Japanese Grammar Bank


Today, we’re going to take a look at how to express emphasis in Japanese.

This lesson will be great for enhancing your ability to express exactly how you are feeling when speaking to your Japanese friends or colleagues.

EMPHASIS WITH とても (totemo)

とてもtotemo is a polite way to express very and adds emphasis.

It’s used all the time in daily conversation. This is used all across Japan, so is your safest bet for expressing very.


とても + Adjective / Verb

It expresses: “Very [Adjective/Verb]”.

Totemo utsukushii.


It’s very beautiful.
Kono hon wa totemo omoshiroi.


This book is very interesting.
View More Phrases
彼はとても優しい人です。Kare wa totemo yasashii hito desu.He is a very kind person.
とても大切な思い出です。Totemo taisetsu na omoide desu.It’s a very precious memory.
とても寒い日ですね。Totemo samui hi desu ne.It’s a very cold day, isn’t it?
この料理はとても美味しい。Kono ryouri wa totemo oishii.This dish is very delicious.
彼女はとても頭がいい。Kanojo wa totemo atama ga ii.She is very smart.
とても楽しかった時間だった。Totemo tanoshikatta jikan datta.It was a very enjoyable time.
とても疲れました。Totemo tsukaremashita.I’m very tired.
この街はとても静かです。Kono machi wa totemo shizuka desu.This town is very quiet.

It’s worth noting, that Japan has so many regional dialects (弁 ben) that you’re likely to hear things other than とても if you travel enough here.

Below is a table of 4 dialects and their version of とても:

Kansaiめっちゃmeccha 今日はめっちゃ暑いですね。
Kyou wa meccha atsui desu ne.
Today is very hot, isn’t it?
Kyushuばりbari そのラーメンはばり辛い。
 Sono ramen wa bari karai.
That ramen is really spicy.
Tohokuちょいchoi ちょい高いですが、美味しいです。
Choi takai desu ga, oishii desu.
It’s a bit expensive, but it’s delicious.
Hiroshimaめっちゃんこmecchanko このビーチはめっちゃんこきれいです。
Kono beach wa mecchanko kirei desu.
This beach is very beautiful.

すごく sugoku can be used in exactly the same way as とても totemo.

It’s also polite but used in daily conversation a lot. 


超 chou means extremely, so is very similar to とても totemo.

I hear this a lot in conversations living in Japan.


超 + Adjective / Verb

It is used to express “Extremely [Adjective/Verb]”.

Kare ha chou hayai.


He is extremely fast.
Kare wa chou atama ga ii.


He is extremely smart.
View More Phrases
この映画は超面白い。Kono eiga wa chou omoshiroi.This movie is extremely interesting.
今日は超忙しい。Kyou wa chou isogashii.Today is extremely busy.
この料理は超美味しい。Kono ryouri wa chou oishii.This dish is extremely delicious.
彼女は超可愛い。Kanojo wa chou kawaii.She is extremely cute.
そのコンサートは超楽しかった。Sono konsaato wa chou tanoshikatta.That concert was extremely enjoyable.
彼は超成功しています。Kare wa chou seikou shiteimasu.He is extremely successful.
このゲームは超難しい。Kono geemu wa chou muzukashii.This game is extremely difficult.


The word マジ maji comes from 真面目 majime (seriously), so it can be used to express emphasis as in, “そのテストはマジ難しかった sono tesuto wa maji muzukashikatta The test was seriously hard.”

It is also often used by itself to express your disbelief at something. 

kono ramen ha chou karai


This ramen is super spicy!



は (wa) vs が (ga)

One interesting way to change the emphasis of your sentence is to change a は for が.

The roles of は for が are complex and we won’t go into detail here – it would take a whole article in itself – and instead will just look at how switching them out changes the emphasis of a sentence.


あの女の子はボールを蹴ったano onna no ko wa bo-ru wo kettaThe girl kicked the ball

In the above example, the whole sentence is quite neutral with no particular emphasis anywhere.

