Easy Guide: How to Say ‘Last Year’ in Japanese Correctly

Are you looking to enhance your Japanese language proficiency? Do you want to make your conversations in Japanese more natural and authentic? One essential aspect to consider is mastering the correct expressions for referring to time. In this article, we’ll teach you how to say ‘last year’ in Japanese correctly.

Knowing how to express ‘last year’ in Japanese is crucial for communicating effectively. It allows you to talk about past events, activities, and experiences with ease. So, let’s dive in and learn how to say ‘last year’ in Japanese.

There are several ways to refer to ‘last year’ in Japanese, including different phrases and words. It’s essential to learn the appropriate phrases and their pronunciation to ensure that you’re using them correctly. In the next sections, we’ll cover the basics of Japanese time expressions and provide different phrases and usage examples of ‘last year.’

By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of ‘last year’ expressions in Japanese, and you’ll feel more confident using them in your conversations. Let’s get started!

Understanding the Basics of Japanese Time Expressions

When learning a new language, it’s essential to have a solid foundation of time-related phrases. Japanese time expressions are no exception. Being familiar with the vocabulary used to express time in Japanese will make it easier for you to understand and use ‘last year’ expressions correctly.

Days of the Week

Firstly, let’s begin with the days of the week. In Japanese, the days are named after the five elements of nature, namely, Monday (月曜日/getsuyoubi, ‘moon day’), Tuesday (火曜日/kayoubi, ‘fire day’), Wednesday (水曜日/suiyoubi, ‘water day’), Thursday (木曜日/mokuyoubi, ‘wood day’), Friday (金曜日/kin’youbi, ‘gold day’), Saturday (土曜日/doyoubi, ‘earth day’), and Sunday (日曜日/nichiyoubi, ‘sun day’).

Months of the Year

The months of the year in Japanese are as follows: January (一月/ichigatsu), February (二月/nigatsu), March (三月/sangatsu), April (四月/shigatsu), May (五月/gogatsu), June (六月/rokugatsu), July (七月/shichigatsu), August (八月/hachigatsu), September (九月/kugatsu), October (十月/juugatsu), November (十一月/juuichigatsu), and December (十二月/juunigatsu).


When expressing years in Japanese, numbers are used along with the word ‘nen’ (年). For example, the year 2022 is read as ‘ni sen nijuu ni nen.’

By mastering these basic time expressions in Japanese, you’ll be better equipped to understand ‘last year’ phrases and use them appropriately.

How to Say ‘Last Year’ in Japanese

Learning how to express ‘last year’ in Japanese correctly is an essential part of improving your language proficiency. Japanese has a rich and complex set of time-related expressions, and using the correct phrase is crucial for effective communication.

Phrases for ‘Last Year’ in Japanese

There are several ways to say ‘last year’ in Japanese, depending on the context and tone of the conversation.

Japanese Romaji English Translation
去年 Kyonen Last year
昨年 Sakunen Last year
一昨年 Issakunen The year before last
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Kyonen and sakunen are the most commonly used expressions for ‘last year’ in Japanese. However, Issakunen is also frequently used, especially when referring to events that occurred two years ago.

Pronunciation Tips

Proper pronunciation is crucial for effective communication in Japanese. Here are some tips to assist you in pronouncing the phrases for ‘last year’ correctly:

  • Kyonen: Pronounce it as Kyo-nen (キョネン).
  • Sakunen: Pronounce it as Sa-ku-nen (サクネン).
  • Issakunen: Pronounce it as Is-sa-ku-nen (イッサクネン).

Putting It All Together

Now that you know how to express ‘last year’ in Japanese correctly, it’s time to practice using these phrases in conversations to improve your fluency. Try using them with your Japanese-speaking friends or colleagues to enhance your language skills.

Common Usage Examples of ‘Last Year’ in Conversations

It’s important to understand how to use the expressions for ‘last year’ in the appropriate context. Let’s look at some common examples:

English Japanese Translation
Last year, I went to Japan. 去年、私は日本に行った。 Kyonen, watashi wa Nihon ni itta.
I watched a great movie last year. 私は去年、素晴らしい映画を見た。 Watashi wa kyonen, subarashii eiga wo mita.
We met each other for the first time last year. 私たちは去年初めて会いました。 Watashitachi wa kyonen hajimete aimashita.

