What Is “I’ll Be Back” In Japanese

There are lots of useful little phrases that you can learn in Japanese to help improve your conversational skills. For example, you might want to let people know that you have to go somewhere, but that you will return soon. What is “I’ll be back” in Japanese?

There are actually several alternative phrases that you can use depending on the situation you find yourself in, so I’ll give you a couple of different options to pick from and let you know when to use each one.

Check out the following four ways phrases and when to use them now!

1) また来ます

The first phrase is また来ます (mata kimasu) which is a combination of the Japanese word また (mata) for “again” and the Japanese word 来ます (kimasu) which means “to come” in the polite mass-form.

When these two words are combined together like this, the phrase is literally saying “I’ll come again” which could be used to let the person you’re talking with know that you will be back in a minute.

Or it could be used to let them know you’ll visit again on another day, like if you’re at a local shop or something.

This form of the verb (来ます) is a pretty neutral, yet polite phrase that can be used when you need to step out of a conference room at work to take a call, but you want to ensure that your co-workers (or other people) know that you plan on returning once you’re done.

The dictionary form of the verb is 来る (kuru) so you could also say また来る when you’re in a situation that is casual in nature. Those times when you’re talking to your family or hanging out with your friends.

2) すぐ戻ります

The second phrase that I want to share with you is すぐ戻ります (sugu modorimasu) which is another two-word combo that has a slightly different connotation to it than the first one.

Let’s take a look at each of these two words by themselves. The first one is すぐ which actually has a lot of potential meanings, but in this case we can understand it to mean “soon” in English.

The second word 戻ります means “to return” and as I’m sure you’ve noticed, this verb is also in the polite, mass-form which means it’s a good one to use for those times you need to be polite.

The casual form is 戻る (modoru), FYI.

Getting back to the point at hand, this phrase is basically saying “I’ll return soon” and would be a good one to use when you’re physically leaving a place, such as work, but you plan on returning fairly quickly.

Like if you need to go out and grab some lunch, but plan on coming right back once you get the grub.

Something to keep in mind about the word 戻る is that it sometimes gets mixed up with the other Japanese word 帰る (kaeru) since they both translate into English as “to return.” However, these words are not the same.

So what exactly is the difference?

Well, back when I was first learning Japanese I saw a tweet by Tofugu that said that difference is that 戻る means “I’ll return to the location I’m at” and 戻る means “I’ll return to the place that I belong.”

I’ve always felt that that was a really good way to think about these two words.

This means that 帰る is the correct word to use when you are returning to your home that you live in, or when you are going back to the country that you were born in.

We can conclude this section of the post in the following way:

  1. すぐ戻ります
  2. すぐ帰ります

Use #1 any time when you are returning to a place that is not your house, and use #2 when you are telling someone that you are coming home soon.

3) 行ってきます

Speaking of coming home, this next phrase is one that you will only ever use when you are heading out the door of your place and want to tell people that you will see them later.

The phrase is 行ってきます (itte kimasu) which usually gets translated into English as “I’m off” when a person heads out in the morning to work or school.

But this phrase is literally saying “I’m going and will come back.”

Now you can see why it’s used when a person leaves their own dwelling place. Because of course, they will be back!

Remembering back to the words that we covered in the third section of this post, and then combining them with this latest phrase, we can actually use the phrase 戻ってきます (modotte kimasu) in order to say “I’ll be back” when you’re not specifically talking about your home.

4) アイル・ビー・バック

Speaking of that famous line from the Terminator movies (“I’ll be back”), there is actually an English loan word version of it as well!

I’ve only ever heard it in anime that was referencing the move, but you say it as アイル・ビー・バック (airu bii bakku) when speaking Japanese.

As for the original Terminator movie with Japanese dubs, he actually says また来る which is the very first phrase that we went over in this article!

Although, I have heard that there are other versions of this phrase are associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger such as また戻ってくる (mata modotte kuru).

At any rate, I wanted to include these last ones in here for a little bit of fun at the end of this lesson.

Will You Be Back?

Well, I hope you’ve learned a lot from the information presented in this blog post. You should have a pretty good idea on different ways to tell people about your plans to return.

There’s probably more ways that you can say I’ll be back in Japanese, but these four primary ones should be enough to cover most situation.

At any rate, if you have any comments or questions that you want to make, then be sure to let me know by entering it into the comment section below.

Thanks, and I hope to see you again!

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