrong? It’s the middle of the night.
Miho: (Un, chotto koe ga kikitaku natte.)
Miho: Nothing, I just wanted to hear your voice.
Ryōta: (Sokka. Jitsu wa ore mo sō omotteta.)
Ryota: I see. Actually, I was thinking the same.
Miho: (Aitai na. Kinō atta bakari nanoni, mō aitai.)
Miho: I miss you. I just saw you yesterday, but I already miss you.
Ryōta: (Un, ore mo hayaku aitai.)
Ryota: Me too. I miss you (and want to see you soon).
Example 3: Past Tense – 会いたかった (Aitakatta)
Here is a conversation at an airport. Midori came to pick up her friend, Sanae.
緑: 出てきた、出てきた! 早苗、こっちこっち。
Midori: (Dete kita, dete kita. Sanae, kocchi!)
Midori: She just came out. Sanae, over here!
Sanae: (Ē, waza waza mukaeni kite kuretan da.)
Sanae: Wow, you came all this way to pick me up!
緑: やっと会えたね! 会いたかったよ～。
Midori: (Yatto aeta ne! Aitakatta yō.)
Midori: We meet at last! I missed you.
Sanae: (Watashi mo aitakatta yō. Aete ureshii. Kite kurete arigatō.)
Sanae: I missed you too. I am happy to see you. Thank you for coming.
Using Adverbs With 会いたい (Aitai): When you REALLY Miss Somone
You can add すごく (sugoku) or めっちゃ (meccha)* to make your feelings stronger. Both すごく and めっちゃ mean “a lot,” “so much,” or “really” (as in “I really want to see you”).
In the Present Tense:
I want to see you so bad. (I miss you so much)
I really want to see you. (I really miss you)
In the Past Tense:
I really wanted to see you. (I really missed you)
I really wanted to see you. (I missed you so much)
*Note: めっちゃ (meccha) is a casual word, so you shouldn’t use it in formal or business settings or when you talk to someone older than you.
会えて (Aete): The Potential Te-Form
会える (aeru) is the potential form of the verb 会う (au). 会える (aeru) translates to “I can meet/see you” (I am physically able/available to meet you). However, it is almost always used in the past tense form – 会えた (aeta) or the te-form – 会えて (aete) when talking about someone you miss.
The past tense form, 会えた (aeta), is usually used with the adverb やっと (yatto), which means “finally” or “at last.” The phrase やっと会えた (yatto aeta) has a meaning of “At last we were able to meet” or “I finally got to see you.”
The te-form is combined with adjectives to say how you feel about finally being able to meet someone.
I’m happy we could see each other (because I’ve missed you).
I feel lonely because I can’t see you (so I am missing you).
**Note: 会えなくて (aenakute) is a negative form of this verb, meaning “because I couldn’t see you.” The meaning of 寂しい (sabishii/samishii) means “lonely” but can also be used to mean “I miss you” in Japanese. We’ll talk about this word in the next section of this article.
会えたら (Aetara): Potential Tara-Form
The tara-form in Japanese is a conditional form that can mean either “if” (If I can meet you) or “when” (When I meet you). 会えたら (aetara) is the potential tara-form which means “if I am able to meet you.” Let’s take a look at how it is used.
I would be happy if I could see you.
I would be sad if I couldn’t see you.
会えなかったら (aenakattara) is the negative form that means “if I am unable to see you.”
Ways to Express Stronger Feelings: I REALLY Miss You!
たまらない (tamaranai) is a useful word to know. It means “unbearable,” or “I can’t take it.” When combined with the tai-form of verbs in the te-form, it means “I’m dying to do~” or “I just can’t wait to ~.”
I’m dying to see you.
I was dying to see you.
To sound more casual, you can change the たまらない (tamaranai) to たまんない (taman-nai).
たまらない (tamaranai) and たまんない (taman-nai) have the same meaning, but the latter sounds more natural in casual conversations (with friends, family, or people you have a close relationship with).
I’m dying to see you.
I was dying to see you.
2. 寂しい (Samishii / Sabishii): I’m Lonely…I Miss You
This word can either be pronounced as “さびしい (sabishii)” or “さみしい (samishii).” They both mean “to feel lonely.” However, this also gives off the nuance of “I miss you.” “I feel lonely without you.”
さびしい/さみしい (sabishii / samishii) is often used with other verbs to explain why you feel lonely.
I feel lonely because I can’t see you.
This expression can be used with your friends, family, or significant other. Like the expression 会いたい (aitai), saying this to someone implies that they are someone special in your life (since you are saying you feel sad or lonely without them). So be careful using this phrase lightly. Saying it to someone can imply you like them more than a friend.
The past tense of さびしい/さみしい (sabishii / samishii) is さびしかった or さみしかった (sabishikatta / samishikatta). This past tense version means “I missed you.”
さびしい/さみしい can also imply that you are lonely in general (you don’t miss anyone in particular). Because of this, it is better to specify a reason why you feel lonely or why you miss someone to make things clear.
あなたがいなくてさびしかった / さみしかった。
(Anata ga inakute sabishikatta / samishikatta).
I was lonely because you were not here.
Example Dialogue 1:
A conversation between friends who live far from each other.
Yōko: (Kaigai deno seikatsu niwa nareta?)
