How to use Japanese emphatic particles

How to use Japanese emphatic particles

Emphatic particles are tacked on the end of sentences in Japanese to express nuances and social aspects of communication. They're difficult but if you can learn how to use them, your casual Japanese will sound much more natural.


Casual Japanese


Ne is probably the most common. It was definitely the one I noticed first. Ne is used to seek agreement or confirmation, or to try to get a point across. It's also used to ask a question.

寒いね。 Samui ne.
'It's cold, isn't it?'

それはちょっと難しいですね。 Sore wa chotto muzukashii desu ne.
'That's a little difficult, y'know?' (actually this is a way of saying 'no')

きれいだね。 Kirei da ne
'Beautiful, isn't it?'


Yo relays new information or adds emphasis, something like an exclamation mark.

彼はもう高校生ですよ。 Kare wa mou kokosei desu yo
'He's already a high school student.'

分かっているよ。 Wakatte iru yo
'I know already.'

気にすんなよ。 Ki ni sunna yo
'Don't worry about it'

Yo ne

Yo ne can be a more emphatic way of using ne.

このバンドいいよね。 Kono bando ii yo ne
'This band is good, huh?'

そのセーター似会うよね。 Sono seta niau yo ne
'That sweater really suits you, doesn't it?'

It can also be used to check for confirmation.

昨日電話したよね? Kino denwa shita yo ne?
'You called me yesterday, right?'

俺、忙しいんだよね?! Ore, isogashii nda yo ne?!
'Can't you see that I'm busy?!'

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No is used mostly by women and, like nanda or nda for men, can be used when explaining something.

この指輪欲しいの。 Kono yubiwa hoshii no
'I want this ring.'

今忙しいの! Ima isogashii no!
'I'm busy right now!' (response to somebody asking her to do something)

It's also used for emphasis.

あの人気持ち悪いの。 Ano hito kimochi warui no
'That guy's a creep.'

やめてほしいの。 Yamete hoshii no
'I really want you to stop that.'


Na is used to express strong emotion or to express a desire for something. As a strong emotion, I mostly hear it used by men. To express desire, it's used by men and women.

あの人凄いな。 'Ano hito sugoi na'
That guy/girl is amazing.

スペイン行けるといいな。 Supein ikeru to ii na
'I wish I could go to Spain.'

この部屋汚いな。 Kono heya kitanai na
'This room is dirty.'

Na can also be used as a negative command.

そんなこと言うな! 'Sonna koto iu na!'
Don't say that!

こっちみんなよ。 'Kocchi minna yo'
Don't look at me

Ze and zo

Ze and zo are emphatics that are usually used by men.

ディズニーランド行くぞ! Deizuniirando iku zo!
'We're goin' to Disneyland!'

泣いちゃうぞ。 Naitcchau zo
'I'm gonna cry'

Ze is also used to add emphasis.

このラーメン旨いぜ。 Kono raamen umai ze
'This ramen is tasty'


Wa is an emphatic used by mostly by women. It's considered effeminate.

Read more: Gender differences in modern Japanese

美味しいわ。 Oishii wa

触らないでほしいわ。 Sawaranaide hoshii wa
'I really don't want you to touch me.'

Men sometimes use wa at the end of sentences to indicate some future action.

俺もビール買うわ。 Ore mo biiru kau wa
'I'm gonna buy a beer too.'

送ってあげるわ。 Okutte ageru wa
'I'll give you a ride.'

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Finally, there's sa, a particle that's used to death in Chiba where I live. This isn't so much an emphatic as it's a filler, like the incessant 'like' or 'y'know' that some English speakers use.

いいんだけどさ。。。 Ii nda kedo sa…
'It's alright but…'

It's tough to use emphatic particles correctly, but listen to enough natural Japanese and you'll get the hang of it.