Two of the most important words in any language are yes and no. Understanding and using the word “no” can keep you out of trouble and convey your thoughts and preferences with a single word.

The Japanese word for no is Īe.

To pronounce this correctly, let’s first break it down into syllables:


As you can see, you have two separate sounds. But notice the unique punctuation (called chōonpu) over the letter i. This symbol means you hold the i sound longer when you say it (it’s actually a double pronunciation, but for beginners, a longer sound will usually do the trick).

The first sound, “Ī” is pronounced like the “ee” in the English word bee. Remember to hold the i sound longer.

The second sound, “e”, is pronounced similar to “e” in the English word egg.

Now put the sounds together. Keep repeating the word until  you get more comfortable with it. Before you know it, you’ll have it!



For more useful Japanese words, go to WOW: Word of the Week


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