Keep in mind that the particle “no” is often used with the expression for ‘last year’ to indicate possession or relationship. For example:

English Japanese Translation
I got a new job last year. 私は去年、新しい仕事を得ました。 Watashi wa kyonen, atarashii shigoto wo emashita.
Last year’s winter was severe. 去年の冬は厳しかった。 Kyonen no fuyu wa kibishikatta.
I enjoyed reading last year’s best-seller. 私は去年のベストセラーを読むのを楽しんだ。 Watashi wa kyonen no besutoseraa wo yomu no wo tanoshinda.

By incorporating these common phrases into your conversations, you can express ‘last year’ in Japanese with confidence and accuracy.

Additional Ways to Refer to ‘Last Year’ in Japanese

Learning how to say ‘last year’ in Japanese is essential for anyone looking to become proficient in the language. In the previous section, we covered some commonly used phrases for expressing ‘last year’ in Japanese. In this section, we will show you some alternative phrases that can be used interchangeably.

Japanese Word for ‘Last Year’

The Japanese word for ‘last year’ is ‘昨年’ (sakunen). This is a formal and commonly used word that can be used in both written and spoken language.

The Word for ‘The Year Before Last’

If you want to refer to the year before last year, you can use the phrase ‘一昨年’ (otoshi no kotoshi). This phrase literally translates to ‘one before last year’ and is commonly used in spoken language.

Referring to ‘Last Calendar Year’

When referring to the last calendar year, you can use the phrase ‘去年度’ (kyonen-do). This phrase is commonly used in a formal context such as business reports or academic documents.

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Alternative Phrases for Informal Settings

For a more casual setting, there are a few alternative phrases you can use to express ‘last year’ in Japanese. One example is ‘昨日のようだ’ (kinou no you da), which translates to ‘it feels like yesterday’. Another phrase you can use is ‘去年の今頃’ (kyonen no imagoro), which translates to ‘this time last year’.

By learning these alternative phrases, you can expand your vocabulary and express ‘last year’ in Japanese in a variety of ways. Remember to practice using these phrases in different contexts to improve your fluency.

Summary and Conclusion

Learning how to express ‘last year’ in Japanese correctly is essential for enhancing your language proficiency. By using the appropriate phrases and words, you can make your conversations in Japanese more natural and authentic.

In this article, we introduced the basics of Japanese time expressions and provided several ways to say ‘last year’ in Japanese. We also showed you common usage examples of ‘last year’ in conversations and introduced additional phrases that you can use interchangeably.

Remember to practice using these expressions in your conversations to improve your fluency. The more you use them, the more natural they will come to you.

So, whether you’re traveling to Japan or simply interested in the language, mastering the correct expressions for ‘last year’ is an essential step in your language learning journey. Keep practicing and enjoy the process!


Q: Why is it important to learn how to say ‘last year’ in Japanese correctly?

A: Learning how to say ‘last year’ in Japanese correctly is important because it enhances your language proficiency and makes your conversations more natural and authentic.

Q: What are Japanese time expressions?

A: Japanese time expressions are phrases and vocabulary related to time, including days, months, and years.

Q: How can I say ‘last year’ in Japanese?

A: There are different ways to express ‘last year’ in Japanese. This section will provide you with phrases and words commonly used by native speakers to refer to the previous year. It will also include pronunciation tips to help you pronounce these expressions correctly.

Q: Can you provide examples of using ‘last year’ in Japanese conversations?

A: Yes, this section will showcase practical examples of how to use the phrases for ‘last year’ in everyday conversations. It will provide sample sentences and scenarios to help you understand the context and usage of these expressions.

Q: Are there alternative ways to say ‘last year’ in Japanese?

A: Yes, in addition to the previously mentioned phrases, this section will introduce alternative expressions that can be used interchangeably to refer to ‘last year’ in different contexts.

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