The Japanese language has a lot of different words for movement. There’re different words for when you’re going under something, over things, back to something, etc. Today you’ll learn how to say let’s go in Japanese.
But the goodness won’t stop there!
I’ll show you some other ways to say go, such as the different types I mentioned in the introduction. I’ll also share with you some more formal versions of “to go” and some other words that are used to go in or out of places.
How To Say Let’s Go In Japanese
The first thing that we have go over is the Japanese word for “to go.” The dictionary form of it is 行く (iku).
Then we can change the verb into its volitional form which is used to express one’s will in taking an action. This will change the word to 行こう (ikou) which means “will go” when translated directly, but it is also the form that is used to make the suggestion “let’s go.”
- “yuriko, soto ni ikou”
- “Yuriko, let’s go outside”
This is the casual form of the verb, so you’ll probably hear it used most often between friends or people who are part of the same group and of the same social status, such as classmates or coworkers.
- ii ne eiga, ikou ikou!
- A movie sounds great! Let’s go, lets go!
If you wanted to say it in a more polite way, you would change it to 行きましょう (ikimashou). It means the same thing, but it’s more formal and can be used with people you’re not as familiar with.
- kondo, tabe ni ikimashou.
- Let’s (go) grab a bite to eat next time.
If you’ve ever played a Mario game on Nintendo, then you’ve no doubt heard his catch phrase “let’s go!” at some point. In Japanese, this is actually a borrowed phrase that comes directly from English.
- rettsu gou!
- Let’s go!
There are a lot of Japanese words taken directly from English, so it’s best to keep an eye out for them.
Related: Learn how to say stop in Japanese.
That’s all for the basic ways to say “let’s go.” If you’re interested in seeing some of the more formal forms of this verb, or some of the related words such as “go home, go under, etc.” then keep on reading to learn them.
Formal Ways to Say Go
When it comes to speaking formally in Japanese, there are typically two routes that you can take. The first one is to use words that lower your own position.
These are known as the “humble” form of verbs and words and the basic idea is that you are elevating the position of the person you’re speaking to indirectly by lowering your own.
These are the types of words that are typically used by employees towards customers, or maids and butlers towards their master.
The humble Japanese word for “to go” is 参る (mairu). The interesting thing is that this word can also be used to say “to come” and so the meaning can change depending on the situation.
- では、参りましょう 。
- de wa, mairimashou.
- Well then, let us go madam (my good sir).
The other way to show respect in the Japanese language is to use words that directly elevate the listener’s position. These are known as honorific words and they are a more direct way than humble words to show that you consider a person to be above you in whatever situation you find yourself in.
Again, these are the words that are likely to be used by service people or anyone who is helping a customer. The dictionary form of the word is いらっしゃる (irassharu) and similar to the first word we learned in this section, it can also mean “to come” as well as “to go”.
You’ve probably heard this word used in a set phrase before when customers enter a shopkeeper’s store.
If you wanted to conjigate this verb to say “let’s go” you would do so by changing it to either いらっしゃろう (irassharou) or いらっしゃりましょう (irassharimashou). However, I’ve never actually heard or seen either of these two words used before.
You can find them on conjugation tables like this one to see that the forms do exist, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that people actually use them in real life.
Other Types of Going
The interesting thing about Japanese is that the language can be incredibly precise when it comes to certain words.
For example, the Japanese word 通る (tooru) means “to go by; to pass through; to go along; etc.” and is often used when you’re not just “going” somewhere, but rather you’re “going though something” such as town, or like when light passes through an object.
- machi o tooru
- to pass through town
This same kanji can be used in the word 通う (kayou) to mean “to go to and from (a place); to go back and forth between” and it is often used when talking about “going to school” or to put it another way, “attending school.”
- doko no gakkou ni kayotte iru no?
- Which school do you attend [go to]?
To Go Over or Under Somthing
The Japanese language uses the word 越える (koeru) to say “go over” something. This could be a physical thing, such as a mountain range, or it could also be a non-physical thing such as a hardship in one’s life.
- hashi o koete tsugi no kousaten o migi ni magatte kudasai.
- Cross (go) over the bridge, then turn right at the next intersection.
Of course, since we have a word for going over something, it only makes sense that we also have a word for going under something, right?
Sorry, I went a little crazy there for a moment. This is one of the reasons why it takes so flipping long for people to learn Japanese. Because they have so many nuanced words.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings.
The word I’m talking about is 潜る (kuguru) and it means “to go/pass under; to go/pass through.”
Although I’m taking this part of the sentence out of context a little, if it were on its own it could be understood to mean something along these lines:
- kono mon o kuguru bekarazu
- (one) should not pass through this gate
What’s interesting to note about this word is that even though it has a kanji which I’ve used, it is actually more common to see it written in hiragana as seen in the tweet.
To Go in or Out of Something
When you want to talk about “going out” of something, such as a room or a house, you will use the word 出る (deru). This word has a lot of potential meanings, but I’ll only cover this one and its opposite in this section so as not to overload you with information.
- 応接室を出て行った 。
- ousetsu shitsu o dete itta.
- I went out of (left) the reception room.
It is pretty common to see the verb 出る combined with 行く to say that a person exited a place and left the scene.
On the other side of things we have the verb 入る (hairu) which means “to go in; to enter” and can be used in similar situations as 出る but as the reverse (i.e. coming instead of going).
- sono heya ni wa mettani hairimasen.
- I don’t often go into that room.
To Return Somewhere
The last section for new vocabulary covers two words that both mean “to return; to go back.”
The first one is 帰る (kaeru) and the second one is 戻る (modoru).
The main difference between the two is that 帰る brings with it the nuance of “going back to the place I belong” such as the house you live in, your home town, or even the country you were born in if you’re currently living abroad.
- kaeru nara okuru yo.
- If you’re going home, I’ll take you there.
Whereas 戻る just means “going back to where I just was (a moment ago)” and is often the kanji used as the “back button” in electronic devices such as your phone or computer.
Now it’s Time to Go Do Something Else
Wow, we covered a lot of different ways to say “go” in Japanese!
What started out as a simple journey to learn one phrase has turned into a master class on movement in Japanese!
Lol, OK not really.
If you have any questions that you want to ask or if there’s a comment that you would like to make, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: