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Common Mistakes You May Make When Speaking Japanese

Mistakes are inevitable when learning a new language even more so for a language as complex as Japanese. As a beginner, you may find yourself committing basic errors when speaking the language. It is possible for you to overlook your mistakes as well, which is why it is advised to enroll in a Japanese class so you have the guidance of experienced teachers and receive their feedback in your learning. In this article, we will list down the common mistakes that beginners make so that you can take better note of them.

Mistake #1: Confusing your vowels

Confusing your vowels is an easy mistake to make for beginners. There is a significant distinction between short and long vowels in the Japanese language. The meaning of a word changes depending on the length of the vowel. Japanese also utilises double vowels but it sounds very subtle, making it difficult for beginners learning the language to spot them. As a result, they often ignore the double vowels in a word.

Knowing the difference in your vowels is paramount as there are many words in the Japanese vocabulary that sound similar. Using the wrong vowels in the wrong context can lead to confusion. Worse, you may offend the other party and be viewed as disrespectful.

Mistake #2: Mind your manners

If you are an enthusiast of the language and culture, you may be aware of the three main politeness levels when speaking Japanese. They are dependent on the age, gender and relationship between the speaking parties.

Many of the common mistakes when speaking Japanese arise from cultural differences. The Japanese value respecting your elders, and it is important to be polite to someone that is older than you or someone with a higher social status.

It is common for people to use their knowledge of the language adopted by manga and anime to try and attempt a conversation – but you should know that it may be unsuitable for formal situations.

An example may be the use of the word “Anata”. “Anata” means “you”, which is a frequently used word in the English language. However, the Japanese do not use the pronoun “you” in their day-to-day conversation. It is generally viewed as rude and disrespect if you use the word “Anata” to refer to the other party when speaking to them.

Mistake #3: Gender-specific terms

Some languages are easier to pick up due to the absence of gender-specific terms. However, that is not the case for the Japanese language. The words you used, how you end your sentences and even the intonations are dependent on your gender. Beginners picking up the language need to be mindful of the differences and not feminize their intonation and vice-versa.


These are just some of the rookie mistakes that many beginners make when they are learning the language. Remember to take note of them in the future as you would want to learn to speak the language in the right manner, and have confidence conversing with native Japanese speakers.

Did you find yourself making the same mistakes we listed? Why not brush up on your Japanese? At Japanese Explorer, we offer both physical and online Japanese courses in Singapore, taught by trained native Japanese teachers. Head on over to our website and register now!



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