Improve Your Japanese: 5 Commonly used M-phrases

Learn 5 commonly used Japanese words or phrases

5 M-words that can be used in any conversation in Japanese (Muda, Mottainai, Mochiron, Maa-ma, Muri )

Muda:

“I have been trying to unlock the door. But it’s not working,” 

“ It’s useless (Muda-da 無駄 ). You’re trying the wrong key”

Muda is an expression that can be used very naturally in regular life conversation. 

Mottainai

“This dress is so pretty, are you not gonna wear it?”

“No, I don’t feel like wearing it now.”

“What a waste (e-e, mottai nai ええ、もったいない)”

Mottainai is the expression that is used when the speaker wants to express his/her disapproval or disagreement nonchalantly. By this expression, the speaker can disagree in a non-argumentative tone.

Mochiron:

“Can you show me which way is this convenient store?”

“Of course (mochiron もちろん ), right across that street.”

Mochiron is used under the circumstance where the speaker wants to reply positively and express his/her agreement in a natural tone.

Maa-maa:

“How was your exam?”

“Okay (maa-maa まあまあ)”

Maa-maa is the expression where the speaker wants to deliver a neutral and casual tone. It is normally used in a reply to the question ”how (どう)?” 

Another point to be noted, while translating in reverse, English to Japanese, “okay” doesn’t always give the same meaning as maa-maa. Depending on the context, okay can have various meanings. Maa-maa is just one of them. 

Muri:

“Complete all 100 questions by tonight,” the teacher said.

That’s when the students replied “muri (むり)”

Muri means impossible. 

It is one of those short and clear expressions, especially for beginners to make a concise negative reply, at the same time not sounding rude.

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