Yoko: Have you gotten used to living abroad?
Shiori: (Ūn, mada narenai kana.)
Shiori: Well…not yet (getting used to).
Yōko: (Nani ga ichiban taihen?)
Yoko: What’s the hardest thing (to get used to)?
Shiori: (Yappari, Nihon ni iru tomodachi to aenakute sabishii kimochi ga tsuyoi kana.)
Shiori: As I expected, I miss seeing my friends in Japan (I feel pretty lonely).
Yōko: (Watashitachi mo Shiori ga inakute sabishii yo. Hayaku kaette kite.)
Yoko: We miss you too. Come back soon.
Example Dialogue 2:
A conversation between work colleagues about their boss.
Nozomi: (Yano san, kyō mo mata shukkin shitenai ne.)
Nozomi: Mr. Yano (boss) didn’t come to work today, either.
Tadashi: (Byōki rashii yo. Chōki de yasumu tte.)
Tadashi: I heard that he is sick. It seems he’s gonna be away for a while.
Nozomi: (Ē, sō nanda. Yano san tte kuchiurusai kara ittsumo mukatsuitetan dakedo, inai to samishii mon da ne.)
Nozomi: Really? I was always annoyed by him because he is so annoying, but now that he’s gone, I miss him being around.
Tadashi: (Honto, iru toki wa uttōshikatta noni, inakunaru to samishiitte fushigi dane.)
Tadashi: That’s true. Even though he annoys us when he’s here, it’s lonely without him. It’s so weird…
Nozomi: (Byōki hayaku yoku naru to ii ne.)
Nozomi: I hope he gets well soon.
3. ここにいてくれたらいいのに (Koko Ni Ite Kuretara Ii Noni): I Wish You Could Be Here With Me…I Miss You
ここにいてくれたらいいのに (Koko ni ite kuretara ii noni) or ここにいたらいいのに (Koko ni itara ii noni) could be translated to “It would be nice if you were here” or “I wish you could be here with me.” This can also have a nuance of “I miss you.”
Like the other expressions we’ve already covered, this can also be used with your friends, family, or significant other.
Here, the “～たら (tara) ～のに (noni)” form is used to express something you wish would happen. いい (ii) means “good” or “nice.” So ～たらいいのに (tara ii noni) means “It would be nice if ～.”
Here is a conversation between a married couple over their daughter, who is currently traveling overseas.
Miki: (Mitsuki, genki kana?)
Miki: How is Mitsuki doing?
Takeo: (Genki da yo. Hisashiburi no kaigai ryokō de hane o nobashiteru yo.)
Takeo: She is doing well. It’s been a while since she’s traveled, so she is living it up.
Miki: (Sō ne. Demo kyō no yūshoku wa Mitsuki no suki na hanbāgu na no yo ne. Aa, koko ni itara ii noni ne.)
Miki: I guess so. But today’s dinner is her favorite, hamburger steak. Ah, I wish she was here with us.
Takeo: (Māmā, sugu ni kaette kuru yo. Kimi mo kobanare shinaito na.)
Takeo: Well, she’ll be back soon. You have to let her live her own life.
Casual Versions of This Pattern
Here are more casual ways you can use this pattern. Because the following expressions are casual, you would only use them with people you are close to like family, friends, or significant others.
ここにいてくれたらな / ね。
(Koko ni ite kuretara na / ne.)
I wish you were here.
ここにいたらな / ね。
(Koko ni itara na / ne.).
Wish you were here.
Past Tense: ここにいてくれたらよかったのに (Koko Ni Ite Kuretara Yokatta Noni)
(Koko ni ite kuretara yokatta noni.)
It would have been great if you were here.
Above is the past tense version of the sentence “ここにいてくれたらいいのに (Koko ni ite kuretara ii noni).” Either sentence could be used to mean, “I miss you.”
To make this phrase more casual, you can shorten it to:
(Koko ni itara yokatta noni.)
It would have been great if you were here.
さびしい (Sabishii) or さみしい (Samishii)? Which Pronunciation is Correct?
You may hear people pronouncing both “sabishii” and “samishii. ” Both are correct, although originally the kanji was only read as “sabishii” until the Edo era.
As time went by, “samishii” started to be used together with “sabishii.” Now both pronunciations are widely accepted. But in a formal setting like a speech or a newspaper article, “sabishii” is considered formal and is more commonly used.
寂しい (Sabishii) vs 淋しい (Sabishii)? What’s the Difference Between These Two Kanji?
There are two different kanji for these adjectives, and the meanings can be slightly different depending on which kanji is used. In any case, the pronunciations are the same for these two kanji. This means that it can be challenging to know which word is being referenced in spoken conversations. These different kanji characters are only useful when you read books or write messages/letters.
- The kanji “淋しい (sabishii / samishii)” is more focused on your state of mind or feelings of loneliness.
- In contrast, “寂しい (sabishii / samishii)” can be more objective. In addition to talking about emotions, it can describe things like a lonely place or atmosphere. When used to describe a place or ambiance, 寂しい should only be pronounced as さびしい (sabishii). Here are some examples.
(Koko wa sabishii basho da.)
This place looks deserted (no one seems to be here).
(Sabishii yomichi o aruku.)
Walking on a lonely road at night.