あの女の子はボールを蹴ったano onna no ko ga bo-ru wo kettaTHE GIRL kicked the ball

In this example, the が emphasises that it was the girl that kicked the ball, as opposed to someone else. 

As you can see in the above, if you use が instead of は you effectively emphasise that it was that noun that did the verb.


Here is a summary of all grammar points studied in this lesson:

  • The English word very can be expressed withとても which is neutral and polite.
  • There are many different ways to say とても in different regional dialects.
  •  is the equivalent of extremely.
  • マジ can be used to emphasise your surprise at something or the extent of something (similar to とても).
  • Changing a は for aが can help emphasise who/what did an action in a sentence.

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How to put emphasis in a Japanese sentence?

とてもtotemo is a polite way to express very and adds emphasis. It’s used all the time in daily conversation

とても totemo + Adjective/Verb

とても美しい。totemo utsukushii. It’s very beautiful.

超 chou means extremely, so is very similar to とても totemo.

超 chou + Adjective/Verb

彼は超速い。kare ha chou hayai. He is extremely fast.

Check out the full lesson for more sentence structures!

How to express potential in Japanese?

Conveniently, there’s actually a potential form of conjugation of verbs in Japanese.

The potential form is used for personal-related things as well as general possibilities.

For Group 1 verbs (うu-verbs).

Here, we replace the う u-vowel sound with its え e-vowel counterpart and add る ru.

飲む nomu (to drink) becomes 飲める nomeru (can drink).

For Group 2 verbs(るru-verbs).

We simply swap out the る ru ending with られる rareru.

食べる taberu (to eat) becomes 食べられる taberareru (can eat).

Here a three exceptions you’ll want to remember:

する suru (to do)

→ 出来る dekiru (can do) 

くる kuru (to come)

→ こられる korareru (can come) 

ある aru (to be)

→ あり得る ariuru/arieiru (can exist/can be/possible) 

Check out the full lesson on potential in Japanese here.

How to express certainty in Japanese?

Here’s a quick summary of the lesson about certainty in Japanese:

– だろう da rou (informal) and でしょう deshou (formal) both mean “probably” with a fair amount of certainty.

– かもしれない kamoshirenai and 多分 tabun are like “maybe,” but are often masking more certainty than the direct translation lets on to.

– はずだ hazu da signifies strong certainty and reflects objective viewpoints.

– に違いない ni chigainai denotes high certainty and suggests subjective perspectives while retaining a formal demeanour.

– と思う to omou can be used too in conversation.

Check out the full lesson on certainty in Japanese here.

How to express hope in Japanese?

といい is added after the casual form of a verb (e.g., 行くiku、行った itta、行きたい ikitai、行かない ikanai, etc.).

This means “I hope that” in English and is used to express the speaker’s desire for something to happen.

Iis used in everyday conversation, rather than more conceptual or deep things. 


Kondo no shiken wa goukaku suru to ii desu.

I hope I pass the upcoming exam.

Add たらいい to the casual past tense of a verb (e.g., 行った itta went, 飲んだ nonda drunk, 食べた tabeta ate, した shita did, etc.) to mean exactly the same thing as above. 


Ame ga furanai to ii ne.

I hope it doesn’t rain.

ように (you ni) is used for humble requests, prayers, and wishes.

You just add ように to the verb, often found in the polite ます masu form.


Hayaku yoku naru you ni inotteimasu.

I’m praying for a speedy recovery.

Check out the full lesson on hope in Japanese here.

Where can I study more Japanese grammar?

You should have a look at our Japanese Grammar Bank, where we regularly publish free lessons for levels A1, A2 and B1.

Can I book Japanese classes with LTL?

Yes, you can!

We teach Japanese online, on our Flexi Classes platform.

We can also organise a language program for you in Tokyo, where you can study in group or individual classes, as well as live with a Japanese family.