Learning Japanese

Making Duolingo Blog

To show just how complex this can get, let’s take a simple English phrase – “I love you” – and dissect the many ways in which it can be said in Japanese. Spoiler alert: it’s not such a simple phrase in Japanese. One of our course contributors, Sho, estimated and found that there can actually be as many as 248,026 ways to say “I love you” in Japanese!

How is this even possible?

For one, there are several different ways to say “I” in Japanese (i.e., watashi, watakushi, boku, ore, etc.), each of which can be written in any of the three writing systems mentioned above. There are also two particles that can go with “I”, which you are actually able to omit. You can even choose to not mention “I” at all, since it is implied. This already makes 37 (4 × 3 × 3 + 1) different ways to just say “I” in Japanese.