Learn How to Say Sour in Japanese – Easy Language Guide

If you’re interested in learning Japanese, expanding your vocabulary to include words that describe taste is a must. In this easy language guide, you’ll discover how to say sour in Japanese, the Japanese word for sour, and more. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to confidently communicate about the taste of sourness in Japanese.

So, are you ready to learn how to say sour in Japanese? Let’s get started!

Understanding the Concept of Sourness in Japanese

Before delving into the specific words used to describe sourness in Japanese, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how the concept of sourness is expressed in the language.

In Japanese, the term “suppai” (酸っぱい) is used to describe the sour taste of foods and drinks. However, the concept of sourness in Japanese goes beyond just taste. It can also be used to describe emotions, such as a sour mood or atmosphere.

It’s also important to note that the cultural associations with sourness may differ between Japanese and Western cultures. While sourness is often associated with freshness and vitality in Western cuisine, it is sometimes regarded as a negative taste in Japanese cuisine.

Understanding these nuances of the Japanese language and culture will allow you to effectively communicate about the concept of sourness in various contexts.

Basic Word for Sour in Japanese

The most common word used to describe sourness in Japanese is 酸っぱい (suppai).

To pronounce this word correctly, start with the “su” sound, similar to the English word “sue.” Then add the “ppai” sound, which is pronounced with a stretched-out “ahh” sound and a quick “ee” sound at the end.

In Japanese, 酸っぱい is often used to describe sour foods and drinks, such as vinegar, lemons, and sour candies.

To use this word in a sentence, simply insert it where you would normally use “sour” in English. For example, you can say “酸っぱいリンゴ” to mean “sour apple.”

Remember that 酸っぱい is an adjective, so it should be followed by a noun to complete the sentence.

Japanese Words for Sour Taste

While there are several ways to describe the taste of sourness in Japanese, there are also specific words that can be used to describe sour foods and beverages. Here are some of the most commonly used Japanese words for sour taste:

Japanese English Translation
すっぱい (suppai) sour
にがい (nigai) bitter and sour
あまずっぱい (amazuppai) sweet and sour
しょっぱい (shoppai) salty and sour

The word すっぱい (suppai) is the most commonly used word for sour taste in Japanese. It can be used to describe the taste of sour fruits like lemons or sour candies.

On the other hand, にがい (nigai) is a word that describes a combination of bitter and sour tastes. It can be used to describe the taste of some citrus fruits or certain fermented foods.

The word あまずっぱい (amazuppai) is used to describe a sweet and sour taste. It can be used to describe dishes such as sweet and sour pork.

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Finally, the word しょっぱい (shoppai) is used to describe a salty and sour taste. It can be used to describe pickled vegetables or certain types of sauces.

Using Japanese Words for Sour Taste in a Sentence

Here are some examples of how to use these Japanese words for sour taste in a sentence:

  • そのレモンはとてもすっぱいです。(sono remon wa totemo suppai desu) – That lemon is very sour.
  • このグレープフルーツはにがいですね。(kono gureepufuruutsu wa nigai desu ne) – This grapefruit is bitter and sour, isn’t it?
  • 彼女はあまずっぱい味が好きです。(kanojo wa amazuppai aji ga suki desu) – She likes sweet and sour flavors.
  • この漬物はしょっぱいです。(kono tsukemono wa shoppai desu) – This pickled vegetable is salty and sour.

By learning these words and practicing their usage, you can effectively communicate about the taste of sourness in Japanese.

Expressing Sourness in Context

Now that you’ve learned various ways to say “sour” in Japanese, it’s important to know how to use these words in context. Here are some examples:

Japanese English Translation
すっぱい (suppai) This lemon is sour.
酸っぱい (suppai) The vinegar is sour.
酸味 (sanmi) This dish needs more sourness.

Notice how the word “sour” can be used as an adjective to describe a food item, or as a noun to describe a flavor. The word “sanmi” is specifically used to describe the sensation of sourness in a dish.

It’s also important to be aware of the appropriate level of politeness when using these words in conversations. For example, “suppai” is more casual, while “sanmi” is more formal.

With these examples in mind, you can confidently express your thoughts on sourness in Japanese conversations.

Other Ways to Describe Sourness in Japanese

While the basic word for “sour” in Japanese is useful in everyday conversations, there are other phrases and expressions that can further enhance your ability to describe the sensation of sourness.

1. Suppai

“Suppai” is an alternative word for sourness that is commonly used in Japan. It can be used to describe the taste of acidic foods like lemons and pickles.

Japanese Reading English
酸っぱい すっぱい Suppai

2. Nigai

“Nigai” is a word that means “bitter,” but it can also be used to describe a sour taste that is not quite as strong as “sour” or “suppai.”

Japanese Reading English
にがい Nigai Bitter/Sour

3. Tsubushita

“Tsubushita” is a phrase that means “squeezed out” and can be used to describe the sourness of fruits or vegetables that have been squeezed of their juices.

Japanese Reading English
搾りたて つぶしたて Tsubushita

4. Shiburin

“Shiburin” is a word that means “tart” and is often used to describe the sourness of fruits like apples and grapes.

Japanese Reading English
シブリン Shiburin Tart

By learning these alternative words and phrases for sourness, you can broaden your ability to describe taste and flavor in Japanese.

Common Idioms and Sayings Related to Sourness

In Japanese culture, idioms and sayings often revolve around taste and flavor. Here are some common expressions related to sourness:

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Phrase Meaning
酸いも甘いも噛み分ける This idiom means that one should be able to handle both bitter and sweet moments in life.
酸っぱい顔をする This expression describes a person’s facial expression when they taste something sour or unpleasant.
酸いも甘いも君次第 Translated as “Your life is what you make of it,” this phrase implies that one should be responsible for their own happiness and success in life.

Understanding these idioms and sayings can not only help you navigate conversations about taste and flavor in Japanese, but also provide you with a glimpse into the cultural values and beliefs surrounding food and life.

Expand Your Japanese Vocabulary – Beyond Sour

Congratulations! You now know how to say “sour” in Japanese and even how to describe sour tastes. But to take your Japanese language skills to the next level, it’s important to expand your vocabulary beyond just one word. Here are some related words and phrases that can further enhance your ability to discuss taste and flavor in Japanese:

Japenese Word for Sweet

One of the most basic flavors is “sweet.” In Japanese, “sweet” is “amai” (甘い).

Japenese Word for Salty

Another common flavor is “salty.” In Japanese, “salty” is “shoppai” (しょっぱい).

Japenese Word for Bitter

In Japanese, “bitter” is “nigai” (苦い). This is often used to describe coffee or dark chocolate.

Japenese Word for Umami

Umami is a savory flavor that’s often described as “deliciousness” or “meatiness.” In Japanese, “umami” (うま味) is a commonly used word.

Japenese Word for Spicy

When you want to describe something as spicy, you can use the Japanese word “karai” (辛い). This word can be used to describe both the heat of chili peppers and the pungency of ginger or wasabi.

By learning these additional words, you’ll be able to talk about a wider range of tastes and flavors. Don’t be shy to use them in conversations about food or beverages.


Q: How do you say “sour” in Japanese?

A: “Sour” in Japanese can be expressed as “suppai” (すっぱい).

Q: Are there other words to describe the taste of sourness in Japanese?

A: Yes, besides “suppai,” you can use words like “shibui” (渋い) or “suppai aji” (すっぱい味) to describe the sour taste.

Q: How can I use these words in everyday conversations?

A: You can use these words when talking about sour fruits, drinks, or any food item that has a sour flavor.

Q: What are some common idioms or sayings related to sourness in Japanese?

A: One common idiom is “suppai na kajitsu mo oishiku taberareru” (すっぱいな果実も美味しく食べられる), which means “even sour fruits can be delicious when eaten.” This reflects the idea that sourness can be enjoyable in certain contexts.

Q: How can I expand my Japanese vocabulary beyond just the word “sour”?

A: To enhance your language skills, you can explore related words and phrases such as “citrus” (柑橘類), “vinegar” (酢), or “acidity” (酸味). This will give you a broader range of vocabulary to discuss tastes and flavors in Japanese.

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