At what point would you be comfortable saying "I know Japanese" to people

Heya. This is my first time posting here so sorry if I messed something up. But as the title says, at what point would you be comfortable telling others that you know Japanese? I know enough where I could probably impress someone who knows nothing of the language but I’d personally never say I know it lol. I mostly say I’m studying it. Just a question that popped into my head while pondering at what point did I verbally feel comfortable calling myself an artist.


I don’t think I would ever say it except as an answer to a question like “Does anyone here know Japanese?” and then I can be like “I do.”

Thinking on my conversations, I usually tell people I study Japanese.

But at the same time, I wouldn’t judge someone for using it. In casual conversation it doesn’t mean “I know everything about Japanese” or something like that.


Ah yeah, I agree on not judging someone based on the answer since “I know everything about this subject” is very rarely what people mean haha I do feel, however, that people who aren’t studying a language can hear the statement of “Yes I do know Japanese” and view it as a show of extreme confidence. If I were to compare it to anything I’d say when I say to some people who aren’t artists that I’m an artist I’m poked with assumptions way above my skill level lol.


Woah, that’s a good question! I think I’d be comfortable saying I know Japanese when I’m at the point where I can read a whole volume of manga and understand it lol. Also I would need to be able to converse in a regular conversation in Japanese.


Hmm, honestly a solid question. I would personally say that someone truly “knows” Japanese once they are at around the same level as native speakers. However, just like Leebo mentioned, I would usually just say that I’m studying it, rather than knowing the language.


I usually say ‘a little, but I’m learning.’ Normally I would say numbers, directions, and some restaurant and shopping vocab. My goal is conversational, watch anime, and read sewing books.

I actually got to speak with someone vacationing in Ohio of all places. He was having a hard time at the register but once I heard he was from Japan I was able to say the amount and everything.

He asked where I got most of my pronunciation from and I said ‘Maison Ikkoku.’ His mom really lit up at the mention of it. She probably watched or read it when it first ran. I bet she was happy to see an American younger than the show know it. He knew Takahashi from ‘Inuyasha.’



Oh, and my go-to response to this kind of thing in Japanese is ある程度話せます (I can speak (Japanese) to a certain degree)


I took Japanese for six semesters in college, over the course of four years. In that last semester I took of it, our sensei proudly proclaimed we now had “the vocabulary of first graders!”

… so yeah, I don’t say that I know Japanese. Haha. If anyone asks, I just kinda sheepishly smile and say I could have a great conversation with some grade-school kids.


I would never say that I know Japanese. Hell, I don’t even think I would say that I know English, and I’m a native English speaker.


People assume I know chinese.

I would feel comfortable saying “I know Japanese” when I use Japanese and ten minutes later I realized I used Japanese. And it becomes an extension of English, itself an extension of my native language.


I get what your teacher’s point was, but it was definitely a bit of an exaggeration. They were probably just taking the total number of words that you and the first graders know. But while first graders would kick your ass in recognition of verb compounds and household objects, you probably know and understand things they only mildly recognize.

I’ve had conversations with first graders. Vocabulary is not the limiting factor. Understanding them is the problem. I typically just nod and say そうですね


This is really close to the question of fluency, I feel. At what point do you feel comfortable saying you’re fluent in a language? Everyone’s perception of that is slightly different. Fluency is this big, unwrangleable beast that is difficult to define. Some people consider holding a basic conversation (Hello, how are you, I am well, So how about that weather) to be fluency. Some people consider only native-like proficiency to be fluency.

Just for me, personally, I would never claim to be fluent, but I think I would say I know Japanese. I can communicate just about everything I’d ever need to in Japanese and I can understand almost everything I’d ever need to in Japanese, but only with the help of a dictionary here and there and some really patient person speaking really dumbed-down Japanese.

But that’s just me.


I’m far from being able to say I can speak Japanese, but I went through this when I was learning Spanish. I knew lots of people that could barely string a few sentences together in Spanish that claimed they “spoke” it, which never sat right with me. I didn’t start to say that until I became fluent.

By fluent I just mean the native speaker can speak at a normal pace and so can I and we’re comfortable having a conversation. Not that my pronounciation or grammer was perfect.


Depends. Does the person asking know Japanese? I can claim to do lots of things if other people don’t know either.


Yeah, that’s a fair sentiment. Still, I think it’s important to consider the context as well. If you’re in a group of people who can’t even count to ten in Spanish (or Japanese, German, Arabic, whatever) then I think it’s fair to say you can speak it. Because if you were in a situation where speaking it was necessary, you’d be most equipped to deal with that situation.

That being said, whenever I’m asked about my Japanese skills, I always say, “I can speak a little bit.” I always make sure to clarify I’m far from fluent. But, to be honest, I always appreciate the brazen confidence of people who are willing to step up and say, “I can do this.” I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with that. Unless they’re doing it for an ego trip, bragging, like, “Oh you don’t speak Spanish? Well I can! Guess that makes me extra special and awesome!” Then you can and should rip them a new one.


My 2 cents on this: if I feel comfortable living by myself using nothing but some language, I’d be comfortable saying that I “know” such language. I think this is a fair compromise, because most people will not expect perfection just by you saying that you “know” it. Now if you want to add “fluency” into the mix then I’m clueless how to deal with this word :slight_smile:.


Not sure when I’d say I’m fluent but I don’t think saying I know japanese is that big of a deal. I used to just say it but I go to conversation hour every week, I chat japanese people up online, I order my food in japanese and read books and watch anime in japenese sometimes. So if someone asks me I’d say I speak japanese. Or if I’m meeting some one and they want to know something about me I’d say I speak japanese. If they asked if I was fluent I’d say no.


When I will not to need to think what I want communicate (Somethings like stop for thinking and translate)

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When I’m comfortable in every aspect of the language. Reading speaking writing etc. Which I don’t think can happen in this lifetime soo…