Today I wanted to go over a couple different ways that you can say “never mind” in Japanese. While some of these can be used interchangeably, there are different situations where one would be more appropriate or sound more natural than the alternatives.
Perhaps the first thing that I should do is give you the two definitions for the phrase so that you can better understand the correct Japanese equivalent to use.
The first definition is “used to urge someone not to feel anxiety or distress” and will be covered in most, but not all of the sections below.
The second definition is “used in refusing to answer a question” and will be covered in section three.
Most of these are phrases that you’ve probably heard before since they are fairly common and get used in daily conversation.
1. Never Mind
The first way to say this phrase is:
- nandemo nai.
This literally translates into English as “nothing” but the way it gets used in Japanese during conversations a lot is the same way we use “never mind” in English.
- どうしたの？ (What’s wrong?)
- いえ、何でもない。(oh, never mind. It’s nothing).
An interesting fact about the phrase “never mind” is that it should be two words in most contexts in English, although there are certain cases where “nevermind” spelled as one word is correct.
2. Don’t Worry About It
There are several different ways that you can tell a person to not worry about something. In English, we will sometimes say things like “Don’t worry about that” or “Never mind that thing” or “There’s no need to worry” and they pretty much all mean the same thing.
In Japanese the nice way to say this is:
- ki ni shinaide.
Which simply means “don’t worry about it.” However, there is also a more commanding way to say this phrase which you might have heard from strong male characters in Japanese shows and anime.
I wouldn’t recommend you saying it to people over the first phrase in this section, but since you’ll probably hear it I figured that I would include it here.
- ki ni suru na!
There is also a super polite version of this phrase that you might hear from employees at a restaurant or hotel when they want to assure you that an issue will be taken care of.
- go shinpai naku.
This last one is kind of like saying “pay it no mind, my good sir (or madam).”
Something that is kind of similar to saying “don’t worry about it” is the phrase “it’s no big deal” and the way that you can say that in Japanese is:
- taishita koto nai yo.
3. Never Mind That / It’s Fine
Sometimes you’re in a hurry to do something and the person you’re talking with is distracted by something. In cases like these you might want to yell at them something like “never mind all that, just hurry!” and in Japanese this can be expressed as:
- ii kara, hayaku!
The いいから (ii kara) part is an expression that means “never mind that; don’t worry about that” in English. In the above picture, Morgana was getting carried away with the treasure that they found and Panther threw him in order to snap him out of out it.
Morgana got upset with her and told her “don’t throw me!” to which she replied with the above picture. If you’ve ever been tempted to learn Japanese by playing video games, then click on that link to learn some tips.
4. Never Mind (Alternative)
I read a book called Etiquette Guide to Japan a while ago and in that book the author said that over 20,000 English words have been adopted into the Japanese language. I’ve talked before about English loan words in Japanese, but even I didn’t know the list of words was that massive!
The reason why I bring this up is because there are two English words (or phrases depending on how you look at them) that have been incorporated into Japanese and they fit right in with today’s lesson.
The first one is ネバーマインド (nebaa maindo) which is literally just “never mind” turned into katakana and spoken in Japanese.
To be honest, I’ve only actually seen this word used in one place before and that’s as the title of Nirvana’s album Nevermind. I’m not saying that Japanese people never use this word, just that I haven’t really encountered it before.
The other word I have heard a lot, especially in sports. It is ドンマイ (don mai) which comes from the English phrase “don’t mind” as in “I don’t mind.”
However, even though it comes from that phrase, I actually think the Japanese usage of the phrase is closer to “don’t worry about it.” The reason is because an athlete will often say ドンマイ to their teammate right after they’ve messed up.
So if a person missed their shot, you might encourage them by saying “Don’t worry about it, forget about it” and so on. But if you’re speaking Japanese then you’ll say ドンマイ.
5. Help Yourself / Either Is Fine
These last two phrases that I wanted to cover aren’t really substitutes for any that we’ve covered earlier. I just felt that they were related enough to warrant their inclusion here.
The first one is
- enryo naku.
or an alternative version of it that commonly appears is:
- enryo shinaide.
And this phrase simply means “make yourself at home, don’t hold back, help yourself” and the like. You would basically say this phrase to a guest when you want them to feel at ease and let them know they can grab a soda in the fridge whenever they feel like it.
The last phrase that I’ll show you is:
- docchi demo ii yo.
And this one just means “either is fine” when someone offers you two choices. For example, if a friend asked if you wanted a Coke or a Dr. Pepper, but you like them both then you could say どっちでもいいよ to let them know that you don’t have a preference between the two.
Questions? Comments? Let me know by leaving a message below and I’ll reply when I see it!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: