There are some Japanese words that, once you’ve learned then, will seem to appear all the time! We are going to go over some of those words today and you will learn how to say nice in Japanese.
The interesting this about this word is that there are a couple of different ways to say it, and they primarily depend on the context of the situation, and what you are saying is “nice,” be that a person, an idea, etc.
Let’s hop right into it and start learning.
How to Say “That’s Nice” in Japanese
In English, we will often use the phrase “that’s nice” when referring to pretty much anything that has good or desirable qualities. This could be a person, and idea, a situation, or something else.
The Japanese word that you would typically want to use in these same sort of situations would be いい (ii) along with some sort of ending particle to help convey the specific nuance that you are feeling.
- それはいいね。That’s nice (isn’t it?).
- いいじゃん！ Niiice!
This word 「いい」 is one of the most common ones that you will encounter in Japanese, but it has a couple of tricky aspects to it for the beginner student.
The first of which is that it will sometimes use its kanji which looks like this: 良い.
Now here’s the thing, usually when it has this kanji 良い it will usually (but not always) change phonetically to よい instead of いい. The reason for this is because よい is the original way to pronounce it, but over time it has changed to just いい for most situations.
This is important to know because いい falls into the category of i-adjectives, which I’m sure you know follow specific patterns when you inflect them to the negative or past tense.
Here’s the main thing to keep in mind: when you inflect いい you have to actually inflect よい instead. Here’s a breakdown of the primary four:
- いい = good
- よくない = not good
- よかった = was good
- よくなかった = was not good
良かった in particular is a very common word that literally means “it was good” but actually gets used a lot of the times to mean things like “thank goodness!” or “that’s great!” and such.
As a final note on いい, there is another super common phrase which is いいじゃないか and it can cause some confusion if you’re not familiar with it.
On the surface, it looks like it’s saying something along the lines of “is (it) not nice?” but it’s actually just a colloquial way of saying “it’s good!” or “it’s fine!” or “that’s nice!”
How to Say a Person is Nice in Japanese
So based off of the above information, you would probably assume that いい人 (ii hito) means “nice person” in Japanese, and you would be correct, but there are some other more common ways that people express this idea.
いい人 feels more like saying someone is a “good person” and so that’s the particular flavor of “nice” that it brings when talking about people. But what about when you want to highlight that a person is the kind or gentle type of nice?
In those situations you would want to use either 親切 (shisetsu) or 優しい (yasashii). They are a na-adjective and an i-adjective respectively, so be sure to brush up on your basic Japanese grammar so that you know how to use them properly.
Another word that you can use in this type of way is 素敵 (suteki) which is like saying that something is “lovely” in Japanese.
“Yoshiko” is a lovely (nice) name.
These are some good words to learn and memorize so that you can give sincere compliments in Japanese when you admire something that another person owns, or has accomplished.
Just like what Abraham Lincoln said, “Everyone likes a compliment.”
And finally, if you want to say that someone’s clothing “looks nice on them” then you will use the verb 似合う (niau) which means “to suit, to match, to look good/nice” and such.
How does it look (on me)?
Oh… It looks good (on you)!
How to Say the Weather is Nice in Japanese
So what should you do when you want to start a conversation with someone in Japanese, but you’re not sure of a good opening line? It’s an oldie, but a goodie: talk about the weather!
The Japanese word for “weather” is 天気 (tenki) and you can simply put the first word you learned in front of it to say:
Nice weather, isn’t it?
Yes. Yesterday’s weather was nice too.
Another word you could use in this situation is 涼しい (suzushii) which means “nice and cool” and is often used to describe the breeze.
How to Say Your Food is Nice in Japanese
In Japanese, when you want to talk about food being really good, you will typically use one of two words:
- 美味しい (oishii)
- うまい (umai)
Both words can be used to mean “nice, delicious, good” when talking about your food. The primary difference that I’ve noticed between these two words is that 美味しい is used more often by women and children and うまい by men.
I just thought that I would throw this section in the lesson in case you wanted to compliment your host for the dinner that they prepared. But I won’t overwhelm you by jumping into a lesson on food at this point.
That being said, check out this article to learn what to say before a meal in Japanese!
Loan Words for Nice that Sometimes Get Used
Alright, we have reached the final section for this article. I wanted to go over some loan words for “nice” in Japanese because of course there are some!
The English word “nice” has a Japanese counterpart which is ナイス.
This word gets used in a lot of set phrases that the younger generations use, such as:
ナイスショット = nice shot. This word gets yelled after someone has made a goal in sports, or perhaps taken out an enemy in a shooter type video game.
ナイスチョイス = nice choice. Probably more common in the game show arena than in real life, but hey… you never know.
ナイスバディ = nice (looking) body. When you just aren’t sure how to compliment a girl or guy, this tried and trusted line has never failed… Did I say “never failed”? I think I meant never suceeded, lol!
ナイスジョーク = nice joke. Basically this final section summed up!
Alright, that’s all for today!
Do you know of any other Japanese words for “nice”? Let me know with a comment below! Thanks!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: