How to Say “It Depends” in Japanese

When it comes to expressing the notion of “it depends” in Japanese, the language provides several ways to convey this meaning. Whether you are aiming for a formal or informal conversation, this guide will equip you with various options, tips, and examples to accurately express the idea of uncertainty or conditional responses. Let’s dive into the different ways to say “it depends” in Japanese:

Formal Ways to Say “It Depends”

When speaking formally or in more professional situations, you can use the following phrases to express the concept of “it depends” in Japanese:

1. それによります (Sore ni yorimasu)

This phrase directly translates to “it depends on that.” It is a polite and commonly used expression in formal conversations. Here, “sore” refers to the specific matter in question.

申し訳ございませんが、お時間のご都合によります。 (Mōshiwake gozaimasen ga, ojikan no go-tsugō ni yorimasu)
“I’m sorry, but it depends on your availability.”

2. 状況によって変わります (Jōkyō ni yotte kawarimasu)

This phrase translates to “it varies depending on the situation.” It is ideal when you want to emphasize the influence of different circumstances on the outcome.

その案件の中身によって変わりますので、ご了承ください。 (Sono anken no nakami ni yotte kawarimasu node, goryōshō kudasai)
“Please understand that it depends on the details of the case.”

Informal Ways to Say “It Depends”

If you are engaging in a more casual or informal conversation, the following expressions will convey the idea of “it depends” in Japanese:

1. よりますね (Yorimasu ne)

This phrase, which can be used among friends or colleagues, is a simplified and informal version of “sore ni yorimasu.” It maintains a friendly tone while expressing conditional responses.

まあ、天気予報を見ないと分からないですよ。よりますね! (Mā, tenki yohō o minai to wakaranai desu yo. Yorimasu ne!)
“Well, I won’t know unless I check the weather forecast. It depends!”

2. その場合によるよ (Sono baai ni yoru yo)

In more informal settings, you can use this phrase to express that the outcome depends on the specific case. It conveys a sense of flexibility or adaptation to different situations.

電車の本数によって、到着時間も変わるんだ。その場合によるよ! (Densha no honsuu ni yotte, tōchaku jikan mo kawaru n da. Sono baai ni yoru yo!)
“The arrival time also changes depending on the number of trains. It depends on the case!”

Using Regional Variations

Japan consists of various regions with dialects that add flavor and uniqueness to the language. While the expressions above will adequately suffice in most situations, it’s interesting to note a few regional variations:

1. それやったら (Sore yattara)

This regional variation is common in the Kansai region and is somewhat equivalent to “it depends on that” in standard Japanese. It features a relaxed and friendly tone.

それやったら、明日連絡するわ。 (Sore yattara, ashita renraku suru wa)
“If that’s the case, I’ll contact you tomorrow. It depends!”

2. どっちみち (Docchimichi)

This phrase, popular in the Tohoku region, can be translated as “either way” or “anyway.” It indicates that the outcome doesn’t really matter, emphasizing a more laid-back approach.

どっちみち、結果は同じだと思うよ。 (Docchimichi, kekka wa onaji da to omou yo)
“Either way, I think the result will be the same. It depends!”

Tips and Additional Examples

Here are some general tips and additional examples to help you effectively use the phrase “it depends” in Japanese:

  • Pay attention to the context and level of formality in your conversation to choose the appropriate expression.
  • When unsure about which phrase to use, favor the more polite options as a sign of respect.
  • Combine these phrases with appropriate sentence endings, such as “desu,” “masu,” or “yo,” to match the tone of your conversation.
  • Be mindful of your intonation to convey the appropriate meaning.

Now, let’s explore a few more examples using the phrases we’ve learned:

1. 予算次第ですね。 (Yosan shidai desu ne)
“It depends on the budget.”

2. どの都市に行くかによって異なります。 (Dono toshi ni iku ka ni yotte kotonarimasu)
“It varies depending on which city you go to.”

3. その場合、私たちはどうすべきか考えましょう。 (Sono baai, watashitachi wa dō subeki ka kangaemashō)
“In that case, let’s think about what we should do.”

Remember, the usage of these phrases may differ depending on the specific situation, so be attentive to the context and adjust accordingly.

By employing the various phrases, tips, and examples provided in this guide, you can confidently express the notion of “it depends” in Japanese conversations. Whether you’re engaging formally or informally, expressing uncertainty or conditional responses will now come naturally to you. Enjoy expanding your language skills and connecting with others through the beauty of the Japanese language!

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