Sometimes you’re hanging out with your friends and you want to give them a bit of a hard time by telling them that they suck, big time! Today you’ll learn how to say you suck in Japanese.
It’s worth noting that Japanese humor and Western humor aren’t always the same thing, and what we might find funny by poking fun at a good friend, might actually come across as rather harsh from a Japanese person’s perspective.
So while I will teach you several insults in today’s lesson, I think that you’ll find them more useful when watching shows or reading manga in Japanese, which are situations where the characters tend to be harsher than in real life.
If you playfully (or for real) tell your Japanese friends that they suck at something, it might come across poorly. I’ll just have to let you be the judge of the situation.
Anyway, the literal word for “suck” in Japanese is 吸う (sū) but this is only used when you suck on something like a bottle or a cigarette.
When you want to use the English slag for “suck” which can mean to be bad at something, you’ll use the following.
You’re Bad At Something
I think that one of the most common ways that we us the word suck in English is when we are talking about a person’s low ability, or inability to do something.
So if they miss all of their basketball shots, we might say “man, you suck at this game.” When using this particular suck for the Japanese language, you have a couple of options.
The first one is 下手 (heta) which means “unskillful” and is a na-adjective which means that you can put it in front of nouns to say that something is sucky, or of inferior quality.
Like 下手な車 (hetana kuruma) for a crappy car, as just one example.
But generally speaking, you’ll see 下手 combined with either だ (da) or です (desu) to say that someone or something sucks.
A closely related word to 下手 is 苦手 (nigate) which has basically the same meaning and usage, but is used more often when speaking about one’s own abilities at something.
- 英語が苦手だ。 (eigo ga nigate da.)
- I’m not good at English.
The final word that I wanted to go over in this part can sometimes be used to say no in Japanese for certain circumstances.
Here in today’s lesson it will be used in a situation where you can say that something is “no good” and by extension that it sucks in its quality.
- 本がだめだと、読まない。 (hon ga dame dato, yomanai.)
- If the book sucks (is no good), I won’t read it.
These three words should be pretty good for when you are talking about the quality or skill that a thing or person has, but what about when you’re generalizing about a situation?
Sometimes you just want to tell a friend that they suck, and leave it at that. This next section will help with that.
You’re The Worst
When a person does something terrible, or you’re just unhappy with them in general, you can use a couple of different words that mean “the worst” which should work well for today’s lesson.
The first one is 最低 (saitei) which means “the lowest” and is often combined with お前 (omae) for the word “you” in Japanese in anime and other dramas.
- お前、最低だな！ (omae, saitei da na!)
- You suck! / You’re the worst!
If you watch a lot of Slice of Life type anime, it is pretty common to hear the main guy receive this insult from a girl that likes him, but he just doesn’t seem to pick up the many hints she lays down.
Although girls don’t use the word お前 a whole lot. They are more likely to say あんた (anta) when they are angry at someone.
If you’re not all that familiar with the kanji 最 (sai) then this will be a good time to learn it. It is a prefix that means “the most” and gets added on to a lot of other words to say things like strongest, weakest, highest, and so on.
I’ve actually talked about this topic before in another post, and you can check it out to learn how to say the best in Japanese.
The second word that I wanted to cover now is 最悪 (saiaku) which means “the worst” and is often the word of choice when you want to describe a situation as being especially high on the suck-o-meter.
For example, in the first episode of the anime Clannad when the main character meets his new friend’s parents, he first starts off by unintentionally insulting the mom’s food which causes her to run out of the house crying.
He then says that he “hopes the dad is normal” since he finds both the mom and he’s new friend to be on the weird side.
Well, the dad bumps into him and is not only carrying a baseball bat, but looks like he is ready to kill. The main character then says:
- 最悪だった… (saiaku datta…)
- Well, this sucks…
So if you want to say that a person sucks, then you can use 最低 to describe them, and if you want to say that a certain situation in your life sucks, then you can use 最悪 instead.
So maybe you’re feeling a little on the mean side, and you want to say that a person is useless when it comes to something.
If that’s the case, then there are a couple of ways that you go about it.
The first one is to say 使えないな (tsukae nai na) when looking at a person and speaking directly to them. This word is the negative form of 使える (tsukaeru) for “to be useful.”
Another word that can be used to describe a person as a “deadhead” or completely “useless” is 役立たず (yakutatazu).
I believe I heard this word used whenever Makoto’s older sister calls her useless in Persona 5, which of course spurs her to join the Phantom Thieves and prove that she is in fact valuable.
Finally, you might just say あんたはだめ (anta wa dame) which basically just says a person is no good.
Got any questions or comments? Let me know down below!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: