Confusing Levels Of Japanese Crying

In case you need to shed some tears (quite possibly when seeing you have 500 Anki reviews due today), Japanese has a wide range of crying words for you to choose from. But what really stands out is a 3-pack of tears based on changing one sound.

Confusing Levels Of Japanese Crying

Do you want to cry (泣く) with:

ほろほろ (horohoro)
ぽろぽろ (poroporo)
ぼろぼろ (boroboro)

And if these weren’t confusing enough to remember, each one is used base on your tear level.


– When you continue to cry and tears drop one at a time.


– When your crying increases and your tear droplets begin to fall faster.


– When your crying is full force and the tears pour with ferocity.

Hint on how to make a crying friend: 

Next time you see a crying Japanese person on the street, you can ask them if they are currently ほろほろ、ぽろぽろ、or ぼろぼろ. Guaranteed friend for life!

Super bonus educational note (スーパー教育タイムスタート!): there are many other onomatopoeia words that fall in triplets, changing one sound, like the above. The trick: base hiragana is weakest, hiragana with the circle dakuten is stronger, and hiragana with quotation marks dakuten is strongest.

Example: Wind blowing – ひゅうひゅう、ぴゅうぴゅう、びゅうびゅう

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Confusing Levels Of Japanese Crying — 6 Comments

    • Yea, there are definitely a lot of ways to describe the apparent infinite variations that rain has.

  1. I could see how from the context that ほろほろ、ぽろぽろ、and ぼろぼろ can do with crying, but I’ve heard ぼろぼろ for years in the context of being fatigued. I just want to point that out. 体がぼろぼろ。 
    If you just ask ぼろぼろですか?Couldn’t it be misunderstood?
    I guess if you ask all three at the same time it’s clear though, right?
    I worry about the conversation going like this though:

    Me: あのうう、すみません、ほろほろかぽろぽろかぼろぼろですか?どの程度泣いていますかね(w)
    (hmm, excuse me, to which degree are you crying, horohoro, poroporo, or boroboro?)
    泣いている人 crying person: ( なにこの人!きっと擬音語だけを練習したいでしょう 無視しよう。。)
    (thinking: What the heck is up with this person! I’m sure he just wants to practice giongo (onomatopoeia), I’ll just ignore him/her)

    I feel like you would get ignored if you tried that. Wouldn’t it be best to not get involved? (In Japan)

    Would be cool if you made the person’s day though…but hmmm feels dangerous lol

    Other approach lines that would come off as weird/rude maybe that I want to throw out there:
    A. ハロー、素敵な涙ですね  What lovely tears you have
    B. なぜ浮かない顔していますか?僕のせいですか??Why the long face? Is it my fault?
    C. だれがお前を泣かした?あいつを殴るぞ! Who made you cry? I’ll punch them!!
    D. (自分も泣きながら接してみて) (Try to cry and then approach them) わかるよ、それ!I totally understand how you feel! 男の皆はくずですよね!All guys are scum right!
    E. (おもろい漫画やプレゼントを適当に渡す) (randomly give a funny manga or a present to them)
    元気だしてね cheer up ^^ (I think this would work best lol)

    How do you feel about these? ^^

    • Haha, it was a (bad) joke. Usually it’s not a good idea to randomly approach someone crying (except maybe a child?)

      But if you did, you are right and would need to add と泣いている after whichever one you use.

      Great and creative examples though. I think you should try all of them!

  2. Haha, I thought it was a good joke, but just verifying if it would really work in Japan. ^^ Thanks for the feedback! ^^
    Approaching a crying child.. (Is this another joke? lol may I nandeyanen here? asking permission to tsukkomi lol jk) hmm I feel like the police would be on me in a second. They might think I’m bullying it or a lolicon or something :P lol
    But if the child is alone and crying then maybe he/she is probably lost. I guess approaching would be the right thing to do.

    Ah, right!! So true.
    Thanks!! lol, only in anime my friend. (^u^) 

    By the way, are you hiring writers still?

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