Today’s lesson is going to cover one of the most common Japanese words used by kids and young adults. If you’ve watched a lot of Japanese shows, then you’ve no doubt heard this word used many times before. You may even have an idea of what it means already.
Today’s word is sugoi. I will explain sugoi’s meaning in Japanese below. There are a fair amount of ways that it can be used, so be sure to check them out.
Sugoi Meaning In Japanese
The word sugoi is usually written in hiragana as すごい (sugoi). In Japanese there several different ways that this word can be used and it slightly changes the meaning depending on which one it is.
The first meaning is “awesome; terrific” and it used as an exclamation all on its own.
- oh, sugoi!
- Wow, awesome!
This is the way that I hear it used most commonly. The only thing you have to be careful about when you use it is to understand the subtleties of this word.
You see, this word is really meant to be used when you are amazed at someone’s strength, at their skills, or at what they have been able to accomplish.
So if you find out that one of your old friends recently graduated with their doctorate degree, you could say すごい since you are impressed at their hard work, intelligence, and what they’ve been able to accomplish.
- hakase sotsu nan da.
- I’m a doctorate graduate.
- e~ hontou desu ka? cho sugoi!
- Eh, really? That’s super amazing!
However, if you found out that they won the lottery, you wouldn’t really say すごい since they didn’t actually use any great skill or ability to do so. In situations like these, you would be better off saying ラッキー (rakkii) to tell them “lucky” and such.
While すごい can be used on its own like we’ve seen in the above examples, it can also be used with other words, such as nouns, to describe them as being great.
- ano ie, sugoi desu.
- That house is incredible.
Or you could put すごい directly before the noun.
- sugoi ie o mimashita.
- I saw an amazing house.
The interesting thing about this word is that it can also be used to describe things as “terrible” which is pretty much the opposite of what we’ve covered so far. Continue reading to learn how.
Sugoi Can Mean Terrible Or Dreadful
So far we’ve been describing things in a positive light with the word すごい. However, certain words are inherently negative such as “problem” or “disaster” and when すごい is used to describe them, it gives a feeling of amplifying their natural qualities.
So when things aren’t just bad, when they are incredibly bad, you might find it useful to use すごい to describe them.
- sugoi koutsū jūtai datta.
- It was a dreadful traffic jam.
This above sentence example could also be translated as “it was a huge traffic jam” since pretty much everyone agrees that traffic jams are a bag thing. The word すごい here just helps us understand that it was worse than normal this time.
- sugoi mouka deshita.
- It was a terrible inferno.
Again, in English we might substitute the word “terrible” with others such as “horrible” or “awful” to help convey the emotional intensity of the situation.
The point of this section in today’ lesson is just to make you aware that すごい can be used to describe negative situations as well as positive ones.
You always want to try to understand the context that you find すごい in to know exactly how its being used.
Sugoi Can Mean Very Or Incredibly
In Japanese, when you want to change an i-adjective into an adverb, you simply replace the final い (i) with く (ku).
For our word すごい we whould change it to すごく (sugoku).
When you do that, the meaning of it usually gets translated into English as “very” or “incredibly” and it can then be used to describe the level (or intensity) of another adjective.
- kono kēki, sugoku oishii desu!
- This cake is incredibly delicious!
That sounds pretty good, right? A yummy cake really hits the spot sometimes, and if its an ice cream cake then even better!
- sugoku atsukatta desu!
- It was insanely hot!
Again we see that today’s word can be used for positive things and negative things.
In both of these example sentences, you could substitute the word すごく for とても (totemo) and it would mean the exact same thing of “very; awfully; exceedingly” and such.
Something else that should be noted about using today’s word as an adverb is that even though it is considered to be grammatically incorrect, it is actually very common for Japanese people to just use すごい in the i-adjective form instead of the correct すごく.
- sugoi atsui ne~
- Man, its so hot~
You will hear them both, so just keep that in mind when listening to Japanese.
Variations On The Spelling Of Sugoi
So far in this lesson I’ve kept すごい written in hiragana since that is the most common way to see it.
However, this word actually has a kanji that is used on occasion. It is 凄い.
Of course, if you’re reading manga there’s a good chance that you’ll see it written in katakana as スゴイ.
That being said, there are also common distortions of this word such as すげー (sugē) that is usually said by young men or boys trying to sound cool.
There is also すっごく (suggoku) which is an even more emphatic way of saying that something is “really, really, really” good or bad.
- suggoku oishii desu!
- It’s so freaking yummy!
Questions? Comments? Let Me Know!
That’s all for today’s topic of sugoi in Japanese and many of its meanings, spellings, and uses.
If you’ve got any questions about any part of this post, or if there is just something that you would like to add, then please let me know by leaving a comment down below.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: