Master the Phrase: How to Say ‘Whatever’ in Japanese

Do you want to enhance your language skills and communicate like a local in Japan? Then learning how to say ‘whatever’ in Japanese is a must! This seemingly simple word can convey various meanings depending on the context and tone.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this section, we’ll delve into the various ways to say ‘whatever’ in Japanese. You’ll learn how to express indifference, nonchalance, or dismissiveness with ease. With our tips and tricks, you’ll be able to master this phrase in no time.

Are you ready to discover how to say ‘whatever’ in Japanese? Let’s get started!

Ways to Say ‘Whatever’ in Japanese

Learning how to say ‘whatever’ in Japanese can enhance your conversational skills and help you communicate more effectively. Fortunately, the Japanese language has several translations and expressions for this versatile phrase. Here are three ways to say ‘whatever’ in Japanese:

Phrase Translation Pronunciation
とにかく (tonikaku) Anyhow; anyway; in any case toh-nee-kah-koo
何でもいい (nan demo ii) Anything’s fine; I don’t mind nan deh-moh ee
どうでもいい (dou demo ii) It doesn’t matter; Who cares doh deh-moh ee

‘Tonikaku’ is a versatile expression that can be used in different contexts. It’s often used to indicate that the speaker is indifferent or doesn’t have a strong opinion on the matter.

‘Nan demo ii’ is commonly used to express a lack of preference or to give permission for others to make a decision. It’s a polite way to say ‘whatever’ in Japanese.

‘Dou demo ii’ is similar to ‘nan demo ii’ in that it expresses a lack of interest or concern. However, it’s more casual and can come across as dismissive in certain situations.

Additional Expressions

There are other Japanese expressions that can convey a similar meaning to ‘whatever’, depending on the context. For example:

Phrase Translation Pronunciation
知らない (shiranai) I don’t know, I don’t care shee-rah-nai
どうでもいいよ (dou demo ii yo) It doesn’t matter to me doh deh-moh ee-yoh
別に (betsu ni) Not really; Nothing special beh-tsu nee

It’s worth noting that some of these expressions may come across as impolite or rude, depending on the situation and tone of voice. It’s important to use them appropriately and in the right context.

Understanding the Context of ‘Whatever’ in Japanese

When communicating in Japanese, it’s important to consider the appropriate context for the word ‘whatever.’ Unlike English, ‘whatever’ in Japanese can carry different meanings depending on the tone and situation.

In casual conversations, ‘dou demo ii’ (どうでもいい) is a common expression for ‘whatever’ and is often used to express indifference or nonchalance. This phrase can also be used to dismiss a topic or person. However, using ‘dou demo ii’ in formal situations may come across as impolite or disrespectful.

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On the other hand, in formal settings, the phrase ‘nan demo shimasu’ (何でもします) can be used to convey a willingness to do anything necessary to achieve a goal. This phrase is often used in professional or business contexts.

Understanding Tone and Body Language

When using ‘whatever’ in Japanese, it’s important to consider the tone and body language. In casual settings, a relaxed tone and nonchalant posture may be appropriate. However, in formal settings, a more respectful tone and attentive posture may be necessary.

Additionally, the use of facial expressions and hand gestures can also convey the tone and intention behind the word ‘whatever.’ A shrug of the shoulders and a smirk may convey a dismissive tone, while a nod and an earnest gaze may convey a willingness to help.

Understanding Cultural Nuances

Understanding the cultural nuances associated with the use of ‘whatever’ in Japanese is crucial for effective communication. In Japanese culture, it’s important to show respect and consideration for others. Using ‘whatever’ in an inappropriate context or tone may be interpreted as disrespectful or rude.

Furthermore, it’s important to be mindful of the power dynamics in a conversation. Using ‘whatever’ in a dismissive or condescending tone towards someone of higher social status may be seen as disrespectful.

By understanding the appropriate context, tone, body language, and cultural nuances associated with using ‘whatever’ in Japanese, you can effectively convey your message and build stronger relationships in both casual and formal settings.

Common Japanese Phrases Similar to ‘Whatever’

While there may not be a direct translation for ‘whatever’ in Japanese, there are several phrases that convey a similar sentiment. Here are some commonly used Japanese phrases that capture the essence of ‘whatever’:

Phrase Translation
知らない shiranai
どうでもいい dou demo ii
気にしない ki ni shinai

知らない (shiranai) is a simple phrase that means “I don’t know” or “I have no idea.” This can be used to show disinterest or unconcern in a topic, similar to the English phrase ‘whatever’.

どうでもいい (dou demo ii) is another phrase that can be used to express indifference or nonchalance. It translates to “it doesn’t matter” or “it’s irrelevant.”

気にしない (ki ni shinai) is a more polite way to say ‘whatever’ in Japanese. It can be translated to “I don’t mind” or “I’m not bothered.” This phrase is often used to downplay a situation or to show that you are not taking offense to something.

Using the Phrases Appropriately

While these phrases may convey a similar sentiment to ‘whatever,’ it’s important to use them appropriately in different situations. For example, using the more casual phrase どうでもいい (dou demo ii) in a formal setting could come across as disrespectful. Consider the context and tone of the conversation before deciding which phrase to use.

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By expanding your vocabulary and understanding the nuances of these phrases, you can effectively communicate your thoughts and feelings in Japanese conversations.

Practical Tips for Using ‘Whatever’ Appropriately

If you want to sound like a native Japanese speaker, it’s crucial to use the proper intonation when saying the word ‘whatever.’

Unlike in English, the emphasis in Japanese falls on the first syllable of a word. Therefore, when pronouncing ‘whatever,’ make sure to put emphasis on the “do” syllable of “doumo.”

Another important factor to keep in mind is body language. In Japanese culture, nonverbal cues are just as important as spoken words. When using ‘whatever’ in a conversation, try to maintain a calm and relaxed demeanor to convey a sense of nonchalance.

Cultural Considerations

It’s important to remember that the context in which you use the word ‘whatever’ in Japanese can affect the meaning of your message. For example, using it in a boss’ office may be considered disrespectful.

Additionally, the tone of your voice and the body language you use can also alter the meaning. In a formal setting, be careful not to come across as dismissive or rude.

Practice Makes Perfect

Mastering the pronunciation of ‘whatever’ and using it appropriately in conversations takes practice.

Listen closely to native Japanese speakers and pay attention to their intonation and body language when using similar expressions.

Finally, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The more you practice, the more comfortable and natural you will become at using the word ‘whatever’ in Japanese conversations.


Q: How do you say ‘whatever’ in Japanese?

A: There are several ways to say ‘whatever’ in Japanese, depending on the context and tone. Some common translations include “dōdemoii” (どうでもいい), “nandatte” (なんだって), and “iwanaide” (言わないで). It’s important to note that the meaning and usage of ‘whatever’ can vary, so it’s essential to understand the appropriate context.

Q: What are some common Japanese phrases similar to ‘whatever’?

A: While there may not be an exact equivalent for ‘whatever’ in Japanese, there are phrases that convey a similar sentiment. Some examples include “mendokusai” (めんどくさい), which means troublesome or bothersome, and “shikatanai” (仕方ない), which expresses resignation or acceptance of a situation. These phrases capture the essence of ‘whatever’ in Japanese conversations.

Q: How do I use ‘whatever’ appropriately in Japanese?

A: To use ‘whatever’ appropriately in Japanese conversations, it’s essential to consider intonation, body language, and cultural considerations. Japanese is a context-dependent language, so understanding the appropriate tone and situation is key. Additionally, paying attention to social cues and adapting your language accordingly will help ensure your message is conveyed accurately.

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