6 Japanese Mistakes Japanese People Make all the Time — 11 Comments

  1. As someone who lives in Ibaraki, I can confirm that I’ve had to correct 95% of my Japanese friends who don’t live here! Most people have no idea that Ibaragi is wrong.

  2. I think すごい可愛い should get an honorable mention?

    The 雰囲気 thing blew my mind when I learned the real pronunciation. I think I had known the word at least a few years before finding out nearly everyone says it wrong.

    • That’s another good one. すごい + adj has been so common amongst younger Japanese for years, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes completely accepted with a little more time.

  3. I agree that すいません is not a mistake, just sloppy pronunciation.

    I wouldn’t say it’s “impolite,” though—just casual and not something that should be used in a formal situation.

    If you are in a formal situation, you shouldn’t be using すみません anyways, you should be using some variation of 申し訳ありません (apology), 恐れいりますが… (“excuse me” to get attention, etc.), 失礼します (saying “excuse me” for something that does not require a serious apology) or ありがとうございます (to express thanks) depending on what you are trying to say.

    And that tendency to use すみません or すいませんinstead of clearly apologizing or saying “thank you” in formal situations is itself a common etiquette mistake which I’m pretty sure I have seen called out in multiple Japanese sources.

    If you get into the subject of 敬語, then there are so many common mistakes made by Japanese people that you could fill a whole book with them (try Googling 間違いやすい敬語), but here are just a couple:


    If you do a Google search on this phrase, all sources will tell you the same thing, which is that とんでもない is all one word, it isn’t とんでも+ない, so grammatically, you can’t just switch out ない for ございません。

    Another common complaint is that young people these days, who we all know don’t know how to use 敬語 properly, attach ~させていただくto everything. There are some additional nuances to when it can and can’t be used, but basically, it is supposed to be used when you are doing something after having obtained someone’s permission to do so and should not be used in cases where you didn’t need to get anyone’s permission. For example, 頑張りさせていただきます: you do not need to get someone’s permission in order to try your best!

  4. I had always heard that すいません was kind of a Tohoku pronunciation. It definitely seems more common up here than it is down in Tokyo.

      • Showed this to my coworkers from Fukushima and Aomori and they had no idea what the words were written next to their prefecture. These words have to be from a few generations back.

    • I remember sitting in an izakaya with a buddy from Kumamoto, and he thought I was wrong when I said “すみません”, instead of “すいません”, lol. Definitely not just a Tohoku dialect thing.

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